The Governor mainly seeks to forecast the Bank’s future actions on interest rates. He decided as Governor that his unique contribution to the role would be public forward guidance of what the Monetary Policy Committee might do, so we would have a better understanding of what might happen next. We were told we would have fewer pleasant or unpleasant surprises.
We learned that rates may rise once unemployment fell below 7%. It duly fell below 7% and rates stayed unchanged. It then fell to 4.9%, so they cut rates.
We learned that rates might have to go up once real wages started to rise. Real wages soon after started to go up, but again rates stayed the same and were later cut, against a backdrop of continuing rises in real wages.
We heard that they might have to increase rates around the turn of 2016. Here we are nine months into that fateful year, and rates are now lower, not higher.
They told us there could be a recession or sharp slowdown immediately after a vote to leave the EU. The Bank has now put up its forecast for Q3 after the vote to show some growth after all.
Far from being unreliable, the Bank is remarkably reliable. It is a contrary indicator of what might happen next.
The question we might ask, is why is the Bank so often wrong in its guidance or forecasts?
There are two possible explanations. One is the institution is just bad at it. They made honest stabs at prediction, but lack the Mystic Meg touch.
The other is they got too close to the Treasury and the government’s Project Fear.
It would be good if the Bank would tell us which it was. We are I think due some explanation of the erratic progress of the forecasts. The only way to start getting forecasts right is to admit when you get them wrong and understand why.