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Albert Edwards: the Bank of England's 'monetary schizophrenia'

Albert Edwards: the Bank of England's 'monetary schizophrenia'

After last month admitting he was becoming tired of central bank bashing - a feeling many of his readers may relate to - Albert Edwards has launched another scathing attack. 

The Bank of England (BoE) was in the line of fire this time, with the SocGen strategist claiming Mark Carney's team was leading the way when it comes to 'monetary schizophrenia'. 

Edwards finds it remarkable how similar the US and UK macro situations often are.

'This was most evident in the run-up to the 2008 global financial crisis with both the Federal Reserve and Bank of England (BoE) asleep at the wheel, building a most precarious pyramid of prosperity upon the shifting sands of rampant credit growth and illusory housing wealth,' he said.

'These of all the major central banks were the most culpable in their incompetence and most prepared with disingenuous excuses. And 10 years on, not much has changed.

'The Fed and BoE are once again presiding over a credit bubble, with the BoE in particular suffering a painful episode of cognitive dissonance in an effort to shift the blame elsewhere. The credit bubble is everyone's fault but theirs.' 

Edwards sees unsecured credit at the heart of the problem, where growth has shot up by more than 10% in both the UK and US.  

Edwards accepts the debt time-bomb is specific to the UK. 

'We are in a QE, zero interest rate world, where central banks are effectively force-feeding debt down borrowers' throats. They did it in 2003-2007 and they are doing it again,' he highlights. 

'Most of the liquidity merely swirls around financial markets, but there is certainly compelling evidence now of a consumer credit bubble in both the UK and US (as well as a corporate credit bubble in the US).'

However, he finds the reaction of the BoE most 'bizarre', with Carney darkly warning banks of lessons of the past while recently increasing bank capital requirements on consumer loans.

The perplexed Edwards points out: 'At the same time it is warning of a consumer credit bubble, the BoE has just increased its programme of lending to banks at preferential rates to increase bank lending in things like, yes you've guessed it, consumer credit!

'This is like having your foot on the brake and the accelerator at the same time - link. This makes governor Carney's cautious statements about consumer credit look ridiculous and takes BoE monetary policy to a new level of schizophrenia.' 

He concludes: 'The simple fact is monetary policy is way too loose in the UK as well as in the US, and let us not forget the BoE cut rates in the immediate aftermath of last July's Brexit vote.

'Bubbles are appearing in areas like consumer credit because interest rates are far too low and need to be raised. And yes, when interest rates are excessively low, both borrowers and lenders do stupid things.'  

 

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