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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
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