LONDON, April 30 A policymaker who is due to
join the Bank of England's rate-setting committee in June kept
his cards close to his chest about his views on monetary policy
on Wednesday, though he stressed the importance of asset prices
Andy Haldane, named last month as the Bank's next chief
economist, told lawmakers at an appointment hearing that he
could not say whether or not he would be in line with Monetary
Policy Committee's "centre of gravity".
"As we come closer to the point where we begin the process
of unwinding this extraordinary monetary stimulus, the scope for
disagreement I think is likely to pick up," he said.
Economists are watching closely for clues as to Haldane's
views on questions such as how long the BoE should keep interest
rates at their record low levels as Britain's economic recovery
picks up speed.
Haldane said interest rates were widely expected to rise
only gradually and not immediately.
On the question of forward guidance - or the BoE's policy of
giving a steer on how long it likely to keep rates on hold -
Haldane said he could see merit in doing more to spell out the
path of interest rates.
He also said he intended to carry on looking closely at
potential risks to the economy from the banking sector,
something he does in his current job as the Bank's financial
Haldane's appointment is part of a wider shake-up at the BoE
undertaken by Governor Mark Carney who wants to bring the Bank's
monetary and financial stability functions closer together.
Asked by lawmakers about how monetary policy should react to
asset price bubbles, Haldane said financial factors,
particularly asset prices, played a more central role in an
economy than was typically reflected in macro-economic models.
The BoE's current chief economist Spencer Dale is due to
take over Haldane's role overseeing financial stability.
Dale told lawmakers on Wednesday that while Britain's
housing market was not showing signs of being in a price bubble
at the moment, policymakers "should be nervous" about the pace
of the recovery.
(Reporting by David Milliken and Huw Jone; writing by William