This crisis isn't over. Here is the chart that proves it.

If you think the economy will be back to 'business as usual' any time soon, think again. We are living in truly extraordinary times. And here's the proof.

This time last year, most people thought that interest rates would have risen by now. The consensus forecast was for around 2.5%.

So much for that. On Thursday, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee decided to leave the bank rate at 0.5%. It has been 0.5% for more than two years so long that people appear to have begun to forget just how extraordinary it is.

Analysts Church House Investment Management sent me a chart recently. It maps the bank rate or equivalent back to 1694. And it makes sure I don't forget what extraordinary times we live in, by showing that the rate has never been this low before. Never. Over the last 300-odd years the floor for the bank rate has been 2%.

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That is something worth keeping in mind every time you read anything about the 'recovery' or about how our banks are just fine. I've printed it out and stuck it on the wall behind my desk. You might want to do the same.


When will it change? All the other charts that we keep an eye on are listed here, but the most relevant ones to the bank rate will probably end up being those on inflation - and in particular on wage inflation, something that hasn't taken off properly yet but is showing some signs of doing so soon. Note that Reuters recently reported private sector wages rising at around 3%.

However, don't expect things to change in a hurry. Our banks still have a long way to go before an objective observer would call them healthy, and there are increasing signs that the authorities are hoping to use a version of 'financial repression' to trade their way out of trouble. More on this here.

Finally, it is worth noting that our monetary system is very geared towards creating growth. But what if Western economies have moved beyond growth? What if the growth spurt we have seen over the last 300 years was exactly that, a spurt - and one that has now come to an end? For more on this see the latest issue of the magazine.

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.