Tag Archives: when to sell dollars


Morning Brief – US Airlines

US Airlines


Chicago USA based United saw a sharp decline in both bookings and also by 5.5% in its share price yesterday. Having revived until a couple of weeks ago, following the imposition of a 14 day quarantine rule in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, United led the way with all US airlines giving up ground on a day when the S&P overall saw falls. Confidence already fragile by the flying public has received a knock.



Pope John XXIII: Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling and farming. My family chose the slowest one.


With no land of their own and coming from the poor wing of a distinguished family, his parents were not destined for wealth since they worked land in exchange for a share of the crops. That was further compounded by having 13 children. Even despite this, Pope John XXIII went on to oppose contraception and 22 years after his death was canonised in 2013.


Yesterday Italy’s PM Guiseppe Conte announced a far reaching “mother of all reforms” economic review to slash red tape. This “simplification decree” is being described as the key to relaunch Italy’s economy. Small acorns so far with the EUR strengthening a third of a cent versus USD on a generally positive day for Eurozone news.


Postcript: That reduction in red tape did not extend to the Carabinieri being sympathetic to 6 nudists-all men- who yesterday were displaying both their essentials and their naturist credentials on the shore of Lake Como and promptly received on the spot fines of EUR 3333 each for outraging public decency! More small acorns…!?



Lockdown 2020: FOBFU+FOMO+FOGO


To start off with most workforces discovered back in March that WFH or working from home had benefits and consequently was at times fun-hence Fear of Being Found Out. That gave way as the weeks became months and social life ceased almost completely to Fear of Missing Out. The most recent stage even despite the sharp decline in Covid cases due to various government initiatives designed to drum caution into everyone resulted in Fear of Going Out.


Yesterday at SGM-FX headquarters and for the first time for 106 days we were all back at our desks-Fully alert and risk aware but fear free, distanced, hand sanitised and armed with a set of strict instructions on the new office etiquette. Only for two days a week to begin with, but it’s a welcome start.




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Another Round?

Another Round?


As ‘Super Saturday’ subsided into crapulent Sunday, the UK’s hospitality industry received a welcome boost. Opening their doors for the first time in more than 100 days, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and more welcomed customers back (from 1+ metres away). Of those of you that did frequent the pub or eat out in a restaurant I ask you: did you enjoy it and, critically, will you be doing it again soon?


Over in the United States the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Raphael Bostic, has been voicing his concern over a flatlining in the economic recovery in the United States. He observes that high frequency data is pointing to a ‘levelling off’ of economic activity following several weeks of improving conditions. High frequency data includes information from card transactions, transport usage and electricity consumption to name but a few. The picture that is emerging from this data is a gloomier one than that of a few weeks ago.


The idea is that a fresh pick up in economic activity as a result of the lifting of certain parts of the lockdown has been short lived. Despite underlying social policy remaining consistent over the past few weeks, the public has been less willing to go out and to spend. Of course, the comments from the Fed President pertain to the US economy. The United States has recently seen a fresh high in the rate of infection and the virus spread even quicker than before the lockdown, therefore the cases of the UK and US are far apart. However, it does open the case for a W pattern to post-lockdown economic recovery.


In the UK, several pubs have been forced to close their doors once again as some of the patrons that have visited over the weekend have now tested positive for coronavirus. Of the 50,000 odd pubs in the United Kingdom, this is to be expected and would be a calculated risk in the opening of these establishments. Really, the rapid closure of these pubs is testament to the NHS Test and Trace scheme to isolate pockets of infection. However, the materialisation of the risk of infection from these establishments could influence consumers to change their mobility and spending patterns for the coming weekend.


The normalisation of business is critical to economic prosperity particularly in the United States. Of the 22.5m jobs lost throughout the course of the pandemic, 7.5 million have been recovered, boasting a faster than anticipated recovery in the labour market. With the policies in place for the unemployed in the United States set to expire at the end of the month, organic economic activity is critical if the US is to sustain the more upbeat risk sentiment that markets have enjoyed in recent weeks. If the data sours then global risk sentiment will likely face a setback prompting sell-offs in emerging markets and in currencies with a higher risk profile whilst prompting capital inflows to safehavens.



Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – Central Bank Economic Optimism

Central Bank Economic Optimism


The Bank of England has now been joined by the Banque de France with the assertion that the French economy too is performing more strongly than expected and is pulling out of the economic trough more quickly than anticipated. The markets are totting up the increase in savings as more prudent people reserve funds against a further downturn and are now fretting that what matters is spending and injecting life into the global economies. Employment releases are confusing as patently jobs are disappearing(see below) and the Furlough Schemes in all countries will shortly be ending but despite this we saw those hugely encouraging US figures last week with that jump in jobs. Oil WTI at $40, gold at $1784, FTSE at 6157, Dow at 25,827 and USD and currency markets in a tight range for the past month. Normally summer months plus a narrow range in currency markets equals choppy times ahead: SGM-FX is helping many of our clients put some cover in place and establish some protection levels.



Hospitality and Retail


Pret a Manger the sandwich and coffee provider of choice of so many office workers is contemplating the closure of 10% of its shops. Without those office workers, sales have cratered and the business model has to be altered to take account of many fewer customers for the next few months. In the UK alone Pret employ 8000 staff of 100 different nationalities and within 100 meters of SGM-FX headquarters alone, there are 3 different shops which suggests that at least one of them will not survive.

Further east at Canary Wharf, the normally bustling multi floored shopping arcade beneath Canada Square is largely shuttered and many stores have signs announcing closure including Charbonnel and Walker, purveyors of the very best chocolates which are now only available on line, as are T.M.Lewin’s fine Jeremy Street quality shirts. That shift has been exacerbated and now confirmed by the LockDown-shopping will in future be largely on line and especially for non supermarket shops.



Eastern Europe versus India


Anecdotally the prevalence of Eastern Europeans in East London and especially in the car wash sector has largely disappeared in the past few weeks. Until LockDown the nearby Texaco garage had a fearsome looking but friendly dentally challenged but first class car hand washing team ruled by an even more terrifying looking 2 meter tattooed shaven headed boss who led the others by example and who could reach all parts of taller, wider cars. Out of LockDown, prices have remained steady(no inflationary pressure there yet) but the Bulgarians have been replaced by a team of smiling, shorter but far less effective Bangladeshis who are leaderless-we are all equal hmm-and despite some spirited jumping, left my car uncleaned in parts they wanted to but could not get to, and in the fleeting amount of sunlight this weekend, streaky. So the Bulgarians have gone home leaving the Bangladeshis the victors for now in the CarWash war in East London.


Rose Royce presciently got it almost right on their 1976 song CarWash:


You might not ever get rich
But let me tell you it’s better than digging a ditch
There ain’t no telling who you might meet
A moviestar or maybe even an Indian chief

Working at the car wash
Working at the car wash, yeah
Come on and sing it with me, car wash
Sing it with the feeling now, car wash yeah




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – USA



POTUS understandably given his current polling, lost no time in hailing the increase of 4.8 Million jobs in June announced yesterday afternoon as a further example of why he should be returned in November as the architect of bringing the USA out of the Covid lockdown and resultant economic trough. As seasoned market practitioners know, whatever the polls show now will be secondary to how the economy looks in November and what happens in domestic USA nearer to polling day. Before Trump is written off, the real test is how the USA feels economically rather than the success or otherwise of its foreign policy. Equity markets picked up on the US release and the sun even managed to make a (brief) appearance in East London. GBP unmoved on the weather but steady versus USD.



Inflation and hairdressers


While it may seem a distant prospect for most countries, the return of inflation may be a whole lot closer than we may think and is certainly on the minds of the Central Banks including for example the Bank of England. Certainly given the breadth and depth of the economic aid to all global economies, it would be extraordinary if there were not some inflationary consequences.

