Poor Mervyn King — damned if he doesn’t raise interest rates, futile if he does.

The Bank of England governor is in the unenviable position of having to steer interest rate policy during a period when living standards are being battered, his inflation target is being mocked by even small boys in the street and there is no obvious course of policy which can reconcile the two problems.

The BOE on Wednesday released its quarterly inflation report which judged the chances to be about equal of inflation being above or below its 2 percent target in two years’ time, this despite predicting that it will spike above its current 4 percent rate in the near term.

You might think that presiding over inflation double your target would merit raising rates immediately from all-time lows, but you would, the Governor hastened to imply, be wrong.

“We’re not in the business of futile gestures, we’re in the business of trying to make a dispassionate analysis of the balance of risks to inflation in the medium term,” King told reporters.