December 9, 2016 / 8:36 AM / 3 years ago

Germany's Bild lambasts Draghi over ECB "money bomb"

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi addresses a news conference at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - Mass-selling German newspaper Bild heaped criticism on European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Friday, a day after the ECB said it would extend its massive stimulus programme for the euro zone.

“When does Draghi’s money bomb go off?” Bild asked, with a picture of the Italian’s face on a bomb with a lit fuse.

The ECB has already spent more than 1.4 trillion euros (1.2 trillion pounds) buying bonds and is at risk of running out of assets. Germany’s Bundesbank argues that this blurs a legal line and amounts to financing of government budgets, which would go beyond the remit of the central bank.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who regularly presses countries in southern Europe to shape up their economies with reforms, has called on the ECB to start unwinding its expansive monetary policy.

“The ECB chief is again putting billions at the disposal of crisis countries,” added Bild, which during the euro zone crisis gifted Draghi a spiked Prussian helmet from 1871 to show its confidence the Italian would adhere to German-style discipline.

The ECB trimmed back its asset buys in a surprise move on Thursday but promised to extend the stimulus to December next year from March, in order to aid a still fragile recovery. It dismissed any talk of tapering the programme away.

Markus Soeder, finance minister in the conservative southern state of Bavaria, said the extension of the ECB’s low interest rates and asset purchases sent the wrong signal to countries in the south of the euro zone, especially Italy.

Soeder told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain: “Savers and owners of life insurance in Germany are paying the price for the reform sloppiness with interest losses in three-digit billions (of euros).”

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported that Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann did not agree with Thursday’s ECB decision to extend its bond purchases. The Bundesbank declined to comment on the report.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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