LONDON (Alliance News) – A major UK parliamentary inquiry has been launched into the impact of the Bank of England’s ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing policies.
The Treasury Select Committee investigation will also examine the risk of political pressure undermining the Bank’s independence following Prime Minister Theresa May’s criticism of the side effects of monetary policy decisions.
The inquiry will examine the “unintended consequences” of monetary policy on house prices, savings and pensions.
Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie said: “Interest rates are stuck near zero, the Bank of England has used increasingly unconventional forms of quantitative easing, and inflation has been below the 2% target for three years. The efficacy of monetary policy or otherwise, its unintended consequences, and its prospects, need careful examination.”
The Prime Minister used her party conference speech in October to say that unconventional monetary policy had acted as “emergency medicine” after the financial crash but there had been “some bad side effects”.
She said: “People with assets have got richer. People without them have suffered. People with mortgages have found their debts cheaper. People with savings have found themselves poorer. A change has got to come. And we are going to deliver it.”
Bank Governor Mark Carney vowed to protect Threadneedle Street from political interference and Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent said that real interest rates and QE – which sees the Bank print money to buy government bonds – have had little bearing on wealth and income distribution.
Tyrie said: “The Treasury Committee will continue to act as a safeguard on the operational independence of the Bank. The Treasury indemnity, which underpins parts of the Bank’s monetary policy, could all too easily encourage the Treasury, or politicians, to put undue pressure on the Bank. The Committee will examine the risks of that, too.”
The cross-party panel of MPs will examine the effectiveness of QE and whether it has met with “diminishing returns” and will also consider the scope for expansion of qualitative easing – where riskier assets such as corporate bonds rather than government debt is purchased.
The committee will also look at whether low interest rates have hit competition, with heavily indebted “zombie companies” remaining able to operate when they would have gone to the wall under other circumstances.
By David Hughes, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent
Source: Press Association
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