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The U.S. and UK financial markets are not the same – they will never be the same

TL;DR

  • The Bank of England might cut rates sooner than the Federal Reserve, despite higher inflation persistence in the UK.
  • The UK’s economic growth potential is significantly lower than the U.S., with forecasts at 1% for the UK versus 2.2% for the U.S.
  • Labor participation and business investment are stronger in the U.S., contributing to a more robust economic recovery post-pandemic.

When you lay out the economic landscape across the Atlantic, you’ll quickly notice the U.S. and the UK are playing entirely different games in the financial markets. Despite some superficial similarities in market trends, such as interest rates, the core dynamics diverge sharply.

Differing Directions in Monetary Policy

Recent shifts in financial forecasts have brought a surprising expectation: the Bank of England might lower rates sooner and by more than the Federal Reserve. This twist comes after U.S. inflation rates in March hinted at more aggressive monetary cooling than anticipated. Yet, the persistence of inflation in the UK suggests that rate cuts might need to be postponed rather than accelerated.

The UK faces unique challenges, with significant supply-side constraints that dampen its economic outlook. The Monetary Policy Committee pegs this year’s potential growth at a modest 1%, with a slight rise to 1.3% by 2026. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office projects a potential growth of 2.2% during the same period, highlighting a strong capacity to handle economic demand without tipping into inflation.

The Investment and Labor Supply Gap

The disparity extends into crucial economic areas like labor supply and business investment. In the UK, labor market participation hasn’t bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, and business investment has been tepid since the Brexit vote in 2016.

On the other side of the pond, the U.S. boasts a vigorous return in workforce participation and has seen a surge in business investments, outpacing other advanced economies since 2016. This includes significant investments in strategic sectors like green technology and semiconductors, propelled by recent legislative acts like the Inflation Reduction and CHIPS Acts.

The stronger U.S. consumer market also fuels demand which, coupled with government spending, places the U.S. in a favorable position to manage inflationary pressures. In contrast, the UK struggles with weaker supply and demand, making it more susceptible to inflation, especially given the lingering effects of global challenges such as the pandemic and geopolitical tensions in Europe.

The impact of the Ukrainian conflict on energy costs exemplifies these differences, with the UK feeling a sharper sting than its American counterpart. This divergence in economic shock absorption capacity has led to a UK market that’s more reactive to past inflation, potentially prolonging the inflationary environment as businesses and households adjust to elevated costs.

The sticky wage growth in the UK, which is higher than in the U.S., further complicates the inflation outlook. While U.S. wage growth remains more aligned with inflation, the UK sees wage-driven cost pressures that continue to push service inflation beyond desirable levels.

Sterling’s journey also tells a tale of its own. Despite a lengthy period of underperformance, there are signs of impending appreciation. The UK’s inflation is on a downtrend, and real interest rates are tilting towards the positive. This scenario, combined with a favorable global economic outlook, suggests potential strength for the pound, especially as the Bank of England gears up for a cautious rate-cutting cycle later this year.

Moreover, the UK’s chronic current account deficit shows signs of narrowing, which could further support the currency. The upcoming general election, anticipated to tilt in favor of a pro-business Labour majority, might also bolster confidence in the pound.

This article first appeared in the Financial Times © 2024

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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