The Bank’s three policy committees are today announcing a comprehensive and timely package of measures to help UK businesses and households bridge across the economic disruption that is likely to be associated with Covid-19.
The Bank of England’s role is to help UK businesses and households manage through an economic shock that could prove sharp and large, but should be temporary. The Bank’s three policy committees are today announcing a comprehensive and timely package of measures to help UK businesses and households bridge across the economic disruption that is likely to be associated with Covid-19. These measures will help to keep firms in business and people in jobs and help prevent a temporary disruption from causing longer-lasting economic harm.
Following the spread of Covid-19, risky asset and commodity prices have fallen sharply, and government bond yields reached all-time lows, consistent with a marked deterioration in risk appetite and in the outlooks for global and UK growth. Indicators of financial market uncertainty have reached extreme levels.
Although the magnitude of the economic shock from Covid-19 is highly uncertain, activity is likely to weaken materially in the United Kingdom over the coming months. Temporary, but significant, disruptions to supply chains and weaker activity could challenge cash flows and increase demand for short-term credit from households and for working capital from companies. Such issues are likely to be most acute for smaller businesses. This economic shock will affect both demand and supply in the economy.
MPC reduces Bank Rate and launches new Term Funding Scheme with additional incentives for SMEs
At its special meeting ending on 10 March 2020, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to reduce Bank Rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%. The MPC voted unanimously for the Bank of England to introduce a new Term Funding scheme with additional incentives for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (TFSME), financed by the issuance of central bank reserves. The MPC voted unanimously to maintain the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £10 billion. The Committee also voted unanimously to maintain the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion. [...]
FPC releases the UK Countercyclical Capital Buffer
To support further the ability of banks to supply the credit needed to bridge a potentially challenging period, the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has reduced the UK countercyclical capital buffer rate to 0% of banks’ exposures to UK borrowers with immediate effect. The rate had been 1% and had been due to reach 2% by December 2020.
The FPC expects to maintain the 0% rate for at least 12 months, so that any subsequent increase would not take effect until March 2022 at the earliest.
Although the disruption arising from Covid-19 could be sharp and large, it should be temporary. Such economic disruption should have less of an impact on the core banking system than recent stress tests run by the Bank have shown the system can withstand. Those stress tests demonstrated that banks would be able to continue to lend to businesses and households even while absorbing the effects of substantial, prolonged economic downturns in both the UK and the global economies, as well as falls in asset prices much larger than experienced in recent weeks.
Given the resilience of the core banking system, businesses and households should be able to rely on banks to meet their need for credit to bridge through a period of economic disruption.
The release of the countercyclical capital buffer will support up to £190 billion of bank lending to businesses. That is equivalent to 13 times banks’ net lending to businesses in 2019. Together with the TFSME, this means that banks should not face obstacles to supplying credit to the UK economy and to meeting the needs of businesses and households through temporary disruption. [...]
Full press release
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