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Quantitative Easing: Could its resurgence be a possibility in the UK?

Quantitative Easing: Could its resurgence be a possibility in the UK?

Quantitative Easing (QE) in the UK has always spurred debates concerning its historical use, ramifications, and possible improvements. It is critical to examine the nuances of QE and its effects on the country's financial stability as the Bank of England struggles to carry out monetary policy in an evolving economic environment. This blog post extends the exploration of QE, delving into recent developments and proposing considerations for potential reforms.

What is Quantitative Easing?

One important tool for monetary policy is quantitative easing, which gives central banks the ability to affect the economy by keeping interest rates low. Central banks lower interest rates to stimulate economic activity and raise them to rein in inflation.

The Bank of England started its quantitative easing programme in March 2009 after the Global Financial Crisis to simulate economic growth and provide liquidity to banks. The goal of quantitative easing (QE) is for the central bank to buy bonds—mainly government bonds—in order to drive up their values and eventually reduce long-term interest rates. The goal of the cash infusion is to promote investment and spending, which will aid in economic expansion.

The Bank of England's use of Quantitative Easing (QE) in the Past

When the economy was under strain, the Bank of England introduced quantitative easing (QE) in the wake of the UK's 2016 EU referendum, the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In order to achieve the 2% inflation objective and stabilise the economy, the bank made significant bond purchases totaling £895 billion.
Quantitative Tightening (QT), the opposite approach, entails raising interest rates and reducing inflation. In less than 2 years, the BBR has gone from near zero to over 5% thus putting pressure on households’ mortgage bills.

Getting Around Obstacles: Public Finances and Risk Exposure

Quantitative Easing: Could its resurgence be a possibility in the UK?

The combination of QE and the Bank of England's current monetary policy measures puts further strain on public finances when interest rates rise. These problems, which were perhaps avoidable in 2019 if proactive measures were taken, are now difficult to solve. The Bank of England's quantitative easing programme (QE) has resulted in a considerable shift in the UK government's debt from fixed-rate to floating-rate borrowing. This puts the British government at risk of sudden increases in debt payment expenses caused by rising bank rates, a risk that is not necessary for sound monetary policy.

A Reform Framework: The Balancing Act

The management of public debt should not jeopardise the efficiency of the Bank of England's monetary policy, according to the UK's macrofinance framework. A new principle might be introduced, stating that the Bank should use strategies that least interfere with decisions made by the government on the composition of the public debt when it comes to monetary policy implementation.

This broad premise lends support to the notion of reorganising the Bank's reserve structure. In cases where QE prevents banks from selecting reserve levels, the Bank might implement a tiered compensation structure. This system would combine no or low compensation for a significant share of reserves with a corridor system for marginal reserves, paying only the amount required to set the policy rate in money markets.

Considerations and Challenges

The suggested reform must be carefully evaluated in light of several factors. This includes how bank taxes affect lending conditions, how they affect allocative efficiency, and how credible the central bank is. The trade-off is the possibility of future tax increases or cuts to public services, as well as the possibility of perhaps less-than-ideal taxes now versus larger borrowing today.

The conventional advice would suggest staying away from ineffective taxes and gradually implementing better options. Factors such as the near-term deficit, the default-risk premium, and political viability may influence the decision. Furthermore, it is important to carefully consider the differences between a tax on financial intermediation and the removal of a transfer to the managers and stockholders of banks.

Risks and Future Prospects for Political Economy

Quantitative Easing: Could its resurgence be a possibility in the UK?

The proposed reforms have certain political economic risks, such as the allure of unremunerated reserves for government funding and possible effects on the stability of the bank's operational structure. This stresses the necessity for the bank to outline how it would run a reformed system going forward, even though it does not advocate for rapid adjustments.

In Summary,

In summary, a thorough analysis of the historical use, ramifications, and possible reforms of quantitative easing is necessary in light of its recent resurgence in the UK. One possible option for lowering debt-servicing expenses and balancing the debt load against allocative efficiency is the suggested tiered-reserves regime. A sophisticated and nuanced strategy is essential, as the government balances many factors. Thus, here we set the stage for discussion while maintaining the stability of monetary policy and allowing for in-depth research and discussion on possible reforms.


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