Bank of England’s Haldane sees lasting scars from COVID-19 crisis

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 (Reuters) – The coronavirus crisis will leave lasting scars in the form of higher debt and unemployment, missed education and mental health problems, especially for people on the lowest incomes, Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane said.

“The vaccine announcements of the past few weeks offer hope at the end of the tunnel,” Haldane said in comments on Monday to a conference for charities organised by Civil Society Media.

“Nonetheless, even with a vaccine, it’s clear this crisis will lead to some lasting scars, particularly on the poorest and the most disadvantaged.”

Britain’s economy shrank by a quarter when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in early 2020 and prompted the government to shut down swathes of businesses.

Haldane said about two-thirds of the loss had been recouped so far, and hoped the recovery would prove sharper than after previous recessions, reflecting the speed of the collapse and the recent progress on vaccines.

“I think it’s now reasonable and realistic to speak of next year as turning a leaf for us economically,” he said.

Haldane has regularly struck a more optimistic tone on the prospects for recovery than other members of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee, which has committed to buying a further 150 billion pounds ($201 billion) of government bonds over the coming year.

($1 = 0.7481 pounds)

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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