TRY and try again. On June 8th the European Central Bank (ECB) started buying corporate bonds, in its latest effort to gin up inflation in the euro area. Prices declined slightly in May compared with the same month a year before; the ECB’s inflation target is just under 2%. The scheme has already helped boost the zone’s corporate-bond market. Doing the same to its economy looks a tall order.

The purchases form part of the ECB’s quantitative-easing programme, under which it is already buying €80 billion-worth ($91 billion) of public-sector bonds, covered bonds and asset-backed securities monthly. (Government debt, of which the ECB has amassed more than €800 billion, accounts for most.) To qualify, corporate bonds must be investment-grade and issued by euro-area firms other than banks.

Analysts reckon that €600 billion-plus of bonds fit these criteria. The bank hasn’t yet said whose debt, or how much, it will buy; from mid-July it will report holdings weekly. According to Bloomberg, first-day purchases included bonds issued by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer; Generali, an Italian insurer; Siemens, a German…Continue reading