A Pound Sterling Crash, House Price Crash, No Interest Rate Cuts to the Rescue: What Carney Told Cabinet

Mark Carney

Image © Simon Dawson, Bloomberg, Bank of England

Headlines this morning concerning the Bank of England's Mark Carney are worth taking note of.

The Bank of England Governor briefed members of the UK Cabinet on the potential consequences of a 'no deal' Brexit materialising, and his forecasts are quite stark:

Under a chaotic Brexit, Carney told government ministers, Pound Serling would plunge, driving up inflation and interest rates.

Mortgage companies would also pass on higher-risk premiums to customers.

A 35% fall in house prices over three years was possible, an outcome that could potentially send millions of homeowners into negative equity, according to an account of the intervention reported by the Times.

Carney was speaking to a gathering of the Cabinet which was convened to advance preparations for a 'no deal' Brexit.

The forecasts laid out by Carney are actually taken from the Bank of England's modelling on various Brexit outcomes.

These headline-grabbers are in fact the worst-case scenario models, with other varying outcomes being on offer, depending on the type of Brexit.

Under the worst-case scenario model, higher mortgage rates would meanwhile make it still harder for younger people to get on to the housing ladder.

According to Times, Carney added the Bank of England would be unable to cut interest rates to offset the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit, as happened immediately after the referendum as the structural change to the economy would mean that looser monetary policy would pump up inflation further.

This despite the Bank regularly spelling out at their monthly policy events that interest rates could go higher, and lower, in the future.

News of the intervention did not have any effect on the British Pound or markets largely because there is a strong sense that a deal will be reached.

We have had regular interventions from the EU's Michel Barnier over recent days suggesting a deal is close, indeed Barnier recently said a Withdrawal Agreement was now 90% done.

Even hard-line Brexiteers in the Conservative party appear to be of the opinion a deal must be done - this week we heard from the influential European Research Group who are advocating a Canada-style agreement.

All sides want a deal, therefore the chaos hinted at by Carney is not expected.

For now, at least.

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