A quick summary of the main talking points from today’s Bank of England meeting.
1. We have the clearest signal yet that the Bank of England is mulling the prospect of moving interest rates below 0% in the coming months should economic conditions dictate. Currently the Bank is in a consultative stage although markets are now starting to price in a change in policy as early as next February.
2. The economic data suggests that the UK economy continues to improve from that seen at the August meeting. Concerns remain however in the form of “a risk of a more persistent period of elevated unemployment” than previously forecast. The furlough scheme is currently expected to end next month.
3. The Bank is unanimous in its thinking currently with all nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee voting to hold rates at 0.1% and the amount of asset purchases at £745bn. As we near a decision point on negative interest rates we will have to monitor individual member comments/speeches extremely closely for signs as to how the Committee is splitting.
4. Mortgage rates have increased from ultra-low values suggesting that banks are unwilling to lend to higher LTV borrowers at these rates and a forecast fall in mortgage demand had so far not materialised. This is possibly down to the stamp duty holiday pulling demand forward from next year.
5. “The MPC’s latest central projections were also conditioned on the assumption of an immediate, orderly move to a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union on 1 January 2021.” While this is not a new phrase in Bank of England communications, we are coming up on the biggest inflection point for policy since the referendum itself.