Further round of quantitative easing 'possible'

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Indy Politics

There is "quite a lot of scope " for a further round of quantitative easing, a senior member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee said today.

Martin Weale said that while central banks should not be seen as the solution to the "world's problems", a third round of QE was possible.

His comments came following the recent decision by the Bank to boost its QE programme - effectively printing more cash - from £200 billion to £275 billion and hold interest rates at 0.5%.

The move, dubbed QE2, is the first change to the programme since November 2009 and provided the clearest signal yet that the Bank thinks Britain is on the brink of a double-dip recession.

Speaking to Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News today, Dr Weale said that with interest rates so low, the Bank could still pump more cash into the system as it tries to stimulate economic growth.

He said: "There is quite a lot of scope for further quantitative easing. Before the purchases that we announced last week, the amount of Government debt in the system was actually higher than it had been before the earlier bout of quantitative easing.

"There is quite a lot more that could be done but at the same time I think one has to recognise that central banks can't be expected on their own to resolve all of the world's problems."

Dr Weale also denied the measure simply led to inflation without stimulating the economy, claiming the situation would be worse without the second round of QE. But he acknowledged there was "uncertainty" about the impact of QE.

"I have not heard anyone suggesting that quantitative easing actually inhibits the growth of the economy, that it fails to provide support," he added.

"Some people have suggested that it translates fairly directly into inflation without supporting economic growth, but I can't see any reason why that should be the case.

"I haven't heard of a convincing mechanism why that should be the case. So the further quantitative easing is to provide further support for the economy.

"Obviously the future is uncertain and we don't know how much support will be provided but I certainly think it is an appropriate response to a weakening economic (situation)."