Bank of England halts closed-door policymaker briefings with banks

A man walks past the Bank of England in the City of London, February 7, 2019. — Reuters pic
A man walks past the Bank of England in the City of London, February 7, 2019. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, Oct 13 — The Bank of England will no longer hold off-the-record briefings between its policymakers and individual private financial institutions, the central bank told Reuters today.

The move, a permanent step aimed at improving the transparency of the BoE’s market intelligence gathering operations, comes after growing concern about similar practices at other central banks.

Last month the European Central Bank faced calls to end its closed-door meetings with private firms after its chief economist Philip Lane reportedly disclosed an unpublished inflation forecast at one such event.

The Financial Times’ report was partly disputed by the ECB.

The meetings between members of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee and private banks have been billed as a way for the central bank to gather intelligence on the economy and financial markets. Policymakers should be limited to reiterating the BoE’s public stance.

The BoE also publishes details of these meetings in the schedules of MPC members which are made available to the public after the meetings have taken place.

But these events can also be a source of speculation and rumour among financial traders. Last week, some Twitter users talked about an MPC member meeting a major bank and its clients, something the BoE has declined to comment on.

Central bankers around the world have come under increasing scrutiny. Last month two US Federal Reserve officials were forced to sell their individual stock holdings by the end of the month to address the appearance of conflicts of interest. — Reuters

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