BOE’s Cunliffe Says Resuming Bank Dividends Still Unclear: Times

Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said there is no clarity yet on allowing banks to pay dividends as there may “still be a case” for restrictions until their robustness is assessed, according to The Sunday Times.

Policy makers need to study the economic outlook, bank capital and the impact of profitability and losses on the lenders before making a decision, he said in an interview with the paper. While “it may be possible to allow distributions,” it will be judged on the future and how strong banks are perceived to be, he said.

The Bank of England is set to review its de facto ban on shareholder payouts at the end of the year. Barclays Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc are among banks that have cited their financial health as a reason they could start paying dividends again next year.

The central bank’s decisions on quantitative easing are motivated by meeting its inflation target, Cunliffe told the paper, dismissing concerns that they are related to the government’s fiscal policies. He also said a judgment on negative rates would come “further down the track,” and acknowledged they could help with bad debt even if borrowing costs in that range reduce banks’ profitability.

Cunliffe said the current slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic is unlike other downturns in that it might cause a restructuring of the economy, with a huge shift in consumption patterns, the paper reported.

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