Jan 12, 8:14 AM EST

Top officials of the European Central Bank extended their stimulus efforts in part to protect the eurozone economy from what could be a turbulent political year at home and globally


AP Photo
AP Photo/Michael Probst

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says the central bank remains ready to protect economic growth in the face of pressures caused by Britain's departure from the European Union

The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its forecast for the U.S. economy over the next two years, saying President-elect Donald Trump's policies should boost economic growth, particularly in 2018

Higher pay, rising consumer confidence boosted US retail sales 0.6 percent in December

Germany's finance minister is resisting pressure for quick tax cuts and extra spending after the country posted another budget surplus

South Korea's central bank has cut its economic growth forecast as a massive influence-peddling scandal hits private spending

Mexico's president slogs on in his struggle to calm anger over the big jump in gasoline prices this month amid a historically weak currency and continued threats by Donald Trump to steer manufacturers back to the United States

Top officials of the European Central Bank extended their stimulus efforts in part to protect the eurozone economy from what could be a turbulent political year at home and globally

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's economy is under a "terror" attack similar to the wave of violent attacks that have targeted the country

Puerto Ricans overwhelmed by chronically high power bills amid a decade-long economic crisis will soon see some relief

World Bank forecasting stronger global economic growth in 2017

Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Top officials of the European Central Bank wanted to extend stimulus measures in December in part to protect the eurozone economy from what could be a turbulent political year at home and globally.

The concerns were recorded in a written account published Thursday about the bank's Dec. 8 meeting. That's when it decided to extend its bond-buying stimulus program by nine months until the end of this year, though reducing monthly purchases to 60 billion euros ($63 billion), from 80 billion euros.

The bank's governing council thought more stimulus would provide a "steady hand" to support the economy of the 19 countries that share the euro against "shocks emanating from the political environment at the global level and within the euro area."

Elections in the Netherlands, France and possibly Italy will give populist, anti-EU and anti-euro forces a chance to test their strength with voters. Britain is expected to start talks on leaving the European Union, which could lead to new restrictions in doing business with a major eurozone trading partner. U.K. voters chose to leave in a referendum last June. The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president has also raised uncertainty about U.S. trade policy and fed expectations that anti-establishment politicians in Europe may also do better than many expected.

The 25-member council also felt there was no convincing upturn in underlying inflation toward the bank's goal of just under 2 percent. The bond purchases inject newly printed money into the financial system, a step that aims to increase inflation as well as lending and business expansion.

The overall inflation rate has picked up noticeably since the meeting, to 1.1 percent annually. And economic data has been relatively upbeat in recent weeks - on Thursday, official figures showed industrial production in the eurozone spiked 1.5 percent in November from the month before.

However, so-called core inflation - excluding volatile fuel and food prices - has remained stuck.

The written account - which omits names and vote tallies - said that "a few members" opposed the stimulus extension based on their "well-known general skepticism" about extraordinary stimulus involving printing new money. Those members viewed money-printing stimulus through bond purchases as a step to be reserved for times of grave crisis. But stimulus skeptics appear to remain a minority on the council.

The council is made up of six top officials at the bank's headquarters in Frankfurt, led by President Mario Draghi, plus the heads of the 19 national central banks in the countries belonging to the currency union.

---

Pan Pylas in London contributed to this report.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.