Articles from August 2015



UK interest rate debate continues

The Bank of England’s deputy governor for monetary policy has said that it would be “foolish to preannounce” a date for an interest rate increase.

UK interest rate debate continuesYesterday the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates at their current historic low of 0.5%.

Deputy governor Ben Broadbent said the Committee had no specific time in mind for a rise and comments by governor Mark Carney had been misinterpreted.

The interest rate has remained unchanged for 78 months.

The ultra low interest rate regime has boosted the housing market as homeowners enjoy record low mortgages rates, but penalised savers whose returns have dwindled to almost nothing.

Speaking to Radio 5 live’s Wake up to Money programme, Mr Broadbent said: “We are responding to things that are essentially… unpredictable.  And that means that it would not just be impossible, it would be foolish to pre-announce some fixed date of interest rate changes.”

Mr Broadbent said he saw no “urgency” to increase interest rates at present.

He added: “The economy clearly is recovering, but we had the most almighty financial crisis and there is still a bit of spare capacity left.”

“There is not that much inflationary pressure at the moment, [although] we expect that to build over time.”

The Consumer Prices Index, the most commonly used measure of inflation, fell to 0% in June, while earlier this week, the cost of a barrel of crude oil fell below $50, its lowest point since April.

Despite problems in the wider global economy, caused by the continuing crisis in Greece and fall in Chinese stock prices, Mr Broadbent said the overall outlook for the UK remained steady.

“We’ve seen unemployment come down pretty steeply,” he said, “and some signs of improving productivity growth. We’ve seen a material pick-up in wage growth, not sufficient to give us any big inflationary risk.

“But all of that would naturally lead to the case for some normalisation of interest rates to start building.”

He added that the economic recovery looked “well embedded and solid”, with the Bank expecting “steady growth over the next two years”.

Mr Broadbent was responding to media coverage of remarks made last month by the Bank’s governor, Mark Carney.

In a speech at Lincoln Cathedral on Monday Mr Carney gave what was interpreted as his clearest hint yet that the cost of borrowing would go up before 2016.

He said: “The decision as to when to start such a process of adjustment will probably come into sharper relief around the turn of this year.”