Interview with a Governor
- 6 October 2011
- From the section Business
Surprise, surprise, Mervyn King doesn't think this batch of quantitative easing (QE) is simply about keeping up appearances.
When I interviewed him this afternoon, he said quantitative easing had worked before, and it will work again.
But the message running through his answers was that the job of rescuing the recovery couldn't be left to central banks alone - that's true of the UK, and for the broader global economy.
He also admitted that "throwing money" at the problem could not be the whole answer. Though of course, that is exactly what he, or at least a majority of the MPC, have today decided to do.
Piece in the puzzle
As we know, the Governor thinks international leaders need to step up to the plate, to resolve global imbalances - and make progress at next month's summit in Cannes.
Though he said we shouldn't expect too much to be achieved in a few short weeks.
On the home front, he admitted - explicitly - that QE had given a lot more help to the City than to small businesses, out in the real economy (you can watch for yourself if you don't believe me).
But small business lending, he said, was only a tiny piece of the macro puzzle - albeit a very important one.
Even in good times, total lending to small businesses in the UK is a fraction - maybe a tenth - of the amount the Bank today said it would inject into the economy.
Feeling savers' pain
Two and a half years since the policy was launched, there are many in the City who say the Bank should have tried to do things differently - use the money created with quantitative easing to help private businesses more directly, rather than simply buying government bonds.
But the way the Governor tells it, that's not the Bank of England's job. It's the job of the banks - if only the Chancellor could find a good way to encourage them to do it.
Some will see that as a statement of reality. Others, like the FT's Chris Giles, will say it is the mark of a "belligerent" Bank of England governor who puts "purity before pragmatism".
But there's no doubt that savers will be the biggest short-term losers from today's decision. Some of them went to the Bank today to make their point.
The Governor said, again, that he feels savers' pain - but he can't do anything about it, short of creating a recession which would hurt everyone.
He did predict that inflation will rise again this month - October - but that will be the peak. It will be interesting to see whether that's another Bank forecast that gets quietly revised.