Bank of England chief economist open to bigger rate rise if needed

Bank of England chief economist open to bigger rate rise if needed
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LONDON (July 6): Bank of England (BoE) chief economist Huw Pill said on Wednesday (July 6) that he would be open to voting for a larger move in interest rates than the 0.25-percentage-point steps favoured so far by the BoE if economic circumstances warrant.

Last month, the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee said it was ready to act forcefully if needed to tackle inflation that is likely to hit double digits later this year.

"The statement reflects both my willingness to adopt a faster pace of tightening than implemented thus far in this tightening cycle, while simultaneously emphasising the conditionality of any such change," Pill said in a speech at a central banking conference hosted by King's Business School.

The BoE has raised interest rates five times since December, raising rates to 1.25% from 0.1%.

The central bank has not raised interest rates by 0.5 percentage point in a single move since it gained operational independence in 1997, but financial markets see a 64% chance of half-point move in the BoE's next meeting in August.

Faster tightening is expected despite the fact that growth is losing momentum as the highest inflation in 40 years erodes households' purchasing power.

Pill said the BoE had to balance risks of a longer-term slowdown against the dangers of "uncomfortably high" inflation that could become entrenched in public expectations and companies' price-setting.

"Risks to the economic outlook are two-sided," he said. "The current squeeze on real income that threatens to create slack and downside risks to inflation further out."

Britain differed from the US — where the US Federal Reserve has signalled a rapid tightening path — because Britain imported much more of its energy, leading to a drop in living standards when energy prices rose, Pill added.