Ben Chu: It's good the Bank admits QE's inequity

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The Independent Online

Rich people have lots of assets and poor people don't. That's, of course, one of the things that makes the rich rich and the poor poor. So in that sense it's hardly a surprise that the Bank of England's money printing programme, which was specifically intended to boost asset prices across the economy, has ended up disproportionately benefiting the rich.

But it is still useful to have it spelled out in the Bank's latest research on the impact of quantitative easing, as it might help draw attention to just how pig-headed the bank has been in its opposition to making monetary policy more effective.

One outgoing member of the Bank's rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee, Adam Posen, has been agitating for almost a year now for the Bank to use its newly printed money to buy up corporate securities and packages of small business loans rather than simply vacuuming up gilts, or government bonds. This, he argues, would make QE more effective in boosting the economy by ensuring that it pushes down directly on the borrowing costs of businesses.

The problem is that the Bank's governor, Sir Mervyn King, has rebuffed this proposal. He says it would put the Bank in the invidious position of effectively deciding which firms should get cheaper credit than others, giving some businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors.

Yet as we have seen, conventional QE already has side-effects in the real economy.

It seems the Bank and its governor are content for its monetary policy to benefit wealthy individuals, but not to help struggling companies. With British firms in the grip of a savage credit squeeze that is an attitude that many will struggle to fathom.