Next Thursday the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee will decide the next move for interest rates. It is widely expected that it will raise its headline policy rate for the first time in 124 months. Doing so would bring to an end the longest period without a British rate increase for 66 years.

Such a move after a long hiatus is not without risk. Part of a central banker’s lot these days is to prepare the ground for any change and, for once, the Bank of England can claim a qualified success. Recent comments by ratesetters, including Mark Carney, the governor, have raised expectations for an imminent increase. Data out this week suggest that more than 40 per cent of Britons now expect the Bank of England to raise rates over the next three months, up from only 12 per cent a month ago. Yesterday’s GDP growth of 0.4 per cent during the third quarter, and last week’s 3 per cent inflation reading, appear to have further solidified expectations.

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