Friday, January 9, 2009

How bad is it?

[A Rate's Place in History]
This is one measure of the depth of the current recession: The Bank of England cuts its key rate by a half percentage point to 1.5%, the lowest level in the bank's 315-year history, marking the latest in global policy makers' efforts to fend off the threat of deep recession.

315 years is a very long time. 1929 was eighty years ago. 315 years ago it was 1694. England and Scotland unified 13 years later - and BOE's interest rate was higher than it is now.

Bank of England records show that from April 1719 until May 1822 -- a period that included the U.S. Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic wars -- rates held steady at 5%. As Britain joined World War War I in early August 1914, on the other hand, U.K. rates fell sharply, from 10% to 5% in a week.

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