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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 08-09-2013 09:00 AM

The Friday Five

Five stats from the market and the stories behind them. This week: the Bank of England gets explicit, housing reform at the door, and a good deal delivered to Washington Post shareholders.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to The Friday Five, five stats from the market and the stories behind them.

Joining us, as always, for The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason.

Stipp: What do you have for The Friday Five this week?

Glaser: The numbers we're going to look at are 7%, 5.1%, $188 billion, $250 million, and finally $190 million.

Stipp: 7% is the now-explicit target for the unemployment rate in the U.K. This is from the Bank of England. This is not unlike the Fed's own policy to get unemployment down to a [target] rate.

Glaser: It's not. The Bank of England really followed in the Fed's footsteps as their relatively new head, Mark Carney, came up with an explicit 7% unemployment rate goal. He said that they're going to keep rates low until they reach that level. [Unemployment is] at 7.8% right now in the U.K., so they still have some ways to go to bring unemployment back down to those levels.

I think this is interesting for a few reasons--the first being that this is the first time they've done this. The Bank of England in the past has really shied away from explicit targets and from giving a lot of forward guidance, and now they are out there trying to get expectations changed, [and set] expectations that policy will stay loose for a long time, hoping that will encourage people to go out and potentially borrow more, spend more, and get some stimulus into the economy.

I think it's also interesting because the Bank of England's mandate really is to be focused on inflation and not to be focused on employment. So by making employment an explicit target, it shows probably a culture shift within the Bank of England. That's one of the reasons why Carney was brought on. He previously ran the central bank in Canada and was really a pioneer in providing a lot of forward guidance. That was one of the things that attracted the U.K. into trying to lure him over. So it is not a surprise that this is happening, and I think that we're starting to see the fruits of that.

It also is part of a broader global picture of more activist central banks. From the Bank of Japan to the Fed to even the ECB, they are being a little bit more aggressive or being more thoughtful about what's happening in the broader economy and how their actions affect that, and not just narrowly being focused on what's happening with inflation. I think this is a big experiment in a lot of areas. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the years to come.

Stipp: 5.1% is the year-over-year rise in China's exports. We got that data this week. So are things stabilizing there?

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