UK inflation expectations match nine-year high

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The British public’s expectations for inflation over the next one to two years rose to their joint-highest level in nearly a decade and satisfaction with the Bank of England slid, according to a quarterly BoE survey.

Central bankers watch surveys of inflation expectations closely for signs that people and businesses expect above-target inflation to become entrenched, influencing wage-bargaining and pricing strategies – though not all officials are convinced the data offer a meaningful guide to future behaviour.

Friday’s survey showed that the public’s expectation for inflation in the next one to two years rose to 3.4% in November from 3.2% in August, matching a May reading which was the highest since November 2013.

British consumer price inflation hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October, more than five times the BoE’s 2% target.

Net public satisfaction with the job the BoE is doing in controlling inflation fell to -12, its lowest since the survey began in 1999, down from -7 in August.

Not all the survey measures were so negative, however.

Expectations for inflation in five years’ time rose to 3.3% in November from 3.1%, but were below May’s two-and-a-half year peak of 3.5% and not much above their long-run average of 3.2%.

Expectations for inflation over the year ahead declined to 4.8% from August’s record-high 4.9%.

In September, Britain’s government announced measures to limit future rises in household energy bills.

Some other measures of inflation expectations have shown more of a decline in expectations than the BoE survey. A survey by Citi and YouGov, conducted on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, showed inflation expectations for five to 10-years’ time had fallen to 3.9% in November from a peak of 4.8% in August.

The BoE survey took place from Nov. 4 to Nov. 7, just after the BoE raised rates by three quarters of a percentage point to 3%. Next week the BoE is likely to raise rates by a further half point to 3.5%, according to a

Reuters poll of economists.

Separately, Britain is easing banking rules brought in after the 2008 global financial crisis in a bid to attract investment and secure London’s status as Europe’s leading finance center.

Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt said Friday that the changes, which follow Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2020, will make the UK “one of the most open, dynamic and competitive financial services hubs in the world.”

The package of more than 30 changes includes lifting a cap on bankers’ bonuses and easing capital requirements for smaller lenders. The government also said it will review regulations that hold bankers accountable for their decisions and will relax “ringfencing” rules intended to separate risky investment banking from retail operations.

Hunt said the government was using “Brexit freedoms” to make Britain more competitive. But many economists point out that the UK’s departure from the EU has erected barriers to trade and led some firms to shift offices and jobs to other European cities.

Last year, Amsterdam overtook London as Europe’s largest share-trading hub, though London remains the biggest financial services center overall.

The Conservative government says the rule changes will create a “smarter regulatory framework.” But critics say they could reintroduce the kind of risk that led to the 2008 crisis. The British government at the time was forced to spend billions in taxpayer money to save some banks from collapse.

Opposition Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney said it was “completely tone-deaf that this government is hiking taxes for hard-working families, while slashing taxes and boosting bonuses for the banks.”

“Our financial services need good and smart regulation, not more promises of slashing red tape, or a race to the bottom,” she said.

Meanwhile, Britain set out 30 measures to overhaul the financial sector on Friday, including a repeal of ‘burdensome’ EU rules the government says will unlock investment and maintain the City of London as one of the most competitive financial hubs in the world.

The planned reforms also include a review of rules put in place following the financial crisis over a decade ago to make bankers accountable for their decisions and easing capital requirements for smaller lenders, after much lobbying by banks.

The City has been largely cut off from the European Union by Brexit, putting pressure on the government to ease rules as Amsterdam overtook London to become Europe’s top share trading centre, adding to competition from New York and Singapore.

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