The Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.1% and to continue with the existing programme of £200 billion of UK government bond and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves. The Committee voted by a majority of 8-1 to increase the target stock of purchased UK government bonds, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, by an additional £100 billion, to take the total stock of asset purchases to £745 billion.
Risky asset prices have recovered further from their March lows, although they have remained sensitive to news on the evolution of the pandemic. Recent data outturns suggest that the fall in global GDP in 2020 Q2 will be less severe than expected at the time of the May Monetary Policy Report. There are signs of consumer spending and services output picking up, following the easing of Covid-related restrictions on economic activity. Recent additional announcements of easier monetary and fiscal policy will help to support the recovery. Downside risks to the global outlook remain, however, including from the spread of Covid-19 within emerging market economies and from a return to a higher rate of infection in advanced economies.
UK GDP contracted by around 20% in April, following a 6% fall in March. Evidence from more timely indicators suggests that GDP started to recover thereafter. Twelve-month CPI inflation declined from 1.5% in March to 0.8% in April, triggering the explanatory letter from the Governor to the Chancellor published alongside this monetary policy announcement. CPI inflation fell further in May, to 0.5%. Current below-target rates of CPI inflation can in large part be accounted for by the effects of the pandemic. The collapse in global oil prices has had direct effects on inflation, via the prices of motor fuels, and indirect effects by reducing input costs in other sectors of the economy. The sharp drop in domestic activity is also adding to downward pressure on inflation through increased spare capacity in most sectors of the economy.
The emerging evidence suggests that the fall in global and UK GDP in 2020 Q2 will be less severe than set out in the May Report. Although stronger than expected, it is difficult to make a clear inference from that about the recovery thereafter. There is a risk of higher and more persistent unemployment in the United Kingdom
At this meeting, the MPC judges that a further easing of monetary policy is warranted to meet its statutory objectives. The Committee agreed to increase the target stock of purchased UK government bonds by an additional £100 billion in order to meet the inflation target in the medium term. The Committee expects that programme to be completed, and the total stock of asset purchases to reach £745 billion, around the turn of the year.
The next regularly scheduled MPC meeting is on Wednesday 5th August 2020 with the announcement to be published the following day on 6th August 2020.