LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank says it is not tapering its bond-buying programme, but a lot of people in financial markets reckon it is. Here is the argument:
The ECB has been buying bonds at the rate of 80 billion euros a month. As of April next year it will buy them at a rate of 60 billion euros until December.
That is cutting back on the monthly amount being bought.
"The ECB just announced tapering," ING economists said in a note.
Bond yields initially shot up, as they would if a taper was on the way that would halt ECB purchases.
The ECB had been expected to extend its 80 billion-euro asset-purchasing plan for six months - adding up to 480 billion euros. Instead it is buying 60 billion euros each month for an additional nine months - or 540 billion euros.
That is buying more bonds, not fewer.
"There is no question about tapering," ECB President Mario Draghi said. "Tapering was not discussed today."
And he went on:
"The word has meanings, several meanings depending on who's using it. But the way one would look, I mean the natural way to look at a word like that, is to have a policy whereby purchasers would gradually go to zero, and that's not been discussed or, as a matter of fact, it's not even been on the table."
Analysts have started calling it different things. Seen so far: cautious taper, dovish taper, quasi-taper and technical taper.
And perhaps the clearest yet: a taper that's not a taper.
Reporting by Jeremy Gaunt, editing by Larry King