Those voting to raise rates focussed on the strength of the consumer side of the economy, the resilience of the UK labour market and the rise in real earnings as signs that the economy no longer needs an ultra-loose monetary policy stance. Too many distortions are being created by persisting with low rates and further increases from the current level need to be done.
For the majority, worries persist about the economic consequences of Brexit uncertainty, slow growth in money supply and the fault lines in the global economy that seem to be leading to an easing rate of expansion. Indeed, the concern is that without low-interest rates, the current UK economic expansion of a little over 1% year on year would slow and bring price inflation further below 2%.
The SMPC is a group of economists who have gathered quarterly at the IEA since July 1997, with a briefer e-mail poll being released in the intermediate months when the minutes of the quarterly gathering are not available. That it was the first such group in Britain, and that it gathers regularly to debate the issues involved, distinguishes the SMPC from similar exercises carried out elsewhere. To ensure that nine votes are cast each month, it carries a pool of ‘spare’ members. This can lead to changes in the aggregate vote, depending on who contributed to a particular poll. As a result, the nine independent and named analyses should be regarded as more significant than the exact overall vote.