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ECB's Draghi: We haven't talked about helicopter money

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that the bank had "never discussed" issuing so-called helicopter money as part of its efforts to bolster the euro zone's economy.

"We haven't really thought or talked about it... It's a very interesting concept ... but we haven't studied it," he said at his regular media conference, according to Reuters.

The bank maintained its monetary policy on Thursday, after delivering a surprise set of measures last month to boost the euro zone economy.

But with inflation still painfully low, speculation had risen that the ECB could yet use "helicopter money," which would see it inject cash directly into the real economy.

Instead, the bank held the main refinancing interest rate at 0.0 percent, the deposit rate at -0.4 percent and its monthly asset purchases at 80 billion euros ($90 billion).

Helicopters carrying piggy banks over clouds
Colin Anderson | Getty Images

The central bank said on Thursday that it would start purchasing corporate bonds as part of its quantitative easing program in June.

The purchases will be carried out on the ECB's behalf by the national banks of Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Finland, according to a statement issued after Draghi's conference.

The purchases will take place in the primary and secondary markets. To be eligible, instruments must be denominated in euros and have a credit rating of at least BBB- or equivalent; they must also have a remaining maturity of between six months and 30 years at the time of purchase.

Schaeuble vs. Draghi

Wolfgang Schaeuble and Mario Draghi
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Wolfgang Schaeuble and Mario Draghi

Draghi hit back at criticism of the ECB's ultra-loose monetary policy from Germany on Thursday.

"We have a mandate to pursues price stability for the whole of the euro — not only for Germany. This mandate is established by the treaty by European law. We obey the law, not the politicians, because we are independent as stated by the law," he said.

This came after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reiterated his concerns about the ECB's ultra-loose monetary policy late on Wednesday.

Draghi added that criticism of ECB policy might perversely result in the need for an extension in loose monetary policy. This was because undermining the bank's policies would delay their success, he said.

Brexit

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Andrew Linscott | iStock | Getty Images Plus

Draghi said that the U.K.'s membership of the European Union (EU) — of which the euro zone is a part — was "mutually beneficial."

Market volatility will continue until the U.K.'s referendum on leaving the EU on June 23, and likely afterwards as well, he said.

He added that a so-called Brexit — the U.K. leaving the EU — was unlikely to endanger the region's economic recovery.

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