View more on these topics

Consumers dance but must face the music

“There may be trouble ahead,” crooned Frank Sinatra, and in a less succinct way this was the song being sung by Mervyn King last week.

In a speech to the Scottish financial fraternity, the governor of the Bank of Eng- land warned that “after a period of robust economic growth we approach a somewhat bumpier stretch of road”, explaining that “a rebalancing of global demand is desirable but the way ahead may not be smooth”.

King only gives a handful of speeches a year so when he speaks each phrase and nuance is carefully considered, knowing that what he says will be pored over for an insight into the BoE’s views.

In recent weeks stock market volatility has reflected jitters about rising prices in the US.

In modern times the global trend has been towards low interest and inflation rates with the US and most of Europe seeing these and Japan still experiencing a zero rate.

This has led to cheap borrowing and a booming housing market and high consumer spending in this country.

But changes in the global economy could pose a threat to inflation in the UK. As the monetary stimulus in an economy is withdrawn, asset prices begin to rise. This correction has led to long-term interest rates moving up and a tightening of monetary policy in many countries.

Inflationary pressures are even being felt in huge and expanding industrial economies.

King told delegates: “Even in China, with its growing manufacturing base and large pool of labour, some indicators are show- ing upward pressures on export prices. That is raising our im- port prices above the increases due to higher energy costs.”

But there may yet be a little more time for dancing and romancing for UK consumers as the governor balanced gloom with the fact that the BoE is content that inflation is not “of serious concern”.

There has been speculation in the past few weeks that the Monetary Policy Committee will raise interest rates later in the year, having kept them fixed at 4.5% for the past 10 months.

This would follow the example of the US and European banks which have dealt with inflation by pushing up the cost of borrowing.

King is in the ‘wait and see’ camp when it comes to raising interest rates, telling his audience that the MPC must be “enlightened”.

So despite a survey from the Office of National Statistics showing that escalating gas and electricity bills have pushed inflation up 0.5%, above its 2% target for the first time in six months, and another from the Department for Communities and Local Government showing house price inflation hit an 11-month high of 5.15% in April, for now we can still face the music and dance.


Mums the word when it comes to borrowing

Research from the Chelsea shows twice as many people saying they would ask to borrow money from their mum than their dad.The research also shows dads in the South-West are set to hold on to their money the longest with only 3.6% of people quoting them as first choice. Fathers in London need to start […]

Practitioner panel begins second stage of FSA survey

The Financial Services Practitioner Panel has launched the second stage of its FSA performance survey.The survey, which is carried out every two years, is aimed at gathering industry views on the FSA and establishing a track record of the regulator’s effectiveness and operations.The first stage involved a series of interviews with senior staff from a […]

JEREZ 2006: Brokers urged to prepare for HIPs

Brokers have been warned that if they fail to prepare for Home Information Packs, then they must be prepared to fail once the legislation becomes mandatory in June 2007. Speaking at the Mortgage Summit in Jerez on June 23, Alan Dring, sale director at e-Conveyancer, says that now is the time to start looking at […]

Salt expands into ‘direct to broker’ market

Derbyshires specialist lender Salt is expanding into the direct to broker market through Premier Mortgage Service and Mortgage Promotions.Salts product range had only previously been available through packagers and the move is part of a strategy to open itself up to the wider market.The service will be available through an online intermediary proposition, with full […]

Jelf flexible benefits

In Focus: How to choose a flexible benefits provider — seven top tips

Jelf Employee Benefits looks at some of the key considerations employers should think about when reviewing and choosing a flexible benefits provider. Choosing the right benefits for your employees is one thing but delivering a successful employee benefits strategy is about understanding the complete picture and delivering it in a personalised way so that it resonates with each and every individual in your business. 


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up