The Bank of England is set to stop its government bond-buying scheme today after attempting to reassure the UK’s financial markets.
The Bank launched the unprecedented intervention after the chancellor’s mini-budget caused chaos within the markets, as well as a potential pension pots crisis.
It promised to buy up to £65bn in government bonds – which are known as gilts – from those who wanted to sell them.
The government issues bonds to raise money for public spending, often used to service pension funds and the life insurance market.
Banks and big financial institutions that buy the gilts from the government at auction can sell them on to smaller financial institutions, traders or investors on the open market.
The price – or rate – at which they are bought and sold will be higher if investors think the government is able to repay the debt when the bond matures.
But when confidence in the UK economy falls, so does the bond price.
This increases the yield, the rate of interest or cost of borrowing, as investors seek to protect their money.
How much did the BoE spend on bonds?
The scheme launched by the Bank of England was designed to restore confidence in the government’s finances – increasing bond prices and decreasing the yields it has to pay on them.
Initially, the Bank’s intervention seemed to push down yields on these gilts.
But on Wednesday, yields had surged as high as 5.1%, the same level they reached before the Bank’s initial intervention.
As part of the programme, the Bank bought around £4.35bn of bonds on Wednesday and £4.7bn on Thursday in an increased effort to help soothe the markets.
It brings the total bond buying to £17.8bn.
Ultimately, it has helped to prop up pension funds at a time when they were already under a lot of strain from global financial pressures.
Another U-turn expected
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss are now under pressure to reinstate a planned increase in corporation tax from April.
On Thursday night, the chancellor announced he would be returning to the UK from the US earlier than planned, amid growing expectation of a government U-turn on corporation tax.
The widely anticipated move appeared to reassure the finance industry, after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey spooked the markets by insisting that the emergency support would not be extended.