The Great Debate UK
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.
This week an even more radical debate burst into the open in Britain. Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, found himself fighting a rearguard action against a groundswell of support for “dropping money from helicopters” – something proposed by Milton Friedman in 1969 as the ultimate cure for intractable economic depressions and recently described in this column as “Quantitative Easing for the People.”
King had to speak out because the sort of calculations presented here last summer started to catch on in Britain. The BoE has spent £50 billion over the past six months to support bond prices. That could instead have financed a cash handout of £830 for every man, woman and child in Britain, or £3,300 for a typical family of four. In the United States, the $40 billion the Fed has promised to transfer monthly, with no time limit, to banks and bond funds, could instead finance a monthly cash payment of $500 per family – to be continued indefinitely until full employment is restored.
The once-good relationship between Bank of England Governor Mervyn King and his most likely successor, Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, is coming under increasing strain, according to a new book by former Daily Telegraph journalist Dan Conaghan. It alleges King’s management style and and alleged disdain for the financial markets is to blame.
While the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee remains reasonably collegiate, on other matters King more than lives up to the description from former chancellor Alistair Darling that he is ‘incredibly stubborn’, says Conaghan, who now worksas an asset manager.
As we’ve noted extensively, economists often get it wrong. Leaving aside their collective failure to recognise an impending global recession, you might recall a shock interest rate hike from the Bank of England in January 2007.
This was another event that almost every economist polled by Reuters failed to spot, and there are signs that four years on, economists might be setting themselves up for a similar shock.
-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.
For 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.
-Mark Bolsom is Head of the UK Trading Desk at Travelex Global Business Payments. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Sterling tumbled to a one week low against the dollar in trading this morning, after the Bank of England delivered its latest quarterly inflation and growth forecasts today.
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.
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. 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.
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own. -
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King’s speech this week was well timed insofar as it has nipped in the bud a growing fear that inflation in the UK could be lurching higher.
from UK News:
Deciding it was safe to come clean because banks are now on a more even keel and the worst of the credit crisis is behind us, the Bank of England has told the nation that at the height of the turmoil it secretly lent Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS a colossal £62 billion, which is more than the entire British defence budget.
Both banks faced the imminent closure of high street cash machines and the curtailment of normal banking operations across the country.