Not long ago, the big debate was over who would raise rates first, the U.S. Federal Reserve or the Bank of England. Now with the Fed giving clear signals it’s on the brink of hiking and the BoE appearing to be pushing that day further off into the future, one could naturally conclude that the inflation outlook in both economies is vastly different.
The consensus on when the Bank of England finally pulls the trigger and hikes interest rates from a record low 0.5 percent firmly settled on the second quarter of next year in the latest Reuters poll.
Wage inflation is supposed to pick up once unemployment gets down to a level at which scarcity of labour means companies are forced to pay more for top talent. This time, at least so far, the theory is either not working so well, or taking its time to kick in. Or perhaps the modest rise we’ve seen is the best we’re going to get.
With Bank of England policymakers ready at a moment’s notice over the past several years to warn anyone who will listen that a rate rise is closer than we think or just around the corner or soon coming into sharper relief, the main instrument it targets – inflation at 2 percent – is having nothing of it.
Inflation may be far off target but economists are convinced the United States Federal Reserve and the Bank of England will soon begin raising rates from near zero – with the Fed poised to act as soon as Thursday.
The U.S. and British central banks are scrambling to be the first of the majors to raise interest rates after a long period of unprecedented monetary generosity. It won’t happen immediately but both Janet Yellen, who chairs the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney say there will be a hike this year (Yellen) or around the end of the year (Carney). Might this be a bit of a rush? Not everything in the world economy is as sanguine as the U.S. and British economies purport to be.
After years of defying gravity and outperforming the rest of Europe, Britain’s job market looks like it might be slowing down.
British wage growth will outstrip the Bank of England’s forecast this year but that doesn’t mean the first rate hike will come sooner.