The Great Debate UK

A new paradigm for inflation

-Kathleen Brooks is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

Looking through the minutes of the Bank of England’s policy meetings for the past year, there are a couple of patterns that you see emerge. Firstly, that rates are on hold, and secondly, that the UK’s elevated inflation rate is temporary. Now the European Central Bank has joined the chorus. ECB President Trichet recently sounded confident that prices will moderate, even though consumer prices rose above the ECB’s target rate of 2 per cent in December.

But how long will citizens of Europe and the UK accept rising prices and how long can central bankers continue to stand by while inflation smashes their target rates? To answer this we need to find out two things: firstly, is this rise in inflation really that bad? Secondly, why are central bankers willing to let inflation pass them by without exercising monetary control?

Inflation is a tricky thing to get right. A little is good since it helps growth, but not enough is bad as it can stunt an economy and leave it in a deflationary spiral. There is also another benefit to inflation: it helps to erode debt levels in real terms. When many developed economies are struggling with unsustainable debt loads, a little inflation helps to lower the size of the mountain.

Monetary policy: QE2 or the Titanic?

“Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.” – the words of a wise Roman thinker (or was it a Greek central banker?). At any rate, the gods certainly seem to have no benevolent intentions with regard to this country, judging by the statements coming from the Bank of England, in particular the calls for another round of quantitative easing from one member of the Monetary Policy Committee and the cry of “Spend, spend, spend” from another.

The view emerging from the Bank and the Monetary Policy Committee is that the country is in the grip of a slow-growth recession, facing the threat of Japanese-style deflation and a double-dip recession, and that this grim situation requires near-zero interest rates, supported by QE2 if necessary, in order to restore consumption and lending (including mortgages) to pre-crisis levels.

from The Great Debate:

Cross-dressing in fiscal, monetary policy

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26)

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King and his colleagues on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) might be tempted to ask the same question.

from MacroScope:

How uncertain exactly is the uncertain BoE?

king-inflation.jpgFor a central bank that looks certain to bust its 2 percent inflation target for most of the time between now and the London 2012 Olympics, there is still a lot of uncertainty out there.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King referred to "uncertain" or "uncertainty" about the outlook five times at the May quarterly Inflation Report press conference according to the bank's transcript, and the latest one didn't seem much more confident in tone.

Rubbish rates – what is a saver to do?

-Rachel Mason is PR manager at Fair Investment Company. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The base rate is going to be stuck at 0.5 percent for years to come, according to experts, so where does that leave savers?

Post stress tests: lending conditions likely to remain tough


SnipImage-Jane Foley is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

The financial markets have been pre-occupied with all aspects of the EU bank stress tests over the past few weeks.
For the man on the street, however, the debate boils down to just one question: when will credit become cheaper and more readily available?

Friendly Cameron and King get mix right for now

By Ian Campbell

–  The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own –

Just in government and David Cameron’s relationships are in question. Eyebrows have been raised about the prime minister’s friendship with an Old Lady, sometimes known as the Bank of England. The affection appears reciprocated by Mervyn King, the Bank’s governor. But to think the Old Lady’s independence is compromised is probably to take things too far. The bank’s current low interest rate policy looks more than just a political favour.

Breaking up banks is not so hard to do

-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

As far as I am aware, you cannot buy insurance against speeding tickets (please, someone let me know if I am wrong!).

Sovereign default risk, fact or fiction?

-Jane Foley is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

If a gauge is needed to measure how concerned investors are at about sovereign default risk, we need look no further than the price of gold which has made fresh all time highs this week.

New UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10

– Hugo Dixon is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The new UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10. The pact between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, led by David Cameron as the new prime minister, seems determined to address the country’s most important problem — the deficit. This is vital given that the euro zone debt crisis could still prove contagious. It should also be positive for sterling.