Wikinvest Wire

Bank of England guns the printing press

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's probably fair to say that they're making a much bigger deal about "quantitative easing" (better known as "money printing") in the U.K. than in the U.S. and for good reason. As a percent of GDP, the amount of money "created out of thin air" in an effort to aid the economy is comparable, however, the U.S. has succeeded in producing at least one quarter of economic growth since the recession began almost two years ago while the Brits have nil.

The tone of the coverage, however, is much different, the latest example being this story at the Telegraph after word that the Bank of England plans to buy even more government bonds.

Bank of England expands money-printing programme to £200bn to fight downturn
The Bank of England has expanded its radical programme of printing money by a further £25bn today as the fight against the deepest downturn for decades is stepped up.

The unconventional plan, which is known as quantitative easing (QE) and was first adopted by the MPC in March, will now see the Bank buy a total of £200bn of UK government bonds, or gilts, and other assets from from financial institutions in the hope the money spent will be invested in the wider economy. Some economists expected the programme to be increased to £225bn.
The paper is full of related stories and has been for months now, the criticism coming fast and furious from the Telegraph and elsewhere.

In contrast, in the U.S., it seems as though you're considered some kind of a nutball or "teabagger" if you complain about the Fed's printing press running overtime.

As best I can tell, that's not so on the other side of the Atlantic. The fact that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is widely viewed as being responsible for the current mess the British find themselves in probably has a lot to do with that.

Anyway, back to the BOE decision and the appearance of yet another colorful equivalent to an American expression as highlighted below.
Experts admit that it's hard to judge whether the policy is working, but with the economy still languishing in recession last quarter, most reckon it's worth expanding.

"The UK economy is still in the High Dependency Unit, but without QE it might have been in Intensive Care, or worse," said Stephen Boyle, head of economics at Royal Bank of Scotland. "The extension of the Bank's asset purchase scheme today reminds us that the risks of doing too little considerably outweigh the risks of doing too much."

The MPC also kept interest rates at the record low level of 0.5pc in an effort to keep money as cheap as possible.
They note that the BOE will soon hold government debt equal to 15 percent of the country's GDP. In the U.S., that would work out to be about 2.1 trillion, about the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet that contains less than a trillion dollars in U.S. Treasuries, most of the balance consisting of mortgage backed securities and GSE debt, which, for all intents and purposes are also government liabilities.

Well, at least the British press is maintaining a sense of humor about it all - here's the Bank of England doing some "hoovering".
IMAGE Yes, "hoovering". We learned that one years ago while visiting. When asked if our room was ready yet, the kind lady at the front desk replied, "They're just finishing up the hoovering".

Of course, we chuckled.

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