BoE official apologises for 'menopausal' economy gaffe

London (AFP) –


A high-ranking official at the Bank of England on Wednesday apologised for describing the British economy as "menopausal", in remarks that drew accusations of sexism.

Ben Broadbent, deputy governor for monetary policy at the central bank, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the slowing economy was experiencing a productivity slump not seen since Britain's late Victorian age towards the end of the 19th century.

Broadbent said that during the era, there was a "climacteric" effect where "productivity growth suddenly slowed pretty much to a halt".

The former Goldman Sachs economist noted that the sharp slowdown was similar in its severity to the one witnessed over the last ten years.

He explained that the term "climacteric", used by economic historians, essentially means "menopausal, but can apply to both genders" and implies "you've passed your productivity peak".

Broadbent is regarded as a potential successor to BoE governor Mark Carney, who will step down in June 2019.

After criticism on social networks, he issued a swift apology.

"I'm sorry for my poor choice of language in an interview with the Telegraph... and regret the offence caused," Broadbent said in a statement released by the bank.

"Economic productivity is something which affects every one of us, of all ages and genders."

The remarks however sparked outrage from Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC umbrella body for trade unions.

O'Grady said the language that Broadbent used in the Telegraph interview was ?totally inappropriate?.

?There?s no need to resort to lazy, sexist comments to describe problems in the economy,? she added.

The Bank of England had already come under fire after it revealed that there was a 25 percent pay gap, with male staff paid on average almost a quarter more than female colleagues.

In addition there is only one woman, Silvana Tenreyro, on the central bank's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee.

The MPC panel -- which also includes Broadbent and Carney -- had left the BoE's main interest rate at 0.50 percent last week after its latest gathering.

The BoE also slashed its growth forecast for the British economy last Thursday, as Britain readies for its exit from the European Union in March 2019.

The news followed a raft of gloomy economic data pointing to slowing economic growth and weaker inflation, with less than one year before Brexit.

Gross domestic product expanded by just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018. That was the weakest growth rate since 2012.