ECB president Mario Draghi has outlined details of a plan to buy unlimited amounts of eurozone nations' short-dated debt in an effort to stem the eurozone crisis.
Speaking after the European Central Bank held rates at 0.75% on Thursday, Draghi said the ECB governing council had agreed on the specifics of "outright monetary transactions [OMT]" that will see the bank buy bonds in the secondary market.
The OMT will aim to lower struggling eurozone nations' borrowing costs by buying debt with a maturity of between one and three years.
The purchases, which could theoretically be unlimited, will be focused on the debt of eurozone nations that have already been bailed out, or those which apply for assistance from the European Financial Stability Facility or European Stability Mechanism.
The bond buying will not aim to push yields below a specific level, Draghi said, but would take into account factors including market volatility, liquidity, spreads and CDS prices.
The ECB will sell securities to offset its bond purchases as part of an attempt to "sterilize" the programme, thereby preventing the creation of excess liquidity.
In a departure from its previous bond-buying scheme, the now-terminated Securities Markets Programme, the ECB will not be in line for better treatment than other creditors in the event of a default, Draghi added.
"We will do whatever it takes within our mandate to preserve the euro," he said.
"These purchases are on the secondary market, not the primary market, so we are sure we are not violating our mandate.
"[The programme is intended as] a fully effective backstop to prevent potentially destructive scenarios," he said.
The central bank will also suspend minimum collateral ratings requirements for countries eligible for the OMT programme, and will accept US dollar, sterling and yen-denominated debt as collateral.
Draghi added the ECB had cut economic forecasts for the eurozone. The central bank now expects the bloc to shrink between 0.2% and 0.6% this year. Its 2013 growth forecast has also been cut from around 1% to around 0.5%.
The ECB president hinted that Germany was again opposed to the new measures, saying there was "one dissenting view" among council members.
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