However, one does wonder if there is not some simple catching up going on-e.g. in an effort to replace income or defray expense for the past 3 months, for service based industries there is some evidence of taking the opportunity to increase prices as the thinking goes that customers will be so pleased to have services restored, that they will wear higher prices.

Anecdotally, my hairdresser has clearly come to that conclusion because her prices have gone up by 16% and I am perfectly sure that I do not have a commensurate amount of extra hair! Petrol prices are also up by about 7% from their lows of April, but that has rather more to do with the resurgent oil price-WTI $40.27



If today is your birthday, this may chime with you:


“People born on July 3rd are deeply emotional, financial wizards and good orators.” No doubt birthday boy Tom Cruise can identify with the orator part and we hope and trust that all SGM-FX clients fall into the category of financial wizards.

With the return of F1 next weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria onJuly 10-12, fans of Sebastian Vettel -another birthday boy today-will be hoping that he manages to suppress his often demonstrated deeply emotional tendencies(particularly when being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton) and stays out of the sand pit!


Have a great, sunny, fun and healthy weekend!




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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team discussion

Morning Brief – Another Round?

Another Round?


One of the more noble of public surveys carried out recently came from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). They asked UK adults whether they will be heading to the pub in the near future as they open their doors to the public for the first time in 103 days (not that I’ve been counting). Now of course some restaurants will be opening this weekend and arguably the economic impact of consumer spending in such venues will be larger and more important for the UK economy. However, the results are not half as fun to discuss nor are they available in such amusing detail thanks to a special report from beverage leviathan AB InBev and the CEBR. The answers to the survey? Well, more than one in three of them was a firm yes.


The CEBR predicts that around 35% of adults plan to frequent such hospitality venues over the next week. Some 6.5m of us are expected to make a trip to the pub this coming weekend, almost a 50% increase versus a normal July weekend. We’re also expected to reach a little deeper into our pockets and I suppose livers with analysts predicting a 32% increase in spending by those propping up the bar (or not!), equivalent to an extra 2.1 pints or 1.9 glasses of wine per person for those attending. I admit, even having looked at the analysis in more detail, the projections seem a little too accurate to be credible. However, the headline is that the United Kingdom is expected to spend a whopping £210 million on a combination of lager, wine, cheese and onion crisps and pork scratchings.


Here’s the fun bit – £210m across 6.5m people. That’s more than £32 a head. Having conducted my own research I can tell you that in London you’ll struggle to get 6 pints of fairly average lager for this spend. Still, quite a hefty consumption over one weekend if you ask me. Given that this is of course a nation-wide survey, on average that £32 is likely to buy you almost 9 pints if you round up across the UK. Supposedly, Shropshire is the cheapest county on average for a pint at a penny-saving £3.37 on average. That’s close to ten pints or, a fairly serious hangover; try that maths after spending £32! The reopening of the hospitality industry and spending figures like this do offer a serious contribution to economic output. The forecast increases in consumer spending across the board should have a tangible impact upon the UK economy.


The easing of lockdown restrictions that will take place this weekend will increase the risk of a second spike in infections. With the virus still considered to be in general transmission amongst the community the easing of the lockdown this weekend is targeted in order to minimise pandemic risk whilst minimising further economic underperformance. The partial economic reopening this weekend comes as the accommodation and food services industry is down 40.9% on a three-month rolling basis. The success of the measures introduced this weekend to avoid a second spike in infections whilst encouraging economic activity will be critical in determining the short-term value of the Pound.




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – H2 2020 Starts Here!

H2 2020 Starts Here!


Last night at the end of Q2 and H1 Gold inched over the $1800 line on Comex- the highest it has reached since 2011 which was the highest it has achieved in the past 20 years. Oil WTI up at $39. 10 year German Bonds yield -47bp or you will have to pay 0.47% to lodge your hard earned money for safekeeping in the hands of Germany. GBP has for the moment steadied versus both USD and EUR with both Covid and Brexit influences causing some furrowed brows. FTSE at 6147.



