(C) Reuters. U.K. Government to Borrow Directly From Bank of England
(Bloomberg) — The U.K. government signaled plans to borrow directly from the Bank of England, easing the pressure to immediately sell bonds for the billions it needs to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic.The Treasury said Thursday that it’s increasing the long-standing “Ways and Means facility,” a short-term overdraft that it can use if needed to smooth its cash flow and support the functioning of markets.While there’s usually only about 400 million pounds ($500 million) in the facility, during the financial crisis, demand at one point reached almost 20 billion pounds.
The move, while flagged as temporary, will fan speculation among investors and economists that monetary and fiscal policy makers will work more closely than ever to revive their economies given interest rates are so low and state debts are surging. Such ties have historically been frowned on for fear of igniting inflation and undermining the independence of central banks.
In an op-ed for the Financial Times on Sunday, BOE Governor Andrew Bailey rejected the idea of using monetary financing to help contain the economic impact of coronavirus, and said the bank’s policies stop short of such action.
The government still intends to use markets as their primary source of funding and the U.K. has already doubled bond sales this month to help fight the crisis.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has predicted borrowing may be on course to top 175 billion pounds — the equivalent of 8% of GDP — if the economy “only” shrinks by 5% this year. Measures already announced include a package that pays 80% of furloughed workers wages and grants for small businesses.
It said any drawings would be repaid as soon as possible and before the end of the year.
The Treasury didn’t immediately respond to requests for additional comments.
U.K. Government to Borrow Directly From Bank of England
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