The Great Debate UK
Not exactly shock and awe as the MPC keeps base rates on hold at 0.5 percent while the most recent financial surveys have been unanimous in expecting a no change decision for some time now. It was always going to be an MPC meeting to discuss whether or not to persevere with quantitative easing. The difficulty for the MPC is that it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the quantitative easing. Clearly the Bank of England would prefer to wait at least until it publishes new quarterly growth and inflation forecasts to explain how it wishes to proceed.
Observers, who have questioned the success of the Bank’s tactics, point to the fact that much of the easing has been leaking to overseas investors, hedge funds and investment banks.
Furthermore, pension funds which the bank had hoped would be the biggest recipients of newly created money received far less than expected. Other observers note an opportunity of making a profit by buying Government debt from the Debt Management Office (DMO) before selling it on to the Bank and that it may not be advisable to create additional liquidity that would feed through into an already strong equity market rally and create yet another bubble.
LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) – The UK Government needs to raise four billion pounds a week, every week, in the financial year to next April, to bridge the gap between its tax income and its spending.
– Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –
Quantitative easing is like drinking. Nothing much seems to happen at first, so you take a little more. As the warm alcoholic glow spreads over you, it feels pretty good, and surely another glass will make you feel even better. Stop soon enough, before you start feeling woozy, and there are no ill effects. Go on until you can’t stand, and the effects can be disastrous.
LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – The Bank of England’s terse press statement announcing it will maintain overnight rates at 0.5 percent and continue the existing 75 billion pound quantitative easing (QE) programme gives no clue about whether the Bank intends to extend the programme when the first tranche of asset purchases are completed in June.
But officials will have to make a decision soon: unless they signal a commitment to extend QE, gilt yields will rise even further in anticipation that the major buyer in the market will withdraw.
The QE programme is dogged by ambiguity about its objectives (which a cynical observer might conclude is deliberate).
Officially, the aim is to prevent inflation falling below target by accelerating money supply growth, not manipulate the yield curve for government and corporate debt.
In this, the Bank’s avowed strategy is more conventional than the Fed’s ambitious efforts to determine the cost of credit for borrowers throughout the economy. It is a straightforward quantitative easing patterned on the Bank of Japan, rather than a credit easing patterned on the Fed.
If true, the measure of success is how much the money supply has been boosted at the end of the three month period; the Bank should be indifferent about whether ending QE causes yields and borrowing costs to rise.
So long as money supply has risen consistent with the inflation target, and the Bank can discern some green shoots of stabilisation if not recovery, officials can declare victory, end the programme, and keep the other 75 billion pounds of asset purchases authorised by the chancellor in reserve. Yields can be left to find their natural level.
But many suspect the Bank’s real objective is yield control — in which case it will have to announce another round of buy backs of gilts and corporate bonds in good time, well before the current programme is completed, to shape market expectations.
The results of the existing round have been unimpressive.
After falling initially, gilt yields are almost back up to the level they were at before the Bank’s foray into unconventional monetary policy.
The snag is that if the Bank stops buying, other investors will struggle to absorb all the new government paper on offer without a major increase in yield — pushing up borrowing costs for everyone, precisely what the Bank has sought to avoid.
The Bank’s dilemma is whether to push on (heightening fears about inflation) or call a halt (risking a spike in yields all the same).
Either way, the Bank needs to give the market, as well as the Treasury and the Debt Management Office, plenty of warning about its intentions.
(Editing by Richard Hubbard)
As expected, the Bank of England left the Bank Rate unchanged at 0.5 percent at the April meeting, the first unchanged decision since September 2008.
The accompanying statement was short and sweet. The Bank has accumulated 26 billion pounds of asset purchases and will take a further two months to complete the planned 75 billion pounds of purchases – see you next month!
from UK News:
This week, the all-important services sector (which makes up three quarters of economic output) recorded its weakest headline index since 1996 and seventh straight month of contraction. Together with dismal news on unemployment and inflation, these surveys confirm that recession is spiralling as we reach the close of 2008.