What's behind the UK market turmoil?


(British Prime Minister Liz Truss) "It's a difficult time. What was right is that Britain took decisive action to help people get through what is going to be a difficult winter."

(Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng) "We will cut the basic rate of income tax to 19 pence in April 2023, one year early. That means a tax cut for over 31 million people in just a few months time.’’

What happened next?

(Andy Bruce, Reuters UK economics correspondent)

"The pound fell to a record low against the US dollar just above 1 to 3. And that really reflects a draining of international investor confidence. The thing that really worried international investors wasn't so much the scale of the tax cuts as the way the government said they wanted to pay for it, which was through future economic growth, a doubling of the rate of economic growth that a lot of investors just think isn't very credible."

How has that affected borrowing rates?

"The cost of British government borrowing has really soared over the last week or so, and that's another reflection of international investors taking money out of British government bonds in response to falling confidence."

"So the slide in markets that we've seen has already led to a huge change in Britain's mortgage market. So if you're a new customer wanting to try and get a mortgage, you'll already have to pay much higher rates of repayment than you would have even just a week ago. And there's also been other knock on effects, too, like companies that are finding it much more difficult to finance their debts. And also, you know, in pension funds, we've seen a huge meltdown in the pension fund market yesterday that caused the Bank of England to try and step in to calm things down."

What did the Bank of England do?

"The Bank of England stepped in, the Bank of England stepped in to prop up the British government bond market. Now, that's just a temporary measure. So it's difficult to say how long the calm that's we've seen just in the last day or so is going to last. There's a real feeling out there among economists that the kind of fundamental problems with the British government's economic plans really need to be addressed more directly by the Finance Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng."

What’s next?

"Prime Minister, Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng are under real pressure now to maybe reverse some of the economic plan and the tax cuts and perhaps more importantly spell out exactly how they're going to pay for their spending promises, given that the previous plan, which was just to double the rate of economic growth, never came across as particularly credible to people watching."

(Liz Truss) ‘’I was worried about people struggling to heat their homes, but also we would have seen businesses like pubs go out of business. So it was the right decision to take and we need to continue to make sure we deliver the economic growth, we deliver the jobs and opportunities and that is the long-term future that we have set out.''

"I think we have to look at what situation this country would be in if we hadn't acted. People were facing fuel bills, energy bills of up to £6,000. We had very high inflation expectations and an economic slowdown. And what we've done is we've taken decisive action.’’