It’s not just the roads in the UK that were frozen, as the Bank of England unsurprisingly decided to keep interest rates frozen at 0.5%. Furthermore, many economists do not expect to see interest rates increase for some time. Roger Bootle has predicted that rates could stay low for up to 5 years and this will contribute to a continuing weak pound and spell further trouble for importers and their customers.
The Bank of England also left its money-creation programme of ‘quantitative easing’ unchanged, but next month it will have to decide whether to extend quantitative easing beyond the limits of £200 billion that it set back in November.
Whilst we are supposedly beginning our economic recovery – with 2009 quarter 4 figures showing the first rise in output since the first quarter of 2008 – its strength remains questionable. Indeed, the rise in output in the last three months of 2009 was a mere 0.1%. So how important are interest rates in helping to sustain the recovery? Can they really pull us out of the recession by remaining at just 0.5%? Read the articles below which look at freezing interest rates and quantitative easing.
FTSE unaffected by interest rate decision In the News (7/1/10)
Freeze on UK interest rates BBC News (7/1/10)
Bank of England may raise interest rates as soon as March, leading economist predicts Telegraph (7/1/10)
Interest rates and quantitative easing on hold Guardian, Larry Elliott (7/1/10)
Bank of England extends quantitative easing by £25bn – but is it enough? Guardian, Larry Elliott (5/11/10)
Questions for QE BBC News blogs, Stephanomics, Stephanie Flanders (7/1/10)
Interest rates could stay low for 5 years, says Bootle BBC News (7/1/10)
- How do low interest rates contribute to a weak pound? How does this affect exporters and importers?
- What is quantitative easing? Should the QE programme be extended? What are the arguments for and against this in terms of economic recovery and public debt?
- How much of an impact do you think the recession will have on government policy over the next few months?
- Explain the transmission mechanisms by which changes in interest rates affect the goods market.
- If the Bank of England were not independent, what do you think would be happening to interest rates?