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Will printing more money convert a trying economy?

It's make or break time for the Bank of England. By throwing another £75bn at the economy they really are scraping the bottom of the fiscal stimulus barrel - and they'll have their fingers crossed that this time it'll work.

Andrew Sentance, a recent ex-member of the Monetary Policy Committee who had wanted the bank to raise interest rates, said this morning on Radio Four's Today programme that further quantitative easing is not the right move. He believes pumping more money into an economy already fighting rising inflation is a bit like using petrol to put out a fire.

And indeed, when you consider that the asset-purchase scheme is now topping £275bn, it does appear as if we're part of a Monopoly game with an over-generous banker issuing his own currency.

But despite the arch hawk's misgivings, the bank (that's the Bank of England, not the Monopoly bank) has been seen as something of a saviour by the markets, with the FTSE 100 showing the kind of rally which it normally reserves for boom times.

"We're creating money because there's not enough money in the economy," Bank of England governor Mervyn King told Sky News. "We're having to deal with very unusual circumstances, but react calmly."

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank wasn't going to sit idly by.

It said it would begin buying covered bank bonds again - a slightly different way of doing the same thing the BoE is doing.

This is all very good and markets are cock-a-hoop, but is repeating something which obviously hasn't worked in the past a sensible move?

You can't help thinking that Mervyn King and his fellow MPC members are wondering the same thing as they head into the stormy weather around Threadneedle St - but then again, they had to act.

What else could they have done?

Yesterday's revised GDP figures probably gave them the final boot in the posterior that they needed to push the QE through, and if any of them have misgivings about the move it's nothing to those that would have had them do nothing.

Sentance will remain a devil on their shoulder, asking whether confidence in the Bank of England amongst the global investment community will be damaged by bowing to pressure to print more money.

The stock markets will tell you it hasn't, but the credit markets are a different beast altogether, and if they lose faith in a sovereign then we really are in trouble.

Time will tell and in the meantime we have an early start tomorrow to see Ireland through to the Rugby World Cup semi finals. Wishful thinking maybe, but you need to have confidence in rugby as much as you do in the economy.

Come on Ireland, come on the global economy.


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