The European Central Bank launched the first rethink of its policies since 2003, giving itself wide scope over the aspects of the assessment but leaving investors largely in the dark on the details.
"We are going to review a whole host of issues," President Christine Lagarde told reporters Thursday after the Governing Council meeting in Frankfurt. The exercise will encompass "how we deliver, how we measure, what tools we have and how we communicate."
The ECB is seeking to explain why years of monetary stimulus, including measures such as negative interest rates and bond purchases that have sparked political criticism and lawsuits in some parts of the euro zone, has still left inflation short of the goal of "below, but close to, 2%."
The assessment, due to be complete by the end of the year, will study that goal as well as the policy toolkit, economic and monetary analyses, and communication. It will also tackle "other considerations" such as financial stability, employment and environmental sustainability, according to a statement after the press conference.
The announcement, however, didn't include more information than what had already been revealed by Ms. Lagarde and other policymakers before the meeting. "ECB ... Wake me up before you review," Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, wrote in an email.
"The details were disappointingly thin on the ground during the press conference and not much better from the press release that followed," according to Andrew Mulliner, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors.
Governing Council members deliberately refrained from releasing specifics to avoid steering the debate in any particular direction, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.
Ms. Lagarde said the process will involve listening to the views of ordinary people, though the multilingual nature of the 19-nation eurozone would require a different approach from the U.S. Federal Reserve's "Fed Listens" events of last year.
Policymakers have the advantage of a slightly brighter economic backdrop that gives them some space for the rethink. Trade tensions have eased with the signing of a preliminary U.S.-China trade deal, though President Donald Trump warned this week that threat of car tariffs still looms over the European Union, and confidence among businesses and investors has picked up.