The Bank of England is still trying to put out the fire Liz Truss started
The Bank of England announced Monday that it would provide extra support to UK markets, beefing up its efforts to ensure financial stability after the government’s plan to slash taxes while boosting borrowing stoked panic.
The central bank said that it was ready to buy up to £10 billion ($11 billion) of government bonds each day this week, double the daily limit it set when it announced its emergency intervention on Sept. 28.
It confirmed that the bond-buying program would end Friday, but said it would extend extra support “beyond the end of this week” to banks still reeling from the fallout of a meltdown in some pension funds. The central bank said it would accept a wider range of assets as collateral in exchange for cash.
The move sends another signal to investors that the central bank is prepared to do whatever it takes to restore more normal trading conditions to the bond market, which is necessary to keep down borrowing costs for UK households and businesses.
The yields on long-dated government bonds, which move opposite prices, fell sharply after the Bank of England announced its initial action in late September.
The central bank has said that it was forced to act to prevent a “self-reinforcing spiral” after the market experienced historic selling in the wake of the budget plans revealed by Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss.
But yields on longer-dated bonds have pushed up again in recent days. Pension funds — which have been particularly exposed to the tumult — have been forced to sell whatever assets they can to replenish depleted cash stocks.
Yields on these bonds rose again in early trading on Monday and remain higher than they were before Kwarteng’s tax-cutting speech on Sept. 23
The Bank of England said stressed funds have made “substantial progress” over the past week, but that it would continue to work with them to ensure the “industry operates on a more resilient basis in future.”
There’s a particular focus on pension funds that make use of liability-driven investment, or LDI, strategies, since this approach typically involves significant use of derivatives, which can make it harder to withstand a shock in the bond market.
To date, the Bank of England has scooped up just £5 billion in debt when it could have purchased £40 billion, it said Monday.