Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Oil Wars 2016 - US vs Russia vs Saudi Arabia vs Iran - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Crude Oil Price Crash Triggering Global Instability, Trend Forecast 2016 - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Stock Market Crash - Last Week was The 2nd and Final Warning... - Clive_Maund
4.Stock Market Crash Apocalypse or Bull Market Severe Correction? - Nadeem_Walayat
5.TShipping Said to Have Ceased… Is the Worldwide Economy Grinding to a Halt? - Jeff_Berwick
6.Crude Oil Price Crash Catastrophe, Independant Scotland Literally Begging to Rejoin the UK - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Summers: Global Economy Can't Withstand Four 2016 Fed Hikes - Bloomberg
8.Gold And Silver: New World Order: Public Be Damned, Preferably Dead - Michael_Noonan
9.Rigged U.S. Ttreasury Bond Market Double Barreled Hidden Q.E. To Infinity - Jim_Willie_CB
10.Major Stocks Bear Market Awakening - Zeal_LLC
Last 5 days
Gold Stocks Something has Changed - 6th Feb 16
UK Interest Rates, Economy GDP Forecasts 2016 and 2017 - 6th Feb 16
Gold Price, Mining Stocks Rocket Higher - 5th Feb 16
Crude Oil Price Bottoms and Blues - 5th Feb 16
Gold and Silver: Ripe for a Recovery! China May well Change the Game - 5th Feb 16
How Pension Plans are Responding to Financial Repression - 5th Feb 16
Senior Gold Producer Goldcorp Takes Large Stake in Nevada's Gold Standard Ventures - 5th Feb 16
Tips for Smart Oil and Natural Gas Investing 2016 - 5th Feb 16
Another Corporate Giant Is Leaving the U.S. – What This Means for You - 4th Feb 16
TPP is Economic Warfare, Trade Can Make Everyone Worse Off / Governments are Stupid - 4th Feb 16
Gold and Stock Markets Inflection Points Galore - 4th Feb 16
Putin Cries Dyadya (Uncle), Is Saudi Arabia Listening? - 4th Feb 16
Gold Price Golden Bottom? Video - 4th Feb 16
Look North for Value-Priced Growth in Healthcare Biotech Stocks - 4th Feb 16 - TLSReport
BrExit EU Referendum - Britain's FINAL Chance for Freedom From Emerging European Superstate - 4th Feb 16
HUI Now Confirming Gold Price Move Higher - 4th Feb 16
Crude Oil Price Forecast 2016 As Good As It Gets - 4th Feb 16
Gold and Silver More 'Flight To Safety' Active February - 3rd Feb 16
Raytheon Company: A Defensive Stock for a Defensive Market - 3rd Feb 16
Is Silver Really a Weak Link - 3rd Feb 16
Gold to Beat Stocks 2016? - 3rd Feb 16
David Chamberlain Cameron, Britain's Last Chance for Freedom From Emerging European Super State - 3rd Feb 16
EU UK Draft or Daft Agreement By Donald Tusk to Members of the European Council in Full - 2nd Feb 16
Europe: Why It's Going to Get a Lot Worse Before It Gets Better - 2nd Feb 16
The Next Generational Bust Is Coming, Stock Market 70% Collapse - 2nd Feb 16
The Coming Stock Market Decline May be a Monster - 2nd Feb 16
S&P 500 Has Likely Entered a New Bear Phase - 2nd Feb 16
How and Why To Move Your Assets Offshore Before the Financial Collapse - 2nd Feb 16
Central Bank Created Silver Price Rally - 1st Feb 16
The Fed Is Not Hiking Rates: Risk Assets To Perform - 1st Feb 16
US Dollar and US Treasury Bonds Big Picture - 1st Feb 16
BOJ Negative Interest Rates Central Banking Crime Syndicate's War on Cash for Triggering Panic Consumption - 1st Feb 16
Elites Set to Wipe Out Stock Market Shorts Before Next Downwave... - 1st Feb 16
Stock Market A-B-C Correction Unfolding - 1st Feb 16
Nice week for Gold : It’s All about Sentiment - 31st Jan 16
Silver Price Breaks Higher on Rising Anxiety - 31st Jan 16
Stocks Bear Market Rally Underway - 30th Jan 16
Gold And Silver Current Prices Do Not Matter - 30th Jan 16
Gold Price Potential Upside 2016 - 30th Jan 16
Stock Market Bears Pulverised by BOJ Knock Out Punch, Non Technical Take Video - 30th Jan 16
Lacy Hunt: Inflation and 10-Year US Treasury Yields Headed Lower - 30th Jan 16
The Curious Case of Copper... - 30th Jan 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Global Financial Crisis 2016

The British Pound Gets Pounded

Currencies / British Pound Feb 19, 2013 - 04:35 PM GMT

By: Peter_Schiff

Currencies

As the global currency war intensifies, the majority of attention has been paid to the 17% fall of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar over the past few months. The implosion has given cover to the sad performance of another once mighty currency: the British pound sterling. But in many ways the travails of the pound is far more instructive to those pondering the fate of the U.S. currency.


Japan has a unique economic and demographic profile which makes it a poor stalking horse. Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan have clearly and forcefully committed Japan to a policy of inflation at any cost. Even in a world of serial money printers their plans stand out as exceptional. Britain, on the other hand, is charting a more conventional course to the same destination.

