Bank of england

Sack Andrew Bailey? Let’s look at the case against him

The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, is a loyal and well-intentioned public servant in a role that, by its nature, attracts constant blame and hindsight judgment. Liz Truss is a spectacularly failed 44-day prime minister with a book to sell. So when Truss says Bailey should have been sacked for his part in her downfall –when the Bank intervened to prevent a pension fund crisis after her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s radical mini-Budget of September 2022 – and that he should be sacked anyway for being part of a Keynesian economic Establishment, with the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility, that has delivered nothing but stagnation, my

What Andrew Bailey’s eyebrows can tell us about the NatWest scandal

Enough said about the fall of Dame Alison Rose; more than enough about the second coming of Nigel Farage. But one question remains: what happened to the Governor’s eyebrows? In former times, the fate of errant bank chiefs was unequivocally a matter for the Bank of England. Careers were sunk or salvaged by a twitch of the governor’s supercilia. When Bob Diamond of Barclays was under fire in 2012 after the rate-fixing scandal and the Barclays board tried to save him by offering the head of chairman Marcus Agiusinstead, the then governor, Mervyn King, ordered Agius to unresign and fire Diamond – while the chancellor George Osborne denied any part,

The Bank of England’s governor issues a stark warning

Speculation has been growing that the Bank of England might announce an extension of its emergency gilt-buying programme which is set to end on Friday. Despite the Treasury moving forward its ‘medium-term fiscal plan’ announcements from November to the end of this month, gilt yields have been rising yet again this week in the lead-up to the end of the scheme. It seemed likely that the Bank’s gilt-buying programme might be extended for another two weeks as a result, in order to buy time before the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s announcement on 31 October. But tonight Andrew Bailey put that speculation to bed. Speaking at the Institute of International Finance in Washington DC, the

Can the Bank of England inspire confidence?

It has dawned on the government that last week’s mini-Budget might have been a bit too one-sided: £70 billion worth of extra borrowing and not a single mention of spending cuts or efficiency gains has seen borrowing costs spike (up by 0.3 per cent just today). As James Forsyth reports on Coffee House, this afternoon’s announcement that a ‘medium term fiscal plan’ will be announced next month is an attempt by the Treasury to reassure markets – and convince them that fiscal responsibility has not totally disappeared from this government’s agenda. Emphasis is being placed on previous promises to make sure debt falls as a percentage of GDP in the

Robert Peston

The Bank of England has no good options

How will and how should the Bank of England, and the Treasury, react to this morning’s continued fall in the value of the pound? I’ve been talking to former Bank of England executives and ex-Treasury officials, who make clear that the stakes are incredibly high and that reassuring markets will not be easy. This further devaluation in the currency is a serious problem for Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng after his maxi ‘mini-Budget’ on Friday because it means the price of imports will continue to rise, stoking already-high inflation. And it raises the spectre that the government will struggle to borrow what it needs at acceptable interest rates, because of the falling

Why the interest rate rise might frustrate Liz Truss

Rising interest rates is a key pillar of Trussonomics. Liz Truss herself has always stopped short of saying this explicitly, pointing fingers instead at the Bank of England for its failure to curb spiralling inflation. But the economists advising her have made clear, in no uncertain terms, that they think interest rates have been too low for too long.  Right from the start of her leadership campaign, Truss was far more vocal about her criticisms of the Bank; a point made even clearer once she entered No. 10 and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng set up bi-weekly meetings with the Bank’s governor Andrew Bailey. With this new pressure being applied on the

It’s time to clear out the Bank of England’s board

Liz Truss says she intends to review the Bank of England’s mandate, which has been fixed as a 2 per cent inflation target since Gordon Brown gave the Bank its independence in 1997. We’re told Governor Andrew Bailey, keen to keep his job, thinks a review is ‘probably the right thing’. But is it? A return to the long-term inflationary average of 2 per cent is highly desirable as soon as global price spikes subside – but if the odds-on next PM thinks the Bank incapable of achieving it, setting more dynamic inflation-and-growth objectives would surely be an overreach. Instead, maybe she should take her axe to the organisation, starting

The Bank of England is right to hike interest rates

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is rampant. Bars and restaurants are in crisis as thousands of bookings are cancelled. And travel restrictions are back in place, with a full lockdown looming. To make matters worse, so far there is little sign of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak stepping in with any support.  Most businesses probably imagined that the very last thing they would have to cope with right now was a rise in interest rates. As a result, there will be plenty of business owners complaining that the Bank of England’s decision to up rates to 0.25 per cent will be the final blow that will push the economy back into recession. But hold on.

Can the Bank of England get a grip on soaring inflation?

Yet again, inflation has surged past expectations – this time hitting 5.1 per cent in November, a ten-year high, up from 4.2 per cent in October. This threatens a political crisis as well as tough economic times: unless inflation is quelled, next year will be one of declining living standards for most people. Anyone whose pay is not rising by at least five per cent will, in effect, feel like they’ve experienced a pay cut. It was assumed that five per cent would be about as high as inflation would go but all this is proving hard to predict. This has gone past the Bank of England’s peak forecast, which

Will someone wake up the Bank of England?

