Since Mr Carney arrived as Governor, the economy in the UK has taken off. Unemployment has come down. Inflation has come down. Output and jobs are up. There are even signs that real incomes are stabilising after a large fall in the recession and further downwards movement since.
Is this just good luck and good timing? After all, many of the policies which are now yielding and assisting recovery were in place before he arrived. I think it’s a bit more than that. You do have some influence over your own luck. If you do the right things you can get luckier. The Governor has helped.
Mr Carney clearly decided from the outset that what the UK needs is a decent recovery. If you wish to solve the continuing weakness of some banks, what better way than to assist more profitable businesses, and rising asset prices? Those assist a bank by reducing the number of bad assets, and improving loan cover. If you wish to help bring down welfare spending and cut the government’s deficit, what better way than to have an economy generating a lot of new jobs in the private sector that people can take instead of being on benefits. If you want to bring down inflation, why not encourage more output to ensure competitive prices, and obviate the need for so many tax and government inspired prices rises.
As Governor there were some things he could do to encourage that recovery. He told markets he was going to keep interest rates low, so businesses borrowing to expand would not face large bills. He presided over the Funding for lending scheme which helped banks find the cash to lend more to business.
The markets have been fighting him, by putting up longer term interest rates despite the Governor’s reassurances, and arguing for an earlier increase in Base rate than the Governor seems to want. Events have also surprised the Bank’s forecasters, with unemployment falling much more quickly. The Governor has moved to reassure those who want low interest rates. The fall in unemployment to 7% does not mean an early short term rate rise.
Most things are looking a lot better for the UK economy. However, the government does need to respond to the beginnings of a shift on energy policy in the EU. Dear energy remains a foe of a UK industrial revival, and an enemy of the consumer, delaying rises in real incomes to power more growth. I will return to this soon.