The US Federal Reserve (Fed) announced a new policy of a flexible average inflation target, meaning it will allow inflation to run “moderately” above the 2% target after periods when it has been persistently below-target. This would potentially allow the bank to keep US interest rates low for longer.
It is not surprising but we are officially in a recession as the ONS has calculated that Covid had caused GDP to fall by 20.4% in Q2.
The package is made up of €390bn programme of grants and the rest in loans.
Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a range of measures to try and kick-start the economy.
The big story is a cut in VAT for the hospitality sector from 20% to 5% and this will apply to eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.
He also announced a temporary stamp duty holiday until January 2021 to stimulate the property market. This would exempt the first £500,000 of all property sales from the tax.
The government will pay businesses a £1,000 bonus for every staff member that is kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October. To qualify, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January.
New schemes were announced to boost employment and training opportunities for 16 – 24 year olds. This includes a ‘Kick Start’ scheme to assist those at risk of long term unemployment by funding six-month work placements to those on universal credit. Further support will be provided to young people in England: funding of £1,000 for each new work experience place; for apprenticeships – funding of £2,000 for each new apprentice aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021. The apprenticeship payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 funding that is provided for young apprentices.
There was also a scheme announced that will be launched in August to give 50% off to people dining out. The scheme will mean 50% off meals eaten at any registered business between Monday to Wednesday in August, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head (including children).
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak pledged an additional GBP 30 billion to support employment, on top of the GBP 133 billion in coronavirus measures he has already unveiled. The money includes over GBP 5 billion in accelerated infrastructure spending, about GBP 9 billion for employers to retain workers through the end of January, funds for home insulation, and help for homebuyers and for hospitality firms.
The Bank of England increased quantitative easing by £100bn and kept base rates at 0.1%. That takes the total to £745 bn. The program was started with an initial £200 bn back in 2009.
The government has sold a gilt with a negative yield for the first time. An auction by the Debt Management Office of a gilt maturing in July 2023 sold at an average yield of -0.003 per cent.
A negative yield means that the government is effectively being rewarded to borrow as investors agree to be repaid slightly less than they lent.
Since the start of this year, research has calculated central banks around the world have cut their key interest rates 148 times by a cumulative 12,488 basis points (bp). While the US has cut rates by 150 bp so far this year and the European Central Bank has left rates on hold – at already very low levels – Argentina has cut by 1700bp, Ukraine by 550bp and Pakistan by 425bp. Source: Datastream, AXA IM
The consequence of an oil price war and the pandemic has resulted that in the first time in history the oil producers failed to find enough space in the US to store a glut of crude, forcing them to pay buyers to take it off their hands. West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark, fell to -$37.63 a barrel, a loss of approximately 300 per cent.
The Fed has increased QE by now purchasing municipal, corporate and even IG corporates that fall into the high yield index e.g. Ford.