The UK government, under conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, has succeeded in bringing marginal discipline to their budgetary imbalances. From 2009 to 2012, British government expenditures rose a total of just 1.6%, which was far below the official pace of inflation. (In contrast, U.S. federal spending grew by 7.9% over that time period). Since 2009 the British have kept their debt-to-GDP ratio lower than America's and have cut into that metric at a faster rate. But while the British are conservative when compared to their American cousins, they are hardly austere when compared to Germany (which continues to have a nearly balanced budget and extremely low debt to GDP). Paul Krugman blames Britain's lackluster economic performance on their misguided experiment with austerity.

The monetary side of the equation also puts the UK within the spectrum of its peers. Ever since the Great Recession began in 2008 the Bank of England, led by outgoing Governor Mervyn King, has been far more stimulative than the European Central Bankers in Frankfort (but not quite as much as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of Japan). In contrast to the permanent and ongoing bond-buying quantitative easing programs underway in the U.S. and Japan, the Bank of England has engaged in such measures only selectively.

Given the relatively moderate approach pursued by the British, the poor performance of their currency may be hard to fathom. The deciding factor may be that the Pound Sterling is not nearly as vital to investors, or as integrated into the global economy, as the U.S. dollar or the euro. The greenback, being the world's reserve currency, has always benefited from demand that is independent of its economic fundamentals. The euro benefits from the size of the euro zone and the legacy of German banking discipline. The pound enjoys no such privileges and as a result foreign central banks do not feel as pressured to prop it up. As a result, over the past few years the pound has been... pounded. Since July 2010, the currency is down 26.7% against the U.S. dollar, and in recent months it has started falling faster than all other developed currencies except for the Abe-pummeled yen. Since October 1, 2012 the pound has fallen by 4% against the dollar and 8% against the euro.

The pound's health is made more suspect by the extreme challenges faced by the Bank of England as it tries to stimulate the most admittedly inflation prone economy among the major Western nations. Unlike the Federal Reserve, which is tasked by statute to combat both inflation and unemployment, the BofE has only a single mandate: to keep inflation contained. On that score it has been failing habitually. Inflation in the UK has been north of its 2% target for the past five years (the current official rate is 2.7%). In its most recent inflation projections, Mr. King admitted that it will stay that way for years to come, and that it may exceed 3% this year and next. With its currency weakening and inflation accelerating, the mandate of the BofE would clearly indicate that the time has come for monetary tightening.

However, like all central bankers, Mr. King, and his successor, the Canadian Mark Carney, will not be bound by such triflings as statutory mandates and past promises. In his press conference last week, Mr. King spoke of "looking past" current inflation figures to a time when he expects inflation will moderate. When the choice is between inflation and the political pain of economic contraction, bankers (at least those who don't speak German) will choose inflation every time.

While the American media has poked fun at the Bank of England's backtracking, they somehow do not understand that the Federal Reserve would be doing the same if not for the advantages given to us by the dollar's reserve status. Our ability to monetize the vast majority of the annual government deficit while exporting our inflation through half trillion dollar trade deficits and the overseas sale of hundreds of billions of Treasury bonds annually means that we do not yet face the pressures bearing down on the Bank of England.

For now at least Cameron is sticking to his guns and making the politically difficult case to voters that today's hard choices will yield benefits down the road. This puts all the pressure on the Bank of England to satisfy the calls for stimulus. The Federal Reserve is fortunate in that the Obama Administration shares none of Cameron's fiscal determination.

But already the Fed has done plenty of backing off from its prior promises. Just a few months ago Ben Bernanke announced specific inflation and unemployment triggers that would apparently put monetary policy on automatic pilot. But just last week, Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen announced that those goalposts (6.5% unemployment and 2.5% inflation) should not be considered "triggers" but as thresholds past which the Fed "may consider" tightening. When U.S. prices start to rise in earnest, look for the denials and rationalizations to come in torrents. The Fed will never acknowledge high inflation no matter what the data, nor will it ever take any steps to combat it. The simple reason is that it will be unable to do so without bringing on the economic contraction that is so terrifying to the British.

However, as British inflation accelerates, the pressure on the Bank of England to change course will intensify. As monetary stimulus continues to take its toll on the pound, price pressures will mount, even as the economy continues to stagnate. In other words, it is charting a course to stagflation. Perversely, this will put even more pressure on the BofE to ease. However, more cheap money will not stimulate the economy but merely cripple it further by fueling the inflationary fire.

At some point the British will have to admit that stimulus doesn't work. To break the inflationary spiral and rescue the ailing pound, the BofE will be forced to aggressively raise rates, at which point the British government will have no choice but to slash spending more deeply than would have been the case had they taken their medicine sooner. However, if the BofE refuses to tighten even in the face of much higher official inflation, the pound may deteriorate further and the UK might be left with the embarrassing choice of adopting the euro.

As far as the United States is concerned, the U.K. is the canary in the coal mine. What they are going through now, and what they may be about to go through, we will surely experience in the years ahead. The only difference is that the leeway afforded to us by our special status simply gives us more rope to hang ourselves. When the noose finally tightens, the fall will be that much more painful.

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.

Subscribe to Euro Pacific's Weekly Digest: Receive all commentaries by Peter Schiff, John Browne, and other Euro Pacific commentators delivered to your inbox every Monday!

And be sure to order a copy of Peter Schiff's recently released NY Times Best Seller, The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy - How to Save Yourself and Your Country.

Regards,
Peter Schiff

Euro Pacific Capital
http://www.europac.net/

Peter Schiff Archive

© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History