Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said that personal attacks on his ability to govern the bank do not affect him, and that debate surrounding his actions can be as “vigorous” as people want.
Speaking at a press conference following the release of the bank’s quarterly Inflation Report and its latest monetary policy decisions, Carney was questioned about the criticisms he has faced from prominent pro-Brexit politicians in recent weeks for allegedly being too political in the run up to, and aftermath, of the vote.
Carney told reporters that “in a democracy people express their opinions, and there will always” be a range of different opinions. “Debate can be as vigorous as people want it to be,” when it comes to discussions of the Bank of England’s policies, he added.
Carney then laughed when asked by The Independent’s Ben Chu if he would like a “period of silence” from his critics now that his future at the bank is certain. It was announced on Monday evening that he will serve an additional year at the Old Lady of Threadneedle, leaving in June 2019.
During the press conference, Carney also admitted that he and the whole of the MPC have been surprised at how little impact the Brexit vote has had on British consumers, saying that the public seems to have “entirely looked through” the uncertainty since the vote, and that consumer jitters have been “notable by their absence.”
Echoing a previously stated position, Carney said that the MPC is willing to allow inflation to run higher than the central bank’s 2% target in order to help employment and allow Britain’s economy to grow.
When asked what that level was, Carney would not be drawn, and would not comment if the BoE would allow 4% inflation, as forecast by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research in a report on Wednesday.
The bank’s forecast for inflation in the coming two years was upgraded to 2.75% in the quarterly Inflation Report, largely because of sterling’s sharp fall since the referendum. That is well above the 2% target in the bank’s mandate, and almost three times the current 1% level.
Carney also left the door open for the possibility of a rate hike in the coming years, saying in his opening remarks that: “Monetary policy can respond, in either direction, to changes to the economic outlook as they unfold to ensure a sustainable return of inflation to target.”