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FirstFT: UK inflation likely to hit 5%, warns BoE chief economist

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UK inflation is likely to rise “close to or even slightly above 5 per cent” early next year, the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned, as he said the central bank would have a “live” decision on whether to raise interest rates.

In his first interview in the role, Huw Pill declined to disclose how he would vote at the BoE Monetary Policy Committee’s November 4 meeting, saying “it is finely balanced”, but he added: “I think November is live.”

Although consumer price inflation dipped to 3.1 per cent in September, the BoE has previously forecast it to exceed 4 per cent by the end of the year.

Inflation has been increasing rapidly in 2021 because of the strong economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, surging energy prices and global supply chain disruption.

Are you personally concerned about rising UK inflation? Why? Email me your thoughts at jennifer.creery@ft.com. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here is the rest of today’s news — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. EU wins support for legal steps against Poland European leaders warned Warsaw that the union was prepared to deploy further legal sanctions against it in response to its defiance of EU law, as they urged the country to walk back its challenges to the bloc’s judicial foundations.

2. Deutsche Bank whistleblower paid $200m reward The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has awarded almost $200m to a former bank employee who raised concerns about the manipulation of the Libor interest rate benchmark, marking the largest-ever payment under US whistleblower programmes.

3. US Fed bans officials from trading shares The Federal Reserve has adopted rules banning its policymakers and senior staff from buying individual shares and other investments after questionable financial trades last year led to the resignations of the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the president of Dallas Fed in September.

4. Putin: Nord Stream 2 approval could mean 10% more gas Russia can increase gas supplies to Europe as soon as Germany approves the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, President Vladimir Putin said, underlining Moscow’s conditions for help to resolve the continent’s energy crisis.

5. Neumann’s WeWork stake valued at $1bn Shares in the office space group’s jumped yesterday as the company finally made its public market debut at the New York Stock Exchange. Across town, WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann celebrated a $1bn windfall from the listing.

Coronavirus digest

  • A booster shot of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is 95.6 per cent effective against Covid-19, the companies announced yesterday.

  • The UK’s largest wealth manager, St James’s Place, said its funds under management are up 14 per cent since the beginning of the year, boosted by the flow of pandemic savings into investments and improved consumer confidence.

  • Boris Johnson is hoping that the start of England’s school half-term today and a booster jab advertising blitz will damp a clamour to deploy Covid-19 “Plan B”.

  • More than a fifth of India’s 1.3bn citizens are now fully vaccinated after the country on Thursday administered its billionth vaccine.

  • The US is facing a shortage of rapid antigen tests ahead of next month’s deadline for unvaccinated workers to prove they have been vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

For the latest data on the spread of the virus, go to our tracker.

The day ahead

G7 trade ministers meet Ministers will seek to address worsening supply chain issues at a meeting today hosted by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK trade secretary, and attended by representatives from the world’s wealthiest economies, including Katherine Tai, US trade representative. (Reuters)

US and EU officials discuss Iran French, German and British diplomats will meet the US special envoy for Iran in Paris to discuss efforts to resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The topic is also expected to come up in talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett during a visit to Sochi. (Reuters, FT)

Court hearing over death of UK MP Sir David Amess Ali Harbi Ali, 25, will appear in court for a second day to face charges of murder and a terrorism offence. He entered no plea to the charges at a briefing hearing yesterday.

Economic data October purchasing manager surveys from Europe and North America, including the UK and the US, will be monitored for signs that supply chain bottlenecks and energy prices are affecting factories. (FXStreet, WSJ)

What else we’re reading

Russian mercenaries’ trail of destruction in the Central African Republic With its history of instability, the mineral-rich country is the “perfect laboratory” for the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked network of companies that has helped President Faustin-Archange Touadéra beat back rebels. But its fighters have been accused of human rights abuses.

Jens Weidmann’s exit spells new era for Germany-ECB relations The outgoing head of the Bundesbank has been a lonely voice among Europe’s central bankers for a decade. Will future clashes on bond buying and negative interest rate policies lie ahead for his successor?

Waking up to the new sleep rules In 1940, dictator Francisco Franco moved Spain to German time to show solidarity with Adolf Hitler — and no one moved it back. Yet the country’s late mornings are what Simon Kuper has been looking for all his life: an escape from the pre-pandemic one-size-fits-all working schedule.

Simon Kuper: ‘Night owls in particular sacrifice sleep in order to get to work at ridiculous times’
Simon Kuper: ‘Night owls in particular sacrifice sleep in order to get to work at ridiculous times’ © Harry Haysom

Crypto glossary Want to speak crypto? Our guide tells you all you need to know, from alt-coins to yield farming. In other crypto news, more than 100,000 people have had their eyes scanned in return for a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin, as a project to distribute digital money more widely around the world accelerates.

The politics of a pseudonym You could look at the outrage surrounding “Carmen Mola” this way: a group of guys masquerade as a woman and get, first, a pass for writing ultra-violent thrillers under a female name — and then, second, they get a fat prize too. But should we care?


Do cargo pants come with too much baggage? The much-maligned multi-pocket trousers are part of a Y2K style revival — but can they truly recover their lost street cred?

In the 1990s, women groups such as All Saints and TLC popularised utilitarian-looking combat trousers
In the 1990s, women groups such as All Saints and TLC popularised utilitarian-looking combat trousers © Ken McKay/Shutterstock

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