Bank of England's Andy Haldane voices 4% inflation fear

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Andy Haldane

The Bank of England's departing chief economist has warned that the risk of high inflation is "rising fast" and could reach nearly 4% this year.

Andy Haldane was speaking less than a week after the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) dismissed the rise in inflation as "transitory".

Consumer price inflation hit a two-year high of 2.1% in the year to May, exceeding the Bank's 2% target.

The MPC said it expected inflation to go above 3% "for a temporary period".

Mr Haldane, seen by many observers as an outlier on inflation, has often been in a minority on the committee.

In a speech to the Institute of Government, Mr Haldane, who is leaving the Bank after 32 years, said "everyone would lose" from greater inflation.

"Overall, inflation expectations and monetary policy credibility feel more fragile at present than at any time since inflation-targeting was introduced in 1992," he added.

"By the end of this year, I expect UK inflation to be nearer 4% than 3%."

Mr Haldane said that if he was right, the Bank might need to react with bigger interest rate rises than currently foreseen.

He added: "Even if this scenario is a risk rather than a central view, it is a risk that is rising fast and which is best managed ex-ante rather than responded to ex-post.

"If this risk were to be realised, everyone would lose - central banks with missed mandates needing to execute an economic handbrake turn, businesses and households facing a higher cost of borrowing and living, and governments facing rising debt-servicing costs."

Last week, the MPC voted 9-0 to keep interest rates steady at the historic low of 0.1%.

Rates have been unchanged since March last year, when they were reduced to help contain the economic shock of Covid-19.