Bank of England’s Weale warns high inflation means end of QE

 
Tim Wallace
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INFLATION will be too high for the next two years, ruling out any more quantitative easing (QE), top Bank official Martin Weale said yesterday.

But he defended the policy from complaints that it hurts pensioners, and said that in future it may be possible to argue QE actually reduces inflation by raising productivity.

Under QE the Bank prints money to buy government debt, to push down interest rates. This is meant to stimulate the economy, but it also drives up inflation.

In addition, QE has been criticised as it reduces the value of the annuity retirees can buy with their pension pots, attracting the ire of the older generation.

Weale yesterday defended the policy, arguing that young people have been particularly badly hit by the downturn and so need support from the central bank.

In particular he noted that almost 10 per cent of young men have been unemployed for more than six months, compared with just over three per cent for men aged 31 to 64.

As a result he feels hitting the old with QE has been justified because it helps the young.

However, Weale said high inflation should rule out any more QE for now.

“It is more likely than not that inflation will remain above target for much of the next two years,” he told the Manchester Economics Seminar. “Additional stimulus would, without any corresponding improvement in productivity, add to inflation.”

But he added that he hopes QE may one day be shown to improve productivity, allowing the Bank to print more money without fear of inflation soaring.