European Central Bank nearly doubles pandemic support scheme

FILE -- In this Thursday, March 12, 2020 file photo the President of European Central Bank Christine Lagarde looks up prior to a press conference following a meeting of the ECB governing council in Frankfurt, Germany. The European Central Bank has boosted its pandemic emergency support program by 600 billion euros to 1.35 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion) in an effort to keep affordable credit flowing to the economy during the steep downturn caused by the virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)
FILE -- In this Thursday, March 12, 2020 file photo the President of European Central Bank Christine Lagarde looks up prior to a press conference following a meeting of the ECB governing council in Frankfurt, Germany. The European Central Bank has boosted its pandemic emergency support program by 600 billion euros to 1.35 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion) in an effort to keep affordable credit flowing to the economy during the steep downturn caused by the virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

FRANKFURT

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has boosted its pandemic emergency support program by an unexpectedly large 600 billion euros to 1.35 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion), adding to efforts in Europe and around the world to help the economy weather the steep downturn caused by the virus outbreak.

The ECB measures announced Thursday aim to keep affordable credit flowing to the economy amid uncertainty about the speed of any recovery following the easing of lockdowns across Europe.

The new stimulus comes on top of added spending by governments and similar efforts by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and others around the globe as the world tries to cope with a sharp, simultaneous blow to both developing and rich economies.

The central bank for the 19 countries that use the euro expects the bloc's economy to shrink by a painful 8.7% this year and to recover by a more modest 5.2% in 2021. President Christine Lagarde warned that “the speed and scale of the rebound are highly uncertain.”