Andy Haldane says UK at risk of sharp slowdown as BoE weighs up conflicting forces of inflation from weak pound and the Brexit vote denting confidence. The Bank of England should be wary of rushing into interest rate rises to curb inflation, according to its chief economist, in a warning that the UK economy is vulnerable to a sharper slowdown next year than forecasts would suggest.
Andy Haldane said he was comfortable with the Bank’s current wait-and-see stance on borrowing costs as it weighs up the conflicting forces of a lower pound stoking inflation and the Brexit vote denting business confidence. In a bid to shore up confidence after the referendum, the Bank cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25% in August and expanded its programme of electronic money-printing, known as quantitative easing (QE). It had hinted at another interest rate cut before the end of the year but a flurry of brighter than expected economic news forced the Bank to row back on that guidance. Haldane said on Friday that economic output had outperformed the expectations of the Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) back in August while inflation had picked up, largely as a result of the pound’s sharp fall since the referendum, which makes imports to the UK more expensive. “That configuration now leaves me comfortable with the current stance of monetary policy, with no bias on the direction of the next move in interest rates,” he said.