King set to see term of office end with inflation still above target - Business News - Business - The Independent

King set to see term of office end with inflation still above target

British consumers face another two years of high inflation, weaker economic growth and a continuing struggle to maintain living standards, according to the Bank of England.

In its latest Inflation Report, the Bank slashed its growth forecast for the British economy and warned that inflation will hit 5 per cent this year. With prices rises "uncomfortably high", households will be hit by a continuing squeeze on disposable incomes – not least from a projected rise in gas and electricity bills of 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively this year.

The Bank's own calculations imply that its Governor, Mervyn King, has only an evens chance of seeing inflation return to the 2 per cent official target by the time his term of office ends in June 2013.

Reading through the Bank's "fan charts", Threadneedle Street appears to have reduced its growth figure for this year from around 2 per cent to 1.7 per cent and for 2012 from 3 per cent to closer to 2.5 per cent. Inflation is set to remain higher than 2 per cent into 2013 now. Pre-recession levels of output will only be recovered in mid-2012.

In a subdued performance, Mr King said that "it is now clear that underlying activity slowed markedly around the turn of the year. Looking through the volatility caused by the heavy snow last December, the level of output appears to have been broadly flat over the past two quarters". That was against an expansion of output of about 1.5 per cent over the six-month period that had been expected by the Bank last year.

The "soft patch" in the recovery was due to weakness in construction and the fiscal consolidation and fragile household confidence, Mr King said. But it is expected to be "temporary" with "a continuing rise in business investment and a positive contribution from net exports".

Mr King said: "There are clear downside risks... household spending may have further to adjust to the significant squeeze in real incomes and there is substantial uncertainty over the speed at which net exports will pick up."

The latest trade figures were, though, encouraging and suggestive of a continuing "rebalancing" in the economy, with export volumes posting quarterly growth of 5 per cent in the first three months of the year, but import volumes slipping by about 2 per cent.

The rapid rise in imported commodity prices left the deficit increasing to £7.7bn in March, from £7bn in February. The Bank again laid the blame for inflation on global commodity prices and the VAT hike to 20 per cent in January, some three-quarters of which has been passed through to consumers.

Overall, the Bank argues that between 3 and 5 percentage points of the inflation can be attributed to these special factors, which have pushed prices higher by 13 per cent since 2006. The general expectation is that the Bank will raise interest rates by 25 basis points by the end of the year and rates will rise to 2 per cent by 2013. The Bank said that the economic impact of the royal wedding could be "sizeable", on the basis of the 2012 Golden Jubilee celebrations, and it would complicate the picture.

Yesterday was not the first occasion the Bank has had to simultaneously downgrade its growth forecast while admitting inflation will be higher than thought, suggesting to some observers a structural weakening in the economy. Although the Bank concedes that the "events of the past two years" may have affected productivity, it maintains that there is no reason to adjust its view of the long-term potential growth rate, allowing for immigration.

The Bank instead points to high and volatile commodity prices driving headline inflation up and sucking purchasing power out of the economy as the main explanation for the worsening outlook for growth, price rises and living standards.

The 'Kate effect'

The Bank's attempts to see what is really going on in the economy over the last two quarters have been hampered by the extreme snow conditions over the winter.

The picture in the current, second quarter of this year may also be obscured by the impact of the royal wedding, its associated bank holiday and the 11-day vacation many Britons took as a result. Usually dismissed as trivial, the Bank argues that the impact of the nuptials may be "sizeable" if it proves comparable to the impact that the Queen's Golden Jubilee had in June 2002.

At that time the Office for National Statistics said that it depressed second-quarter GDP in 2002 by between 0.2 per cent and 0.7 percentage points, but it then bounced back over July to September. Thus we may only be able to discern the present situation when the third-quarter GDP data are published in late October – just in time for a modest rate rise in November, as markets expect.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week