December 4, 2022

To Calm Markets, Bank of England Will Buy Bonds on ‘Whatever Scale Is Necessary’

The British government’s sweeping fiscal plan, presented without an independent fiscal and economic assessment, has sent investors fleeing from British assets. The pound fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar on Monday, and traders suspected that the central bank would be forced to raise rates quickly, which pushed up short- and long-term borrowing costs.

The speed of the rise in bond yields had disrupted Britain’s mortgage market, with some lenders pulling offers on new mortgages because they had become too difficult to price.

“A decision by the government to scrap some of the tax cuts, or to cut spending sharply, would help to alleviate the stress in” currency and bond markets, Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note. “But its actions to date have eroded confidence among global investors, which cannot be easily restored. Accordingly, a painful recession driven by surging borrowing costs lies ahead.”

The market turmoil and the central bank’s intervention reveal the extent to which the government’s plans are at odds with the bank’s monetary policy goals. The government is trying to quickly generate economic demand, while the bank is trying to cool it to lower inflation.

On Tuesday, Huw Pill, the chief economist of the Bank of England, said the government’s fiscal plans would be met with a “significant” response by officials at the Bank of England, who are scheduled to meet again in early November.

Just last Thursday, the central bank said it would initiate its plan to sell bonds back to the market as it tried to end the long era of easy money in its fight against inflation. It had insisted there would be a “high bar” for the bank to deviate from the plan, which would over the next year reduce its holdings of bonds by £80 billion through sales and redemptions, to £758 billion. On Wednesday, the bank said it was postponing the start of sales until the end of October.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/business/economy/bank-of-england-bonds.html

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