Bank of England Inflation Report – things are looking better

The Bank of England’s latest quarterly Inflation Report was published on November 11. With all the gloomy news over the past few months the report is pleasantly up-beat – certainly for the longer term. As Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, states in his opening remarks to the publication of the report, “The considerable stimulus from the past easing of monetary and fiscal policy and the depreciation of sterling should lead to a recovery in economic activity.”

Nevertheless, recovery will be slow, especially at first. This means that it will be some time before output returns to pre-recession levels. “Despite a recovery in economic growth, output is unlikely, at least for a considerable period, to return to a level consistent with a continuation of its pre-crisis trend. That is in large part because the impact of the downturn on the supply capacity of the economy is expected to persist. But it is also because there is likely to be sustained weakness of demand relative to that capacity.”

There is surprisingly good news too on employment and unemployment. Although unemployment has risen sharply in recent months, the rate of increase is slowing and “There was a small increase of 6000 in the number of people in employment to 28.93 million, the first quarterly increase since May–July 2008 (see Labour market statistics, November 2009).

So should we be putting out the flags? Can the Bank of England ease off on quantitative easing (see Easing up on quantitative easing)? Or does it still need to keep on increasing money supply, especially as fiscal policy will have to get a lot tighter? The following articles consider the issues.

Mervyn King: economy remains ‘uncertain’ (video) Channel 4 News, Faisal Islam (11/11/09)
Bank of England governor dampens hopes of swift UK recovery Guardian, Graeme Wearden (11/11/09)
Recovery has only just started, warns sombre King Guardian, Heather Stewart (11/11/09)
Cautious good cheer BBC News, Stephanomics (11/11/09)
Bank of England’s Mervyn King says UK only just started on recovery road Telegraph (11/11/09)
The Bank of England’s Inflation Report is useless. Here’s why. Telegraph, Edmund Conway (11/11/09)
Bank of England raises growth and inflation forecasts: economists react (includes video) Telegraph (11/11/09)
Bank of England talks up hopes of strong recovery Times Online, Robert Lindsay (11/11/09)
Bank of England cautions on economic recovery BusinessWeek, Jane Wardell(11/11/09)
Just who benefits from quantitative easing? WalesOnline (11/11/09)
Inflation Report: Forget the fan charts, what we need is a clear economic policy Telegraph, Jeremy Warner (11/11/09)
We’ve no choice but to keep inflating Independent, Hamish McRae (11/11/09)
Is there a break in the economic gloom? (video) BBC Newsnight, Paul Mason (12/11/09)

The Bank of England Inflation Report can be found at the following site, which contains links to the full report, the Governor’s opening remarks, charts, a podcast and a webcast:
Inflation Report November 2009 Bank of England


  1. Explain what the three fan charts, Charts 1, 2 and 3 on pages 6, 7 and 8 of the Inflation Report, show.
  2. Why is the Bank of England more optimistic than in its previous report (August 2009)?
  3. Why did the sterling exchange rate fall on the publication of the report?
  4. Has the policy of expansionary monetary policy proved to be beneficial and should the Bank of England continue to pursue an expansionary monetary policy?
  5. What determines the balance of effects of an expansionary monetary policy on (a) asset prices; (b) real output; and (c) inflation?
  6. How have relatively flexible labour markets affected the impact of recession on (a) wage rates; (b) unemployment?