Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

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Swati Dhingra


DR SWATI DHINGRA is a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which sets the base rate that affects everything from mortgages to the interest borrowers are charged and savers are paid. Whether the base rate goes up, comes down or stays the same has obviously been of crucial importance during the cost-of-living crisis. The nine members of the MPC include the governor of the Bank (Andrew Bailey), the three deputy governors responsible for monetary policy, financial stability and markets and banking respectively, the Bank’s chief economist, and four external members, including Dhingra. It is fair to say there is little danger of groupthink while Dhingra is on the MPC. She has consistently pushed for the lowest possible base rate. In February 2024, for example, she “was the only person to vote for a reduction in interest rates at the latest meeting”, the Financial Times reported.

“She advocated a quarterpoint cut from 5.25 per cent.” The arguments of what should happen to the base rate are finely balanced. If set too high, it could stifle the economy. If set too low, it could add to inflationary pressures – and Liz Truss’s disastrous period as prime minister sent inflation soaring to 11 per cent. As the first Asian woman on the MPC, one has to assume it takes a certain amount of courage not to be intimidated by the eight other (white) members. The FT’s account was: “In an interview after the MPC held rates, the associate professor of economics at the London School of Economics (Dhingra) told the Financial Times she did not see much danger of resurgent price growth given the feeble state of household demand.” She told the FT she believed a cut in the base rate was unlikely to increase inflation, while other MPC

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