BoE's Haldane sees "rapid-fire" recovery for UK soon

FILE PHOTO: The Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, listens from the audience at an event at the Bank of England in the City of London, London, Britain April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane said on Thursday that he expected a rapid economic recovery would soon be underway but warned of the risk that existing patterns of social disadvantage had deepened because of COVID.

“As I’ve been saying for months - drawing on the economics of coiled springs, and crouching tigers, and ‘Chicken Lickens’ - I do think more likely than not we are (set) for a rapid-fire recovery. That is coming, and I think that is coming soon,” he said.

The BoE’s March policy minutes, published shortly before Haldane spoke at an awards ceremony for Women in Banking & Finance, said officials had disagreed over the likely strength of the recovery and its impact on future inflation.

Haldane has been more upbeat about growth prospects than most economists, and in September he urged the public to avoid “the economics of Chicken Licken”, referring to a fowl from a folk tale who fears the sky is about to fall in.

More recently, Haldane has likened the savings built up by richer households over the pandemic to a “coiled spring” that will propel recovery, and described inflation risks as a being like a tiger that is beginning to stir.

However, Haldane did see some risks of more persistent damage to people’s job prospects due to the pandemic.

“It seems very likely, based on the evidence we have seen so far, that the deepest and the most damaging of those scars will be felt by those least advantaged in the job market, including women,” he said.

Businesses, especially in financial services, should focus more on performance than how many hours staff spend in the office, and offer better career prospects for staff who want flexible or home-working arrangements, he said.

(This story corrects name of organisation hosting event)

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andy Bruce