In what may be the most disturbing news of the day, moments ago the BOE announced it is halting its own version of QE3, and capping the asset purchase program at £375 billion after "some policy makers questioned its effectiveness in supporting a recovery that remains lackluster." Could it be that even that peculiar Homo Sapiens subspecies known as "economist" is starting to realize that when applying the same "remedy" time after time to absolutely no avail, and where even the market no longer responds to unlimited injections of liquidity, then perhaps it is time to end said "remedy" altogether? And how long until the voodoo shamans in the dark lit room at Marriner Eccles follow through? Sadly, if Japan, and its 9 (so far) rounds of easing, is any indication, we have a lot more pain to go before what has been glaringly obvious to every hotdog vendor and shoeshine boy is also understood by Economics Nobel prize winners.
The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee led by Governor Mervyn King kept its target for asset purchases at 375 billion pounds ($598 billion) today, ending its third round of quantitative easing. The decision was forecast by 35 of 45 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The remainder had forecast an increase of as much as 50 billion pounds.
Today’s move suggests the London-based central bank may focus on credit-boosting initiatives such as the Funding for Lending Scheme to ignite growth. Increased inflationary pressures may also have prompted policy makers to hold fire even as surveys point to renewed weakness after the U.K. economy surged 1 percent in the third quarter.
BOE Deputy Governors Paul Tucker and Charles Bean both suggested in recent speeches that asset purchases may no longer have the same impact on the economy as when first introduced in 2009. At the same time, Martin Weale has questioned whether loosening policy is right with inflation above the central bank’s 2 percent target.
The UK needs more hedonically edible iPads because inflation appears to be an issue:
Inflation was at 2.2 percent in September and King said last month that recent energy costs increases mean it will stay above the goal “well into next year.” Renewed signs of price pressures combined with the third-quarter gross domestic product data and comments from MPC members led banks including Citigroup Inc. and Barclays Plc to abandon forecasts of more QE today.
“The widespread expectation of unchanged policy marks a sharp turnaround from forecasts just a few weeks ago that QE would be expanded,” said Chris Crowe and Blerina Uruci, economists at Barclays in London. “This is partly due to evidence of firmer inflationary pressures.”
The MPC had new growth and inflation forecasts at today’s meeting, which it will publish next week. Minutes of the meeting, showing how the committee members voted, will be released on Nov. 21.
Finally, since one never says never in Keynesville, it is likely only a matter of time before the insanity returns:
Even with QE halted, the Bank of England still has the FLS, which it set up with the U.K. Treasury and is aimed at boosting lending. The program began in August and as of last month, 30 financial institutions had signed up, including Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Barclays.
“QE still has a benefit and those benefits will stay there -- they’re not unwinding any purchases,” said Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotia Capital in London. “And they won’t close the door on it, they’ll leave their options open.”
And now, we look forward to the ECB confirming that when it comes to failed monetary system, for every good cop there is at least one absolutely insane cop.