QE may have hampered companies' investment

Simon Nias
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quantitative Easing (QE) has had the unwanted side-effect of hampering companies' investment plans, according to the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).

NAPF chairman Mark Hyde-Harrison told members of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee that QE had reduced the return on pension investments, creating large deficits in final salary schemes.

Under current pension regulations, companies have to pay down these deficits, restricting funds that could otherwise be used to strengthen their balance sheets and invest.

BPIF chief executive Kathy Woodward agreed that pensions continued to be "a major concern on so many different fronts".

She said: "There seems to be a general feeling in the industry that those companies who didn't ditch their pensions commitments are now unfairly carrying burdens that have the capacity to prevent their development and even risk the future sustainability of some businesses and certainly dis-incentivise merger discussions.

"Artificially depressed gilt yields resulting from QE are creating so many issues for all industries. The pensions industry have lobbied heavily to ask government to give calculation respite to attempt to minimise the impact, and whilst this would help hard-pressed companies, the overall low levels of annuities is so punitive on those looking to retire.

"The average age within the industry is over 50 we are going to end up with a workforce who don't want to be at work but cant afford not to, whilst we have a million unemployed young people desperately wanting to work. The removal of the retirement age has only contributed to the impact.

"This is a problem that isn't going to go away, every company within the industry is impacted one way or another."

The Bank of England (BoE) has argued that without QE the damage to the economy would have left pension funds and companies worse off.


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