MPC must act boldly to increase benefits of QE

Commenting on today’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Following the February increase in Quantitative Easing (QE), the decision to keep interest rates and the QE programme on hold was widely expected. With QE still being implemented, and given the MPC’s self-imposed practice of only buying gilts, this was the right decision. However, last month two MPC members voted for an increase in QE to £350bn. While support for this may be strengthening, we believe that adding to QE would be unnecessary.

“We supported past increases in QE because they eased pressures on the banking system and helped to underpin financial stability. However, this has not led to meaningful increases in lending to small businesses, and the benefits to the real economy have been limited. Increasing QE now would only have a marginal effect. There is ample liquidity in the financial system and there is no need to drive down yields on government bonds further.

"The main policy aim must be boosting the unduly low rate of economic growth by increasing lending to viable businesses. To achieve this, it is vital to make the new credit-easing scheme more substantial. But the MPC also has a part to play. The committee should reconsider its reluctance to include assets other than gilts in the QE programme, such as securitised SME loans. This will make the banks less risk averse, and will help to improve the flow of lending to credit-worthy firms.”

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