A three-way split for MPC

A THREE-WAY split has emerged in City A.M.’s Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) this month, ahead of the Bank of England’s policy decision scheduled for midday today.

Two hawks are sustaining their call for a rate rise while a dove is now pushing for further quantitative easing. Both City A.M. editor Allister Heath and Henderson’s Simon Ward still seek an increase in interest rates of 0.25 per cent. They argue that the recovery is already well under way and that high inflation warrants a tightening of policy.

However, the Institute of Directors’ Graeme Leach emerges in the dovish camp, saying that the MPC should announce a small expansion in quantitative easing of around £25bn.

The remaining six members of the shadow committee all voted to keep monetary policy on hold this month, following a “wait-and-see” policy.

However, four of these six explicitly said that further loosening may be required in the coming months should the economy take a turn for the worse.

Speculation of a three-way split at the Bank of England intensified ahead of last month’s meeting but the minutes revealed that only hawk Andrew Sentance dissented from the majority in his call for a rate rise. But the minutes showed again that the MPC had actively discussed the possibility of firing up the printing presses once again.

With leading surveys pointing to slower growth in the third quarter some of the MPC may be tempted towards further loosening. Others may have been convinced by Sentance of the dangers of inflation.