Burgundy Wine


With bar and restaurant purchases of Burgundy wine having ground to a halt for the past 3 months, the growers and negociants of Burgundy are feeling the pinch. It is not just the amount of stock building up in their warehouses and cellars, there is also the problem of their (cheap) foreign labour pool having dried up. In most businesses as currently being seen on High Streets in all countries, the default action is to offer stock at reduced prices to get buyers back and to create cash flow at reduced margins admittedly. Burgundy wine growers have an agonising choice as they are scared that having persuaded their epicurean clientele to pay astronomical prices for decades for a product that most admit they really do not understand, they may devalue their brand value.


Interesting to note that Claret or Bordeaux aficionados often can be heard to say that while they can bore for ever on the merits of Left Bank versus Right Bank, they haven’t got a clue when it comes to Burgundy wine. 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 have all been years in Burgundy which those negociants have searched hard to find new hyperboles to express the sheer value on offer and therefore the reason to buy their wines, but 2018 was the year that knocked the best of the preceding years for 6. What that shows is that roughly one out of every two years is outstanding and Burgundy has done incredibly well overall. The most sought after wine is Domaine de La Romanee Conti and a case of 12 of the 2016 has come down from GBP 240,000 to GBP 172,500 or GBP 14,375 a bottle. Those readers hoping for some bargains with that particular wine will be likely disappointed, but surely those negociants will be forced to offer that overhang of stock of less astronomically priced Burgundy wines at reduced prices sooner rather than later?



Germany calling: July 1 1990


Sounds surprising to more youthful readers, but 30 years ago today upon the re-unification of Germany, East Germany “accepted” the Deutschemark as their currency as replacement for Ostmarks. Up to 4000 on a 1:1 basis and for larger amounts on either a 2:1 or a 3:1 basis. The reason for the parentheses above is that this represented a windfall for the Ossies or East Germans and resulted in the West Germans or Wessies grumbling into their beers that they had “bought” East Germany. Over time the very considerable economic benefits of re-unification have been felt by all of Germany as well as the sizable increase in land mass to house the 83 Million population at an average of 232 per square kilometer. The Ossies got BMW, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes and the Wessies got the Trabant!




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Where do we go now?

Where do we go now?


Sterling has weighed heavy into the start of this weak. Economic data has been revised down for the first quarter of 2020 to -2.2% from a figure of -2.0% previously estimated. The reason for the revision was a deterioration in the current account showing that ahead of the pandemic the UK imported a higher value of goods than previously thought versus what it exported. With a rapidly increasing budget deficit the data revision reinforced concerns over a ‘twin deficit’ problem in the UK economy, a situation that markets are particularly wary of.


Piling on top of this hard data were statistics on mortgage approvals. The reopening of the housing market in May led analysts to settle on a consensus forecasts of 25,000 mortgage approvals for May, up from 15,600 for April. The data did not show such a dramatic improvement and instead mortgages approved last month fell to a record low of 9,300. The data portrayed an image of an economy suffering from uncertainty with investment decisions potentially being put off. The data combined to undermine GBP sentiment pushing cable (GBPUSD) to one-month lows and GBPEUR to three-month lows against a strong Euro.


The latest round of Brexit talks got underway yesterday with the EU and the UK maintaining their language of commitment to making progress and securing a deal. However, the lack of specificity and detail provided a further reason for underwhelming GBP demand in the market. Behind the scenes there is a lot of optimism for how a deal could emerge. However, progress is still frustrated in high-level talks by the same old stumbling blocks. Johnson’s plea to the EU last month to get the ball rolling has encouraged comments of compromise on the level playing field and the role of the European Court in enforcing the deal. However, there is still no evidence of progress at the level of chief negotiators or their deputies.


