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Has Carney got the edge over Bernanke?

Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images and Jason Alden | Getty Images

Wednesday may have been a big day for the U.S. Federal Reserve, but it was the Bank of England (BoE) that turned heads on the other side of the Atlantic.

The arrival of new governor Mark Carney at the BoE and the minutes from his first monetary policy meeting revealed a surprise unanimous vote against further money stimulus. Plus, economists are now eyeing a series of unorthodox tools that could be utilized to revive the stuttering U.K. economy. But has the BoE got an edge on the Fed, or is the U.K. just following in the footsteps of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke?

(Read More: Bernanke: Markets beginning to understand our message)

Carney first offered forward-looking policy guidance when he was chief of the Bank of Canada in April 2009, around the same time Bernanke and the Fed also began its forward guidance.

Carney pre-committed to holding benchmark interest rates at 0.25 percent for a year, unless inflation accelerated.

"Carney has been interested in forward guidance for some considerable time. He's not suddenly jumping on the bandwagon," said Howard Archer, a U.K. economist at IHS Global Insight.

However, Carney's more recent U.K. guidance did not please everyone, despite the bounce in London stock markets. Andrew Sentance, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, told CNBC he was unconvinced of the merits of forward guidance.

"[If] the economy changes, you may have to contradict or undo what you have previously indicated," Sentance said. He added that the rapid rate at which rates were hiked in Canada, after Carney's year of 0.25 percent rates, highlighted the difficulties of forward guidance.

But some BoE watchers were more struck by Carney's ability to get a unanimous decision at his first monetary policy meeting, just three days into his tenure.

(Read More: Bank of England unites against QE under Carney)

All nine members of the BoE's monetary policy committee voted against further asset purchases at the July meeting, in stark contrast to the 6-3 split that occurred several times under former Governor Mervyn King. King himself was an advocate of upping the BoE's £375 billion ($571.6 billion) quantitative easing program.

The unanimous vote cannot be attributed purely to Carney's consensus-forming skills however. The vote against further bond purchases came on the back of a string of positive economic data releases and business surveys which suggested the economy was recovering quicker than expected.

(Read More: UK jobless claimant count falls more than expected)

"It was easy for him to get a consensus vote," Archer said, adding that an important policy meeting due in August meant that committee members would have felt little need for an immediate increase to asset purchases. "The proof of the pudding is whether he'll be able to do it going forward," Archer added.

While the BoE was granted leave to use new unorthodox tools in March – in particular, the ability to lend directly to SMEs (small- and medium-size enterprises) – Carney still lacks Bernanke's remit to link interest rates with economic growth. U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has stressed that stable inflation of 2 percent should remain the BoE's sole target, stressing the "primacy of price stability and the inflation target".

However, financial markets have speculated that Carney might be allowed to adopt a Fed-style dual growth and inflation mandate, narrowing the gap between himself and Bernanke. Carney is due to present the BoE's updated inflation report on August 7, in which he is expected to provide more insight into the Bank's new monetary policy framework. Archer forecast that a new unemployment or nominal GDP target could lie within it.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81.

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