在經濟衰退中提高利率是正確的嗎?

3週前
在經濟衰退中提高利率是正確的嗎?

英格蘭銀行就像篝火晚會的組織者。它的一隻手拿着裝滿汽油的罐子,準備扔到濕漉漉的原木堆上,另一隻手拿着滅火器,準備幾乎同時將其撲滅。

今天的加息是為了抑制經濟,消除根深蒂固的通貨膨脹。但另一項聲明,即未來的升息將是有限的,峰值利率不應超過5%,表明銀行對經濟的整體影響有多擔心,特別是抵押貸款市場。

據央行稱,英國正面臨着 "非常具有挑戰性的 "兩年經濟衰退的開始,這是官方統計中記錄的最長的經濟衰退,然而利率將繼續上升,在八次上升之後,包括今天的巨額上升到3%。

似乎是認識到這一難以解釋的立場,央行在其公布的決策記錄中做了一件通常不會做的事情。為了讓市場和公眾放心,加息不會一直以這種速度進行,可能會扼殺任何增長的火花,未來的加息預計 "峰值低於金融市場的定價"。

貝利行長告訴我,今天的公告的淨影響可能是固定抵押貸款利率不會達到6%以上的水平,這在小型預算案之後似乎是可能的。雖然可變利率抵押貸款將因今天的利率上升而自動上升,但固定抵押貸款利率更多的是受關於兩年或五年內利率走向的假設影響。貝利先生正在設法降低這些預期,即使他實際上提高了當前的利率。這是一個棘手的操縱手段。

這與美國等國採取的方法不同。美聯儲的言論和行動一直在毫不留情地攻擊通貨膨脹,說他們有傾向於提高利率,甚至超過必要的水平,因為行動總是可以被收回。

但美國的情況不同。英國央行的做法反映了一個事實,即英國的平衡行為要微妙得多。預測的兩年經濟衰退將意味着在整個大流行後的時期內,甚至在2019年大選後的五年議會中,都是零增長。

當然,大流行病、其後果、烏克蘭戰爭和能源衝擊是所有這些的燃料。但是,隨着銀行和政府指出數百萬家庭將面臨更多的痛苦和犧牲,他們已經面臨抵押貸款、能源和稅收賬單的數千英鎊增長,人們可以理解為問:英國這裡的決定是否起到了煽風點火的作用?


The Bank of England is like the organiser of a bonfire night party. In one hand it has the jerry can full of petrol to fling over the pile of wet logs, in the other there's a fire extinguisher ready to put it out almost at the same time.

Today's rate rise is designed to dampen down the economy and stamp out entrenched inflation. But the other announcement, that future rises will be limited, and peak interest rates should not rise above 5%, shows just how worried the Bank is about the overall impact on the economy, and especially the mortgage market.

The UK is facing the start of a "very challenging" two-year recession, according to the Bank, the longest recession ever recorded in official statistics, and yet interest rates will carry on going up, after eight rises, including todays jumbo rise of to 3%.

As if in recognition of this difficult to explain stance, the Bank has done something it doesn't normally do in the published minutes of its decisions. In order to reassure the markets and the public that rises won't just keep going up at this kind of rate, potentially killing off any sparks of growth, future rises are expected to "peak lower than priced into financial markets".

Governor Bailey told me that the net effect of today's announcements could be that fixed mortgage rates don't reach the 6%-plus level that seemed likely in the aftermath of the mini-budget. Although variable rate mortgages will go up automatically as a result of today's interest rate rise, fixed mortgage rates are influenced more by assumptions about where rates will go over two or five years. Mr Bailey is managing those expectations down, even as he actually raises current rates. It is a tricky manoeuvre.

This is a different approach to that taken by, for example, the USA. The rhetoric and actions of the Federal Reserve have been unrelenting in attacking inflation, in saying that they have a bias towards raising rates higher, even than necessary, because moves can always be rowed back.

But the US is in a different situation. The Bank of England's approach reflects the fact that the UK balancing act is much more delicate. The forecast two-year recession would mean zero growth over the entire post-pandemic period, and indeed over the five-year parliament, following the 2019 election.

The pandemic, its aftermath, the war in Ukraine, and the energy shock, are the fuel for all of this of course. But with the Bank and the government pointing to more pain and sacrifice for millions of households, who are already facing multi-thousand pound increases in mortgage, energy and tax bills, people would be forgiven for asking: have decisions made here in Britain served to fan the flames?

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