The growth in money supply is slowing. This is not surprising, given that the programme of quantitative easing, whereby the Bank of England injected an extra £200bn of (narrow) money into the banking system between March 2009 and February 2010, has come to an end.
Should we be worried about this? Has sufficient money been injected into the economy to sustain the recovery, especially as fiscal policy is about to be radically tightened (see the BBC’s Spending Review section of its website)? One person who thinks that the Bank of England should do more is Adam Posen, an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. In a speech on 28 September 2010, he argued that the UK was in danger of slipping into Japanese-style sluggish growth that could last many years. The reason is that capacity would be lost unless aggregate demand is increased sufficiently to bring the UK back up towards the potential level of output. Firms are unlikely to want to retain unused plant and equipment and underutilised skilled labour for very long. If they do start ‘disinvesting’ in this way, potential output will fall.
What, according to Adam Posen is the answer? With fiscal policy being tightened and with Bank rate as low as it can go, the only option is to increase money supply. But with CPI inflation at 3.1%, considerably above the target 2%, is there a danger that increasing the money supply will cause inflation to rise further? Not according to Posen, who sees inflation falling over the medium term.
Not surprisingly other economists and commentators disagree – including some of his colleagues on the MPC. The following articles look at the arguments on both sides. You will also find below a link to the speech and to money supply data. There is also a link to the latest Bank of England inflation and GDP forecasts.
Posen calls for QE to be resumed Financial Times, Chris Giles (28/9/10)
Weak lending data fuel debate on QE Financial Times, Norma Cohen (29/9/10)
Bank of England’s Adam Posen calls for more quantitative easing Telegraph, Philip Aldrick and Emma Rowley (29/9/10)
Posen pleads for new stimulus to save economy and democracy Independent, Sean O’Grady (29/9/10)
Bring back the usury laws Independent, Hamish McRae (29/9/10)
Rocking the boat on the MPC BBC News blogs, Stephanomics, Stephanie Flanders (28/9/10)
A Response to Adam Posen The Source, Alen Mattich (28/9/10)
Adam Posen is posing the Bank of England a tricky question Guardian, Nils Pratley (28/9/10)
UK economy: optimists vs. pessimists FT blogs, Chris Giles (29/9/10)
What should the Bank of England do next? BBC Today Programme, Stephanie Flanders and John Redwood (1/10/10)
Interest rates will rise, predicts former Bank of England deputy governor Guardian, Dan Milmo (4/10/10)
UK interest rates on hold at record low of 0.5% BBC News (7/10/10)
The Case for Doing More Speech to the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping, Adam Posen (28/9/10)
- Summarise Adam Posen’s arguments for a further round of quantitative easing.
- How may changes in aggregate demand affect a country’s potential (as well as actual) output?
- What are the similarities and differences between the UK now and Japan over the past two decades?
- Describe what has been happening to the various components of money supply over the past few months.
- What might suggest that the Bank of England was wrong in believing that the trend rate of growth was about 2.75%?
- What are the moral arguments about personal and state borrowing? Should we begin the ‘long retreat from the never-never society’?
- Analyse the arguments against a further round of quantitative easing.