Bank of England Nudges up Inflation Outlook, Split Over QE Widens

By Reuters
September 23, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021

LONDON—The Bank of England said inflation would rise above 4 percent later this year, and two policymakers called for an early end to the central bank’s quantitative easing programme due to rising price pressures.

Policymakers voted 7–2 to stick with the 895 billion pound ($1.2 trillion) asset purchase target they set in November 2020, when the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee decided to buy a further 150 billion pounds of government bonds over the course of 2021.

BoE Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden joined Michael Saunders in voting for an early end to the programme of bond purchases.

The MPC voted unanimously to keep interest rates at 0.1 percent.

The BoE said it had revised down its expectations for the level of gross domestic product in the third quarter by around 1 percent from the August report, reflecting supply constraints.

But it said inflation would “temporarily” rise above 4 percent in the final quarter of the year.

“Since the August MPC meeting, the pace of recovery of global activity has showed signs of slowing. Against a backdrop of robust goods demand and continuing supply constraints, global inflationary pressures have remained strong and there are some signs that cost pressures may prove more persistent,” the BoE said.

Last month, the BoE said it expected the economy to regain its pre-pandemic size in the final three months of 2021 and inflation to hit a 10-year high of 4 percent at the same time.

British consumer price inflation hit a nine-year high of 3.2 percent in August, but the rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed and some economists see a risk of higher unemployment when furlough support stops at the end of this month.

Before Thursday’s decision, interest rate futures priced in a more than 60 percent chance of a rate rise to 0.25 percent in February next year, and a high chance of a further rate rise to 0.5 percent by the end of 2022.

Most economists polled by Reuters earlier this month thought the BoE would raise rates only once, relatively late in 2022.

($1 = 0.7300 pounds)

By David Milliken and Andy Bruce