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Posts Tagged ‘inflation targeting’

Bank of England navigates choppy waters

Every three months, the Bank of England produces its Inflation Report. This includes forecasts for inflation and economic growth for the next three years. The forecasts are presented as fan charts. These depict the probability of various outcomes for inflation or growth in the future. “In any particular quarter of the forecast period, GDP is expected to lie somewhere within the fan on 90 out of 100 occasions.” Each coloured band represents a 10% probability of occurrence. “Although not every member will agree with every assumption on which our projections are based, the fan charts represent the MPC’s best collective judgement about the most likely paths for inflation and output, and the uncertainties surrounding those central projections.” The broader the fan the less confident are the forecasts. The fans have tended to get broader in recent Reports, reflecting the greater uncertainties in the UK and global economies since the credit crunch.

Since the last Report, the forecast for economic growth in 2011 has been adjusted downwards from 3.4% to 2.5%. Inflation, while still being forecast to be below the target of 2% in two years’ time, is forecast to rise in the short term, thanks to higher commodity prices and the rise in VAT from 17.5% to 20% in January 2011.

So what impact, according to the Report, will various factors such as the Coalition’s emergency Budget in June, rising commodity prices, falling consumer confidence and improving export performance have on the economy? And how much credence should be put on the forecasts? The following articles address these questions

Articles
Bank chief warns of ‘choppy recovery’ Independent, Russell Lynch (11/8/10)
King warns of ‘choppy recovery’ for economy Channel 4 News, Faisal Islam (11/8/10)
Bank of England warns UK recovery will be weaker than hoped Telegraph (11/8/10)
Bank of England lowers UK growth forecast Telegraph, Angela Monaghan (11/8/10)
Bank of England cuts UK economic growth forecasts Guardian, Katie Allen (11/8/10)
Bank of England forecasts ‘choppy’ economic recovery BBC News, Katie Allen (11/8/10)
Bank of England Cuts Outlook for Economic Growth Bloomberg, Jennifer Ryan (11/8/10)
Why is the UK heading into choppy waters? BBC News Analysis, Hugh Pym (11/8/10)
Bank of England overhauls forecast model after errors Telegraph, Philip Aldrick (11/8/10)
The Bank’s impossible balancing act Independent, David Prosser (11/8/10)
How uncertain exactly is the uncertain BoE? Reuters Blogs, MacroScope (11/8/10)
‘Slowflation’ – the combination the Bank of England fears most Independent, Sean O’Grady (11/8/10)
The Bank is right to paint a mixed picture Independent, Hamish McRae (11/8/10)
Sterling falls, gilts rally after Bank of England cuts growth forecasts Guardian Blogs, Elena Moya (11/8/10)

Report
Inflation Report
Inflation Report Press Conference

Questions

  1. Do the Bank of England’s forecasts suggest that the UK economy is on track for meeting the inflation target in 24 months’ time?
  2. How much reliance should be put on Bank of England inflation and growth forecasts? You might want to check out the forecasts made one and two years ago for current (2010) rates of inflation and growth (see Inflation Reports (by date)).
  3. What are the factors that have persuaded the Bank of England to reduce its forecast for the rate of economic growth in 2011? Are these factors all on the demand side?
  4. According to the fan chart for economic growth, what is the probability that the UK economy will move back into recession in 2011?
  5. Will the rise in VAT in January 2011 cause inflation to be higher in 2012 than in 2010 (other things being equal)? Explain.
  6. Why did the FTSE fall by 2.4% on the day the Report was released?
  7. If commodity price inflation increases (see Food prices: a question of supply and demand), what impact is this likely to have (a) on the rate of economic growth; (b) on the rate of interest chosen by the MPC?
  8. What policy should the Bank of England adopt to tackle ‘slowflation’?
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The economic legacy of Gordon Brown

With the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats now in power in the UK and with the Labour Party, having lost the election, being now in the midst of a leadership campaign, politicians from across the political spectrum are balming Gordon Brown for the ‘mess the country’s in’. The UK has a record budget deficit and debt, and is just emerging from a deep recession, when only a few years ago, Gordon Brown was claiming the end of boom and bust. But is the condition of the UK economy Mr Brown’s fault? Would it have been any better if others had been in charge, or if there had been even greater independence for the Bank of England of if there had been an Office of Budget Responsibility (see)?

