Investments  

Central bank policies cause of 'social unrest'

Bruce Stout, who runs the £1.75bn Murray International investment trust, has long been scathing about the effect of monetary policy on the economy.

In his latest update to investors in the trust he said: “Despite positive financial market performance suggesting otherwise, the economic backdrop prevailing in the debt-laden developed world at year end 2017 can only be described as insipid and uninspiring.

"Fragile growth solely dependent on ever-expanding consumer credit combined with stagnant wages and inept economic policy leadership does nothing to install belief nor inspire confidence of sustainable progress ahead.

"Needless to say, such realities remained of no concern to relentlessly rising stock prices.”

David Scott, an adviser at Andrews Gwynne in Leeds echoed the doom-laden sentiment:

“The policies we see today, are not so much a monetary experiment but social engineering.

"The price of money is a very important social and economic signal. When money has a negative price you have to pay to lend your money and this has an unknowable impact on decision-making by businesses, banks and individuals.

"To the close observer the first results of this experiment are in and have been for years. Rather than spurring spending as the Bank of Japan said, negative interest rates spurred saving.

"Rather than driving corporate investment as the European Central Bank said, negative rates instead drove corporate borrowing which was then spent on stock buy-backs and other financial manipulation.”

With regard to the impact on the bond market, Mr Scott said 2018 will be the year when the “party stops” for bond investors as central banks buy fewer of the bonds in issue and the prices fall.   

David.Thorpe@ft.com