Tag Archives: currency

On Coronavirus and finance

The UK, like USA, Japan and others, have a profound advantage with which to recover from the financial consequences of Covid, if they choose to understand and use it.

They are currency issuers, unlike countries using the euro and the dollar, which are currency users. Unlike currency users, e.g. Germany, Greece etc. financially sovereign nations can always meet future obligations: they can never run out of their money.

Increasing or decreasing “the deficit” neither makes future generations poorer nor richer. Consequently, the Government can and should, without excessive inflation, spend its currency to fully manage the problems and opportunities to maintain or increase the well-being of citizens and children. It neither needs, nor should, let the “deficit myths” restrict its management of the Coronavirus and its consequences.

The government’s ability to spend is limited by the economy’s ability to produce, not the debt.
Dean Baker

It should also be limited by care of environments which include, climate, ecology and societies.

Economics without contexts and compassion is a form of fascism
William Harris

Fiat money gains its authority through being the medium in which a government extracts taxes. Unlike commodity money, with intrinsic value and representative money, representing something with intrinsic value, it is intrinsically valueless. It is part of a government’s “spend, tax and borrow” practices. Taxation creates the demand for the government’s money and so is not a governing factor in governmental spending. Government spends first and taxes some back. The difference goes to the private sectors of the economy. Unless taxation is less than expenditure, private sectors suffer deficits and the economy under-functions. Insufficient taxation results in damaging excessive inflation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 36 Comments

Sunny Uplands and Baloney Economics: whence the falling Pound?

The pound has hit a 2-year low and is the worst performing currency this year and there are still strong headwinds ahead for sterling, particularly if a No Deal Brexit ensues.

The circumstances facing the UK economy and the exchange rate remind me more about country risk scenarios that I faced for dodgy Emerging or Transition Economies, not a developed and mature economy such as the UK. 

All bar our more mature colleagues will have no memory of the dark days of the IMF led bailout of the UK in the 1960s. It’s worth therefore sketching out what the economic-cum-financial risks lie ahead if the “Sunny Uplands” scenario of Prime Minister Johnson starts to take shape, based on his statements and promises since his speech at the doors of 10 Downing Street.

The pound’s value in terms of other currencies is based several factors. Right now, the increasing risk of a “no deal” is scaring away demand for sterling and for sterling assets, thus pushing down the price or exchange rate in terms of other currencies – but the markets sense that there’ll still be a resolution or a further extension.

However, in the event of a “no deal” we will face a genuine currency crisis as investors pile out of sterling assets. These events tend to lead to an initial “overshooting” of the depreciation and we could easily see a further drop of 10, 15 or 20% – nobody really knows. With liberalised exchange rates there’s nothing to really hold back the initial loss of the pound’s value.

Ignoring the immediate hit for UK holiday makers facing a steep rise in the cost of holiday spending, what are the likely consequences for a no Deal as far as the pound is concerned?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

The Trump story that takes the biscuit – until the next one that takes it…

I’m going to sound callous but I do believe that perhaps the only plus point of a Trump Presidency is its comedy value. Viewing figures for the US late night shows are booming.

I thought we had reached the pinnacle of Trump comedy with the story of how he appeared, in front of a cross-party gathering of Congressional leaders at the White House, to base his call for an investigation into voter fraud on a conversation with German golfer Bernard Langer.

But yesterday there came a story which really takes the biscuit. At 3am one morning, local time, President Trump phoned his national security adviser to ask whether a strong or weak dollar was best for the American economy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

Danny Alexander says EU membership would not be possible with Salmond’s “bonkers” sterlingisation plan

I wrote last night that Alex Salmond’s plan to use the pound come what amy after independence would  lead to higher personal credit costs as well as higher national debt costs. According to Danny Alexander it might also compromise Scotland’s EU membership.  He has a letter from the former EU Commissioner Oli Rehn who told him that it would “not be possible” for Scotland to join the EU while using someone else’s currency.

Rehn said in a letter sent to Danny today:

As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own and thus no necessary instruments of the EMU.

This certainly puts more doubt as if there wasn’t enough already on the Yes Campaign’s  currency plans. No doubt they will have  whole load eminent people lined up in the morning to tell us that it’s all going to be fine and we shouldn’t worry about it, but people aren’t daft. In fact, they will probably say that it strengthens their case for a currency union and surely the nasty UK wouldn’t deny them that, especially when they would have a mandate for it from the referendum. Except that the mandate wouldn’t apply to the rest of the UK.

Danny announced this a little while ago in a speech at Chatham House. He probably showed a little too much glee to be honest. A more thoughtful “look, we did try to investigate to see if it would be possible but regrettably it isn’t” tone  might be a little more appropriate. We don’t really need more aggression and dissonance in all of this. People are turning off. The most common reaction of my Facebook friends to last week’s ill-tempered debate between Darling and Salmond was to switch of. A “more in sorrow than anger” approach might keep them listening.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 34 Comments

Of course sterlingisation and debt default would lead to Scots paying more for loans, mortgages and credit

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has been taking a bit of a pasting on social media from nationalists who don’t like what he said in a tv interview yesterday. He argued what I thought was a pretty obvious point that in a Scotland where we were using the pound without the protection of a lender of last resort and where Alex Salmond had led us to inglorious default on our share of the UK debt, our mortgages, car loans and credit cards would be more expensive than they are now.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, if we have no lender of last resort, the banks have to keep more money in their reserves which mens they have less to lend out. That will push up their interest rates to start with. We would all end up paying more. Think about the effects that would have on already stressed household budgets. We’ve so far avoided the huge spike in repossessions that we saw in the 1990s recession. That could change rapidly.

Remember when Vince Cable was complaining that viable businesses were really struggling because banks wouldn’t lend to them in the wake of the last recession? We’d have that to deal with as well.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Ruling out currency union: Locking the horse inside the stable?

MoneyThe currency in an independent Scotland has been the subject of much frenetic debate in recent months. The Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence is clear that their preferred option is to continue to use sterling within a monetary union with what would remain of the UK:

The Commission’s analysis shows that it will not only be in Scotland’s interests to retain Sterling but that – post independence – this will also benefit the rest of the UK.

Under such an arrangement, monetary policy will be set according to economic conditions across

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A Stronger Economy 

Last week, I welcomed the announcement of the strongest GDP growth figures since before the financial crisis began in 2007, with the UK growing by 0.7% in the last financial quarter and 1.9% throughout the whole of 2013.  Growth is vital for our prosperity so this is a really important development.

We have also seen the inflation rate dropping to 2% from a peak of 5.2% in September 2011, decreasing unemployment and both the World Bank and the IMF indicating …

Posted in Op-eds, Parliament and Scotland | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments
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