The following podcast by Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, considers this question. He argues that:

Everybody would like to blame Gordon Brown for the financial crisis. But he was only acting in line with the national consensus on economic policy.

The economic legacy of Mr Brown FT podcasts, Martin Wolf (13/5/10)
The economic legacy of Mr Brown Financial Times, Martin Wolf (13/5/10)

Questions

  1. Explain what is meant by ‘the great moderation’.
  2. Should regulation of the banks be handed back to the Bank of England?
  3. Why may controlling inflation not necessarily result in stable economic growth? Is this a case of Goodhart’s Law?
  4. Why was the UK economy especially fragile during the banking crisis and its aftermath?
  5. What, according to Martin Wolf, was Mr Brown’s biggest mistake?
  6. Could a mistake be now being made by following the conventional wisdom that cutting the deficit is the solution to achieving sustained recovery?
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In Fed we trust

This podcast is from MSN’s Slate magazine. It is an interview with David Wessel, author of the book In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic. The book and the podcast consider the recent history of the Federal Reserve Bank of America (the USA’s central bank) and its handling of the sub-prime crisis and the credit crunch.

In Fed We Trust: A podcast with author David Wessel MSN Slate (10/8/09)

Questions

  1. What actions were taken by the Fed as the credit crisis unfolded?
  2. According to David Wessel, what mistakes were made by the Fed in handling the credit crisis?
  3. How successful was the Fed in steering the economy through the credit crisis and subsequent recession?
  4. How is the role of the Fed likely to change in the future?
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Is inflation actually what we think?

Inflationary expectations can be an important determinant of the actual level of inflation and so the Bank of England monitor people’s perceptions of inflation closely. Expectations of inflation are currently at their highest level in eight years.

Questions
1. Explain the transmission mechanism by which higher inflationary expectations are translated into inflation.
2. What are the key determinants of inflationary expectations?
3. Discuss strategies that (a) the Bank of England and (b) the government can adopt to reduce inflationary expectations.
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Black Wednesday and the rebirth of the UK economy

The article below by William Keegan is a discussion of a recent seminar he attended on ‘Black Wednesday and the rebirth of the British economy’. The seminar led him to consider whether policy makers should be guided mainly by rules or discretion in the development of policy. Many would argue that we have moved away from discretion and moved more towards fiscal and monetary rules for the implementation of policy, but the article discusses the extent to which this may be true.

When the going gets rough, can our rulers rely on the rule book? Observer (18/11/07)

Questions
1. Explain, using examples as appropriate, the difference between policies based on fiscal and monetary rules and discretion.
2. Explain how the MPC “largely ignores the cumulative dangers of a high exchange rate” in its determination of interest rates for the UK economy.
3. Discuss how effective the adoption of an inflation target has been in management of the British economy in the past decade.
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Money supply growth – a danger signal?

In the early days of monetary policy, money supply targeting was a core element of anti-inflation policy. This approach was slowly dropped during the 1990s, but the underlying growth of the money supply has remained an important issue for policy makers and recent growth in the money supply has led to concern from some commentators that higher inflationary pressures may yet emerge.

King sees money growth as danger sign Times Online (3/5/07)
Bank’s inflation controllers leave the NICE decade to enter the not-so-nice Guardian (3/5/07)
Should letter-writing be a thing of the past? Times Online (30/4/07)


Questions
1. Explain the relationship between money supply growth and inflation.
2. What were the main factors that led to money supply targeting being dropped as a core element of monetary policy?
3. Assess the extent to which the MPC should pay more attention to the level of money supply growth.
4. Should letter-writing be a thing of the past?
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