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Deputy Bank governor under fire for 'menopausal economy' comment

The Guardian logo The Guardian 16/05/2018 Angela Monaghan
Ben Broadbent, a former economist at Goldman Sachs, is deputy governor for monetary policy at the Bank of England. © PA Ben Broadbent, a former economist at Goldman Sachs, is deputy governor for monetary policy at the Bank of England.

A deputy governor of the Bank of England has been criticised for saying the UK economy is in a “menopausal” phase after passing its productive peak.

Ben Broadbent compared the current state of the economy to the late Victorian era, when a pause between steam technology and the age of electricity contributed to a slump in productivity.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Broadbent said the term applied by economic historians to describe such a slump was “climacteric”, which he said essentially means “menopausal, but can apply to both genders. You’ve passed your productive peak.”

His comments drew criticism on Twitter. Robert Peston, political editor of ITV, tweeted that Broadbent’s language was “sloppy and potentially offensive”.

Louise Newson, a GP and medical writer said it was a “terrible analogy”, while another Twitter user, Rebecca Harvey said it was a shocking example of #everydaysexism.

Broadbent, a former economist at Goldman Sachs, is considered a potential successor to the Bank’s governor, Mark Carney. As deputy governor for monetary policy, he sits on the monetary policy committee which is responsible for setting interest rates.

Carney has previously attributed a 25% gender pay gap at the Bank – with male employees paid almost a quarter more than their female colleagues – to the fact that men dominate the most senior positions. Of the nine members on the MPC, just one – Silvana Tenreyro – is a woman.

Broadbent gave the interview after official figures showed that productivity fell 0.5% in the first three months of 2018, at a time when employment in Britain hit a fresh record high but growth slowed to just 0.1%.

“The result of a long period in which productivity growth is weak is not so much that I get more employment than I otherwise would have done, it’s that I get less output growth and less income growth,” Broadbent told the Telegraph.

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