Mark Carney’s speech at the Barbican on February 12 has triggered some debate over what precisely he meant. Coverage in the eurosceptic press has focused on some remarks at the very end of the speech which have been fairly widely interpreted as a shift to a more positive note on the possibilities of Brexit. The Financial Times, which had hosted his speech, went instead with “Mark Carney warns on Brexit, global trade risks”.
The speech wasn’t really about Brexit as such. Other than the last two paragraphs, Carney only mentioned it twice — both times in passing. He was mainly talking about the outlook for trade and the global economy and the risks that we are about to see a worldwide slowdown triggered by the financial cycle (with a reversion to some of the debt-raising practices seen in the run-up to the Great Recession), a slowdown in China (he said a 3 per cent drop in Chinese GDP would take 1 per cent off global GDP including half a percent off UK GDP), or either a failure or rejection of globalisation.
His globalisation section included one of his few passing remarks about Brexit, where he said: “Trade tensions abroad and Brexit debates at home are manifestations of fundamental pressures to reorder globalisation. It is possible that new rules of the road will be developed for a more inclusive and resilient global economy. At the same time, there is a risk that countries turn inwards, undercutting growth and prosperity for all.”