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Home > Monetary Policy > Forward Guidance

Forward Guidance

On 7 August 2013, the MPC made the following guidance statement:

The Committee intends at a minimum to maintain the current highly stimulative stance of monetary policy until economic slack has been substantially reduced, provided this does not
entail material risks to either price stability or to financial stability.

In particular, the MPC intends not to raise Bank Rate from its current level of 0.5% at least until the Labour Force Survey headline measure of the unemployment rate has fallen to a
threshold of 7%, subject to the conditions below.

The MPC stands ready to undertake further asset purchases while the unemployment rate remains above 7% if it judges that additional monetary stimulus is warranted. But until the
unemployment threshold is reached, and subject to the conditions below, the MPC intends not to reduce the stock of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves and, consistent with that, intends to reinvest the cash flows associated with all maturing gilts held in the Asset Purchase Facility.

The guidance linking Bank Rate and asset sales to the unemployment threshold would cease to hold if any of the following three ‘knockouts’ were breached:

  • in the MPC’s view, it is more likely than not, that CPI inflation 18 to 24 months ahead will be 0.5 percentage points or more above the 2% target;
  • medium-term inflation expectations no longer remain sufficiently well anchored;
  • the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) judges that the stance of monetary policy poses a significant threat to financial stability that cannot be contained by the substantial range of mitigating policy actions available to the FPC, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in a way consistent with their objectives.

The Committee will continue to set the level of Bank Rate and the size of the asset purchase programme each month, taking these criteria into account. The action taken by the MPC if any
of these knockouts were breached would depend upon its assessment at the time as to the appropriate setting of monetary policy in order to fulfil its remit to deliver price
stability. There is therefore no presumption that breaching any of these knockouts would lead to an immediate increase in Bank Rate or sale of assets.

This was accompanied by a detailed assessment of guidance available here:

Monetary policy trade-offs and forward guidance

On 12 February 2014, as unemployment approached 7%, the MPC made a further guidance statement on the setting of monetary policy once the unemployment threshold had been reached:

The MPC sets policy to achieve the 2% inflation target, and, subject to that, to support the Government’s economic policies, including those for growth and employment. Despite the sharp fall in unemployment, there remains scope to absorb spare capacity further before raising Bank Rate. When Bank Rate does begin to rise, the appropriate path so as to eliminate slack over the next two to three years and keep inflation close to the target is expected to be gradual. The actual path of Bank Rate over the next few years will, however, depend on economic developments. Even when the economy has returned to normal levels of capacity and inflation is close to the target, the appropriate level of Bank Rate is likely to be materially below the 5% level set on average by the Committee prior to the financial crisis. The MPC intends to maintain the stock of purchased assets at least until the first rise in Bank Rate. Monetary policy may have a role to play in mitigating risks to financial stability, but only as a last line of defence if those risks cannot be contained by the substantial range of policy actions available to the Financial Policy Committee and other regulatory authorities.

They expanded on this statement in the following document:

Monetary policy as the economy recovers