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Confusion Reigns

Stick or twist? U.K. outlook unclear by every measure

 

There is no right answer but, then again, there is no wrong answer either. Politics, monetary policy, economics; each has a unique set of drivers that are subject to interpretation like never before.

 

Politics

 

Precedent isn’t any help. In politics the two major Governments of the past thirty-five years, Thatcher’s and Blair’s, no matter what you thought of them brought a kind of stability as we knew what to expect until we didn’t and they got removed. The lurch from right to left or vice versa brings turmoil and that is what we are seeing now.

 

Austerity as a doctrine has run its course, certainly as far as the population is concerned. But is tax tax tax, spend spend spend going to fare any better than cut cut cut? There is a fair chance we are going to find out.

 

Monetary Policy

 

It was hailed as a great idea when, of all things, a labour Government released the reins on economic decision making and created the Monetary Policy Committee. Government finally accepting that using a broad-based group of industry professionals to run the economy was better than a bunch of career politicians. If only that could be applied to public transport, health and education, Utopia would be on the horizon.

 

The MPC is now fractured as never before. This is not particularly a dreadful thing as any decision is not politically motivated. However, the MPC’s mandate includes a “crystal ball clause” where how the economy will look in two years’ time must be considered. Imagine that! Confused? No question.

 

Will there be a hike on August 3? Quite possibly, or probably or certainly. Who knows. The new member Silvana Tenreyro, is going to suddenly become much sought after. Replacing arch-hawk, Kristin Forbes, it is yet to be determined Tenreyro’s avian leaning.

 

McCafferty and Saunders will vote hike, Haldane will vote Hike, Carney? Maybe hike, maybe not. Broadbent, Cunliffe and Vlieghe; hold.

 

Welcome to the MPC Ms. Tenreyro.

 

Economics.

 

Real wages are falling. Is there anything more devastating to the economy no matter the reason? People are earning less for the same amount of work. Higher inflation, cost cutting businesses? It doesn’t really matter. Concern over keeping your job is one thing and, unless you work for Tesco or a bank, that has been replaced by what you can buy each week.

 

Stagflation.

 

There, now I have said it. The genie is out of the bottle, Pandora’s box is open. The elephant is in the room.  

 

Is that where the U.K. is heading? Most commentators see the U.K. economy slowing. Another 0.2% rise in GDP in the three months to June is likely to be announced by the NIESR on Friday. This is hardly stellar but a rate hike in such circumstances? No wonder Carney is concerned.

 

Employment is, according to the Government, at record levels. Thank the gig economy, zero hours contracts and kids on Government sponsored training schemes for that. On the dole? No, I’m on a training scheme that the Government pays me to be on? Semantics! You are unemployed!

 

Kim; no longer a cartoon joke.

 

North Korea gets ever closer to being able to reach the U.S. mainland with a nuclear missile. So, what! They would never launch and if they did, America has sufficient technology to intercept it before wiping North Korea from the face of the earth.

 

Not necessarily so. There are no guarantees in diplomacy. Add in China, Russia, Japan and South Korea and you have a heady cocktail of self-interest.

 

Market reaction? But the JPY and CHF. Risk aversion is coming, let’s hope for California a nuclear tipped missile isn’t!

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