The UK’s so-called ‘mini-budget’ sparked market volatility last seen during the 2008 financial crisis and the Covid-19 crash. Namely, a package of tax cuts possibly totaling £45 billion (~$47.59 billion) to help households cope with inflation and rising energy prices worried investors that the country is taking on too much debt.
With inflation in the country raging at 9.9%, perhaps the UK entered a recession already, which prompted the Bank of England (BoE) to act quickly to stem a further crisis by suspending its program to sell gilts and instead buy long-dated bonds.
Welt’s Holger Zschaepitz took to Twitter on September 28 to show the implications such action had on the 10-year UK yields, which dropped 40 basis points (bps).
“10y UK yields drop by 40bps after Bank of England announces it will buy long-term govt debt as interest rates near 5% presenting a ‘material risk to UK financial stability.”
Pension funds squeeze
The ‘mini-budget’ experiment caused numerous pension funds in the UK to issue urgent demands for more cash to meet margin calls, as the UK government bond prices squeezed the 60/40 portfolio where bonds were supposed to protect portfolios against inflation and interest rate risk.
This turmoil caused pension funds to sell bonds to meet solvency issues, exacerbating the problem, while BoE stated that it would carry out temporary purchases of long-dated UK government bonds from September 28 onwards for as long as needed to stabilize the markets.
Whose fault is it?
Meanwhile, market participants seem to blame UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax cuts, while the Treasury blamed broader global market volatility.
“Global financial markets have seen significant volatility in recent days. <…> The Chancellor is committed to the Bank of England’s independence. The Government will continue to work closely with the Bank in support of its financial stability and inflation objectives.”
It looks like the UK might be pushed into higher and faster rate hikes from this moment on to bring much-needed stability to the markets. Only time will tell how far and how fast BoE has to go to return investors’ optimism in UK markets.
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