What's going on?
The Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates again on Thursday, but even the simplest of psychics could have told you that would happen.
What does this mean?
The BoE hiked interest rates from 0.50% to 0.75% on Thursday, making it the first major central bank to bring rates back to their pre-pandemic levels (tweet this). That’s its third consecutive hike since December, and its fastest pace of hikes since 1997. But no one’s surprised: the BoE was already the first big central bank to raise rates after the pandemic hit, and it was widely expected to do it again. After all, the BoE’s under pressure to cool the country’s three-decade high inflation, especially since it’s set to soar higher from the effects of war in Europe.
Why should I care?
For markets: Careful, there.
The BoE now expects inflation to hit 8% by the end of next quarter, up nearly 1% from its forecast in February. The central bank even reckons inflation could hit double-digits later this year, when the energy price cap – a limit on how much suppliers can charge customers – is likely to rise again. The BoE looks like it’ll be careful with its future hikes, mind you: it’s trying to fight inflation without hurting the economy too much, since consumer confidence is already falling and Brits’ wallets are squeezed more than the central bank expected. That might explain why some economists now only expect two more hikes this year, rather than the five that were priced into the markets before the news.
Zooming out: China’s switching things up.
China’s not on the rate hike bandwagon, that’s for sure: its government said this week it needed to boost the economy this quarter, after recent government crackdowns and Covid lockdowns left the country reeling. Analysts, then, think that might mean the government will cut a key interest rate in the next few days.