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Mark Carney: US interest rate hike 'contributory factor' to market turmoil

Published 26/01/2016

Mark Carney believes the current conditions are not right for an interest rate rise in the UK
Mark Carney believes the current conditions are not right for an interest rate rise in the UK

The Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates in the United States has been a "contributory factor" to the current market turmoil, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said.

Giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Committee, Mr Carney said the Bank's financial policy committee (FPC) had always expected that the move last December to put up rates in the US for the first time in almost a decade would have implications for the wider global economy.

However he stressed that it was not the root cause of the current difficulties.

"It has long been the view of the FPC and myself personally that the start of the tightening of US monetary policy could lead to a tightening of global financial conditions, particularly for emerging economies, and could accelerate weakness, and we have seen some of that," he said.

"So it is a contributory factor to these developments. Their fundamental roots have a much longer genesis."

Mr Carney reaffirmed his view, set out in a keynote speech last week, that the conditions were not right for an interest rate rise in the UK.

"In my opinion we will have to see the renewal of growth above trend, we will have to see unit labour costs pick up," he said.

He strongly played down the prospects of a major banking failure as the result of the current turmoil, saying they were in a far stronger position than they were at the time of the crash of 2007-08.

"What is happening right now is sharp re-pricing of a wide range of assets, a change in expectations for the growth prospects of the largest continent in the world (Asia) with significant knock-on effects for the global economy, and sharp increases in financial market volatility," he said.

"What is not happening right now is any concern about distress at any of the major systemic financial institutions. That is the product of the reforms that have been undertaken."

Mr Carney said he would indicate by the end of the year whether he would seek an extension of his existing five-year term as governor - which he insisted upon when he took up the post in 2013 - to the full eight years he was originally offered.

"In fairness I would need to make a determination by the end of the year if I were to request to stay further," he said.

Mr Carney defended the Bank of England's position in relation to the City watchdog's recent decision to scrap a review into Britain's banking culture.

The Financial Times reported earlier this month that Megan Butler, an official at the central bank, had been a part of the plans to drop the inquiry.

But when asked if there were any emails or correspondence linking the Bank of England to the quashed review, Mr Carney said: "The short answer is no. In terms of the decision to drop the culture review, that was entirely the decision of the FCA's senior management.

"Myself, Andrew Bailey and other governors found out about it when it entered the public domain and not when the decision was made."

The hearing came as the FCA announced that Andrew Bailey, d eputy governor of the Bank of England, had been appointed as the watchdog's new chief executive.

Mr Carney also told MPs that the record fall in oil prices - which have collapsed by more than 70% since their peak of around 115 dollars a barrel in the summer of 2014 - was already benefiting consumers.

He added: "We've already seen some of the consumer payback for example in the United States in auto sales. It is a net positive for the global economy in my view."

Following the hearing, committee chairman Andrew Tyrie called for "clarity" from the Governor over how long he expected to remain in post.

Mr Tyrie said: "When Dr Carney was appointed in November 2012, he told the Committee that he would serve for five years, rather than the statutory eight-year term laid down by Parliament. In explaining his determination to limit his term to five years, he argued that there was 'value in clarity' about the period for which he would serve.

"Dr Carney has told us that he is reconsidering his previously expressed determination to serve for only five years.

"He is right about clarity. The sooner he lets Parliament, the markets and the public know, the better."

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