July 16th 2009
Pound: All Indicators Point to Down
If an investor only read the story, Pound a Buy Before ‘Steep’ U.K. Recovery, they could be forgiven for assuming that the fundamentals underlying the Pound must be strong enough to just such a bold claim. In fact, virtually all economic indicators are trending downward, and most analysts (with the exception of the source behind the above story) are revising their Pound forecasts proportionately.
While all data is subject to “spin,” all of the big picture indicators paint a consistently negative picture of the UK economy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on June 24 that U.K. gross domestic product will shrink 4.3 percent this year, revising its March forecast for a 3.7 percent contraction. Sterling has fallen 1 percent in the past month. Meanwhile, unemployment is still rising (albeit at a slower pace than before), and prices are falling.
The BOE will probably expand its liquidity program by the sanctioned 25 Billion Pounds, and “Speculation has also started to circulate that the Bank of England could announce it will seek approval from the Treasury to boost the size of the program even further.” Meanwhile, the government deficit is surging: “The U.K.’s credit rating is an issue that’s still there and public spending in an election year is causing concern for investors.
A sane analyst, then, could only come to one reasonable conclusion- that the Pound is doomed. In the short-term, the Pound will be punished by a weak economic prognosis, low interest rates, and the inflationary monetary/fiscal policy. Additionally, as the summer rolls in, investors will likely move funds outside of the UK into more stable locales. In the long-term, the Pound is equally dubious: “The pound’s decline in 2008 returned the currency to its real trade-weighted exchange rate of the 1970s, which could be its ‘new fair value’ as the U.K. becomes a net oil importer and is less able to rely on financial services to earn foreign exchange.”
There is even less equivocation among investors, themselves. According to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, “More hedge funds and large speculators have positioned for a decline in the pound against the dollar rather than a rise — so-called net shorts — every week since August.” While the Pound is currently trading around $1.65, “The median of 39 analysts and strategists’ forecasts compiled by Bloomberg is for the pound to trade at $1.59 by the end of September and $1.62 by the end of the year.”