In case you were too busy finding out what Instagram’s new logo is all about, you should know that yesterday the Bank of England (BOE) has released its monetary policy decision along with its meeting minutes and inflation report. In addition, BOE Governor Mark Carney stepped under the spotlight and delivered a press conference.
Missed all these events? Worry not; I’ve summarized all you need to know into four takeaways! Here’s what’s up:
1. All players voted against any policy changes
It’s all for one and one for all for the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members! Yesterday the group has decided to keep its interest rates steady at 0.50%, the lowest since March 2009. Meanwhile, the asset purchasing program is also kept at 375 billion GBP.
The move surprised analysts who expected opposition to the decision. Though the BOE was widely expected to keep its policies steady, some speculated that at least one or two would vote for a rate cut following the recent disappointments in the U.K.’s leading indicators.
2. Lower growth and inflation outlook
The BOE wasted no time in declaring that growth has slowed in Q1 2016 and is expected to decelerate further in Q2. The central bank cut its Q2 projections to 0.3% from its 0.5% estimates in February. It has also downgraded its 2016 growth forecasts from 2.2% to just 2.0%. The central bank pointed to the impact of a potential Brexit, saying that it has complicated the relationship between economic indicators and underlying economic momentum.
As for inflation, the central bank noted that it won’t likely reach its 2.0% target until 2018. Low energy and food prices are the main drags though they’re expected to fade over the next year. Meanwhile, core inflation, a measure that doesn’t include volatile items such as oil and food prices, is also expected to remain subdued due to weak global price pressures and a strong pound.
3. Rate hike > Rate cut
Rate hike junkies would be happy to know that the BOE is still likely to raise its rates than cut it. In its statement, the central bank stated that “it is more likely than not that Bank Rate will need to be higher by the end of the forecast period than at present.” The BOE also cautioned that any succeeding rate increase would be gradual and remains an expectation and not a promise.
4. Carney is REALLY against a BREXIT
The most awaited part of the BOE’s Super Thursday was Mark Carney’s press conference and boy, did he deliver a good finale!
After repeating the BOE’s policy decision, the head honcho immediately addressed the elephant in the room and threw his weight against a BREXIT vote. If you recall, Carney has defended the BOE’s role in the political decision, saying that it’s well within the central bank’s mandate to present the risks of such an event.
With only a month to go before the June 23 vote, Carney warned that a vote to leave the EU could “materially” alter the outlook for output and inflation. He cautioned that a Brexit could cause slower growth, a notable rise in inflation, a decline in employment, and a sharp fall in the value of the pound.
He painted a picture of households deferring consumption and firms delaying investment decisions, which would then lower the labor demand and increase unemployment. He also threw out the “R” word, saying that a technical recession is one of the scenarios they’re looking at in the event of a Brexit.
Carney also recognized that the BOE would have to work with whatever the public decides next month. In case of a Brexit, he anticipates that the central bank would have to balance out the opposing forces of low growth and high inflation.
In the end he admitted that there are limits to what a central bank could do and that its monetary policies can’t offset the full impact of a Brexit vote.
Reactions to Carney’s warnings were mixed. Some applauded the central bank’s decisiveness and appreciated the warning while others said that Carney’s remarks could inspire a self-fulfilling scenario in the event of a Brexit.
How about you? Do you think that Mark Carney was right to caution against a Brexit vote? What’s your stance on the Brexit matter?