The Bank of England probably has more time than it previously thought before it will need to raise interest rates, assuming Britain can leave the European Union with a transition deal, BoE interest-rate setter Silvana Tenreyro said on Wednesday.
The pound would probably rise after a Brexit deal, Tenreyro said. Combined with the ongoing slowdown in the world economy this would probably offset the inflation pressure building in Britain’s labour market and allow the BoE to keep rates on hold at their current level of 0.75% for a while.
“Coupled with signs of a weaker global outlook, recent developments likely lengthen the period until there is a sufficient pick-up in inflationary pressures for me to vote to raise Bank Rate,” Tenreyro said in a speech. “I do not currently anticipate such a pick-up in the next few months.”
Tenreyro said a “small amount of policy tightening” would be needed over the next three years in the event of a Brexit deal.
The BoE has long advised investors that rates are likely to go up in a gradual and limited way, as long as a Brexit deal is done.
In the event that Britain leaves the EU without a deal, it was more likely than not that the BoE would need to ease monetary policy to soften the shock, she said, repeating comments she made in March.
But this was “by no means certain,” she added.
The fall in yields on British debt reflected worries about the world economy and not just Brexit, she said.
Many investors are betting that the BoE’s next rate move will be a cut, not an increase, given their fear that a no-deal Brexit looks more likely.
Both contenders to replace Theresa May as the next prime minister have said they are prepared to take the country out of the EU without a deal if necessary.
BoE Governor Mark Carney said last week that the risks of a no-deal Brexit and an escalation of global trade tensions were rising, adding to bets in markets on a BoE rate cut.