The perfect storm is brewing for UK inflation. Boris Johnson and his government will not admit it, but their choice of a hard Brexit will exacerbate price rises, on top of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This could put the Bank of England in the unenviable position of having to choose which bubble to burst: consumer prices, or house prices.
“Transitory” is the preferred word to describe inflation these days. Central bankers love it, because it means they can continue their easy money policies. Investors love it, because it means the markets’ party goes on.
The Covid-19 crisis is one year old, and already, on the economic front at least, optimism is gaining ground.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic growth projections, released last week, point to a strong rebound: the world economy is forecast to expand by 6% this year, led by emerging and developing Asia, which is expected to grow by 8.6%.
If you are wondering what’s behind the sudden largesse of the European Central Bank (ECB) when it comes to purchases of bonds, you may find a recent speech by an ECB official at a conference about financial stability enlightening.
While regulators focused on making banks safer following the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the non-bank financial sector has been allowed to continue without the same stringent requirements for liquidity and leverage. This gap came into sharp focus during the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The abrupt fall from grace of Dominic Cummings, the much-admired and much-loathed adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has sparked all sorts of theories as to what was behind it, and with good reason.
Cummings’ actions have been divisive and often controversial, starting with his choice of “misfits and weirdos” to replace civil servants whom he sacked unceremoniously, to the famous drive he took across the country while both he and his wife were ill with Covid-19 and a national lockdown was in place.
If after the great financial crisis of 2007-2009 the word “extraordinary” characterised monetary policy, the Covid-19 pandemic calls for a much stronger adjective: “unprecedented”.
As the world has never before been faced with an instance when virtually all economic activity stopped for a certain period of time, this is an appropriate word. However, in monetary policy really very little can be said to be truly “unprecedented”.
For example, take modern monetary theory (MMT) — a theory about how to have your (monetary) cake and eat it, which (simplistically) states that if a country can print its own currency, that country will never default on its debt because it can create as much currency as it wants to and use it to pay back the debt.
Major central banks, to a certain degree, have already begun versions of MMT.