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Bank Governor warns of eurozone 'tearing itself apart'

Category: Business

Published: 16th May 2012 11:36:39

The Bank of England has cut its growth forecast for this year to 0.8% from 1.2%, saying the eurozone crisis is still the main threat to UK recovery.

The eurozone was "tearing itself apart" and the UK would not be "unscathed", said Bank governor Sir Mervyn King.

The rate of inflation will not fall as quickly as previously thought, he said, and will remain above the government's 2% target "for the next year or so".

Sir Mervyn was presenting the Bank's quarterly inflation report.

He told a news conference that the euro area posed the greatest threat to the UK recovery, and there was a "risk of a storm heading our way from the continent".

"We have been through a big global financial crisis, the biggest downturn in world output since the 1930s, the biggest banking crisis in this country's history, the biggest fiscal deficit in our peacetime history, and our biggest trading partner, the euro area, is tearing itself apart without any obvious solution.

"The idea that we could reasonably hope to sail serenely through this with growth close to the long-run average and inflation at 2% strikes me as wholly unrealistic," Sir Mervyn said.

In addition to the eurozone crisis, volatile energy and commodity costs, and the squeeze on household earnings, meant that the UK economy would not return to pre-financial crisis levels before 2014.

But Sir Mervyn remained optimistic about the longer term. "We don't know when the storm clouds will move away. But there are good reasons to believe that growth will recover and inflation will fall back," he said.

On quantitative easing, he said that no decisions had been made whether or not to continue pumping money into the economy. The last stimulus programme was still "working its way through the system".

Sir Mervyn's comments came on the day that official unemployment figures showed a fall in the jobless rate, underlining recent surveys that the private sector had become more confident about hiring labour.

He said the fall in joblessness was consistent with the expected gradual recovery in the UK economy.

But Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said of the Bank's report: "Talk about kicking an economy when it's down.

"On top of the euro crisis and a double-dip recession, the Bank of England is now saying inflation may not fall fast enough to permit more quantitative easing.

"Actually we think the inflation outlook is probably better than the MPC thinks, with the impact of the euro crisis, declining real incomes and weak money supply growth suggesting inflationary pressures may recede later this year and into 2013.

"After many years of underestimating inflationary pressure let's hope the Monetary Policy Committee is now making the opposite mistake by overestimating it".

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BBC News, 2012. Bank Governor warns of eurozone 'tearing itself apart' [Online] (Updated 16th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1428903/Bank-Governor-warns-of-eurozone-tearing-itself-apart [Accessed 22nd Jul 2014]

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