Bank of England deputy governor says Norfolk’s economy is more resilient to the downturn
Norfolk's agricultural economy has made it more resilient to the downturn, the deputy governor of the Bank of England said yesterday.
During a visit to Norfolk to meet local business leaders, Charles Bean said the region seemed to be doing 'a little bit better than the average'.
Mr Bean has spent the last two days meeting business leaders for 'confidential' discussions about their concerns.
The Bank of England regional offices talks to businesses on the ground on a regular basis to feed into a national picture, but the members of the Monetary Policy Committee also make about 60 visits to different parts of the country to talk to business leaders and explain the Bank's policy each year.
Yesterday he also addressed 80 Norfolk Chamber of Commerce members at a breakfast at Norwich City Football Club.
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Mr Bean said: 'I have to say this is a part of the world which actually seems to be doing a little bit better than some other regions. It probably benefits from London and has tended to be a little bit more resilient than other parts of the country which are more dependent on the public sector than other parts of the country like Northern Ireland and the north of England. Norfolk seems to be doing a little bit better than the average. 'The agriculture is relatively more significant in this part of the world and that is a less cyclically sensitive business.' He said those he had met in the agriculture industry on his visit had a 'relatively strong story to tell'.
'In some cases they export what they produce and the level of sterling compared to where it was pre-crisis has made them more competitive and helped them to export into the eurozone.' he said.
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But the construction industry is not such a positive story.
Mr Bean said: 'That is obviously a part of the economy which has been pretty flat both with residential building being quite weak and now public sector projects starting to impact.'
He said the Bank of England had limited power and specific concerns were often the responsibility of Whitehall departments. Mr Bean said: 'We are just responsible for monetary policy and policy actions that people want quite often turn out to be the responsibilities of government, or various ministries within Whitehall. Nevertheless it is still useful for me to have a dialogue with business to find out what their concerns are and we are interested in finding out what is happening in their particular markets. How they are seeing price pressures developing. Whether they are going to be able to push through price increases. A number of them were talking about the extent to which their margins were being squeezed and they are unable to push through price increases despite the rise in costs which often might be reflected in things like higher energy prices. 'That intelligence on demand growth and inflationary pressures is a valuable input to our thinking at the bank.'