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ECB president Christine Lagarde, during a news conference on Thursday. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The European Central Bank just sent a signal that mirrors that of its U.S. counterpart: peeling off unprecedented pandemic-era support won’t be quick — leaving a full return to normal far out.

Why it matters: When and how the crisis-era measures end have big implications for global financial markets that have been buoyed by them.

Catch up quick: The ECB is scaling back its mas­sive bond-buy­ing pro­gram over the next three months, reflecting a sunnier outlook for Europe’s economy.

  • This emergency-era facility is set to end early next year. If it’s not extended, some economists say the ECB could ramp­ up a pre-pandemic bond-buying program to make up for it.

The intrigue: ECB head Christine Lagarde cautioned the scale back doesn't mean the beginning of a total reversal of its easy-money policies.

  • That’s showing up in how Lagarde would prefer we talk about the bond-buying slowdown: don’t call it a taper.
  • “The moderately lower pace just resembles the status quo. There is no official plan for further unwinding yet,” ING’s Carsten Brzeski tells Axios about why the T-word isn’t appropriate.
  • In a speech last month, Fed chair Jerome Powell signaled it could peeling back its monthly bond purchases this year (though weaker economic data may push off those plans).

The bottom line: “The ECB is not about to rip off the band-aid; bond markets will continue to enjoy significant support from asset purchases through 2021,” Pantheon Macroeconomics said yesterday.

Go deeper

Powell goes on record about Fed trading uproar

Fed chair Jerome Powell testifies at a hearing last year. Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

Most of the questions Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell fielded at Wednesday's press conference related to the coming taper. A runner-up: the trading controversy that’s put a spotlight on some Fed officials, including Powell himself.

Catch up quick: Recent financial disclosures showed two regional Fed officials owned — and in one case, actively traded — assets sensitive to the drastically expanded monetary policy they helped shape.

1 hour ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).