It will be accompanied by an independent assessment of the fiscal and economic impact of the policies by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a government watchdog.

While markets have cheered the government’s promise to have its policies independently reviewed, questions remain about how the gap in the public finances can be closed. Economists say there is very little room in stretched department budgets to make cuts. That has led to concerns of a return to austerity measures, reminiscent of the spending cuts after the 2008 financial crisis.

There is a danger,” Mr. Chadha said, “that we end up with tighter fiscal policy than actually is appropriate given the shock that many households are suffering.” This could make it harder to support people suffering amid rising food and energy prices. But Mr. Chadha argues that it’s clear what needs to happen next: a complete elimination of unfunded tax cuts and careful planning on how to support vulnerable households.

The chancellor could also end up having a lot more autonomy over fiscal policy than the prime minister, he added.

“The best outcome for markets would be a rapid rallying of the parliamentary Conservative Party around a single candidate” who would validate Mr. Hunt’s approach and the timing of the Oct. 31 report, Trevor Greetham, a portfolio manager at Royal London Asset Management, said in a written comment.

Three days after the fiscal statement, on Nov. 3, Bank of England policymakers will announce their next interest rate decisions.

Bond investors are trying to parse how the central bank will react to the rapidly changing fiscal news. On Thursday, before Ms. Truss’s resignation, Ben Broadbent, a member of the central bank’s rate-setting committee, indicated that policymakers might not need to raise interest rates as much as markets currently expect. Traders are betting that the bank will raise rates above 5 percent next year, from 2.25 percent.

The bank could raise rates less than expected next year partly because the economy is forecast to shrink over the year. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the British economy would go from 3.6 percent growth this year to a 0.3 percent contraction next year.

That’s a mild recession compared with some other forecasts, but it would only compound the longstanding economic problems that Britain faced, including weak investment, low productivity growth and businesses’ inability to find employees with the right skills. These were among the challenges that Ms. Truss said she would resolve by shaking up the status quo and targeting economic growth of 2.5 percent a year.

Most economists didn’t believe that “Trussonomics,” as her policies were called, would deliver this economic growth. Instead, they predicted the policies would prolong the country’s inflation problem.

Despite the change in leadership, analysts don’t expect a big rally in Britain’s financial markets. The nation’s international standing could take a long time to recover.

“It takes years to build a reputation and one day to undo it,” Mr. Bouvet said, adding, “Investors will come progressively back to the U.K.,” but it won’t be quickly.

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As UK’s Truss fights for job, new finance minister says she made mistakes

  • Truss sacked finance minister on Friday
  • New chancellor Hunt warns of tough decisions
  • ‘I’ve listened, I get it’, Truss says
  • BoE’s Bailey says agrees with Hunt on need to fix finances
  • Some Conservative lawmakers say Truss will be ousted

LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Britain’s new finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday some taxes would go up and tough spending decisions were needed, saying Prime Minister Liz Truss had made mistakes as she battles to keep her job just over a month into her term.

In an attempt to appease financial markets that have been in turmoil for three weeks, Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng as her chancellor of the exchequer on Friday and scrapped parts of their controversial economic package.

With opinion poll ratings dire for both the ruling Conservative Party and the prime minister personally, and many of her own lawmakers asking, not if, but how Truss should be removed, Truss is relying on Hunt to help salvage her premiership less than 40 days after taking office.

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In an article for the Sun newspaper published late on Saturday, Truss admitted the plans had gone “further and faster than the markets were expecting”.

“I’ve listened, I get it,” she wrote. “We cannot pave the way to a low-tax, high-growth economy without maintaining the confidence of the markets in our commitment to sound money.”

She said Hunt would lay out at the end of the month the plan to get national debt down “over the medium term”.

But, the speculation about her future shows no sign of diminishing, with Sunday’s newspapers rife with stories that allies of Rishi Sunak, another former finance minister who she beat to become leader last month, were plotting to force her out within weeks.

On a tour of TV and radio studios, Hunt gave a blunt assessment of the situation the country faced, saying Truss and Kwarteng had made mistakes and further changes to her plans were possible.

“We will have some very difficult decisions ahead,” he said.”The thing that people want, the markets want, the country needs now, is stability.”

The Sunday Times said Hunt would rip up more of Truss’s original package by delaying a planned cut to the basic rate of income tax as part of a desperate bid to balance the books.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s independent fiscal watchdog had said in a draft forecast there could be a 72 billion pound ($80 billion) black hole in public finances by 2027/28, worse than economists had forecast.

Truss had won the leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson on a platform of big tax cuts to stimulate growth, which Kwarteng duly announced last month. But the absence of any details of how the cuts would be funded sent the markets into meltdown.

She has already ditched plans to cut tax for high earners, and said a levy on business would increase, abandoning her proposal to keep it at current levels. But a slump in bond prices after her news conference on Friday still suggested she had not gone far enough.

‘MEETING OF MINDS’

Kwarteng’s Sept. 23 fiscal statement prompted a backlash in financial markets that was so ferocious the Bank of England (BoE) had to intervene to prevent pension funds being caught up in the chaos as borrowing costs surged.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said he had spoken to Hunt and they had agreed on the need to repair the public finances.

