The Business Times

Bank of England to open up policy decisions to more transparency

Published Thu, Dec 11, 2014 · 10:06 AM

[LONDON] The Bank of England announced big changes to the way it provides information about its monetary policy decisions, saying it would publish minutes of discussions alongside interest rate announcements starting in August 2015.

The Bank currently publishes minutes detailing discussions of the Monetary Policy Committee, and a breakdown of how its nine members voted, with a nearly two-week lag.

The BoE also said on Thursday that it would start publishing transcripts of its policy discussions with an eight-year lag.

The first meeting to be covered by the new transcripts plan would be in March 2015.

Under the planned changes, the MPC will meet for three days rather than two under the current system and deliberations on the first day would not be reported via the transcripts.

In other change, the Bank said it was proposing that the MPC should meet eight times a year, starting in 2016, down from 12 now. Such a change would require approval by Britain's parliament. "Today I am pleased to announce the most significant set of changes to how we present and explain our interest rate decisions since the Monetary Policy Committee was formed in 1997," Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said.

Carney has sought to make the Bank more transparent since he took over in mid-2013.

British legislators expressed disquiet in March at the BoE's practice of only publishing heavily edited minutes of key meetings, rather than following the US Federal Reserve's example of releasing full transcripts five years later.

Senior BoE official Paul Fisher said at the time that publishing full transcripts could discourage frank discussion.

The BoE also said it planned to hold in 2016 four joint meetings of the MPC and the Financial Policy Committee, which is tasked with dealing with potential risks to the economy from the banking system.

The secrecy until now around the BoE's meetings contrasts with most other British public bodies, which must release records of meetings 20-30 years after they were created.


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