Commenting on the choices facing the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at its March 2012 meeting next Thursday, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:“The financial markets are almost unanimous in expecting no change at next week’s meeting, with interest rates staying at 0.5% and the Quantitative Easing (QE) programme at £325bn. Following last month’s increase in QE, there is clearly no case for any new moves in March.
“We supported last month’s QE increase, but we are concerned that although this supports financial stability, it has not been reflected in increased lending and the benefits to the real economy have been limited. While we hope the Chancellor will address some of these issues through the introduction of an effective credit-easing scheme, the MPC must also play its part.
“The Committee should reconsider its reluctance to include assets other than gilts, such as securitised SME loans, in the QE programme. There are also lessons to be learned from the European Central Bank’s recent success in providing large amounts of cheap money to banks. Similar measures in the UK could help to make the banks less risk averse, and may help improve the flow of lending to businesses.”