Cover of MoneyWeek magazine

The war on superbugs

6 December 2013 / Issue 669

A new generation of antibiotics

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Excerpt

Merryn Somerset WebbEDITOR'S LETTER

Merryn Somerset Webb

Carney’s powers for good

Until last week the general consensus on Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was that he was working almost entirely to Chancellor George Osborne’s script – helping to engineer a new housing and construction boom that would give the Tories a chance of forming another government.

But then he announced that, while the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) will still be used to shovel cheap money into the banks, the Bank of England is to insist that they use the money to lend to small businesses, rather than would-be home owners. For good measure, Carney also said he was going to have the lenders use tougher affordability tests before they offered mortgages to buyers. It all gives us a tiny bit of hope.

The immediate practical effect is minimal: the banks still have plenty of FLS funds to use for mortgages for now, and the change obviously makes no difference to the thing really making the market happy – the Help to Buy scheme. But the political effect is rather different.

What this change should remind us all of is the extraordinary powers the Bank of England has.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: Carney’s powers for good