The UK government plans to issue a record 485.5 billion pounds ($648 billion) of bonds this fiscal year to help fight the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Debt Management Office on Wednesday announced an additional 92 billion pounds of borrowing from December through March. The annual figure is more than twice the amount raised during the peak of the global financial crisis and compares with analyst estimates of 482.8 billion pounds, according to a Bloomberg survey of 12 primary dealers.
The surge in borrowing reflects the mounting cost of widespread lockdowns, which have shuttered businesses, kept workers at home and tipped the economy into its deepest recession in three centuries. It will also add to the government’s two-trillion-pound debt load and risks weighing on the market.
“The UK economy is on a large amount of life support right now,” said Liam O’Donnell, a money manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments, before the announcement. “A modest rise in yield is fine, anything else is effectively a short circuit to activity while the economy still reels from the crisis.”
For now, the surge in debt sales hasn’t pushed government borrowing costs higher, thanks largely to the Bank of England’s bond-buying program. The yield on 10-year gilts fell one basis point to 0.32%, having more than halved this year as the central bank soaked up the issuance.
The BOE expanded its so-called quantitative easing program this month by 150 billion pounds to 895 billion pounds.
With a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc found to be highly effective — along with those from Pfizer Inc, and Moderna Inc. — and a Brexit trade deal getting closer, economic prospects for 2021 could be in for a boost. The nation’s deficit grew less than expected in October, data showed last week.
The DM0 is set to sell 393.6 billion pounds of bonds in the fiscal year through November, 8.6 billion pounds more than initially planned, it said. It raised 228 billion pounds during peak of the financial the crisis in 2009-2010.
The Office for Budget Responsibility, meanwhile, said that the UK would bring the methods of maligned Retail Price Index gauge of inflation in line with the CPIH measure in February 2030.
The switch to the new benchmark, which has shown consistently slower price increases since 2010, threatened to erode future returns on the inflation-linked bonds. The government said it wouldn’t offer compensation to holders of the securities.
The 10-year breakeven rate jumped as much as 9 basis points to 3.09%, set of its biggest increase since 2017.
Still, “long linkers should gradually start to feel the benefit of renewed demand,” said Adam Dent, UK rates strategist at Banco Santander SA. There is now “certainty around what ‘RPI’ will mean in any given year.”