We Should Keep a Closer Eye on the Pounds and Pence; JASON MAGUIRE on Why We Are Ignoring One of the Most Important Economic Indicators

The Journal (Newcastle, England), July 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

We Should Keep a Closer Eye on the Pounds and Pence; JASON MAGUIRE on Why We Are Ignoring One of the Most Important Economic Indicators


Byline: JASON MAGUIRE

FOR more than six years now, the eyes of economic analysts and politicians have been on the interest rate level, held by the Bank of England at 0.5% since March 2009.

Month upon month, countless column inches have been devoted to postulations upon what a shift in that rate would mean, yet the record low rate has not budged since Labour were in power and has outlived the Coalition's entire term of Government.

Likewise, inflation has been a talking point of choice for many commentators on the state of our economy, with many column inches of press now being dedicated to this measure and its recent dip into negative figures.

However, whilst the eyes of those who make their opinions heard through the media are firmly upon these two variables, the potential dangers of a fluctuating currency are rarely mentioned.

With the ongoing crisis surrounding the Greek economy, it receives a passing comment here and there, but still nothing that reflects its importance. Even if the current moment of crisis passes, there will inevitably be further trouble somewhere down the line and a nation leaving the euro is untested water that could prove hugely damaging to the currency.

The strength of sterling against the euro, US dollar and China's renminbi is much more of a concern to businesses here in the North East, and across the UK, than its prominence in open economic discussion suggests. That is especially the case when you consider any shift in interest rates is likely to be little more than a quarter of one percent; hardly worth the ink used in more than 70 months of speculation.

In recent weeks, we have seen some measures place China's economy above the US as the largest in the world and, in the last 12 months, we have seen a 12.05% rise in the pound against the euro, but falls of 8.32% and 8.28% against the Chinese Renminbi and the US Dollar, respectively, as of June 30.

If you're a holidaymaker heading for continental Europe, this is great news. If you are a manufacturer, or a retailer relying upon goods from abroad, and let's not fool ourselves into thinking we make actually make enough in the UK to not be concerned with foreign trade - the effect is enormous. The furniture market, for example, is in deflation. …

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