The Observer reports:
Quantitative easing (QE) – the Bank of England’s recession-busting policy of buying up billions of pounds of bonds – may have contributed to social unrest by exacerbating inequality, according to one City economist.
As the Bank of England considers unleashing a fresh round of QE, Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research, argues the approach of creating electronic money pushes up share prices and profits without feeding through to wages.
“The evidence suggests that QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it,” Joshi says in a new report.
He points out that real wages – adjusted for inflation – have fallen in both the US and UK, where QE has been a key tool for boosting growth. In Germany, meanwhile, where there has been no quantitative easing, real wages have risen.
As the Bank waded into the financial markets to spend its £200bn of newly created money, mostly on government bonds, the price of many assets, including shares and commodities such as oil, was driven up.
That helped to boost companies’ revenues, but Joshi argues that with the labour market remaining weak, employees have had little hope of bidding up their wages. “The shocking thing is, two years into an ostensible recovery, [UK] workers are actually earning less than at the depth of the recession. Real wages and salaries have fallen by £4bn. Profits are up by £11bn. The spoils of the recovery have been shared in the most unequal of ways.”