The Great Debate UK
When the Bank of England decided to expand its quantitative easing policy by 25 billion pounds to 200 billion on Thursday, it was essentially hedging its bets.
After Britain’s economy shrank unexpectedly in the third quarter, and with two thirds of the City expecting an expansion to the QE programme, simply shutting off the tap of government bond purchases would risk being more of a shock than the economy could bear.
On the other hand, the Bank clearly believes that the worst is over for the economy and that recovery will come soon — even if it’s going to be weak.
Thursday’s decision means the central bank will keep buying government debt until February, but at only half the pace of before. This still amounts to around 2 billion pounds a week, not including the much smaller sums of corporate debt that the Bank is buying.
That's the provocative question posed by Willem Buiter. His latest, characteristically lengthy, blog post tackles the regulatory vogue for forcing banks to hold much greater reserves of liquid assets - in practice, government bonds.
Buiter's missive follows new rules from Britain's Financial Services Authority, which will force banks to increase their reserves of government bonds by more than a third. The rules have been met with predictable bleating from the industry, which accuses the regulator of undermining Britain's competitiveness and promoting the fragmentation of the global financial system. Another concern is the FSA's handling of the transition.
- David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own.-
What is the collective name for a crossing of fingers?
Because that seems to be what the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee members are doing. They are collectively crossing their digits in the hope that they have done enough to steer the UK economy out of recession.
They have pumped billions into the UK economy and it doesn’t seem to be having much effect – yet. That is unless you are a banker looking to bolster your balance sheet with freshly minted notes. Banks are happy to swap their assets for the Bank of England’s cash but remain unwilling to lend. Additionally, there is still uncertaintyabout the ability of the economy to grow unaided if the central bank should stop printing money.
I've found the answer to the monetary puzzle de nos jours. The ritual of the UK Treasury's DMO issuing new government debt one day, only to have the Bank of England buy similar amounts of almost identical stock the next, has puzzled me ever since Quantatitive Easing began.
How much simpler it would be for the Treasury to borrow directly from the Bank - the modern equivalent of running the printing press faster - to pay the government's bills.
- David Kuo is director at the Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own.-
If you are not confused you are not paying attention. Those sage words from management guru Tom Peters can be applied to a wide number of economic issues today, but none more so that to the latest inflation figures.
Question is: do we have inflation, deflation or some mixture of the two?
The answer lies in which index you are looking at?
Inflation as measure by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) has held firm at 1.8 percent. But according to the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which excludes mortgage costs, inflation for July came in at minus 1.4 percent – that’s up from minus 1.6 percent in June.
from The Great Debate:
-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --
The Bank of England's decision to continue with its asset purchase programme, or quantitative easing (QE), at the rate of 50 billion pounds per quarter in Oct-Dec, unchanged from Jul-Sep, shows bank officials are more worried about ending support for the recovery too soon than about risking inflation by leaving it too late.
The problem with QE is that you have to keep buying the same amount of assets each month to maintain the same monetary stance. With interest rates, the Bank can cut them and they stay cut. If asset prices drop with QE, it represents a tightening of monetary policy.
Chancellor Alastair Darling has ignored the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. He could have produced a few motherhood-and-apple pie reforms of the banking system, to give the impression of activity. Instead, he has dug in, proposing an upgrade of Britain’s failed “tripartite” system of regulation.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England has kept its key lending rate at a record low of 0.5 percent, last reduced in March 2009 when it indicated that conventional policy had reached its limit and unorthodox measures such as quantitative easing were to be used.
The Bank of England tells us that their 75 billion pound quantitative easing programme will start the banks lending again (despite the banks saying that they are already lending, this is not strictly true). The programme works by the Bank buying securities from the banks and then this money can be loaned to consumers. The question is, does and will this work? Is 75 billion pounds enough?
- David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee decided to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.5 percent in May. This came as no great surprise given that the Central Bank has already slashed interest rates to a level where further cuts would have made no discernible difference to the cost of money.