AFP – UK output is to crash by 14 percent this year on the coronavirus, the Bank of England (BoE) said yesterday as it left its interest rate at a record-low 0.1 percent.
“However the economic outlook evolves, the bank will act as necessary to deliver the monetary and financial stability that are essential for long-term prosperity and meet the needs of the people,” said BoE governor Andrew Bailey.
“This is our total and unwavering commitment.”
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the Bank of England slashed its main interest rate to 0.1 percent and decided to pump £200 billion ($244 billion) into the UK economy to get retail banks lending to fragile businesses.
Two members of the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee, but not Bailey, voted at the latest meeting to increase the stimulus by a further £100 billion.
“Without further monetary stimulus, there could be greater scarring effects on the economy via both demand and supply channels,” argued Jonathan Haskel and Michael Saunders, according to minutes of the gathering that took place on Wednesday.
“The decision not to expand bond-buying with more printed money gave the pound a small uplift” in trading yesterday, noted Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group. “Two dissenting votes for an extra £100 billion in quantitative easing capped the gains. It’s a wait-and-see for now but the path… seems to be for more stimulus,” he added.
While predicting a 14 percent slump in British gross domestic product this year, the BoE expects a sharp rebound of 15 percent in 2021 – with output then forecast to grow by 3 percent in 2022.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline plans on easing Britain’s nationwide lockdown on Sunday, with initial restrictions expected to be lifted from next week.
“The government will decide later this week whether to ease the lockdown, guided by the advice of public health experts,” Bailey said yesterday. “This decision will shape the path by which the economy is brought back into action.”
The country’s official number of virus deaths has overtaken Italy’s to become the highest in Europe, with more than 32,000 fatalities related to COVID-19. That is behind only the United States in the tally of global deaths.
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