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BoE's Pill Talks Exchange Rates

Huw Pill

Above: File image of Huw Pill. Image © Global Utmaning, Lasse Skog. Modified from original, reproduced under CC licensing, non-commercial.

Bank of England Chief Economist Huw Pill becomes the second member of the Monetary Policy Committee to mention the value of Pound Sterling when fighting inflation.

Pill said in a speech to ICAEW that if the Bank sees evidence of persistent price pressures, they are "certainly ready to act".

As such further monetary tightening - i.e. interest rate hikes and quantitative tightening - is seen in coming months.

Notably, action will also take into account the value of the Pound.

"We need to take into account the exchange rate," he said.

Pill's comments come hours after those of MPC member Catherine Mann who delivered a speech specifically looking at how the Bank could set policy in response to the actions of the Federal Reserve.

She said the UK economy does not exist in isolation and shifts in the exchange rate can have implications for both UK inflation and growth.

Taken together the two speeches might suggest the Bank is increasingly concerned that the ongoing decline in the value of the Pound is making their job at containing inflation more difficult.

Mann noted faster tightening in the U.S. can weigh on Sterling and is on balance inflationary for the UK economy as the cost of imports rises.

Accordingly she suggested a more activist approach to monetary policy whereby a more aggressive hikes are adopted earlier on but these are followed by cuts as growth comes down in the future.

Despite the interventions of the two MPC members there was no discernible impact on the Pound.

This suggests the market is now fully prepared for a 50 basis point hike at the occasion of the August Bank of England policy meeting.