Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Decision due on economic stimulus

DeAnne Julius: "I don't see much evidence that [quantitative easing] is working."

The Bank of England's rate-setters are due to announce at midday if they want to pump extra cash into the economy.

They have spent £175bn on quantitative easing, which involves printing money to buy assets from banks and other companies to stimulate the economy.

The decision is due alongside their latest decision on interest rates. The cost of borrowing is expected to remain unchanged at 0.5% for an eighth month.

Recent data showed the UK was still in recession in the third quarter of 2009.

Gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the total value of goods and services produced in the economy, fell by 0.4% between July and September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It meant that UK GDP had contracted for six consecutive quarters, for the first time since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955.

'Downward revisions'

There was better economic news on Thursday, with the announcement that manufacturing output had grown at its fastest rate since July 2002 in September.

The bigger-than-expected 1.7% growth in the month followed August's hefty drop of 2%.

But September's figure alone is unlikely to lead to an upward revision in the third-quarter GDP figure.

"Downward revisions to previous months' data mean that production still fell by 0.8% in the third quarter overall, worse than the 0.7% drop the ONS assumed in its preliminary GDP estimate," said Jonathan Loynes, chief economist at Capital Economics.

'Proper test'

Quantitative easing (QE) is supposed to increase the amount of money in circulation and encourage banks to lend more to individuals and businesses, which in turn helps to promote growth.

But there are doubts about whether the banks have been lending out the money or using it to bolster their balance sheets.

DeAnne Julius, a former member of the Bank of England's rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee, said it was time to start phasing out QE.

"It's important to come out of this period of quantitative easing, but to do it gradually," she told the BBC.

She added that so far the programme only appeared to be helping the financial sector.

"The proper test is whether QE is working in supporting the real economy, the non-financial sectors of the economy, and personally I don't see much evidence that it is working."

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