The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as the 'Old Lady' of Threadneedle Street, the Bank was founded in 1694, nationalised on 1 March 1946, and gained independence in 1997. Standing at the centre of the UK's financial system, the Bank is committed to promoting and maintaining monetary and financial stability as its contribution to ahealthy economy.
The Bank's roles and functions have evolved and changed over its three-hundred year history. Since its foundation, it has been the Government's banker and, since the late 18th century, it has been banker to the banking system more generally - the bankers' bank. As well as providing banking services to its customers, the Bank of England manages the UK's foreign exchange and goldreserves.
The Bank has two core purposes - monetary stability and financial stability. The Bank is perhaps most visible to the general public through its banknotes and, more recently, its interest rate decisions. The Bank has had a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales since the early 20th century. But it is only since 1997 that the Bank has had statutory responsibility for settingthe UK's official interest rate.
Interest rates decisions are taken by the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee. The MPC has to judge what interest rate is necessary to meet a target for overall inflation in the economy. The inflation target is set each year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Bank implements its interest rate decisions through its financial market operations - it sets theinterest rate at which the Bank lends to banks and other financial institutions. The Bank has close links with financial markets and institutions. This contact informs a great deal of its work, including its financial stability role and the collation and publication of monetary and banking statistics.
The Bank of England is committed to increasing awareness and understanding of its activities andresponsibilities, across both general and specialist audiences alike. It produces a large number of regular and ad hoc publications on key aspects of its work and offers a range of educational materials. The Bank offers technical assistance and advice to other central banks through its Centre for Central Banking Studies, and has a museum at its premises in Threadneedle Street in the City of London,open to members of the public free of charge.
One of the Bank of England's two core purposes is monetary stability. Monetary stability means stable prices - low inflation - and confidence in the currency. Stable prices are defined by the Government's inflation target, which the Bank seeks to meet through the decisions taken by the Monetary Policy Committee. Read more
A principalobjective of any central bank is to safeguard the value of the currency in terms of what it will purchase. Rising prices – inflation – reduces the value of money. Monetary policy is directed to achieving this objective and providing a framework for non-inflationary economic growth. As in most other developed countries, monetary policy usually operates in the UK through influencing the price ofmoney – the interest rate. However, in March 2009 the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee announced that in addition to setting Bank Rate, it would start to inject money directly into the economy by purchasing assets - often known as quantitative easing. This means that the instrument of monetary policy shifts towards the quantity of money provided rather than its price.
Low inflation is not an end initself. It is however an important factor in helping to encourage long-term stability in the economy. Price stability is a precondition for achieving a wider economic goal of sustainable growth and employment. High inflation can be damaging to the functioning of the economy. Low inflation can help to foster sustainable long-term economic growth. Hide
The Bank’s monetary policy objective is to...