Bank of England’s Economic Outlook: UK Economy to Stagnate
The Bank of England delivered a somber assessment of the UK economy, suggesting that it is on the path to flatlining, while simultaneously maintaining interest rates.
Threadneedle Street, the Bank’s headquarters, revised down its growth projections, and the base rate remains at 5.25 percent, with no immediate plans for rate cuts.
Although this decision provides relief to homeowners, it paints a gloomy picture of the UK’s economic prospects, with growth anticipated to plummet to zero in the second quarter of the coming year, remaining at this level until the second quarter of 2025.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Upcoming Challenge
This economic backdrop presents a significant challenge for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who is expected to deliver his crucial Autumn Statement in the coming weeks.
Governor Andrew Bailey acknowledged that higher interest rates have been effective in curbing inflation, but he noted that prices continue to rise above the 2 percent target.
While the rates remain unchanged for now, the Bank is closely monitoring the situation to determine if further rate increases are necessary, emphasizing that it’s too early to consider rate cuts.
Bank’s Forecast and MPC Decision
The forecast hinges on the Bank’s plan to begin reducing interest rates in the latter half of the next year.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision to maintain rates was supported by six members, while three were in favor of a rate hike.
This shift represents a change from September when the margin was five to four, marking the first hold decision in nearly two years following 14 consecutive rate hikes.
Caution in Economic Projections
The Bank’s economic projections come with a note of caution. Just a year ago, it suggested that the UK was headed for its longest recession since the 1930s.
The Bank has also repeatedly underestimated inflation. To address this, the Bank appointed former US Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke to lead a review of its forecasting methods in July.
The Bank of England’s latest assessment and interest rate decision reflect the economic uncertainties facing the UK, and the challenges ahead as it attempts to navigate through a potentially prolonged period of economic stagnation.