Bank of England moves to calm markets as strangers look less kindly on UK

Another week, another unscheduled Bank Rate cut.

It is now at an all-time low and, at 0.1%, is unlikely to go any lower.

Most homeowners have fixed rate mortgages.

Just over two million have variable or tracker deals.

They stand to save an average of up to £9 a month on repayments, according to UK Finance.

That’s not unhelpful - it's definitely not life-changing.

  • ITV News Economics Editor Joel Hills said the Bank cut interest rates in a bid to tackle the "panic" in financial markets and is printing £200 billion in a bid to stop the markets from "gumming up"

But lowering the cost of borrowing wasn't the primary reason the Bank of England convened an emergency meeting this morning

The Bank is acting to try to calm the panic on financial markets which has become "borderline disorderly" as the Governor, Andrew Bailey puts it.

The stock markets in Europe and the United States were calmer on Thursday, but over the last few weeks we've seen investors offloading shares in companies they worry won't survive the downturn that’s coming.

Andrew Bailey has walked straight into an emergency in his new role amid the outbreak. Credit: PA

What's happened more recently is that investors have been selling other assets they consider to be high risk, including some national currencies and some government debt.

In the past 24 hours it is our currency, the pound, and our Government's debt, so-called Gilts, that has been at the sharp end of the sell-off.

The worry here is that markets are becoming dysfunctional and we may get to the stage where companies and government find themselves unable to borrow.

Coronavirus has signalled bad news for stock markets globally. Credit: AP

The Bank plans to create £200 billion and use it to buy company and Government bonds in an attempt to stop the market gumming up.

All this matters because the UK runs what's called a "current account deficit" and has done for years.

Put another way - we finance our lifestyle by borrowing from abroad.

Nearly £150 billion was wiped off London's top index earlier in the outbreak. Credit: PA

This has always been a potential weakness.

We are - as the last Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, put it - reliant "on the kindness of strangers".

Strangers have always been extremely happy to lend money to the UK Government but in the past couple of days there have been indications that they view us a less attractive place to park their money.

Given that the current account deficit is projected to remain high for the foreseeable, that is cause for concern.