This paper aims to make two contributions: to review the ECB’s non-standard monetary policy measures in response to the financial and sovereign debt crisis against the background of the institutional framework and financial structure of the euro area; and to interpret this response from a flow-of-funds perspective. The paper highlights how the rationale behind the ECB’s nonstandard measures differs from that underlying quantitative easing policies. As a complement to rather than a substitute for standard interest rate decisions, the non-standard measures are aimed at supporting the effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy rather than at delivering additional direct monetary stimulus. The flow-of-funds analysis proposes an interpretation of central banks’ crisis responses as fulfilling their traditional role as lender of last resort to the banking system and, more broadly, reflecting their capacity to act as the “ultimate sector” that can take on leverage when other sectors are under pressure to deleverage. It also provides examples that trace the impact of non-standard measures across different sectors and markets.
asset purchases Economic and Monetary Union financial structure flow of funds monetary policy sovereign debt crisis