With regard to open market operations, the frequency and maturity of the main re-financing operation has become that of a weekly auction of loans with a maturity of two weeks, and an interest rate which is either announced in advance (fixed rate auction) or announced later as the result of offers received (variable rate auction). There will also be monthly auctions for three-month loans which will always be of the variable rate type in order to avoid sending signals to the market. Fine-tuning will be carried out in exceptional circumstances between two regular auctions and, finally, the structural liquidity demand can be influenced by means of open market transactions which consist in the direct purchase and sale of securities or the issuance of debt certificates.
As far as guarantees for all these transactions are concerned, it should be stated that acceptable collateral may take the form of either a public instrument or a private instrument, provided that these are of a suitable nature, according to the neutrality principle applied to the public sector and to the private sector.
If you refer to the aforementioned Article 2 of the so-called Treaty of Maastricht, you will find that sustainable and non-inflationary growth, together with a high level of employment and social protection, are among its aims.
While the Governing Council of the ECB is responsible for formulating its monetary policy, both the Executive Board of the ECB and the national central banks are involved in its application and therefore this constitutes one of the tasks allotted to the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) as a whole.
As we saw earlier, the aims set out in Article 2 of the Maastricht Treaty also include social safeguards. In this context, therefore, it can be said that inflation is the most unjust of all taxes, because it attacks personal income and assets while distorting certain public redistribution mechanisms such as, for instance, progressive taxation scales.