Ros Altmann

Chris Giles

For almost the entire time the Bank of England has enjoyed operational control of monetary policy, the redistributive effects of monetary policy have rarely hit the headlines.

The public appeared to accept that interest rate rises hit borrowers and benefited savers and vice versa. The vast majority of the commentary related to the analysis of whether any monetary policy change was warranted by the prospects for inflation. This, in Britain at least, was the way the Bank of England liked it.

Unelected officials feel very uncomfortable about being seen to favour one group of society over another. Redistribution, after all, is properly something for elected politicians, since it involves using the power of the state to take money from some to give it to others.

It is noteworthy, therefore, both that the distributional effects of quantitative easing are now being raised vocally by strong lobby groups and that the Bank is feeling peeved, rightly so.  Read more