The European Central Bank has made changes to its legal framework which underscore its power to limit individual banks' borrowing at ECB lending operations, amid ongoing discussion about how to tackle the dependency of some institutions on ECB funding.
The changes, published on Saturday, clarify the ECB's ability to bar or restrict banks from borrowing from the ECB and impose ad-hoc limits on what assets can be swapped for loans.
"On the grounds of prudence, the Eurosystem may also reject assets, limit the use of assets or apply supplementary haircuts to assets submitted as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations by specific counterparties," the new legal text said.
The changes will come into force on Oct. 10. Although there was already a provision to restrict banks' borrowings, the new rules spell out the ECB's powers more clearly.
As well as fears about a reliance on ECB funds, the changes come after the central bank was forced to write off 10.3 billion euros of collateral it was left holding after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Icelandic banks.
The new rules also set clearer limits on hard-to-value asset-backed securities by removing swaps and synthetic securities from the list of eligible cash-flow generating assets.
To make it easier to claw back money if a bank collapses, they also limit ABS originators and where the underlying assets come from to the European Economic Area. There are also new rules for structured covered bonds backed by property loans.