“There was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said in Washington on Saturday. “Of course, there was an important measure taken yesterday.”

He also warned that inflation pressures might require a bigger interest rate rise than previously thought due to the government’s huge energy subsidies for homes and businesses, and its tax cut plans.

Hunt is due to announce the government’s medium-term budget plans on Oct. 31, in what will be a key test of its ability to show it can restore its economic policy credibility.

He cautioned spending would not rise by as much as people would like and all government departments were going to have to find more efficiencies than they were planning.

“Some taxes will not be cut as quickly as people want, and some taxes will go up. So it’s going to be difficult,” he said. He met Treasury officials on Saturday and will hold talks with Truss on Sunday to go through the plans.

‘MISTAKES MADE’

Hunt, an experienced minister and viewed by many in his party as a safe pair of hands, said he agreed with Truss’s fundamental strategy of kickstarting economic growth, but he added that their approach had not worked.

“There were some mistakes made in the last few weeks. That’s why I’m sitting here. It was a mistake to cut the top rate of tax at a period when we’re asking everyone to make sacrifices,” he said.

It was also a mistake, Hunt said, to “fly blind” and produce the tax plans without allowing the independent fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, to check the figures.

The fact that Hunt is Britain’s fourth finance minister in four months is testament to a political crisis that has gripped Britain since Johnson was ousted following a series of scandals.

Hunt said Truss should be judged at an election and on her performance over the next 18 months – not the last 18 days.

However, she might not get that chance. During the leadership contest, Truss won support from less than a third of Conservative lawmakers and has appointed her backers since taking office – alienating those who supported her rivals.

The appointment of Hunt, who ran to be leader himself and then backed Sunak, has been seen as a sign of her reaching out, but the move did little to placate some of her party critics.

“It’s over for her,” one Conservative lawmaker told Reuters after Friday’s events.

($1 = 0.8953 pounds)

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Reporting by Michael Holden, Alistair Smout and William Schomberg
Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Helen Popper, Ros Russell and Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Bank of England governor has ‘meeting of minds’ with Hunt

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  • Bailey says he talked to new finance minister on Friday
  • ‘Very clear and immediate meeting of minds’ on fiscal challenge
  • Rates likely to rise by more than thought in August – Bailey
  • Recent bond-buying not about targeting yields

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said there was an “immediate meeting of minds” when he spoke with finance minister Jeremy Hunt about the need to fix the public finances after the tax cut plans of Hunt’s predecessor unleashed market turmoil.

Bailey, speaking in Washington where British officials attending International Monetary Fund meetings have been put on the spot about the crisis engulfing the country, said he had spoken to Hunt on Friday after he replaced Kwasi Kwarteng.

“I can tell you that there was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said.

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“Of course there was an important measure taken yesterday,” he said at an event where he also hinted at a big interest rate rise by the central bank next month.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, seeking to save her term in office which is barely a month old, said on Friday that Britain’s corporation tax rate would increase, reversing a key pledge made during her bid for Downing Street.

Hunt said earlier on Saturday that some taxes might have to rise and others might not fall as much as planned, signalling a further shift away from Truss’s original plans.

Bailey, speaking at an event organised by the Group of Thirty, which comprises financiers and academics, welcomed the role that Britain’s independent budget watchdog would have in assessing the budget plan that Hunt will publish on Oct. 31.

The Office for Budget Responsibility was not tasked with weighing up the impact of Kwarteng’s “mini-budget” which set off a slump in the value of the pound and government bonds when he announced it on Sept. 23.

“Flying blind is not a way to achieve sustainability,” Bailey said.

Truss criticised the BoE during her leadership campaign, saying she wanted to set a “clear direction of travel” for the central bank. BoE officials pushed back at those comments saying their independence was key to managing the economy.

‘STRONGER RESPONSE’ WITH RATES

Bailey said the BoE might raise interest rates by more than it previously thought because of the government’s huge energy bill support – which could lower inflation in the short term but push it up further ahead – and whatever it decides to do on tax cuts and spending.

“We will not hesitate to raise interest rates to meet the inflation target,” Bailey said. “And, as things stand today, my best guess is that inflationary pressures will require a stronger response than we perhaps thought in August.”

The BoE raised rates by half a percentage point in August – at the time its biggest increase in 27 years – and then did so again in September with inflation around 10%, far above the BoE’s target of 2%.

It is due to announce its next decision on Nov. 3 and many investors think it will either raise them from their current level of 2.25% to 3% or possibly 3.25%.

In the shorter term, the BoE will be keeping a close eye on how financial markets behave on Monday after it ended its emergency bond-buying programme on Friday.

Bailey said the now-completed intervention was “not about steering market yields towards some particular level, but rather preventing them from being distorted by market dysfunction”.

He said the BoE had acted after the violent market moves which exposed the “flaws in the strategy and structure” of a lot of pension funds.

The intervention was different to the much bigger and longer-running bond-buying that the BoE undertook during the coronavirus pandemic and earlier as a monetary policy tool.

“In these difficult times, we need to be very clear on this framework of intervention,” Bailey said.

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Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington and William Schomberg in London; Additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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