Outlook: Monetary soap
Thursday 18 November 1999
THE MONETARY Policy Committee's capacity for entertainment value is definitely on the increase, although it still falls short of the high comedy of the Ken and Eddie show it replaced. Like any good sit-com sequel it has retained, in the commanding figure of the Governor, one of the principal characters. Now further dramatic potential is emerging in the shape of the increasingly forceful characters of the other eight members of the committee.
The latest episode, following on from the big row over research facilities earlier this month, was a corker. On the face of it yesterday's minutes showed an eight-one split. Only DeAnne Julius voted against the quarter- point increase in interest rates.
Those other eight votes, however, disguised a mass of seething disagreement. One member, presumably Willem Buiter, suggested the increase should be less than a quarter point. At least one, probably including Mervyn King, wanted a half-point rise instead of a quarter. Confused? You will be after this latest episode of "Trouble on the MPC". More importantly, what on earth does this difference of opinion imply for forthcoming interest rate decisions? It's a real cliffhanger.
Frivolity aside, it is obviously a huge improvement to have a more transparent debate which sheds light on genuine and inevitable differences of opinion. It was the lack of transparency that really made the Ken and Eddie show a farce, because it was an open secret that the published minutes were a fig-leaf for a decision made by the Chancellor before the meeting even started.
However, there is a sense in which yesterday's minutes almost let too much hang out. Seemingly everyone gets a paragraph to set out his or her view. While airing the broad debate in public is certainly valuable, it also gives the impression that the MPC's members are succumbing to the temptation to try and fine-tune the economy, as if a 0.125 per cent variation in interest rates will make any significant difference to the economy two years hence.
The squabbling cast of the MPC must keep the broader picture in mind - that theirs is an imprecise science in which the aim must be to avoid big mistakes rather than get small details right. So far, luckily, they've achieved it, but the lack of coherent consensus suggests it may not always be thus.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...