Rescue plan due in hours
The Government is poised to announce details of a comprehensive rescue package for the banking system.
It will include a proposal to inject capital into banks and to provide a standby facility to ensure our big banks have enough cash to fund their day-to-day operations.
In a UK context, this is a very big moment.
It is the government's attempt to stabilise our banking system.
I'll file more as and when I have more detail.
As I said this morning, the amount of capital to be invested in our banks by the Government on behalf of taxpayers will be up to £50bn - which is what most analysts estimate is needed by the British banking system.
And there will also be a promise that if any bank has difficulty raising funds from wholesale markets - which remain chronically seized up - the authorities will fill the gap.
I presume that will require the Treasury to provide additional financial help to the Bank of England (that's more taxpayers' wonga), since the Bank of England's balance sheet is probably not big enough to fill our banks' wholesale funding gap on its own.
These are big sums of our money being put at risk to stabilise the financial system. It matters to all of us that the ambitious works - not least because the reluctance of our banks to lend to companies and households is sending the economy into recession.
For what it's worth, one banker - who runs one of our biggest banks - tells me that he is optimistic that it will bring a bit of calm to the extroardinarily turbulent banking market.
It's also a big moment for the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. This is the first genuine, full-scale economic crisis he has had to face since he entered government, as chancellor of the exchequer, in 1997.
His place in history will depend on whether taxpayers' cash is being used to slow or stem the downward spiral in the economy or whether this is good money disappearing down a deep black hole.