LONDON — The governor of the Bank of England said Tuesday that the global economic outlook has “deteriorated materially” and warned of possible further shocks to come.
Andrew Bailey blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for piling further pressure on commodity prices and already rising inflation, and said that further resilience is needed to mitigate future risks.
“The global economic outlook has deteriorated materially,” Bailey said at a briefing at the Bank of England.
“It is the right time to lock in resilience so that we are well prepared for future possible shocks,” he added.
The warning came as the central bank published its Financial Stability Report Tuesday, in which it outlined a number of risks to the U.K.’s economic outlook. Those include ongoing disruption to food and energy markets as a result of the war, high household and government debt, as well as the continued impacts of Covid-19 in China.
The BOE, alongside other central banks, has been raising interest rates in a bid to bring down high prices. However, Bailey acknowledged that this had made the economic landscape harder for households and businesses, and that there was little sign of let up in the near-term.
“These higher prices, weaker growth and tighter financing conditions will make it harder for households and businesses to repay or refinance debt,” he said.
“Given this, we expect households and businesses to become more stretched over coming months. They will also be more vulnerable to further shocks,” he said.
BOE lifts banking capital demands
The comments came as the Bank on Tuesday lifted its countercyclical capital buffer rate (CCyB) for banks from 1% to 2%, starting in July 2023. Central banks increase the regulatory capital demand when they believe risks are building up.
Bailey said the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee would be willing to continue readjusting the rate as needed.
“Given considerable uncertainty around the outlook, the FPC will continue to monitor the situation,” he said. “We stand ready to vary the UK CCyB rate — in either direction — depending on how risks develop.”
Bailey also said the BOE would move ahead with its annual stress test in September, evaluating the U.K. banking system’s ability to handle various potential risks, including higher interest rates, asset price falls and “deep” recessions.
However, he added that the sector looks generally strong and that lenders are much better placed now than during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis to handle a severe economic downturn.
“The economic outlook is uncertain and undoubtedly a very challenging one for many households and businesses,” he said.
“The banking system is resilient to that outlook, however, or even a much worse one. In sharp contrast to the financial crisis, it is in a position to cushion the economic shocks, not add to them.”