LONDON (Reuters) - Restarting the Bank of England's asset purchase program any time soon would give little help to Britain's economy and risks raising inflation, new central bank policymaker Ian McCafferty said on Friday.
In his first speech since joining the bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in September, McCafferty also said that he was concerned inflation would be slow to fall over the next two years and that pent-up wage pressures were building.
Other BoE programs like the ongoing Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) aimed at boosting bank lending, might prove more powerful, he said, also hinting that the bank could potentially use the corporate bond market to get more capital to smaller and medium-sized businesses.
"In the present environment it is not clear to me first that current monetary policy instruments can easily generate a substantial increase in demand, and second that such demand stimulus would have no inflationary consequences," he said.
The BoE bought 375 billion pounds ($599 billion) of British government bonds between March 2009 and October 2012, and by a narrow majority economists do not expect the central bank to restart the program, despite a weak economy.
McCafferty said that some of the channels through which this quantitative easing (QE) had been effective in the past, such as boosting confidence and improving market liquidity, were no longer as effective.
McCafferty noted that in its monthly policy meetings the MPC needs to take into account the rapidly looming issue of maturing QE gilts. Fellow committee member Paul Fisher told Reuters last month that the bank may need to buy more gilts as its existing holdings mature just to maintain its existing stance, potentially offering some short-term relief to the bond market.
"Were we not to roll over all of those maturing gilts with further purchases to offset the maturity, that would be an implicit tightening of the monetary stance. Were we to roll over, that would be seen as an unchanged monetary stance," he said in a question-and-answer session after giving the speech.
"I can't give you any specific indications because of course we will be taking that decision on a monthly basis," he added.
McCafferty, formerly the Confederation of British Industry's chief economic adviser before succeeding the dovish Adam Posen on the MPC, said inflation - currently 2.7 percent - could be slow to fall back to the bank's 2 percent target.
He pointed to risks of future food price rises and long-run upward pressure on regulated prices such as those for public transport and university tuition.
"The upward pressures on both administered and food prices place a high burden of adjustment on other categories of the CPI basket, if on average prices in aggregate are to rise in line with the 2 percent target," he said.
Although he stressed that the indicators the bank uses offer reassurance on expectations for future inflation, McCafferty warned that wages may rise when the economy recovers.
"I hear this frequently when talking with companies, and from the tone of the conversations, it is not clear that such wage increases would be purely limited to increases in productivity, and might well be more 'generous' to make up for the experience of recent years," he said.
Earlier on Friday, McCafferty said in a television interview that sterling may still be too strong for British exporters, and that the BoE should be open to new policy tools if needed.
He elaborated on the latter in the question-and-answer session, saying that the bank could look at ways of easing small and medium-sized businesses' access to the corporate bond market if it judged further stimulus - beyond QE and the FLS - was needed for the economy.
"One of the issues that I've been worried about is the flow of capital to small and medium-sized businesses, for example. I think one of those issues would be what are the other forms of capital they could touch on and one of the possible areas that you could imagine could be if they were able to raise money through the corporate bond market," he said.
($1 = 0.6262 British pounds)
(Editing by Patrick Graham)
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