It is called managing expectations: the steady drip of forecasts and scenarios designed to prepare us for bad news, so that when that news does finally arrive it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it would otherwise have done. So is that what the Bank of England is up to with its deputy governor, Ben Broadbent, telling us that inflation next April could ‘comfortably exceed’ 5 per cent? It is reminiscent of the moment in July when the Bank’s departing chief economist, Andy Haldane, dropped in the suggestion that inflation by the end of 2021 could be closer to four percent than three percent. The MPC is behaving like a Chancellor

Inflation rises again. The BoE has questions to answer

Inflation is back, and while some people continue to cling to the idea that its resurgence is a temporary phenomenon, today’s figures further stamp out that optimism. Consumer inflation was up to 4.2 per cent in the year to October, a surge from just over 3 per cent the month before. This takes inflation to its highest level since 2011, with prices only set to rise further heading into 2022. Why has the Bank been so insistent about the temporary nature of this round of inflation? Much of the rise is due to increasing energy costs, which were always expected to worsen this winter: global shortages continue to bite as the

Eighteen months of inflation is not ‘transitory’

The big central banks have been insisting for months now that the rise in inflation is temporary, and will fade once the great awakening of the world economy starts to settle down. The Federal Reserve, Bank of England and the European Central Bank have looked on as inflation has overshot their forecasts. But when the opportunity to tame it with an interest rate hike approaches, the banks pass it up, reiterating instead that it is ‘transitory’ — the monetary equivalent of ‘it’ll be fine’. With inflation now at a 30-year high in the United States — 6.2 per cent — it’s starting to look like a pretty big bump. But should

What is the Bank of England playing at?

Last week, the Bank of England sent a number of confused messages. One was almost shocking: Andrew Bailey said that it isn’t his job to steer markets on interest rates ‘day by day and week by week’. But as economic commentator Matthew C. Klein dryly noted this is literally his job. It is debatable whether the Bank of England needs to manage the entire yield curve (ie, buying and selling bonds in an attempt to set interest rates years into the future) but the central bank should be in charge of the short end. Those opposing an interest rate rise say that central banks should never shock markets. The Bank

The Bank of England’s inflation rate stunt

He isn’t Canadian. He doesn’t dominate the Davos circuit with platitudes about climate change. And he isn’t constantly warning that the British economy will turn into a cross between Ethiopia and Argentina now that we have left the European Union. In many ways, the current Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey is an upgrade on his high-profile predecessor Mark Carney. And yet, in the most important respect, he is turning out to be very similar. He is constantly threatening to raise interest rates, and then backing off at the last moment.  An increase in interest rate from the ‘emergency’ level of just 0.1 per cent was not quite

Has the Bank of England given up on its duty?

Has the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee quietly excused itself from its duty of keeping inflation down: namely, keeping the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) close to a 2 per cent target? I ask because the minutes of its September meeting, released today, show little inclination to raise rates from their historic low of 0.1 percent, even though it predicts that inflation will rise above 4 per cent and stay there at least into the second quarter of 2022.  The MPC seems to have evolved into a Committee for Leaving Interest Rates Alone or Occasionally Lowering Them You can argue that inflation isn’t everything, that growth matters more and that monetary policy should

What tea with the WI taught me about responsible investment

Late-breaking exam results: many of the City’s top fund managers have failed a vital test of ‘stewardship’ — defined for this purpose as ‘the responsible allocation, management and oversight of capital to create long-term value for clients and beneficiaries leading to sustainable benefits for the economy, the environment and society’. That mouthful comes from the Financial Reporting Council’s UK Stewardship Code; asset management firms seeking to become ‘signatories’ to the code were asked to submit essays describing their own investment principles, highlighting their approach to hot-button ‘ESG’ (environmental, social and governance) issues. Out of 189 applicants, 64 failed to reach the pass mark, while some major firms chose not to

The Bank of England’s new monetary hawk

Andy Haldane’s departure from the Bank of England opened up one of the most influential roles in guiding UK monetary policy — and that role has now been filled. Huw Pill has been announced as the BoE’s new chief economist, taking up the post from next Monday. Some of the snap reaction is focusing on Pill’s similarities to those who came before him. Despite resources being poured into diversity teams to recruit a mix of applicants, it was Pill who was selected, a former Goldman Sachs economist and most recently a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. Pill won’t take kindly to ideas about reneging the Bank of England’s independence

Has the Bank of England just blown its chance to stop inflation?

The economy is growing at a blistering pace, and likely to recover all its Covid losses by the autumn. Labour shortages are emerging across a range of industries, as the supply of Eastern European workers dries up. Prices are starting to edge upwards, house prices are soaring, and commodities are getting more expensive. But, hey, it is probably a good moment to keep the printing presses rolling and pump plenty of freshly minted pounds into the economy. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided not just to keep base rates at 0.1 per cent today – that was largely expected – but also to maintain its programme of

The true cost of cheap money: an interview with Andy Haldane

Britain’s economy is growing at the fastest rate in 200 years. Job adverts are 29 per cent above their pre-pandemic levels and employers say they can’t reopen because they can’t find staff. Wages are rising at the fastest rate in ten years. But here’s the question: how much more support does the economy need from the Bank of England’s printing press? Should the BoE stick to its pledge to bring QE up to £895 billion or stop £50 billion short? Its members met to discuss this last month and decided (as they always do) to press ahead — by eight votes to one. The dissenting vote — the first time

Martin Vander Weyer

Foreign opportunists are turning Britain into a corporate car-boot sale

The snatching of a 12 per cent stake in BT by French entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, last seen here when he bagged Sotheby’s for $3.7 billion two years ago, could be a good thing if it injects dynamism into the telecoms giant’s late-running plans to install high-speed broadband across the UK. But it’s also part of a wave of fast–moving foreign money hunting undervalued UK assets — which is positive if it fuels capital investment for growth, negative if it makes nothing but fast bucks for private investors. The logic is simple. The private equity fraternity is laden with cash and global in outlook; what it sees in London is an