Bank of England set to ignore calls for quantitative easing
Sunday 04 September 2011
The Bank of England is set to ignore mounting pressure to pump more money into the economy on Thursday amid fresh fears of another global recession.
Worries about the strength of the world economy have intensified in recent weeks following a raft of gloomy data which suggested the recovery is running out of steam and sparked a bloodbath on world stock markets.
Amid the financial gloom, the prospect of interest rates being hiked from their record low of 0.5% has faded but there are now heightened calls for another round of quantitative easing (QE), or money printing, to inject some life into the UK's flagging economy.
When the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) last met a month ago it voted unanimously to hold interest rates for the 29th month in a row as two members who had previously voted for rates to be hiked to 0.75% changed their minds as the economy showed increasing signs of weakness. Many economists now do not expect rates to rise for more than a year.
MPC member Adam Posen was alone in voting for the stock of QE to be increased by £50 billion to £200 billion, while the minutes of the meeting revealed that other members were considering the option.
Since then he has made a public call for the world's biggest economies to print more money to fend off the growing financial malaise.
Mr Posen recently told reporters: "It is past time for monetary policy to be doing more to support recovery.
"Additional monetary stimulus is the last line of defence for the advanced economies today.
"G7 central banks should purchase more assets if we are to have any hope of our economies ever catching up."
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which downgraded the UK's growth prospects in a report published on Thursday, suggested the Bank could print more money if the current economic weakness continues.
But economists do not expect the MPC to embark on more QE unless the economy deteriorates further.
Brian Hilliard, an economist at Societe Generale, said: "QE2 is now centre stage at the MPC but we do not think any decision will be taken to expand asset purchases at the next meeting.
"Other members are considering this but we do not think they are yet persuaded of the need to provide more stimulus."
Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight added: "We get the impression that most MPC members are wary about going back down the QE path given the current high level of consumer price inflation and still significant longer-term inflation risks.
"We currently lean towards the view that further QE will only occur if the economy actually sees renewed contraction."
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