Bank of England raises the bank rate to 4.50%

May 11, 2023

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at its May 10, 2023 meeting voted to increase Bank Rate by 0.25 percentage points, to 4.50%, as opposed to maintaining the Bank Rate at 4.25%. Consequently, the MPC continues to address the risk of more persistent strength in domestic price and wage setting, as represented by the upward skew in the projected distribution for CPI inflation. The MPC sets monetary policy to meet the 2% inflation target, to aid in sustaining growth and employment.

The Committee’s updated projections for activity and inflation are conditioned on a market-implied path for Bank Rate that peaks at around 4¾% in 2023 Q4 before ending the forecast period at just over 3½%. The near-term outlook for global activity is looking up, with UK-weighted world GDP now expected to grow at a moderate pace throughout the forecast period. Despite this, risks remain but absent a further shock, there is likely to be only a small impact on GDP from the tightening of credit conditions related to recent global banking sector developments.

MPC noted, “UK GDP is expected to be flat over the first half of this year, although underlying output, excluding the estimated impact of strikes and an extra bank holiday, is projected to grow modestly. Economic activity has been less weak than expected in February, and the Committee now judges that the path of demand is likely to be materially stronger than expected in the February Report, albeit still subdued by historical standards. The improved outlook reflects stronger global growth, lower energy prices, the fiscal support in the Spring Budget, and the possibility that a tight labour market leads to lower precautionary saving by households.”

Additionally, “In the MPC’s latest modal projection conditioned on market interest rates, CPI inflation declines to a little above 1% at the two and three-year horizons, materially below the 2% target. This reflects the emergence of an increasing degree of economic slack and declining external pressures that are expected to reduce CPI inflation. However, there remain considerable uncertainties around the pace at which CPI inflation will return sustainably to the 2% target. The Committee continues to judge that the risks around the inflation forecast are skewed significantly to the upside, reflecting the possibility that the second-round effects of external cost shocks on inflation in wages and domestic prices may take longer to unwind than they did to emerge. The mean CPI inflation profile, which incorporates this risk, is at or just below the 2% target in the medium term.”

The Committee indicated that they would continue to closely monitor indications of persistent inflationary pressures, including the tightness of labour market conditions and the behaviour of wage growth and services price inflation. However, the pace at which domestic inflationary pressures ease will depend on the evolution of the economy, including the impact of the significant increases in Bank Rate so far. Heightened uncertainties around the global financial and economic outlook remain.



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