Freaky Friday Fears Give City Nightmare on Threadneedle Street*

London’s financial futures exchange will, in an unprecedented move, open at 1 a.m. on Friday to allow investors to trade gilts as the election results come in.  Investment banks and hedge funds will be at their desks overnight.  Given the closeness of the race if key results are not counted until lunchtime market uncertainty will cause volatility.

The gilt market determines long term interest rates, which fix mortgage rates.  Labour losing the election is priced into the market, consequently gilt yields have dropped below the psychological 4% interest rate as the prospect of a change of government with a focus on bringing down the deficit has buoyed debt and currency markets.  If traders sense a re-run of the 1974 Lib-Lab pact is on the cards they will sell sterling and gilts to the floor.  The pound will be devalued by morning and the gilt yields which determine long term mortgage rates will rocket. It would be a nightmare on Threadneedle Street…

The price of a Labour government will be higher mortgage payments and higher inflation imported by a devalued pound.  If it goes wrong on Freaky Friday it will f**k the economy before the day is out…

*Threadneedle Street is the location of the Bank of England.

Tories Panic, City Relaxes

George Osborne this afternoon is trying to convince us that a hung parliament will mean higher interest rates as investors panic and the gilt market plunges.   Guido begs to differ, arguing that if on May 7 the Tories went into a Change Coalition with the LibDems – the only party with a leader that admits we need “savage spending cuts”, when the Tories and Labour are being disingenuous in pretending otherwise – the City wouldn’t have a problem.

The hard evidence is clear; since the prospects of a hung parliament jumped after the first TV debate (the bookies now make it an odds on 64% probability) both the pound and the gilt market have rallied. Why?  Well the City was worried about Labour being returned and kamikaze economics being implemented by Chancellor Balls.  A Lib-Con “Change Coalition government with both parties committed to public spending cuts and rapid deficit reduction will actually cheer the City.  Here’s the evidence so far:

The left hand chart is the probability of a hung parliament based on gambler’s bets, the middle chart is the gilt futures price and the right hand chart is the pound against the dollar.    Osborne just quoted a number of  investment banking analyst’s old notes, RBS capital markets analysis this morning concurs with Guido’s analysis:

Weekend press good for Gilts: a) talking up the Liberal Democrats right wing credentials and how they form more coalitions with Conservatives than Labour in councils, so allegedly not that Budget-negative/sclerosis if Con-Lib coalition, which is most likely outcome at this moment according to pollsters; b) polls shift 1-2% back to where they were pre-debates.

Osborne needs to switch on his Bloomberg terminal for a reality check, gilts are now yielding less than 4%, City confidence has risen as Labour’s polling figures have fallen…

+ + + GDP Growth Weak : 0.2% + + +

Consensus economists were predicting 0.4%.  Gordon will use this to spin that this means he can’t cut the deficit because it would take spending out of the economy.  Cutting taxes would of course boost the private sector and keep more money in the economy.  In recent years Cananda and Sweden have both cut government overspending by 10% in a recession and achieved strong economic growth…

Cable's Soothsaying Blip

Having been the front man for the entire LibDem campaign until 45 minutes into the Leader’s Debate, Vince has all but disappeared into the background this week.  No longer the nation’s favourite politician, his soothsaying sage act is also washing a little thin. Inflation figures released yesterday were higher than Cable expected again at 3.4%, leading him to claim that “the inflation rise appears to be a blip caused by things that are out of our control...”

But that’s not how he saw it when he was reading his magical economic runes three months ago in January, then he said with his characteristic bluffer’s confidence “these figures are almost certainly a temporary spike.”  Doesn’t seem too temporary to Guido,* in fact when you print £200 billion and call it quantitative easing (as supported by Cable), you inevitably get inflation.

Perhaps if Clegg would let him back on the platform, he might be able to explain why inflation has remained high and got even worse over the last three months. Could certainly liven up this afternoon’s Chancellor’s Debate…

*Have you taken Guido’s advice?

Brown Attacks "Moral Bankruptcy" of Goldman Sachs

On the Marr show Gordon raged against the moral bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs; “I want a special investigation done into what has happened at Goldman Sachs.”

Perhaps he could ask Gavyn Davies to investigate? For many years he has been advised by Gavyn Davies, who made some £150 million during his period as a Goldman Sachs partner.

It was Davies who last year urged Gordon to implement Mugabenomics, turn on the printing presses and call it quantitative easing. Davies has been a big donor to the Labour Party and a long-term supporter. Davies’ wife Sue Nye was Gordon’s private secretary in Downing Street and they are known to be good friends. Perhaps it was they who stole Gordon’s moral compass.

UPDATE : The more Guido thinks about this, the more he likes Gordon’s idea. Questions Guido would like the Goldman Sachs special investigator to get answered:

  • Exactly how many boardroom lunches and suchlike did Gordon Brown have with Goldman Sachs figures?
  • During the many lunches Gordon had with Goldman Sachs did he discuss policy or matters which they were able to exploit to their advantage in the markets?
  • Goldmans were known to be major sellers of gold before Brown announced his extraordinarily ill-conceived plan to sell the Bank of England’s gold reserves.
  • Gavyn Davies was an adviser to Gordon Brown during this period.  Did he recommend, advise on or know anything of the intended gold sales policy?  Did Sue Nye know of the intention to sell gold?


