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Citi sees 'gradual shift towards helicopter money'

Citi has forecast a "gradual shift towards helicopter money" by advanced economies, as countries struggle to boost growth and inflation in uncertain geopolitical climes.

The bank's report came as the Bank of Japan started a two-day meeting on Thursday, after which it is widely expected to launch another major stimulus program. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen announcing a fiscal stimulus package as well, which a report by news agency Jiji put at 28 trillion yen ($267 billion).

That could be viewed as a move towards helicopter money, defined by Citi as a "temporary fiscal stimulus financed by a permanent monetary expansion." Others define it simply as central banks injecting cash directly into the real economy.

"Amid large uncertainties, the policy outlook is once again of major importance. In our view, there is a gradual shift in policy orientation towards helicopter money," Citi analysts including Chief Economist Willem Buiter said in a report on Wednesday.

Citi forecasts "moderate further easing" by the Bank of Japan this week and a new round of a quantitative easing from the Bank of England (BoE) next month.


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However, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda ruled out using helicopter money to underwrite Japan's budget deficit in a radio interview broadcast by the BBC last week. The BBC said the interview was conducted in mid-June.

BoE Governor Mark Carney said shortly after the Brexit vote on June 23 that "some monetary policy easing will likely be required over the summer," but the bank surprised markets by holding interest rates at 0.5 percent this month.

Bank of America Merril Lynch Global Research said this week that helicopter money from the Bank of Japan was "unlikely," while Daiwa Capital markets said hopes of it were "bound to be dashed."

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