The Great Debate UK

Don’t Mention the War!

–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–

Modern wars have no clear start and no clear end, leaving politicians free to deny their existence when it suits them and to claim victory even in the face of obvious defeat.

The same seems to be true of currency wars, judging by the reports from the meeting of the world’s finance ministers in Moscow, who, according to the FT, asserted that “central banks should not target their exchange rates, but added that monetary easing which had the side-effect of weakening a country’s currency was allowed”. This is a bit like saying that bombing civilians is OK as long as you’re actually aiming at terrorists – which, come to think of it, is more or less what we do say.

If you think it is only in the Economics 101 textbook that currency depreciation follows monetary easing as night follows day, then read on: “Shorting the Japanese yen ….hedge funds [have been] reaping billion dollar profits … in January.” The hedge funds had got the message.

Should a country always stand behind its banks?

Ever since the financial crisis broke in 2008 some of the world’s major banks have their governments to thank for their survival. The fates of Royal Bank of Scotland or Citibank would have been much worse without large injections of capital from the UK and U.S. authorities. The UK government pumped more than £37 billion into its largest banks in the immediate aftermath of the Lehman Brothers crisis. Ireland took that a step further when it guaranteed all of its banks’ deposits and liabilities. This was affordable, the Irish government said at the time.

However, this policy failed spectacularly. Ireland’s bailout of its banking sector brought the country to the edge of bankruptcy and forced it to accept a 82 billion euro bailout loan from the IMF/ECB and the European Union. More than 30 billion euros of this loan is to re-capitalise the Irish banking sector and the rest is to shore up the state’s finances. The conditions of the loan mean that Ireland will have to implement harsh austerity measures for many years to come that will inevitably hurt growth.

Thank you, Gordon Brown


BRITAIN-INFLATION/–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–

If the economics profession has sunk in public estimation in the last two or three years, it would hardly be surprising. Our failure to predict the crisis is something which cannot be simply brushed aside lightly, as some of my colleagues would love to do.

Pound recovers as Osborne outlines fiscal plans



- Mark Bolsom is head of the UK Trading Desk at Travelex Global Business Payments. The opinions expressed are his own. -

As widely expected, Chancellor George Osborne took a tough stance in his first budget and unveiled some “unavoidable” cuts and taxes.

Cable: parity is still a long way off but $1.40 beckons


Jane FoleySince 1982, cable has been contained by the 1985 low of GBP/USD1.0790 and the 2007 high of USD2.0798.  The bulk of this time cable has remained within a narrower 1.40 to 1.80 trading range.

These statistics illustrate how significant it would be if the pound were to slip to parity with the dollar this year.  They have not, however, stopped some commentators speculating about such an event.

Has the Bank of England helped stem economic decline?


MarkBolsom.JPG-Mark Bolsom is the Head of the UK Trading Desk at Travelex, the world’s largest non-bank FX payments specialist. The opinions expressed are his own.-

The onset of 2009 saw the pound well and truly on the back foot against both the dollar and euro, at one stage hitting a six-year low against the greenback (falling to $1.3751) and an all-time low versus the single currency. In one week in January, the pound fell 4.5 percent against the euro, 5.7 percent against the yen and 6 percent against the dollar.

Pound’s fall a symptom of crisis, not a problem in itself



–Vincent Cable is Deputy Leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats. He is a former economist who is also the party’s spokesman on economics and finance. The views expressed are his own. –

Most of Britain’s moments of high economic drama in the 20th century centred on sterling: the Gold Standard in the inter war period; the various balance of payments crises of 1949 and 1967; Black Monday and the ERM.  It is perhaps understandable that commentators should reach for these folk memories and attach the word “crisis” to the current fall of sterling against the main trading currencies particularly the Euro.  Understandable; but wrong.

Few British cheers for euro amid crisis


paul-taylorPaul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The financial crisis has rallied support for euro adoption in many European countries outside the currency bloc, yet in Britain the discussion is so far confined to a few voices among the policy elite.

The politics of the issue remain as fraught as ever, and Britons appear no more willing to lose monetary sovereignty in a recession than they were in the boom years.