The Great Debate UK
Back in the last quarter of 2012 when Mark Carney was announced as the Governor-elect of the Bank of England, imaginations ran wild about the new arsenal he could bring to the BoE’s toolkit for getting the UK economy moving again. GDP targeting and unlimited QE were not beyond the realms of possibility. Carney in the past had dismissed suggestions that central bankers were out of options when it came to stimulating over-leveraged developed economies. However, as we get closer to his start date the debate has shifted regarding monetary policy.
The Bank of Japan is throwing the kitchen sink at their economy, at the same time as debate is raging at the Fed that QE3 should come to an end. Added to this, the BoE seems to be having its own internal debate about the effectiveness of the UK’s quantitative easing policy.
Where Carney stands regarding these debates is what we want to know as his start date at the Old Lady comes into view. All eyes and ears will be on his response to questions about the positive and negative effects of QE. He is likely to be asked about the Bank of Japan’s enormous monetary policy programme announced earlier this month. While he is likely to be diplomatic, it will be interesting to see if he believes the BoJ’s economic objective – to use monetary stimulus to reach a 2% inflation target in 2 years – is realistic, and if QE is the best way to do this.
Will Carney adopt the BOJ-style of QE and throw the kitchen sink at the UK economy? Or will he adopt the more cautious approach of the ECB? What does he think about the Fed’s QE programme and the prospect of the end of the largest stimulus programme the world has ever known?
Dear Mark Carney,
As you arrive in your new office, you will not be short of free advice, least of all from economists. Nonetheless, like a supporter of the away team valiantly trying to make himself heard above the roar of the home crowd, this is my feeble attempt to compete against the chorus of voices calling for ever more, ever larger doses of QE, ever lower interest rates and even more devaluation of the Pound.
Just say no!
What, after all, has QE achieved?
We can never know for sure what might have happened without it – my colleagues are still arguing about the effects of economic policy in the nineteen-thirties, so we can’t wait for a definitive answer about 2008 and its aftermath – but the evidence in its favour is far from overwhelming, whereas the damage it is doing is plain for all to see, especially in two areas.
–Darren Williams is Senior European Economist at AllianceBernstein. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Bank of England governor-elect, Mark Carney, has raised hopes that the central bank may soon switch to a nominal GDP target. Although the costs seem to outweigh the benefits, the attractions of a radical new approach will grow if the economy remains stuck in the doldrums.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
Four years after the start of the Great Recession, the global economy has not recovered, voters are losing patience and governments around the world are falling like ninepins. This is a situation conducive to revolutionary thinking, if not yet in politics, then maybe in economics.
In the past few months the International Monetary Fund, previously a bastion of austerity, has swung in favor of expansionary fiscal policies. The U.S. Federal Reserve has committed itself to printing money without limit until it restores full employment. And the European Central Bank has announced unlimited bond purchases with printed money, a policy denounced, quite literally, as the work of the devil by the president of the German Bundesbank.
–Michala Marcussen is global head of economics at Société Générale Corporate and Investment Bank. The opinions expressed are her own.–
The reflex induced by three decades of success is to look to central banks to steer the economy back to a path of sustainable growth, but five years on from the outbreak of the crisis, it is becoming increasingly evident that, despite the introduction of multiple unorthodox policy tools and huge balance sheet expansion, central banks can only help buy time, they cannot fix the underlying issues of huge debt mountains and weak trend potential growth. For this, government action is required, and as each new round of monetary policy easing seemingly comes with diminishing returns – both in terms of the absolute impact and its duration – there is a growing sense of urgency for governments to act.
This Thursday, Turkey's new central bank governor Erdem Basci will chair his first monetary policy meeting. What can we expect from the man who is seen now as the architect of the country's novel monetary policy? Most analysts predict there will be no change this month to interest rates and banks' reserve requirement ratios. But could the bank, which shocked markets with an out-of-the-blue rate cut in December and a big further rise in short-term RRRs last month, throw another curveball?
ING Bank is among those which believes the central bank could again surprise markets this week. Using Turkish banks' net off-balance sheet currency positions as a proxy, ING analyst Sengul Dagdeviren reckons short-term capital inflows are on the rise again. Banks' net off-balance sheet FX positions had halved between Nov 5 to March 4 to just over $12 billion, as the central bank drastically widened the gap between the overnight borrowing and lending rates -- a move that discouraged short-term swap positions. But these positions have risen back over $21 billion in the month to 8 April, Dagdeviren says, noting this coincides with a 5 percent gain in the Turkish lira against the dollar.
-Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. 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.
Gary Smith, head of central banks, supranational institutions and sovereign wealth funds at BNP Paribas Investment Partners, has written a special guest blog for Macroscope in which he argues that central banks should consider ways to hedge their FX reserves against the crisis.
"After the 2008 crisis, a mathematical approach to measure the adequate level of foreign exchange reserves – import cover or an equation relating to short-term debt – no longer has much credibility. In the absence of sensible guidelines on adequacy of reserves there is now a general desire to have plenty of reserves.
Central banks in debt-strapped countries have a golden opportunity ahead of them, if you will excuse the pun, to help their countries' finances by selling their yellow metal holdings.
At least, that is the message that Royal Bank of Scotland's commodities chief Nick Moore has been giving in recent presentations -- and he thinks it might happen. The gist is that gold is now at a record price but banks have not come close to meeting their sales allowance for the year.
What is an acceptable return on equity (ROE) for a bank? That question is likely to dominate the debate among executives, investors and regulators in the coming year. After the spectacular losses of the crash, there is no doubt that banks' future returns should be lower than the super-charged profits earned during the credit boom. But if ROEs fall too far, the consequences could be severe.
Returns are already on the way down: just look at Goldman Sachs. Between November 2007 and September 2009, the Wall Street bank's tangible common equity swelled by 74 percent. In 2007, its best-ever year, Goldman earned a 38 percent return on that equity. This year the bank is expected to report the second-highest profit figure in its history. But its ROE is likely to be just half its level of two years ago.