So just how fast will the the Bank of England raise interest rates? For clues and pointers on its latest thinking now that employment has rapidly approached the thresholds (markers, thumb rules?) of forward guidance , the Inflation Report is out. Click to get straight to it:
Who thinks UK base rates will go higher this year? We ask because Economics Editor Chris Giles made precisely that bold prediction in the FT’s collection of holiday prophesy.
Will the Bank of England raise interest rates in 2014?
Yes. It is fashionable to think this is an absurd question to which the answer is obviously no. But not for the first time, fashion sucks. The British economy is growing at an annualised rate of more than 3 per cent, unemployment is rapidly falling towards the Bank of England’s 7 per cent threshold when it considers rate rises and inflation has been above the central bank’s 2 per cent target for all of the past four years. The reason the BoE would keep rates on hold at 0.5 per cent amid a fast expansion is a rapid improvement in productivity, allowing recovery to coexist with an absence of inflationary pressure.
‘Forward guidance’ had a poor start in life. It was born as a pleonasm – afflicted with a severe case of redundancy. ‘Guidance’ would have sufficed, as all guidance relates to the future and is therefore inevitably forward. Perhaps some idiosyncratic historians call their subject ‘backward guidance’, and maybe the odd tourist has signed up for instantaneous or simultaneous guidance around some ancient site, but we doubt it. Redundancy as a rhetorical device tends to be used when it is deemed desirable to inflate the importance of someone or something beyond what is fundamentally warranted. Our view is that this also is the case with forward guidance.
That’s the opening to Willem Buiter’s enticingly aggressive and highly readable 17-page note, available ungated at this link. Read more
Greg Fuzesi is quietly fuming. We get a post-holiday presser from Mario Draghi on Thursday and the JP Morgan economist really would like the ECB chief to use the opportunity to expand upon the word “extended” when offering interest rate guidance. Read more
Have a chart from HSBC which, once the key is provided, will explain sterling’s weakness, probably:
Before we get there though we should touch back on Carney’s forward guidance thing, of which there are numerous different takes. Here are three for the hell of it: Read more
This is really good stuff from the FT’s Michael Steen, summing up the confusing welter of communications that has bubbled from ECB board and council members since Mario Draghi attempted some light forward guidance at the last ECB press conference:
During his press conference on the subject, the ECB chief did his best not to define that extended period but became unstuck when asked if it was six or 12 months, replying: “It is not six months, it is not 12 months, it is an extended period of time.”
Here’s the moment, on Reuters Video on Tuesday (03:54 on the countdown clock) , when Germany’s Asmussen said… Read more