UK firms make plea to central bank

14 July 2008

The Bank of England's $100 billion liquidity scheme might need to be expanded, banks have suggested.

Executives at several large UK banks are set to lobby the central bank for more funds at an upcoming meeting, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The Bank's Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS) was launched earlier this year, and involves financial firms being allowed to swap some of their credit crunch-hit assets for government bonds - which they can then trade on the money markets to boost revenue.

However, continuing problems in the mortgage market - with house prices dropping by two per cent last month according to Britain's biggest lender - along with high inter-bank rates mean that banks are still facing liquidity concerns.

One of the changes to the plan that is thought to be lobbied for by the banks is the expansion of the types of assets that can be traded in - with financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities that were created prior to 2008 understood to be one of the targets.

"Speculation" cited by the news agency also suggests that the amount of bank assets already swapped through the SLS exceeds $140 billion - due to the Bank's having put no "official" ceiling on the trades.

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