Tomorrow, Germany takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. In the European Union decisions are primarily made between two bodies: the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. The former consists (probably) of the individuals that Farage & co. labelled as unelected bureaucrats during the referendum campaign. The Commission holds a monopoly on the right of proposal – it has the right to suggest law for the ratification and debate of the Council of the European Union and Parliament (don’t worry about the Parliament). The Council of the European Union in turn negotiates and adopts EU laws, coordinates EU policy, develops foreign and security policy, concludes intra-EU and external agreements, and adopts the EU fiscal framework. Consisting of the government ministers of each EU nation it is responsible for the lion’s share and meaty aspects of the bloc’s coordination.


With Germany at the helm, the focus for the next six months is going to be the European Recovery Fund and Brexit. The rotating presidency affords some discretion in the agenda for discussion and will also give Germany’s opinion, as if it didn’t have it already, comparable influence within the Council. Angela Merkel, as Chancellor of a nation that exports tens of billions of Pounds worth of goods and services to the UK each year, is amenable to a Brexit deal. The hope for UK negotiators is that the ministers within the Council will use this presidency to secure accord and subsequently ratification of a Brexit deal ahead of the 31st December deadline. Although the short term may look bleak for Sterling, the Pound isn’t out yet. The market’s severe net short positioning against the Pound could soon be unwound if evidence of Brexit progress is made paving the way for sharp and persistent gains.




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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UK buildings

Morning Brief – UK Markets

UK Markets


GBP caught up in both its own domestic challenges as well as the competing currents of a fluctuating USD and what has been a strong EUR in past weeks has rather quietly been slipping versus most currencies. Fortunately, few Brits are watching the exchange rate due to travels restrictions, but come Wednesday this week, there will be much greater attention to the GBP exchange rate. The FTSE at 6,159 on Friday night while weaker on the week is still benefitting from markets’ confidence that the world’s monetary authorities will continue to bail out investors-successfully. Brent oil at $41. Gold at $1770 and Silver at $17.75. The eagle eyed among you will immediately clock the Gold/Silver ratio at 98. It was up at 120 in March this year and at the beginning of the year at 84. Those who look at trading the price relationship rather than buy gold would buy silver and sell gold at these levels- and have something sufficiently strong close to hand to fortify themselves-it’s a bumpy ratio to say the least!



Calcio Storico 2020


Each year in Florence Calcio Storico or “historic football”, the most violent form of macho street football that you can imagine takes place which has bare knuckle fighting and maiming as entirely acceptable tactics. The rules were written in 1580 when today’s enthusiasm for Health and Safety Measures was unknown. The matches which last 50 minutes are between the four neighbourhoods of Florence and are not for the faint hearted whether you are a participant or a spectator which often number thousands. This year of course the matches which were due to take place last Wednesday had to be cancelled. However all being well they will take place in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in September or failing that, those readers keen to watch will have to wait until June 24 2021.



Glastonbury Festival


As virtual Glasto came to an end last night with recordings of Lady Gaga from 2009 and Michael Stipe of REM from 2003, I poured myself a glass of Chateau Leoville Barton 1986 and toasted that great financial market revolution in the U.K. Big Bang that took place the same year as that amazing wine was made. Big Bang saw the end of so called single capacity and permitted stock brokers and market makers to operate from single entities. Sounds archaic? Well it was very exciting at the time and when everything seemed possible and much better for those of us emerging from 3 day weeks, labour strikes and 20% interest rates at the end of the 70’s! Sounds weird? It was.. but no more weird than Q2 2020. What will historians make of this period in 30 years time?!

Meantime here’s a bit of REM’s Everybody Hurts from 1992 and their fine album Automatic for the People:


When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life
Well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes


Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on)
(Hold on) if you feel like letting go (hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
Well, hang on




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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St Mary Axe view

Morning Brief – Turkey



Emerging Markets nervous on Turkey’s reported removal from the MSCI Emerging Market Index. Those nerves are due to the increasing difficulty of accessing the Turkish market plus the unpredictable behaviour of President Erdogan. If Turkey was removed, there would not only be a huge outflow of existing foreign investment but those future inward flows would be much reduced going forward. Turkey is rumoured to be on the verge of being re-designated as either a frontier or a stand alone market. USD drifting back towards the 7 TRL level at 6.86 which while not the lowest rate for the TRL does represent greater value for foreign investors- depending on the outcome at the MSCI decision making table.





