Is the cult of monetarism having a revival at the Bank of England? Perhaps that thought was behind the questioning when some of the Bank’s great and good appeared before the Treasury select committee on Tuesday.
It started with a confession from Rachel Lomax. Although her title is deputy governor for monetary policy, when asked by the committee whether money supply growth provided an accurate gauge of future inflation, she admitted: “I’m not a believer any more, having been a believer 20 years ago.” She was followed by Kate Barker and Sir John Gieve, both members of the monetary policy committee, revealing themselves to be at least agnostic.
Monetarists have been gaining ascendancy on the MPC since Professor Stephen Nickell, who had no time for monetarism, left last June. In August, when the MPC voted for the first of its three recent interest rate increases, it cited the “rapid growth of broad money and credit” as a reason for the rise, the first time in nine years it had used that explanation.
The arrival of Andrew Sentance on the MPC last October may have added to those who think rapid money growth is inflationary. He told MPs on Tuesday: “At a time when demand has been picking up, we need to watch it [money growth] closely. My approach is to watch it closely, but to have an open mind.”
All eyes then were on Mervyn King, the governor. Would he endorse the new monetarist wave? Looking somewhat uncomfortable, King finally admitted: “I’m more concerned with monetary aggregates than some of my colleagues.” Money supply does “pose an upside risk to inflation”, he added, saying that it was one of the reasons the Bank of England put up rates again in January. So now we know.
Is “bloody” an unacceptable swear word, or has it become so mild as to be inoffensive? According to Tourism Australia, most people think the latter. Last year the body used the word when enticing people to visit the country in adverts ending: “So where the bloody hell are you?”
It was, Tourism Australia thought, a way “to extend a hospitable welcome in a uniquely Australian manner”. The Advertising Standards Authority let them get away with it, so long as the TV adverts appeared after 9pm when, of course, all good kiddies are in bed. So naturally they thought it would be fine to use the same line in a poster campaign.
Big mistake. The ASA received 32 complaints and has ruled that while not “inherently offensive”, bloody should not be plastered across giant billboards that children might see. Hmm, if children haven’t heard the word bloody before they are old enough to be able to read it they lead admirably sheltered lives.
Wanted: good homes for 200 Labradors. Nigel Millar, of Baker Tilly, the accountants, has landed one of his most unusual assignments. Appointed trustee in bankruptcy to a dog breeder in Norfolk, Millar now has to sell the assets to repay her creditors.
Millar, who owns an elderly rough collie, says the dogs range from puppies to adults, are mainly of the black and chocolate variety, and are priced between £100 and £350.
More important than the money, Baker Tilly says, is that the dogs go to “good homes”. But isn’t there the potential for bared teeth over the food bowl here? Trustees in bankruptcy have a duty to maximise sale proceeds for the benefit of creditors.
Fortunately, says Millar, the breeder’s other assets should raise enough, so no need to parcel the puppies off to Cruella de Vil. Phew, celebratory bones all round.
Horns of a dilemma
Eighteen goats acquired by the National Trust have not been so lucky. Put to graze heathland in Dorset, they escaped, creating a hazard. The trust managed to round up 15 of them, and killed them.
Oopsie. “Although we thought we had taken the best decision for the goats at the time,” the trust said on Tuesday – what might the worst decision have been? – “we wish we had done more to try to find them a home”. It promises to do so for the last three – if it can catch them.
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