At a time when central banks around the world are moving away from pursuing tightening policies and instead adopting a more patient approach, the Bank of England may go against the trend which makes Thursday’s meeting all the more interesting. The UK central bank has been on pause since August, with the uncertainty of Brexit casting considerable doubt over the economic outlook and therefore the bank’s response to what is an otherwise healthy economy and labour market. Policy makers will probably be among the most frustrated at the Brexit extension as not only does it not provide clarity, it prolongs the period of economic uncertainty which could weigh on the outlook.
- Hawkish hold expected despite Brexit angsts from six-month extension
- Latest forecasts could see some tweaks to growth and inflation
- Will Haldane join Saunders dissent in voting for a rate hike
But what does this mean for its policy outlook? That is what we’re hoping to learn on Thursday. Other central banks have very much been leaning towards a more accommodative stance in light of the global slowdown and growing risks but the BoE may not fall in line. Of course, it would be easy to do so but it could be argued that the central bank has delayed for long enough and the data simply does not justify such low interest rates.
Unemployment below 4%, average earnings rising by 3.5% and inflation printing around the BoE’s target doesn’t exactly warrant crisis era stimulus. But then these aren’t normal times and the outlook is undoubtedly foggy, to borrow a term from Governor Carney. This is what makes Thursday’s meeting so interesting, no one really knows what to expect.
Price action in the pound in recent weeks doesn’t suggest a rate hike has been priced in this year, or that traders see it as likely. The delay triggered some profit taking in the pound as this is the bare minimum that was priced in and broadly speaking, the positives and negatives of it probably cancel each other out.
All of this makes Super Thursday all the more interesting. Not only should we get clarity on the outlook for interest rates in the uncertain Brexit world we now live in, but there is the potential for the central bank to be more hawkish or dovish than we currently perceive. This is quite unusual and could trigger a lot of volatility in the currency.
The fact that we have a rate announcement, minutes, new economic projections and a press conference with Carney and his colleagues is an added bonus that should ensure we have a much better idea of what to expect this year than we currently do.
This could very well be the most interesting BoE event that we’ve had in a very long time.
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