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Bank of England's Fisher says does not want U.S.-style QE pledge

Buses pass the Bank of England in the City of London February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Buses pass the Bank of England in the City of London February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

By William Schomberg

CARDIFF (Reuters) - A Bank of England policymaker said on Friday he favored small additional amounts of bond purchases over time, but not a hard-to-manage commitment to longer-term stimulus like that of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

"I don't think I want to get into the American position of saying it is indefinite and then stopping," said Paul Fisher, one of the British bank's rate-setters. "I think the Americans are finding it a bit hard - as we have seen recently - to get out, because they have got this indefinite horizon."

Global financial markets took fright at comments this week by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the U.S. central bank could begin scaling back its $85 billion monthly pace of bond purchases in the next few meetings, depending on the data.

While Bernanke also stressed that the Fed needed to see more signs of recovery before weaning the economy off its stimulus, the upset among investors underscored the problems of managing a smooth exit from the Fed's bond-buying.

A majority of Bank of England policymakers remain against a resumption of their own bond-buying program although Fisher has voted in favor of it, along with governor Mervyn King and another member of the Monetary Policy Committee.

"My view is that we should be doing a slow amount over a period of time. Twenty-five (billion pounds) over three months is a slow rate," Fisher told reporters after making a speech to business leaders in the Welsh capital.

"That would be what you kick off with. And then you would stop when you thought conditions were looking a lot better."

Investors are waiting for the arrival of the Bank of England's next governor, Canadian Mark Carney who starts his new job in London on July 1, to have a better sense of the chances of a resumption of bond-buying by the BoE.

Fisher declined to comment on a policy that Carney is expected to bring to Britain - giving explicit guidance on how long interest rates will be kept at rock-bottom levels, in order to boost confidence and investment.

In his speech earlier, Fisher warned that pumping too much money into the economy might fuel inflation.

"We cannot guarantee that a specific monetary boost will split the real and inflationary outcomes in the way that we might all wish," he said.

He also said a further cut in the bank's key lending rate, which has been at a record low of 0.5 percent since 2009, would probably not boost demand.

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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