These are not matters of little import, Gordon’s gold sales debacle cost the Treasury £6 billion, the amount that Gordon claims will devastate the economy if the Tories cut it from public spending. The bank is known at rival firms as ‘Government Sachs’ because senior partners keep so close to governments and in particular finance ministries…

Brown's Bottom : Why the Decision to Sell Gold Still Matters It Shows Brown's Bad Judgement

The billions lost by Brown’s decision to sell Britain’s gold reserves are mounting as gold prices have more than quadrupled since that debacle.  He has the reverse Midas touch when it comes to market timing.  This chart shows what is known in the gold market as “Brown’s Bottom”:

Cameron brought it up on budget day, Labour spinners reckon it is ancient history, even though they constantly hark back further to Thatcher’s days. Guido thinks it is worth the Tories bringing up gold sales fiasco as emblematic of Brown’s bad decisions.

Gilt yields, Credit Default Swap rates, inflation projections, Public Sector Borrowing Requirements and Quantitative Easing are incredibly important for an understanding of the economy, but they are unfortunately almost incomprehensible to the general public.

Selling off the Bank of England’s gold reserves is easy to understand, it was an act of monumental stupidity and it was executed incredibly badly (Brown tipped the market off to his future intentions).  Anybody who watches TV at the moment is bombarded with adverts offering to buy people’s gold (cheap), Dale Winton is telling viewers day and night that gold is up, the demographic that this is aimed at are C1s and D1s.  These voters might not be interested in the finer points of monetary policy, but they all know one thing for sure, it was a catastrophically expensive  economic error to sell the Bank of England’s gold reserves.  Driving home that simple message graphically will undermine  Brown’s claims to making the right judgements.  Whenever he says that he should be asked Was it the right judgement to sell gold at the bottom? In the past he has retorted that he bought euros, that has had very little return over above what the Bank of England could have got from leasing gold out to short sellers and nothing like the 300% return from holding gold over the same period.  It is easy to understand that selling gold was Brown’s £7 billion misjudgement…

Moodys : Britain "Substantially Closer" to Losing 'AAA' Rating

Update :

March 15 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. and the U.K. have moved “substantially” closer to losing their AAA credit ratings as the cost of servicing their debt rose, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Update : II : Pierre Cailleteau, managing director of sovereign risk at Moody’s in London, said under the ratings company’s so-called baseline scenario the UK will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other AAA rated country: “We expect the situation to further deteriorate in terms of the key ratings metrics before they start stabilizing … This story is not going to stop at the end of the year. There is inertia in the deterioration of credit metrics.” Moodys predicts the UK will spend 7% of tax revenue servicing debt this year and between 9% and 12% in 2013. Financing costs above 10% automatically put countries outside of the AAA ratings category.

Update : III : For a completely different take, see the BBC –  UK Credit Rating Viewed As Safe

Even After Earthquake, Chilean Debt Safer than UK Debt

Just how much debt-fuelled danger is Gordon risking with the UK economy?  A reasonable question and the only place we can get hope to get objective answers is from the debt default insurance market place.  Harriet claimed at PMQs yesterday that it is unpatriotic to ask questions about the British economy.  As an Irishman that doesn’t apply to Guido.

Chile has just had an 8.8 on the richter scale earthquake, looting and rioting are commonplace.  Even so, U.S. investors still prefer Chilean government debt to UK government debt as measured by CDS rates.  Do you get how bad things are?

Data source : Morgan Stanley

Wall Street is Getting Worried Tories Won't Win

Gordon loves to quote the policy endorsements of Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner – always neglecting to mention that Krugman is a friend and ally.  The New York Times today however is not so keen on Britain’s economy.[…] Read the rest

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Pound Sinking on Hung Parliament Fears

The pound has just fallen through the psychologically important €0.90 cents to the pound level, if it were not Greece we would now have £/€ parity.  It is sinking against the dollar as well. Think what a hung parliament and the inevitable political paralysis would mean for deficit reduction.  […] Read the rest

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S.T.U.P.I.D. : Gordon Meeting Greek PM

The papers are reporting an emergency EU meeting over Greece.  Gordon is attending despite the UK not being in the Euro.  At the end of last week Guido learnt that next week Gordon is scheduled to meet George Papandreou, the socialist Greek prime minister who has led his country to ruin.[…] Read the rest

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+ + + Gilts Plunge on End of Q.E. + + +

[…] Read the rest

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QE Or Not QE?, That is the Question

Today on Threadneedle Street in the City, the Monetary Policy Committee meets to decide the Bank of England’s base rate and whether or not to keep the printing presses running   The base rate is currently of symbolic importance (unless you have a base rate tracker mortgage), because prevailing real world market rates are far higher than the official 0.5%.[…] Read the rest

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Dead Cat Bouncing into Double Dip?

Yesterday’s GDP disappointment makes the case for a tax cutting Emergency Growth Budget even stronger.  Policy Makers have got to go for growth, you can’t tax your way to prosperity.  Or else the cat gets it…

Graphic : Taxloss via Alphaville[…] Read the rest

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+ + + UK Dec CPI Posts Largest Jump On Record to 2.9% + + +

Annual consumer price inflation increased by its greatest ever amount in a single month in December, that is well well above the Bank of England’s 2.0% target and consensus economist’s expectations that it would come in nearer 2% today.

Get your wheelbarrows out, stock up on gold and baked beans.[…] Read the rest

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Mandy Back to Reassure Gilt Market

MandyAt 10.30 this morning we will have the first auction of government debt this year.  Gilts are ticking down* a little as the market awaits the outcome of the sale.  Mandelson is being wheeled out today to say that – shock, horror – the First Lord backs government policy; emphasising spending reductions, tax increases and reducing the deficit, all to reassure the bond markets.[…] Read the rest

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