Liz Truss, the favourite in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, has laid the blame for inflation at the door of the Bank of England, saying it must do more to fight price rises.
Truss also said she would change the Bank of England’s mandate if she becomes prime minister, to ensure that the central bank fights inflation more efficiently, but gave no details about what that change would entail.
With consumer price inflation hitting a 40-year high of 9.4% in June, you may think she has a point. The Bank of England is behind the curve, but when it comes to changing the central bank’s mandate, I really hope Liz Truss is lying. If she is not, then we should all be very afraid.
The euro has lost a lot of ground versus other major currencies as the European Central Bank (ECB) is taking a very dovish stance even compared to the usually dovish Bank of England.
As expected, a German has the difficult task of being a lone hawk amid doves: Isabel Schnabel, member of the ECB’s Governing Board, recently warned that the central bank has consistently been wrong in its inflation forecasts.
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.
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.
Caught in the middle of the Brexit saga, European investors can be forgiven if they glossed over a speech by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that could turn out to be the starting point of a very risky period for the global economy.
It’s no secret that President Donald Trump would want the Fed to cut interest rates and debase the dollar. Earlier this year, he called the Fed “crazy” and Powell himself, “clueless.”
Of course, Powell did not immediately show that these repeated attacks influenced his policy. However, in a speech he gave last week he reiterated his fondness for a very risky idea on how to ease monetary policy even further.