The pound has resumed its descent, falling toward the record-low levels reached over the weekend after statements from the Bank of England and Treasury failed to steady market nerves.
According to a statement released by Governor Bailey’s office a short time ago, the Bank noted it was “monitoring developments in financial markets very closely in light of the significant repricing of financial assets”, but said it was not prepared to deliver an emergency rate hike: “As the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) has made clear, it will make a full assessment at its next scheduled meeting of the impact on demand and inflation from the Government’s announcements, and the fall in sterling, and act accordingly. The MPC will not hesitate to change interest rates by as much as needed to return inflation to the 2 percent target sustainably in the medium term, in line with its remit”.
The decision to wait appears to reflect a desire to avoid alarming markets which already suspect the United Kingdom is embroiled in a nineties-style currency crisis – and an appraisal of the likely impact: without massive, economically-damaging hikes, the exchange rate will remain vulnerable to further weakness.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng issued a coordinated statement saying a new fiscal plan will be set out on November 23, providing “further details on the government’s fiscal rules, including ensuring that debt falls as a share of GDP in the medium term”.
Traders are unwinding bets on a preemptive hike before the November meeting, but longer-term expectations for a jumbo-sized increases remain intact as the government’s plans are expected to worsen the country’s fiscal position and add to inflation.
Markets are plunging around the world as ongoing dislocations in currency markets spook investors and traders. Risk-sensitive exchange rates are down across the board, and volatility expectations are rising across most major pairs.