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UK may need 'fast and forceful' rate rises, BoE's Mann says

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: General view of the Bank of England in London

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) -The Bank of England should be prepared to raise interest rates rapidly to reduce the likelihood that it will need to squeeze the economy for an extended period to bring down inflation, BoE policymaker Catherine Mann said on Monday.

Mann said the BoE's "gradualist" approach of four quarter-point interest rate rises this year, followed by a half-point increase last month, had failed to keep a lid on the public's price expectations, a major driver of medium-term inflation.

"The gradual pace of increase in Bank Rate has not tempered expectations enough," she said in a speech to Britain's Money, Macro & Finance Society at the University of Kent.

"A fast and forceful monetary tightening, potentially followed by a hold or reversal, is superior to the gradualist approach," she added.

Mann has made the case for moving rates in larger increments since February, when she first voted for a half-point rise, since when inflation has risen to a 40-year high of 10.1%.

Last month the BoE said it was ready to "act forcefully" if needed in future, after raising rates to 1.75% in its first half percentage point move since 1995.

Asked in a question and answer session if the BoE should consider raising rates by three quarters of a percentage point when it next sets rates on Sept. 15, Mann said that was "an important question".

Financial markets currently price in an 85% chance that the BoE will raise rates by 0.75 percentage points next week, in what would be its biggest rate rise since 1989.

"What we need to be doing is to ensure that the medium-term expectations don't continue to drift and become even more detached from the long-term anchor," she added.

The British public's expectations for inflation in five to 10 years' time rose to a record 4.8% in August, according to a monthly survey from YouGov and Citi, more than double the BoE's 2% target.

The BoE forecast last month that surging inflation - driven largely by rocketing natural gas prices since Russia's invasion of Ukraine - would cause a recession later this year.

"If current wholesale energy prices are allowed to be passed on to households and firms, this will lead to enormous pain for millions of people over the winter months," Mann said.

Liz Truss, who was announced as winner of the Conservative Party's leadership contest earlier on Monday, has said she will announce tax cuts and some further support towards energy bills once she has been formally appointed prime minister.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce, William James and Tomasz Janowski)