Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, today opened the Frankfurt European Banking Congress, with an analysis of the economic situation facing the euro area and of the ECB’s monetary policy response. The economic situation in the euro area remains difficult and confidence in the overall economic prospects is fragile and easily disrupted, feeding into low investment, Mr Draghi said. In this context, the inflation situation in the euro area has also become increasingly challenging. The ECB President emphasised the risk that a too prolonged period of low inflation becomes embedded in inflation expectations, and that the firm anchoring of inflation expectations is critical under any circumstances. This is why the Governing Council has communicated its expectation that the combination of all the monetary policy measures it has decided on will expand the Eurosystem’s balance sheet towards the levels prevailing in early 2012, Mr Draghi said. The addition of purchases of covered bonds to ABS purchases will allow us to conduct interventions on a scale that will achieve the intended effects in terms of portfolio rebalancing and signalling.