So much for the LTRO “bazooka”:
EMU Growth Watch: Credit Growth Slows
Frankfurt, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank says the flow of credit available to businesses slowed down in February — a sign that the bank’s massive series of cheap loans to the financial system has yet to kickstart a lagging eurozone economy. Figures Wednesday showed loans to nonfinancial corporations — a key credit indicator — grew by only 0.4 percent on an annual basis, down from 0.7 percent in January. The ECB made two massive rounds of cheap loans to banks Dec. 21 and Feb. 29, adding about €500 billion ($666 billion) in net new credit to the financial system. The loans were introduced in the hope that the money would eventually find its way to businesses and consumers as loans and, in turn, promote growth. The loans are credited with easing the eurozone debt crisis by removing fears that one or more of Europe’s shaky banks might fail, and by making it easier for heavily indebted governments such as Italy to borrow on bond markets.
Our Take: LTRO’s do not mean banks will be lending.