Monetary policy at the Bank of England becomes an all-male affair

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One of the country's most respected and independent-minded economists is to join the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.

Martin Weale, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), will join the MPC at its August meeting to replace Kate Barker, who left in June.

Although the general economic view of the MPC, which sets Britain's interest rates, is unlikely to be radically altered by Mr Weale's appointment, it does mean it is now an all-male club. The Treasury received 38 applications, of which only four were from women. The appointment was announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne.

Mr Weale's economic outlook has generally been more downbeat than that of either the Treasury or the Bank, though there is no sign that he would disagree violently with the current direction of monetary policy.

He did express some scepticism recently about whether rising inflationary expectations were responsible for pushing price increases beyond their official 2 per cent target, as suggested by another independent MPC member, Adam Posen.

Mr Weale is joining the MPC just as the debate about tightening monetary policy is warming up. At last month's meeting, another external member, Andrew Sentance, voted in favour an interest rate increase of 0.25 per cent, to 0.75 per cent. Last November the Bank's chief economist, Spencer Dale, opposed a further extension of quantitative easing on the grounds that it might inflate asset prices unduly.

Mr Weale has been a director of the NIESR since 1995 and was appointed a CBE for services to economics in 1999.

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