UK

Mark Carney 'Acutely Aware' Of Housing Bubble Danger

28/08/2013 14:46 BST
Getty
LONDON - AUGUST 7: Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, speaks during the bank's quarterly inflation report news conference at the Bank of England on August 7, 2013 in London, England. The Bank of England for the first time linked the outlook for its benchmark interest rate to unemployment and inflation and will keep its current policy 'at least' until the jobless rate falls to 7 percent. (Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg - Pool /Getty Images)

Mark Carney has warned that the Bank of England is "acutely aware" of the risk of another house price bubble and could intervene to cool an overheating property market if required.

The new Bank of England governor said lenders could be made to restrict borrowing terms or forced to hold more cash.

In his first public speech in the UK, Carney said: "The Bank of England is acutely aware of the risk of unsustainable credit and house price growth and will be monitoring it closely.

"The important thing to recognise is that we now have tools other than interest rates that can be used to contain risks in the property and financial sectors."

Low interest rates, easier mortgage access and government programmes like Help To Buy have fuelled concerns of a mounting property bubble.

Carney's warning came as he sought to make clear that interest rates were set to remain at the historic low of 0.5% for at least three years as part of his "forward guidance" masterplan, which has been gone down poorly in the City.

Speaking to business leaders at a CBI event in Nottingham, Carney explained: "Rates won't go up until jobs and incomes are really growing.

"The knowledge that interest rates will stay low until the recovery is well established should give greater confidence to households to spend responsibly and businesses to invest wisely."

The guidance, set out earlier this month, contained a series of caveats that have prompted fears that the Bank Rate might rise sooner than expected - sending bond yields up.

But Carney said: "We do not intend even to consider raising it before unemployment falls to 7%."

He said the Bank stood ready to launch more economy-boosting measures if future rate expectations begin hindering the recovery. However, the governor declined to elaborate on what the measures could be. "Those questions will be answered in the fullness of time [by the Monetary Policy Committee]," Carney said.

Carney, who took over from Lord King as Bank governor last month, unveiled plans to boost bank lending by another £90 billion. All banks that have shored up enough capital will be allowed to reduce assets held elsewhere on their balance sheet, Carney said.

"That will help to underpin the supply of credit, since every pound currently held in liquid assets is a pound that could be lent to the real economy," he said.

Carney gave an optimistic view of the UK's economic prospects, describing the recovery as "broad based and set to continue".

But he warned that the UK had experienced "its weakest recovery on record" and would still face "bumps in the road ahead" due to emerging economies and European economic instability.