Analysis: Global central banks will keep taking it easy

Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:34am EST
 
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By Alan Wheatley, Global Economics Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - Central banks are in a deep easy-money hole of their own digging that they will have to start filling in at some point. But that day still looks quite some way off.

Indeed, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England are staking out a much bolder stance, brushing aside warnings from some that they might be stoking currency wars by depreciating their currencies or sowing the seeds of asset bubbles and inflation.

For Japan, inflation would be a solution, not a problem, after years of gently falling prices. The country's nominal gross domestic product is no higher than it was 20 years ago, saddling the government with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 235 percent and climbing.

Britain seems simply to have concluded that higher inflation is a price worth paying to revive economic growth.

Three of the Bank of England's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, including Governor Mervyn King, voted this month to buy more bonds under its quantitative easing (QE) program even though inflation has been above target for five years and is unlikely to fall back to its 2 percent goal for another three years.

"There are clear signs of a softening of the commitment to inflation control across a number of economies," said Simon Hayes, an economist at Barclays Capital in London.

A QUESTION OF JUDGMENT

Hayes said there was nothing wrong as such with banks buying bonds with newly minted money to breathe life into the economy.   Continued...

 
Busses pass the Bank of England in the city of London November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris