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Bank of England set to hold rates to avoid ‘rocking the boat’ pre-election

17 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey PA Media

Hopes that the Bank of England could start cutting interest rates this month could be dashed as experts expect policymakers not to “rock the boat” in the run-up to the General Election.

The central bank is due to announce its latest decision on interest rates on Thursday.

The Bank’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, said last month that he was “optimistic that things are moving in the right direction”, with inflation falling sharply and nearing its 2% target level.

It raised hopes that the prolonged period of higher interest rates could soon be eased.

But experts think the Bank is not quite ready to reduce rates, which have stood at 5.25% since August last year, the highest level since 2008.

June’s meeting happening during the General Election campaign could be enough to deter a rate cut, some analysts predicted.

Rules

The Bank is abiding by the rules of the pre-election campaign period, meaning its policymakers cannot make any speeches or public statements.

Sandra Horsfield, an economist for Investec, said this matters because were policymakers to “surprise the market” with its decision on Thursday, it would not be in a position to “correct any misinterpretations” about its rates decision until after the General Election, which is on July 4.

“Why rock the boat, when there is no need for haste and no opportunity to steady it?,” she asked.

Inflation data

Financial markets are expecting interest rates to be kept the same this month, with just a small chance that they will be cut.

Furthermore, experts said that the Bank will have taken note of last month’s inflation data, with services sector inflation coming in ahead of the Bank’s expectations.

The measure, which looks at price rises across the sector, is “overwhelmingly what is driving policy decisions right now”, economists at ING said.

The MPC will also have seen new inflation data for May on Wednesday, which some economists think will hit, or fall very close to, 2%.

A group of analysts for AJ Bell said the Bank’s “job may have been slightly complicated by both the calling of a general election for July 4 and the last batch of inflation data”.

“Governor Andrew Bailey and his colleagues on the MPC may not wish to act in any way that could be seen as favouring one political party over another in the run-up to July’s poll,” they said.

Investec said it thinks the first rate cut could come in August, but that two members of the committee: Swati Dhingra and Dave Ramsden, were likely to vote again in favour of a cut on Thursday.


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Karl
Karl
1 month ago

So they are not independent of government, as suggested when they was given this task. They should do their job and ignore the election.

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 month ago

and reduce interest rates now.

The high rates reward the wealthy and penalise homeowners, householders and small businesses.

There has been no benefit accruing from the BoE’s interest rate manipulation except trickle up. It has been ineffectual against inflation (mostly imported). While it lends itself to the Tory/Labour austerity project, it is only low interest rates that will generate an economic recovery.

Though not growth, please. The only growth worth having is in well-being, a thriving cultural sector, a well-funded NHS and care sector, many more families with sufficient food, and better paid teachers.

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