The Bank of England signalled it might do something and then didn’t.
We’ve been here before.
There is a case for cutting interest rates to support the economy - which has barely grown in the past year - but in the end the members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 to sit on their hands.
The Bank judges that the economy probably flat-lined in the last three months of 2019, suffocated by a heady blend of Brexit and election uncertainty.
Boris Johnson’s landslide victory has cleared some of the fog.
Businesses have since reported feeling more upbeat, the value of the pound has been less volatile.
The Bank has decided it’s prudent to wait and see if this new-found optimism translates into a pick-up in investment and activity.
There are other reasons to expect a revival: interest rates remain extremely low and money is therefore cheap to borrow; the Chancellor is about to start spending significant sums of money on large infrastructure projects; world growth has stabilised and the trade dispute between the US and China shows tentative signs of resolving.
The outbreak of coronavirus will almost certainly impact China’s economy but, as it stands, the Bank judges that the UK will be largely unaffected.
The Bank has lowered its forecast for UK economic growth for the next three years.
The revisions are down almost entirely to a reduction in what the Bank calls the “potential supply growth” of the economy.
Put another way, the Bank believes that the ability of UK businesses to produce enough stuff to meet demand has been reduced.
This matters because it reflects the ability of the economy to grow without generating inflation.
The Bank calculates the UK’s potential supply growth is now 1.1% - before the financial crisis it was 2.9%.
This is a downgrade and not a good look on the eve of Brexit, not least because the Bank judges that Brexit is in large part to blame.
The Bank predicts that UK growth will remain weak next year (0.75%) before picking up modestly in 2021 (1.5%) and again in 2022 (1.75%).
Growth is growth but this is weak by historical standards.
The Bank’s forecasts are built on the assumption of “an immediate but orderly move, at the beginning of next year, to a deep free trade agreement between the UK and the EU”.
It’s possible, of course, that the government will secure the ambitious trade deal it is shooting for, but businesses believe there’s still a one in three chance of no-deal and the Bank has repeatedly made clear that such an outcome risks tipping the economy into recession.
The future is unknowable, the here and now is under-whelming.
Until the details of what Brexit means are thrashed out over the next 11 months, the UK economy is locked in a holding pattern of unheroic growth.
What a way to sign off.
This is Mark Carney’s last press conference before he stands down as Governor of the Bank of England in March.
His tenure ends on the most forgettable of notes.