Sterling has hit an 18-month high against the US dollar and a three-year high against the euro after the Conservative party won the general election with a majority. Investors have welcomed the results as the Prime Minister’s majority means clarity and certainty on Brexit. The pound’s surge vs the US dollar is one of the biggest gains in a decade and economists are now predicting that sterling could strengthen even further.
Since the release of Thursday night’s exit poll clearly showing Boris Johnson was expected to win the election, the pound has gained strength, both against the US dollar and the euro. Now investors are hopeful that Brexit will be delivered on time by the end of January 2020 with Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Conservative triumph: Best outcome for the markets
According to financial analyst at MUFG, Lee Hardman, the election is “the best outcome for financial markets in the near-term. It brings a clear end to the Brexit deadlock in parliament, which will be welcomed and help to ease some of the ongoing uncertainty. The risk of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit will pushed out until the end to next year, and the new government will not be as reliant on securing support from hard Brexiteers during future negotiations. The pound is well placed to extend its advance even after recent strong gains.”
However, other economists are warning that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit in 2020 will put more pressure on the economy. Paul Dales of Capital Economics said that “The majority confirmed in Parliament will allow Johnson to pass his Brexit deal, which would mean the UK leaves the EU on 31st January and enters a status quo transition period until 31st December 2020. A fiscal stimulus of £20bn per year (1% of GDP) may then follow in a Budget in February. But this probably won’t unleash a tidal wave of business investment that leads to much faster GDP growth, much higher interest rates and a much bigger rise in pound than the gain … already seen. That’s because businesses will fear that the UK could end up trading with the EU on WTO terms after 31st December 2020, the immediate effects of which would be similar to those of a ‘no deal.’”
While many investors and analysts have highlighted the uncertainty regarding the next phase of Brexit and the future relationship the UK will negotiate with the EU, nonetheless, the Conservative’s victory is the ideal result for businesses as a clear majority eliminates the risk of a hung parliament and Corbyn’s radical politics, and eases anxiety about Brexit.
Getting Brexit done
This is why, the next step would be for the Prime Minister to secure the right deal with the EU so that businesses can thrive. The Institute of Directors, for example, is asking Johnson to give time to businesses to adjust and secure the right deal with the EU rather than just any deal. Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, said:
“Business leaders’ thoughts will immediately be turning to Brexit. For directors, ‘Get Brexit Done’ will only have meaning once the details of our long-term future relationship with the EU are clear, they need a framework to plan for the future from. The Prime Minister must resist the urge for arbitrary negotiating deadlines, and should commit to a proper adjustment period that starts when businesses know the full detail of what changes they may be facing. Our members have made clear that the content and shape of any new deal are much more important than simply the speed in getting there.”
Not only the markets, but also the US president welcomed the results. Donald Trump tweeted: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN! Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!”
Indeed, with the election results, the UK has demonstrated its preference for Johnson’s clear-cut logic for getting Brexit done and its distaste for Corbyn’s left-wing policies. At the same time, analysts are cautious about the dampening effect Brexit has had on growth and the uncertainty it will continue to exert on the economy as the UK strives to secure a trade deal.
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