Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 18:46 UK

Extra funds pumped into markets

Dollar bills
The extra funds are aimed at easing banking sector woes

Global central banks are pumping $180bn (99bn) of extra money into the markets in a co-ordinated move to lift the amount of funds available.

The $180bn has been released by the US Federal Reserve to five other main central banks, who in turn are issuing the funds in their own countries.

The Bank of England is making $40bn available, while the European Central Bank is to provide $55bn.

Central banks in Switzerland, Canada and Japan are also taking part.

The Swiss National Bank is releasing up to $15bn extra, while the Bank of Japan is offering $60bn, and the Bank of Canada $10bn.

Commercial banks in each country will be able to access the funds in the form of loans to boost their short-term funding requirements.

'Appropriate steps'

"These measures, together with other actions taken in the last few days by individual central banks, are designed to improve the liquidity conditions in global financial markets," said the Bank of England.

"The central banks continue to work together closely and will take appropriate steps to address the ongoing pressures."

It does help to release some of those immediate tensions that have been building up in the money market
Ian Stannard, currency strategist, BNP Paribas

The co-ordinated move comes after four days of almost unprecedented turmoil in the global financial industry.

Firstly, US giant Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, while compatriot Merrill Lynch lost its independence in a rescue takeover by Bank of America.

The US government has also had to bail-out insurance giant AIG, while in the UK, thousands of jobs are predicted to go at banking group HBOS following its sale to rival Lloyds TSB.

Major problem

Analysts said the latest move by the central banks should help to ease immediate fears.

"Obviously it does not tackle the underlying root causes of the problem, but it does help to release some of those immediate tensions that have been building up in the money market," said Ian Stannard, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas.

Koichi Haji, chief economist at NLI Research in Tokyo, said the co-ordinated move "shows how serious the problem has become".

"I think the root cause was letting Lehman fail," he said.

"That made investors reluctant to supply funds to their counterparts, particularly to the smaller banks."

Short-term boost

The hope is that commercial banks will use these central banks loans to strengthen their short-term balance sheets.

Such funding traditionally comes from inter-bank lending - where commercial banks lend to each other.

However, since the start of the global credit crunch last year, inter-bank lending has dried up, as banks have been either unwilling or unable to lend.

As a result, many central banks have had to release their own funds into the market, such as this latest co-ordinated action.

Peter Hahn, banking expert at Cass Business School, told the BBC that the exact details have yet to be released.

"We don't yet know how much interest commercial banks will have to pay to borrow the latest funds, or how exactly how long the loan arrangements will run for," he said.

"However, it is almost definite that the rate of interest will be low, as the central banks are trying to help out here.

"The money is being made available in dollars, simply because that is the main currency of big large scale lending."

The Federal Reserve said later that it was adding an extra $55bn into the US markets.

The central banks of South Korea, India, and Australia have also released extra funds independently on Thursday.

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