Bank of England policymakers hint at further rate hikes in coming months
Bank of England policymaker Catherine Mann said on Friday that further interest rate hikes will be needed in the coming months, saying current price and wage expectations are “incoherent” with the central bank’s 2 percent inflation target.
“Entering 2022, current price and wage expectations from the monthly panel of policymakers [a monthly business survey] Inconsistencies with the 2% target, if they are achieved in 2022, could keep inflation strong for longer,” Mann said.
In her speech at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, a central bank think tank, she told delegates that monetary policy needed to “moderate expectations for wage and price increases in 2022 to prevent their inclusion in corporate decision-making and consumers”.
Oxford Economics economist Andrew Goodwin said the speech contained “a clear message that multiple rate hikes are on the horizon”.
In presenting the latest data, Mann noted that not only have companies raised prices over the past year by more than they did before the coronavirus pandemic, but they also plan to make similarly steep price hikes in the coming months.
“It is worrying that 2021 costs are being reflected in 2022 price expectations,” she said, adding: “Changing expectations is the first line of defense against strengthening wage-price dynamics.”
“In my view, the objective of monetary policy now should be against this ‘long-term strength’ scenario,” she said, hinting at a rate hike.
Many economists expect the Bank of England to raise interest rates to 0.5% on February 3 0.25% in December It rose for the first time in more than three years. Mann was one of the members of the Monetary Policy Committee that supported the rally. At the time, the central bank warned that further “modest tightening” might be needed to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.
Other central banks are considering tightening policy as inflation rises. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates at record lows but warned it may need to raise rates faster than expected. However, the ECB said in December that a rate hike this year is “very unlikely”.
Britain’s inflation rate has risen to a 30-year high of 5.4%, the Office for National Statistics reported on Wednesday, with many economists predicting it will peak in April, above the Bank of England’s most recent estimate of 6%.
The inflation surge in 2021 was initially considered temporary, but now it “has shifted into more product categories and labor markets,” with all underlying inflation measures well above the MPC’s target, Mann said.
She pointed out that tightening monetary policy was not aimed at making the UK cost of living tightening Worse, but quite the opposite. “My goal is to bring inflation back to target so workers can get real wage gains from their labor,” she said.
But Goodwin said she was “not very convincing that increasing these pressures now will mean less pain for consumers in the future”.