The Bank of England plans to buy up £75 billion of assets over the next three months, including medium-term government bonds (gilts) in the secondary markets and commercial paper from the private sector.The bank announced a 50 basis point cut in the bank rate, bringing it down to a new record low of 0.5%, but saidthis alone would not be enough to restore demand and stimulate the economy. The deepening downturn, the bank said, meant it risked undershooting its statutory 2% inflation target - consumer price inflation fell again in January to 3%, and is set to dip below 2% in the second half of the year.
The bank will make available £75 billion by the 'issuance of central bank reserves' to purchase medium and long maturity conventional gilts in the secondary market, as well as commercial paper, corporate bonds, syndicated loans and asset-backed securities from the private sector, as announced on January 29.
A spokesman for the bank insisted it was not printing extra money, but, by quantitative easing, was expanding its balance sheet to facilitate the purchase of further assets, with the hope of stimulating bank lending.
The asset purchase programme was first announced on January 29, after Alistair Darling, the UK finance minister, gave the Bank authority to purchase up to £50 billion of commercial paper from the private sector.
Subsequently, on March 3, Darling approved bank governor Mervyn King's request for the purchasing capacity of the programme to be raised to £150 billion.
Topics: Bank of England
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