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Bank of England raises key interest rate by 50 bps, highest since 1995

Reeling from a surge in energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 for a half percentage point rise in Bank Rate to 1.75% - its highest level since late 2008 - from 1.25%.

August 04, 2022 / 05:01 PM IST
Bank of England

Bank of England

The Bank of England raised interest rates by the most in 27 years on Thursday, despite warning that a long recession is on its way, as it rushed to smother a rise in inflation which is now set to top 13%.

Reeling from a surge in energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 for a half percentage point rise in Bank Rate to 1.75% - its highest level since late 2008 - from 1.25%.

The 50-basis-point increase had been expected by most economists in a Reuters poll as central banks around the world scramble to contain the surge in prices.

MPC member Silvana Tenreyro cast a lone vote for a smaller 25-basis-point increase.

The BoE warned that Britain was facing a recession with a peak-to-trough fall in output of 2.1%, similar to a slump in the 1990s but far less than the hit from COVID-19 and the downturn caused by the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

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British consumer price inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.4% in June, already more than four times the BoE's 2% target, triggering industrial action and putting pressure on whoever succeeds Boris Johnson as Britain's next prime minister to come up with further support.

The BoE had previously expected inflation to peak at above 11% and almost no growth in Britain's economy before 2025 at the earliest.

In its new forecasts, the BoE saw inflation falling back to 2% in two years' time as the hit to the economy took its toll on demand.

The British central bank has now raised rates six times since December but Thursday's move was the biggest since 1995.

The pressure on Governor Andrew Bailey and colleagues to move in larger steps intensified after recent big rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other central banks.

Those moves weakened the value of the pound, which can add to inflation.

The BoE repeated that it was ready to move forcefully if needed to stem more persistent inflationary pressures.

But it stressed that there were "extremely large" uncertainties about the economy - which could make the slowdown more or less severe than its core forecasts - and it would judge what its next moves should be as events unfold.

"Policy is not on a pre-set path," the BoE said. "The scale, pace and timing of any further changes in Bank Rate will reflect the Committee's assessment of the economic outlook and inflationary pressures."
Reuters
first published: Aug 4, 2022 04:44 pm
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