Ireland and Portugal may soon give the European Central Bank some target practice. Both countries could soon be ready to ask the bank to buy their debt. The ECB would then be forced to put its money where its mouth is. But it could be a cheap way of showing the benefits of bond buying.
Mario Draghi hasn’t spelled out exactly yet what he means by “market access,” one of the preconditions he set for a country to apply for the ECB’s “outright monetary transactions” – its new-style bond-buying program. But it’s clear that Ireland and Portugal are getting closer to fitting the profile. Dublin recently sold five-year debt, and is planning two nine-year issues. Portugal is reported to be planning a five-year bond.