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BoE Keeps Policy Unchanged, Tells Banks To Start Preparing For Negative Rates “If Necessary” But Sees Spike In Inflation

BoE Keeps Policy Unchanged, Tells Banks To Start Preparing For Negative Rates “If Necessary” But Sees Spike In Inflation

The Bank of England kept its stimulus program unchanged on Thursday. The BoE maintained its Bank Rate at 0.1% and left the size of its total asset purchase programme at 895 billion pounds in a unanimous decision, as expected.

Growth and Inflation

On QE, the BOE said that “if needed, there was scope for the Bank of England to re-evaluate the existing technical parameters of the gilt purchase programme” but that is unlikely since the BOE’s growth forecast was far stronger than previously:

  • UK GDP is expected to have risen a little in 2020 Q4 to a level around 8% lower than in 2019 Q4.
  • This is materially stronger than expected in the November Report.
  • While the scale and breadth of the Covid restrictions in place at present mean that they are expected to affect activity more than those in 2020 Q4, their impact is not expected to be as severe as in 2020 Q2, during the United Kingdom’s first lockdown.
  • GDP is expected to fall by around 4% in 2021 Q1, in contrast to expectations of a rise in the November Report.
  • Global GDP growth slowed in 2020 Q4, as a rise in Covid cases and consequent restrictions to contain the spread of the virus weighed on economic activity. Since the MPC’s previous meeting, financial markets have remained resilient.

The BOE also said that CPI inflation was expected to rise quite sharply towards the 2% target in the spring, as the reduction in VAT for certain services comes to an end and given developments in energy prices. In the MPC’s central projection, conditioned on the market path for interest rates, CPI inflation is projected to be close to 2% over the second and third years of the forecast period.

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