Those readers who have concluded lengthy business meetings over dinner late at night in Beijing, China will remember the world class headaches that they awake to the following morning. This is likely caused by the rounds of Moutai a liqueur produced by Kweichong pressed on them by their Chinese hosts. Incredibly the market valuation of Kweichong has overtaken that of Western names such as Disney and Coca Cola on the back of its growing fan base of Chinese drinkers and a tight cap on supply. All business owners can only look with envy at the company that produces Moutai and sells it for up to RMB 2600 or USD 370 a bottle where it is a must have at business meetings and weddings where heroic amounts are consumed. The production margin Is 92% and in the past two months the value of the company post lockdown in China has grown to USD 260Billion. If you are wondering what this wonder drink is like: Moutai has a soy sauce aroma and tastes of plants, grains and fruits. To avoid a self inflicted headache, I would recommend Westerners give both the drink and the shares a miss!



The King


It was this day in 1977 that Elvis Presley gave his final concert at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana to a crowd of 18,000. A month later at the age of 42, the world lost one of its most popular and enduring entertainers. The set list that final night included his 1956 hit, Love Me:


Treat me like a fool
Treat me mean and cruel
But love me

Break my faithful heart
Tear it all apart
But love me

If you ever go
Darling, I’ll be oh, oh so lonely
I’ll be sad and blue
Crying over you, dear only

I would beg and steal
Just to feel your heart
Beatin’ close to mine


Have a great weekend!




Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Skyscraper view

Morning Brief – Perishing Pound?

Perishing Pound?


The brakes are on in the United States as coronavirus infection rates climb rapidly. Without any credible advances in therapeutics, the development of a vaccine, or a sufficient proportion of the population infected to create a herd immunity, we know that if life goes back to the way it was then we could risk casting ourselves back to the infection and death rates observed at the height of the pandemic. Whilst populations therefore might be eager to get back to life as it was, markets are sometimes cautious when they feel health policy oversteps the readiness of a population to accommodate the measures.


One example of caution recently has been in the UK Pound. The announcement that pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues may open from July 4th was met with jubilance in many cases but it also had the effect of undermining the Pound Sterling. This bucks the trend we’ve been seeing of late where economic activity enticing un-lockdowns are seen as supportive for the underlying currency. The potential disagreement between the government and the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers, who are now joined by a group of medical experts, over the decision to ease the lockdown is the probable cause for the breakdown in this relationship.


A deteriorating global risk appetite within markets is also responsible for the inverse relationship between lockdown easing and currency value this week. The handling of the lockdown in the United States has been a tangible failure for President Trump and one that is likely to have lasting effects on the US and global economies, not least the Presidential election later this year. As the incidence of infection across many States has been gradually rising, questions have been raised about the United States’ readiness for degrees of social normalisation. With an increase in infections yesterday alone of more than 38,000, those questions have been answered: No! Those States worst affected, so far seemingly isolated to the South and West of the Union, have taken measures to reintroduce elements of the lockdown. This development has caused a perceived increase in global risk and prompted emerging market assets to underperform once again at the expense of safe havens including the Yen, Franc, Gold and US Dollar.


So-called G-10 currencies are the most voluminously traded currencies in the world and often represent the largest or most developed economies. They find stability from this virtue and are seen as a safer port in a storm. Not for the Pound at the moment though, claims Bank of America currency analyst Kamal Sharma. He believes that the former core currency now trades with price movements that are “neurotic at best, unfathomable at worst”. A particularly pessimistic outlook for Brexit, monetary policy and the economy have led the analyst to the conclusion. For now the higher correlation to emerging market currencies is substantiating these claims. It does, however, seem somewhat too early to draw these conclusions with trade deals still on the table and an economic recovery to orchestrate. It is likely that it is a little too early then to follow his recommendation to chase the Pound to parity just yet.




Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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