By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
What’s a central bank supposed to do when it’s not sure whether a supply-side shock is coming in a month?
Nothing, that’s what. So with the possibility of the U.K. leaving the European Union in a so-called hard manner at the end of October — that the British government itself says could lead to shortages of medicine and food — analysts say the Bank of England isn’t in a situation to either boost, or restrict, demand.
“The Bank of England is not expected to change inflation rates from 0.75% and the market appears to have accepted the current rate. But markets appear to be less focused on the BoE and more concentrated on potential changes coming out of the Houses of Parliament,” said Shamik Dhar, chief economist at BNY Mellon Investment Management.
Still, the central bank has said it is planning to hike interest rates afterwards if Brexit doesn’t derail the economy too much.
“If the UK does leave the European Union on 31st October without a deal, UK growth is likely to suffer – if the BoE’s goal is financial stability, it would be hard to justify a rate hold, let alone hike. So far the BoE’s forecasts are based on the assumption of an orderly Brexit, but they have made no public change to this in light of the ever-growing likelihood of a hard exit,” said Ben Lord, fixed interest manager at M&G Investments.
Here’s a look at what to expect when its latest interest-rate decision is announced at 7 a.m. Eastern, or noon local time, on Thursday.:
|Bank of America Merrill Lynch||“The Bank of England should leave policy on hold this week and sound a bit less dovish, but we still expect the next move to be a cut.”|
|Barclays||“The MPC will most likely remain neutral and largely keep the tone unchanged. On the margin, they may strike a more dovish tone.”|
|Citi||`The MPC would probably resume the rate hike cycle if Parliament agreed a Brexit deal and might even accelerate it if citizens voted to stay in the EU in a second referendum. If the UK leaves without a deal, the Bank would cut Bank Rate to the lower bound, in our view. As the MPC waits for the sovereign to make up its mind, we expect a unanimous vote to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% and all other policy settings steady at the 19 September meeting.”|
|Goldman Sachs||“We expect the MPC to vote unanimously in favour of no change in monetary policy. The September meeting is not accompanied by any medium-term macroeconomic projections.”|
|Morgan Stanley||“We expect a 9-0 vote for rates on hold on this non-inflation report meeting.”|
|Nomura||“Continued uncertainty about Brexit and a slowing global economy are being pitted against signs of rising domestic inflationary pressures. As a result, the Bank is likely to keep policy on hold in the near term.”|
|TD Bank||“In August, the BOE said that in order to raise rates, it would not only need to see a smooth Brexit, as previously assumed, but also “some recovery in global growth.” We’ve seen no sign of that happening yet, and global growth seems to still be heading in the opposite direction. So for now, the BOE can continue to sit back and watch the Brexit show unfold.”|
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.53% has climbed nearly 9% this year while the British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0690% has declined more than 2% vs. the U.S. dollar.