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  • Rikki Lambert

UK follows US Fed, hiking rates 75bp to prevent 'total financial meltdown'

A wed couple admires a mural of British pollies leaving an economic Titanic in Belfast in October

The Bank of England stepped in quickly to prevent a financial meltdown after former PM Liz's Truss's controversial mini-budget, its governor says.

Andrew Bailey said the bank was forced to step in "quickly" and "decisively" to mitigate a "very real threat to financial stability" after markets were spooked by Stg45 billion ($A80 billion) tax cuts.

The cuts were aimed at ending temporary increases to help pay for social security, and halting an ascending corporate tax rate based on profits designed by now PM Rishi Sunak to help pay for billions of pounds of debt incurred in the name of fighting COVID-19. The tax cut plan spooked markets and resulted in a churn of ministers, the dumping of the cuts and ultimately Truss being deposed in favour of Sunak as PM.

BoE governor Andrew Bailey he told Channel 4 News on Thursday:

"We certainly reached a point where markets were very unstable, and these were core markets, this is the government bond market, which is in many ways the most core of all.
"And it was becoming unstable and it was affecting ... pension funds for instance, and how they were operating.
"And our worry was that when you get into that situation, this can easily spread very rapidly and then you have a huge job on your hands to get it back under control.
"So we had to step in quickly and we had to step in quite decisively."

Asked if the UK was days, even hours, away from potential total meltdown, Bailey said:

"I think at that point when we intervened, I can tell you that the messages we were getting from the markets were that it was hours."

Bailey's comments came after the Bank of England announced its biggest interest rate increase in three decades as it tries to beat back stubbornly high inflation, boosting its key rate by three-quarters of a percentage point to 3.0 per cent. 

Meanwhile US stocks were still taking stock of the Federal Reserve's decision to hike its rates by 75 basis points earlier this week, closing lower on Thursday for a fourth consecutive session. Economic data was doing little to alter the view the Fed would keep raising rates and for longer than previously thought.


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