The Monetary Stimulus
There was no change to UK base interest rates this week with the Monetary Policy Committee holding rates at 5.0% for May. Across the Channel, the hyperactive (!) European Central Bank also kept policy rates constant for what now seems like an eternity! Thank heavens the UK remains outside the Euro Zone! Whilst policy rates are at 5% for the moment, this does not mean that monetary policy is not acting as a stimulus to one or more of the components of aggregate demand (C+I+G+X-M).
The overall stance of monetary policy includes the effects of base rate movements and also changes in the external value of sterling against a basket of other currencies. So whilst interest rates have edged lower in recent months we should also take into account the major depreciation of sterling against the Euro Zone with whome we do more than half of our trade. A falling pound acts as an important stimulus to the export sector of the economy, even though the boost is muted somewhat by a slowdown in economic growth in our export markets. Will the lower pound be a white knight for the faltering UK economy?
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