EU referendum result: Bank of England promises to safeguard financial stability

'It has undertaken extensive contingency planning and is working closely with HM Treasury, other domestic authorities and overseas central banks.'

Ben Chu
Economics Editor
@Benchu_
Friday 24 June 2016 07:01
comments
Mark Carney addresses EU referendum result

The Bank of England has said it will “take all steps necessary” to ensure financial stability in the UK in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote.

“The Bank of England is monitoring developments closely” the central bank said in a statement released just before 7am.

“It has undertaken extensive contingency planning and is working closely with HM Treasury, other domestic authorities and overseas central banks. The Bank of England will take all necessary steps to meet its responsibilities for monetary and financial stability.”

In a speech following the results, Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said some volatility can be expected following the UK's decision to leave the EU.

He sought to reassure investors saying the UK is “well prepared” for the event.

“Some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds. But we are well prepared for this.

"The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning," Carney said.

He added the Bank of England is ready to provide more than £250 billion of additional funds to support the financial markets.

The vote has pummelled the value of the pound to its weakest level against the dollar in more than 31 years and raised the prospect of extreme volatility in other financial markets when they open later today.

Confirmation that the UK has voted to leave the European Union has sent sterling down to $1.33, depths it has not been plunged since 1985.

Meanwhile, FTSE 100 Index future derivatives, which give an indication of where the stock market will open at 8am, have slumped 8 per cent.

Some analysts have questioned whether the UK stock market will be able to open on time after volatile trading in Japan overnight, in response to the Brexit vote count, triggered automatic trading circuit breakers on the Nikkei Index.

The credit rating agency S&P has confirmed that it will strip UK government debt of its AAA rating, which could help put further pressure on sterling.

The price of gold – a perennial safe haven asset in financial markets – this morning spiked to $1330 per ounce, from $1265 yesterday.

The value of the pound soared as high as $1.50 after polls released after 10pm last night showed a Remain lead. But that mood changed rapidly when the actual count results started to come in, sending it down 11 per cent within hours, the biggest intra-day swing on record.

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Analysts, including the Bank of England, have warned that the pound could ultimately fall up to 20 per cent in the wake of a Brexit vote.

That would be a collapse on a similar scale to the routs following Black Wednesday in 1992, when the UK crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and also the 2008 global financial crisis.

Since currencies began to float freely against each other in 1971, the pound has rarely languished below $1.40 apart from a period in the mid-1980s when the dollar was extremely strong.

Mike Van Dulken of Accendo Markets identified which company stocks are likely to be punished by traders today.

“We expect the hardest hit stocks to be financials - banks, insurance - followed by housebuilders, with commodities related-names - miners, oil - following close behind” he said.

Statement from Bank of England governor Mark Carney in full:

The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union.

Inevitably, there will be a period of uncertainty and adjustment following this result.

There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

And it will take some time for the United Kingdom to establish new relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.

Some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds.

But we are well prepared for this. The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning.

The Bank will not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward.

These adjustments will be supported by a resilient UK financial system - one that the Bank of England has consistently strengthened over the last seven years.

The capital requirements of our largest banks are now ten times higher than before the crisis.

The Bank of England has stress tested them against scenarios more severe than the country currently faces.

As a result of these actions, UK banks have raised over £130bn of capital, and now have more than £600bn of high quality liquid assets.

Why does this matter?

This substantial capital and huge liquidity gives banks the flexibility they need to continue to lend to UK businesses and households, even during challenging times.

Moreover, as a backstop, and to support the functioning of markets, the Bank of England stands ready to provide more than £250bn of additional funds through its normal facilities.

The Bank of England is also able to provide substantial liquidity in foreign currency, if required.

We expect institutions to draw on this funding if and when appropriate, just as we expect them to draw on their own resources as needed in order to provide credit, to support markets and to supply other financial services to the real economy.

In the coming weeks, the Bank will assess economic conditions and will consider any additional policy responses.

Conclusion

A few months ago, the Bank judged that the risks around the referendum were the most significant, near-term domestic risks to financial stability.

To mitigate them, the Bank of England has put in place extensive contingency plans.

These begin with ensuring that the core of our financial system is well-capitalised, liquid and strong.

This resilience is backed up by the Bank of England's liquidity facilities in sterling and foreign currencies.

All these resources will support orderly market functioning in the face of any short-term volatility.

The Bank will continue to consult and co-operate with all relevant domestic and international authorities to ensure that the UK financial system can absorb any stresses and can concentrate on serving the real economy.

That economy will adjust to new trading relationships that will be put in place over time.

It is these public and private decisions that will determine the UK's long-term economic prospects.

The best contribution of the Bank of England to this process is to continue to pursue relentlessly our responsibilities for monetary and financial stability.

These are unchanged.

We have taken all the necessary steps to prepare for today's events.

In the future we will not hesitate to take any additional measures required to meet our responsibilities as the United Kingdom moves forward.

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