It’s not just the roads in the UK that were frozen, as the Bank of England unsurprisingly decided to keep interest rates frozen at 0.5%. Furthermore, many economists do not expect to see interest rates increase for some time. Roger Bootle has predicted that rates could stay low for up to 5 years and this will contribute to a continuing weak pound and spell further trouble for importers and their customers.
The Bank of England also left its money-creation programme of ‘quantitative easing’ unchanged, but next month it will have to decide whether to extend quantitative easing beyond the limits of £200 billion that it set back in November.
Whilst we are supposedly beginning our economic recovery – with 2009 quarter 4 figures showing the first rise in output since the first quarter of 2008 – its strength remains questionable. Indeed, the rise in output in the last three months of 2009 was a mere 0.1%. So how important are interest rates in helping to sustain the recovery? Can they really pull us out of the recession by remaining at just 0.5%? Read the articles below which look at freezing interest rates and quantitative easing.
FTSE unaffected by interest rate decision In the News (7/1/10)
Freeze on UK interest rates BBC News (7/1/10)
Bank of England may raise interest rates as soon as March, leading economist predicts Telegraph (7/1/10)
Interest rates and quantitative easing on hold Guardian, Larry Elliott (7/1/10)
Bank of England extends quantitative easing by £25bn – but is it enough? Guardian, Larry Elliott (5/11/10)
Questions for QE BBC News blogs, Stephanomics, Stephanie Flanders (7/1/10)
Interest rates could stay low for 5 years, says Bootle BBC News (7/1/10)
- How do low interest rates contribute to a weak pound? How does this affect exporters and importers?
- What is quantitative easing? Should the QE programme be extended? What are the arguments for and against this in terms of economic recovery and public debt?
- How much of an impact do you think the recession will have on government policy over the next few months?
- Explain the transmission mechanisms by which changes in interest rates affect the goods market.
- If the Bank of England were not independent, what do you think would be happening to interest rates?
In the light of the continuing recession that, according to the Bank of England, “appears to have been deeper than previously thought”, the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to increase narrow money through an additional £50 billion of ‘quantitative easing’. This will involve extending “its programme of purchases of government and corporate debt to a total of £175 billion, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves. The Committee expects the announced programme to take another three months to complete. The scale of the programme will be kept under review.”
This decision took markets by surprise. Does this mean that the outlook for the economy is bleaker than most people expect? Why does the MPC feel that the original £125 billion of quantitative easing is insufficient? What will determine the effectiveness of the additional £50 billion increase in narrow money? The articles below look at the issues.
Bank of England Maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and Increases Size of Asset Purchase Programme by £50 Billion to £175 Billion Bank of England News Release (6/8/09)
Bank pumps in another £50bn to aid green shoots of recovery Guardian (6/8/09)
Quantitative easing: questions and answers Guardian (6/8/09)
How much money has been pumped into the British economy? Guardian (6/8/09)
Bank of England pumps another £50 billion into economy ITN News (YouTube) (6/8/09)
Bank pumps £50bn into economy BBC News (video) (6/8/09)
Bank policy ‘not fully effective’ BBC Today Programme (audio) (6/8/09)
Are the banks lending enough? BBC News (video) (4/8/09)
Is quantitative easing working? BBC News (6/8/09)
QE: More to do? Stephanomics: BBC blog (6/8/09)
What RBS’s results say about QE Peston’s picks: BBC blog (7/8/09)
Bank wants extra £50bn for ‘fragile’ economy Independent (7/8/09)
David Prosser: Have MPC members lost their nerve? Independent (7/8/09)
The Bank of England thinks the credit crunch is far from over: Edmund Conway Telegraph (6/8/09)
Bank split over money injection BBC News (19/8/09)
- Why did the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee feel that it was necessary to increase the money supply further through the purchase of an additional £50 billion of assets?
- With the use of a diagram, explain how the effect of the increase in money supply will depend on the nature of the demand for money?
- What will determine the size of the money multiplier effect resulting from the increased asset purchases?