Document Type

Case Study

Case Series

Market Support Programs

JEL Codes

G01, G28


The COVID-19 pandemic quickly engulfed the European Union's economy in 2020. As investors sought safe assets, marketable debt yields rose dramatically. To lower the cost of borrowing, the European Central Bank (ECB), alongside the 19 national central banks (NCBs) that comprise the Eurosystem, purchased marketable debt in secondary markets. Asset eligibility mirrored that of the ECB's Asset Purchase Program (APP), an ongoing quantitative easing program which the ECB expanded during the pandemic. The main difference was that the PEPP allowed debt issued by Greece, which did not have an investment-grade credit rating. The rate that the PEPP purchased securities within each asset class could also vary, unlike the APP. When the ECB announced the PEPP on March 27, 2020, it approved EUR 750 billion (USD 825 billion) in total purchases to wind down no later than December 2020. The ECB expanded the program twice to allow EUR 1.85 trillion in asset purchases through March 2022. As of February 2022, the ECB and NCBs had purchased a total of EUR 1.6 trillion in assets through the program. The PEPP's effects in the months after the pandemic outbreak were difficult to disentangle from the concurrent APP except that the ECB was able to close yield spreads between German and Greek debt. Debt yields stabilized shortly after the PEPP's establishment and the APP's expansion.

Date Revised