Can central banks normalise their balance sheets?

While announced as a temporary measure, the Bank of England’s purchases of long-dated gilts is another reminder of how central banks will struggle to reduce bloated balance sheets. Japan’s quantitative easing rumbles on, and the US and euro area are still at the nascent stage of addressing their central bank’s finances. QE globally has been no panacea, and the BoE has been quick to differentiate financial support from QE. Yet, by trying to suppress bond yields and signalling that money printing can be used to finance fiscal spending, it suggests fiscal considerations have in QE countries become a more potent force behind monetary decisions as rates rise. In the UK, ‘the kindness of strangers’ will increasingly hinge more on yield, currency and ratings considerations compared to Japan.

Is the UK a test case for others, what are the problems and where do we go from here? Neil Williams, chief economist, and Taylor Pearce, economist, OMFIF, discuss.

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