The Bank of England announced today that it would not be cutting interest rates from the current 0.75%. Mark Carney, the outgoing chairman of the BoE, spoke to reporters at the monthly monetary press conference, revealing the decision was a 7-2 majority in favour of no cut.
Michael Saunders and Jonathan Haskel were the two policymakers that voted in favour of cutting, and have previously been outspoken about the need for cutting interest rates due to slowing growth in the UK.
Brexit negotiations and the ongoing US/China trade war were blamed for causing uncertainty in the UK economy; uncertainty that has led the Bank of England to downgrade its growth forecast for 2020 from 1.2% GDP to 0.8% - a decrease of a third.
Reporters queried whether weaker data could result in an interest rate cut, to which Carney replied: “That’s a question for the March meeting of the MPC”. In the seven years since Mark Carney took over as chairman of the BoE, interest rates have only risen from 0.5% to 0.75%.
Lower interest rates mean cheaper repayment on loans and mortgages, but also mean weaker interest on savings accounts like ISAs. Investors will be monitoring the BoE in the run-up to March for fresh signs of a rate cut – especially considering the potential for a change of tact under the stewardship of Mark Carney’s successor, Andrew Bailey, who will assume the position on March 15.
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Elsewhere, the US Federal Reserve announced last night that they too would not be raising interest rates, with chairman Jerome Powell arguing that “the labor market remains strong” and “economic activity continues to rise at a moderate rate.”
The US is arguably the best performing world economy at present, with continually strong new job figures, low unemployment, and solid GDP growth, but as the tweet below points out, America still missed its growth target in 2019 following a tumultuous summer of trade war drama.
Speaking to reporters, Powell said: “We wanted to underscore our commitment to 2% not being a ceiling, to inflation running symmetrically around 2% and we’re not satisfied with inflation running below 2%”.
Inflation will lead to an erosion of purchasing power, which is why asset prices – especially those of gold and silver – rose last night. Gold gained $5 per ounce following Powell’s press conference, with investors looking to diversify portfolios before any potential depreciation of their wealth.
Investors are also concerned by the ongoing Fed injection of cash to support the repo market – as we wrote about earlier this month – with many fearing that this is delaying an inevitable market collapse and crash.