LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane said he was likely to back an increase in interest rates in the second half of this year, striking a more hawkish tone than BoE Governor Mark Carney and adding to a split at the central bank.
The BoE’s eight policymakers split 5-3 when they voted to keep interest rates on hold at a record low of 0.25 percent last week, a closer outcome than expected by investors.
In a speech published on Wednesday, Haldane, who voted to keep rates unchanged last week, said he was likely to change his vote in the coming months.
“Provided the data are still on track, I do think that beginning the process of withdrawing some of the incremental stimulus provided last August would be prudent moving into the second half of the year,” he said.
In August last year the BoE cut interest rates to 0.25 percent and took other measures to give the economy boost after signs of a sharp slowdown after the Brexit vote in June.
Haldane said the risk of moving too late with a first rate hike in a decade had grown after British economic growth and, to a lesser extent, inflation had proved more resilient than expected.
Haldane said he had decided not to vote for a rate hike last week because there were few signs of wage growth picking up and because there was “still some chance” of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the economy.
“Both are reasons for monetary policy not to rush its fences. Nor does it need to do so, given the slow build of nominal pressures in the economy,” he said.
Furthermore, the inconclusive outcome of Britain’s national election earlier this month - which cost Prime Minister Theresa May her majority in parliament - had “thrown up a dust-cloud of uncertainty”, he said.
“It is unclear what twists and turns lie ahead, with potentially important implications for asset prices and, at least potentially, confidence among businesses and consumers,” Haldane said.
“I do not think adding a twist or a turn from monetary policy would, in this environment, be especially helpful in building confidence, at least until the dust cloud has started to settle.”
In a speech delivered on Tuesday, BoE Governor Carney said he first wanted to see how the economy coped with Brexit talks in coming months before he would consider a rate hike. (Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)