British Pound hits the deck as Western markets raise interest rates


At the end of last week, the much anticipated action from many central banks across the Western world took place, and interest rates were increased once again.

There were many forecasts during the advent of the interest rate rises which largely focused on the United States Federal Reserve Bank's anticipated rate rise, however the European Central Bank and the Bank of England both conducted interest rate increases at the same time.

In the United Kingdom, which has been reported to have the least investable provincial economy in Europe, placing it alongside Greece, the effect has been the greatest.

The British Pound dipped to its lowest point against the US Dollar in over a month, and is currently trading at 1.21.

This has ended the steady climb in the value of the British Pound which has taken place over the past few weeks, as it hauled itself out of oblivion after many months of declining values during the summer of 2022, ending in November.

Interest rates in the United Kingdom were raised to 4%, which is not far off the 5% that was predicted by many investment banks in the summer of 2022, whose analysts predicted that by January 2023, interest in the UK would rise to approximately 5% which appeared a grave prediction given their very low position back then which was under 2%.

Now, at 4%, there is grave concern, and even before this level had been reached, mortgage lenders across the United Kingdom had been removing mortgage products from the market to avoid borrowers being unable to service monthly payments should the interest rates increase to these levels.

Whilst it may sound alarmist, 4% is nowhere near the 15% interest that was demanded back in 1991 and 1992, but back then borrowing was quite low, and even though that period was considered to be very much a period of austerity, it was recoverable quite quickly.

Today, borrowing is at a much higher level and mortgage lenders are often exposed to individual borrowings exceeding £500,000 whereas in the early 1990s it was between £10,000 and £20,000. At the end of the 1990s, the average property price rocketed and more than doubled in just one year, and has been rising ever since, but salaries have not kept up with this, hence greater exposure to debt.

When interest rates were less than 1%, this was not a problem, but now with increasing rates, the cash strapped are finding themselves lumbered with unserviceable repayments.

London remains a global powerhouse and has its own economy which is still flourishing as it is an influential capital which conducts global business at top level, however the rest of the country is a very different matter.

Just two weeks ago, the Institute for Public Policy Research, a well recognized think tank, noted that outside London, especially the north of England is fiscally barren. The report stated that only Geece has lower levels of public and private investment in a ranking of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that if it was not for London, the UK would be alongside Greece in its economic performance.

A very grave set of statistics, which perhaps show why the British Pound showed the biggest decline of any major currency over the past few days despite all of Europe and the United States also having conducted interest rate rises.

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