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Bank of England Poised for 14th Consecutive Interest Rate Hike
In an ongoing effort to rein in persistent surges in prices, the Bank of England is preparing for its 14th consecutive interest rate hike. Economists anticipate that the central bank will announce a midday increase from the current 5% to 5.25% on Thursday. This move is expected to impact various financial aspects, including mortgage and loan rates for certain individuals, as well as savings rates. The decision comes against the backdrop of elevated UK inflation, which continues to exert pressure on households.
The upcoming rise to 5.25% would mark the first time the interest rates have reached this level in 15 years, harking back to April 2008. Notably, this increase is more modest compared to the dramatic jump observed in July, when rates surged from 4.5% to 5%. The recent signs of a slight easing in price rises have influenced this measured approach, with June witnessing a larger-than-expected decline in inflation. Although inflation now stands at 7.9%, the lowest in over a year, it remains almost four times higher than the Bank of England’s targeted 2%.
This move towards higher interest rates is part of the Bank’s strategy to reduce spending and consumption, thereby curbing inflation. However, achieving this balance is no easy task, as an overly aggressive approach could trigger an economic slowdown, while refraining from rate hikes could exacerbate inflationary pressures. The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free-market think tank, has voiced concerns, urging the Bank to allow previous rate adjustments to take effect before proceeding with further increases. Some experts contend that the UK economy is teetering on the edge of a more pronounced downturn, making a cautious approach vital to avoid potential damage.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledged the ongoing struggle with inflation, expressing his desire for a quicker decline, but maintaining optimism that a path to resolution is visible. The effects of higher interest rates have already begun to ripple through the economy, with Nationwide reporting the sharpest annual drop in house prices in 14 years during July. Amid these complex economic dynamics, the Bank of England remains committed to addressing inflation while treading carefully to minimize adverse consequences.