Ben Bernanke famously remarked that “the trouble with QE is that it works in practice but not in theory”. And ahead of its adoption, many academics were sceptical that QE would have any effects at all. Yet despite QE being a part of the monetary policy landscape for nearly a decade, the bulk of academic research on QE has been on its empirical effect, with relatively little on theory and less still on normative policy questions. In a recent Staff Working Paper I develop a model which can provide answers to questions such as: “How should monetary policymakers return their instruments to more normal levels?” and “Should QE be part of the regular monetary policy toolkit?”
Chiranjit Chakraborty and Andreas Joseph
Rapid advances in analytical modelling and information processing capabilities, particularly in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), combined with ever more granular data are currently transforming many aspects of everyday life and work. In this blog post we give a brief overview of basic concepts of ML and potential applications at central banks based on our research. We demonstrate how an artificial neural network (NN) can be used for inflation forecasting which lies at the heart of modern central banking. We show how its structure can help to understand model reactions. The NN generally outperforms more conventional models. However, it struggles to cope with the unseen post-crises situation which highlights the care needed when considering new modelling approaches.
The Law of One Price (LOOP) is an old idea in economics. LOOP states that the same product should cost the same in different places, expressed in the same currency. The intuition is that arbitrage (buying a product where it is cheap and selling it where it is expensive) should bring prices back into line. Can LOOP help us understand UK inflation? Yes. I find EU prices have much higher explanatory power for UK prices than domestic cost pressures, and the effects of exchange rate changes last longer, but build more slowly than commonly assumed.
Philip Bunn and Jeremy Rowe
Rising inflation is eroding the spending power of UK households’ incomes. How will they react to that? The answer will make a big difference to the economic outlook. Will they dip into savings and carry on buying the same amount of goods and services, or will they just spend the same and be able to buy less with it? New survey evidence suggests that households intend to do a bit of both with nominal spending increasing by around half of the rise in prices but real consumption also falling. But not all households say they will respond in the same way: households with debts and limited savings to fall back on are less likely to be able to increase spending.
James Barker, David Bholat and Ryland Thomas.
Central bank balance sheets swelled in size in response to the financial crisis of 2007-09. In this blog we discuss what makes them different from the balance sheets of other institutions, how they’ve been used in the past, and how they might evolve in the future as means to implement novel policies – including the revolutionary possibility that a central bank could issue its own digital currency.
Alex Haberis, Richard Harrison and Matt Waldron.
In textbook models of monetary policy, a promise to hold interest rates lower in the future has very powerful effects on economic activity and inflation today. This result relies on: a) a strong link between expected future policy rates and current activity; b) a belief that the policymaker will make good on the promise. We draw on analysis from our Staff Working Paper and show that there is a tension between (a) and (b) that creates a paradox: the stronger the expectations channel, the less likely it is that people will believe the promise in the first place. As a result, forward guidance promises in these models are much less powerful than standard analysis suggests.
In recent years there has been a notable move to lenders charging a daily or monthly fee on overdrafts. Although not technically an interest rate, they are nonetheless a cost of borrowing. And in some cases, may have replaced interest charges entirely. So are customers charged more than the interest-charging overdraft rate alone suggests?
Since 2012, long term rates have fallen and there have been various other policy packages to boost credit availability and lower borrowing costs. But how have these fed through to different types of fixed mortgage rates?
How have falling retail deposit interest rates affected savers’ behaviour? One place to look is the market for fixed-rate bonds, which give a guaranteed interest rate for a set period of time. These rates tend to be higher than instant access accounts, because customers must tie up their deposits to receive the higher rate. Fixed-rate bonds represented around 40% of new time deposits in January 2017. Continue reading
Evidence suggests that small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rely more on bank credit than other businesses. So how has their cost of borrowing fared since last year’s Bank Rate cut? And how do their rates compare with overall businesses? Continue reading