Bank of England Meeting Preview

Updated August 3, 2022

Time to “act forcefully” or continue with a “steady hand”?

The tough trade-off the MPC faces between growth and inflation is back in the spotlight when the Bank of England meets to deliver its latest rate decision on Thursday. Recent comments by Governor Bailey have put a 50bp hike on the table but given there’s not been a lot of recent economic data to signal a bigger move, there is a chance we simply get another quarter point rate hike. This means we are likely to see a split vote among policymakers.

The June meeting saw the bank update forward guidance noting that the scale, pace and timing of more rate hikes would depend on “indications of more persistent inflationary pressures”. Any evidence of such second-round effects would see the MPC “act forcefully in response”. Money markets are convinced that the bank will step up and follow other major central banks around the world with a bigger rate hike. Around 45bps of tightening are priced in and the consensus too, expect the MPC to lift rates by 0.5pp taking the Bank Rate to 1.75%. This would mark the largest single Bank Rate increase since 1985.

Inevitably, the bank is under pressure to abandon the current gradual approach to raising rates. The IMF just this week argued that this would simply lead to a more disruptive adjustment later. They pointed to the UK as one of the countries where the inflation outlook had worsened the most and urged policymakers to take “decisive action” even if it hit growth, jobs, and wages in the short term.  The recent depreciation in the pound over the last few months also reflects a perception by markets that the UK is failing to keep pace and falling behind its central bank peers.

But, while inflation is predicted to rise into double digits in the autumn, the MPC will be concerned about the knock-on effects on consumer and business activity going forward. On the flip side, recent data suggests there are continuing labour shortages, though the tightness in the labour market is potentially slowing. These competing forces add up to a tricky decision for the bank who will also release updated growth and inflation forecasts. If these are upgraded, then the emergence of second-round effects should be enough to lift the bank’s CPI projections. That said, we note that the MPC has repeatedly signaled that inflation would fall below its 2% target in the medium term if rates rose in line with market pricing.

Any guidance on the expected pace of future rate increases at upcoming meetings will be seized upon by markets. They have set a high bar for sterling to appreciate with another 50bp rise in September discounted already and rates peaking close to 3% early next year.

Bank of England Meeting Review

The Bank of England raised the Bank Rate by 50bps for the sixth time in a row, as the market expected. This was the biggest hike since 1995 and the highest level since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. The MPC voted 8-1 for a half percentage point rise, with the dissenting Tenreyro voting for a smaller 25bp rate move. Policymakers repeated their commitment to act “forcefully” to curb surging inflation.

But the meeting may go down in history as one of the most extraordinary from a major G10 central bank markets have even seen. The MPC forecast -1.7% growth over the next three years while unemployment rises to 6.3% from 3.7%. In turn, it predicts a long recession in the last three months of the year, to last for five quarters, which is as deep as in the 1990s. An even higher peak of inflation at 13.3% in October is set to result in the worst squeeze on living standards in more than 60 years.

Sterling has predictably sold off, even though markets still price in the strong chance of another 50bp rate hike in September. Uncertainty is high but the unreliable boyfriend has been very blunt with its bleak economic outlook and with it, the potential downside for the pound.

Written by Jamie Dutta, Market Analyst for Vantage

Vantage does not represent or warrant that the material provided here is accurate, current, or complete, and therefore should not be relied upon as such. The information provided here, whether from a third party or not, is not to be considered as a recommendation; or an offer to buy or sell; or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any financial instruments; or to participate in any specific trading strategy. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. We advise any readers of this content to seek their own advice. Without the approval of Vantage, reproduction or redistribution of this information is not permitted.

Latest Releases

Latest Releases

See All Articles >