Category Archives: Monetary Policy

Bitesize: Has the FOMC increased its focus on foreign risks?

Dan Wales and Emil Iordanov.

Have FOMC discussions changed since the end of 2015? Are the committee more concerned about international risks now?

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Filed under Bitesize, International Economics, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

A cat, a hat and a simple measure of gobbledygook: How readable is your writing?

Jonathan Fullwood.

Sometimes the obvious questions are the hardest to answer. In this post I ask how much of what the Bank and the financial industry in general  write can actually be read by a broad audience. Based on my findings, I suggest that both must try harder if claims of accessibility are to be meaningful.

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Filed under Banking, Monetary Policy

Why Unconventional Monetary Policy Works in Theory

Roger Farmer and Pawel Zabczyk.

Monetary Policy signpost

In a discussion at the Brookings Institution, Ben Bernanke quipped that ‘the problem with Quantitative Easing is that it works in practice, but it doesn’t work in theory’.  Bernanke was referring to Wallace Neutrality – a famous result from monetary theory which asserts that the size and composition of the central bank balance sheet has no effect on inflation or employment. In a new working paper we bridge the gap between practice and theory, and we show how, by intervening in asset markets, a central bank can influence both.  In our model, that intervention will unambiguously improve economic outcomes. In essence, central banks can use open market operations and trades in risky assets to insure those unable to insure themselves.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

The economic effects of globalisation: a view from two of the Bank’s Agents

Will Holman and Tim Pike.

The openness of the UK economy — measured by international trade and labour flows — has increased substantially in the past twenty years (Charts 1 (a) and (b)). In this post we explore three structural changes to the economy arising from globalisation that we have observed daily in our visits to companies around the UK. These are increases in: (a) openness of product markets; (b) access for UK businesses to overseas labour; and (c) outsourcing of non-core activities to lower-wage economies. There is a long-running debate whether globalisation of markets has weakened the link between domestic factors, such as the amount of domestic slack (spare capacity among UK-based firms and workers), and inflationary pressures. In our view, these structural changes have provided an additional source of slack in product and labour markets that has borne down on UK inflation in recent years. Looking to the future, the vote on 23rd June to leave the EU might affect the pace of change of these forces, making future trends uncertain.

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Filed under International Economics, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Central bank digital currency: the end of monetary policy as we know it?

Marilyne Tolle.

Central banks (CBs) have long issued paper currency. The development of Bitcoin and other private digital currencies has provided them with the technological means to issue their own digital currency. But should they?

Addressing this question is part of the Bank’s Research Agenda. In this post I sketch out how a CB digital currency – call it CBcoin – might affect the monetary and banking systems – setting aside other important and complex systemic implications that range from prudential regulation and financial stability to technology, operational and financial conduct.

I argue that taken to its most extreme conclusion, CBcoin issuance could have far-reaching consequences for commercial and central banking – divorcing payments from private bank deposits and even putting an end to banks’ ability to create money. By redefining the architecture of payment systems, CBcoin could thus challenge fractional reserve banking and reshape the conduct of monetary policy.

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Filed under Banking, Currency, Monetary Policy

If Pate’s Grammar School set UK Monetary Policy…

Samuel Cole, Jack Sherer-Clarke, Oliver Wallbridge, Annabel Manley.

bu-guest-post2

Each year, the Bank of England organises the Target 2.0 competition for A-level economics students. In this guest post, the winning team at March’s national final from Pate’s Grammar School explain what they would do if they were the MPC…

We decided as a team to hold the Bank Rate at 0.5% and to maintain asset purchases at £375bn. In our view it is not yet time to tighten monetary policy. Though we believe the output gap is small, the economy is yet to reach escape velocity and the Wicksellian natural rate of interest is likely to remain depressed. We are more optimistic on potential supply than other economists and think oil prices will stay low. As such, we predicted that inflation will only reach 1.7% in 2018Q1 compared to the MPC’s median forecast in February of around 2.1% (which has since fallen to 1.9%).

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Filed under Guest Post, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Rewriting history: understanding revisions to UK GDP

Seeing into the future is always difficult. But in the world of macroeconomics, just trying to look at the past can be a challenge. Official estimates of economic growth in the UK are regularly revised, so forecasts for growth over the next year have to be made on the basis of an ever-changing report card for the previous year. This post tackles some of the most common questions about UK GDP revisions, a topic close to the heart of many users of the UK’s National Accounts. Are the initial estimates of growth biased? Can you predict revisions? Does UK data get revised more than other countries? And which parts of early estimates of GDP should be approached with caution?

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Filed under Economic History, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Life below zero – the impact of negative rates on derivatives activity

James Purchase and Nick Constantine.

In 1995, Fischer Black, an economist whose ground-breaking work in financial theory helped revolutionise options trading, confidently stated that “the nominal short rate cannot be negative.”  Twenty years later this assumption looks questionable: one quarter of world GDP now comes from countries with negative central bank policy rates.  Practitioners have been forced to update their models accordingly, in many cases introducing greater complexity.  But this shift is not just academic.  Models allowing for a wider distribution of future rates require market participants to hedge against greater uncertainty.  We argue that this hedging contributed to the volatility in global rates in early 2015, but that derivatives can also play an important role in facilitating monetary policy transmission at negative rates.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Market Infrastructure, Monetary Policy, New Methodologies

Recycling is good for the liquidity environment: Why ending QE shouldn’t stop banks from being able to make CHAPS payments

Evangelos Benos & Gary Harper.

Since QE began, banks have had a lot more liquidity to make payments. But some have argued (in a nutshell) that banks are reliant on this extra liquidity to make their CHAPS payments and it would be difficult to remove it from the system. Our analysis shows that banks don’t need a great deal of liquidity to make their payments simply because they recycle such a high proportion of them. In practical terms, banks do not rely on high reserves balances to make their CHAPS payments so unwinding QE shouldn’t have any impact on banks’ ability to do just that. We also briefly go over the potential reasons for this such as the CHAPS throughput rules, the Liquidity Savings Mechanism, and the tiered structure of CHAPS.

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Filed under Banking, Financial Stability, Market Infrastructure, Monetary Policy

Have reforms to the BOE’s operating framework reduced money market volatility, and does this matter for monetary policy transmission?

Matthew Osborne.

Over the last twenty years, the BOE has carried out a number of reforms to its operational framework which have been partly intended to reduce money market volatility.  My analysis suggests that these have been successful. Overnight volatility fell by around 90% since the early 2000s and much of this can be explained by the BOE’s reforms.  But I find little evidence that this affected the volatility of term rates, which are more important than overnight rates for monetary policy transmission.  Therefore, central banks might consider giving less priority to money market volatility when designing their future operating frameworks.

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Filed under Financial Markets, Monetary Policy