Quantitative Easing & The British Pound
The British Pound
Why does the British Pound continue to slide? The continuous downward trend is pretty obvious, but why? The British Pound has been falling hard vs. the U.S. Dollar for months, and bargain hunters trying to "buy low" have been slammed repeatedly. Note that since late 2007, the GBP/USD exchange rate has fallen by more than 7000 pips. The pair has remained trapped beneath its 10-week Exponential Moving Average since August (see figure 1).
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Even after this crushing move, sentiment toward the British Pound remains negative. Sure, the U.K. economy is in trouble, but that is not a unique problem. Now, the British government is preparing to unleash a flood of cash in a bid to restart the economy.
The Bank of England has announced that they are about to embark on quantitative easing, a strategy designed to relieve stress on the credit markets and fire up the economy. The Bank of England (BoE) has just committed to a 75 billion Pound asset buying spree designed to do just that.
Quantitative easing may sound complicated, but it’s really very simple. The BoE will "print money" and use it to buy "gilts," a slang term for U.K. government bonds. Although quantitative easing is often described as "printing money," no new notes and coins are actually created. Instead, a central bank "creates" more money on its balance sheet, and then uses that money to buy the assets of commercial banks, such as home loans and government bonds, thereby pumping extra cash into the system.
The commercial banks have accounts with the central bank, and the money will simply be credited to those accounts. One could say that the new funds are created electronically, rather than physically.
When a central bank floods the banking system with masses of money to shore up financial systems and promote lending, it is known as quantitative easing. The hope is that when the banks are flush with cash, they will lend some of that money out to businesses and consumers, who will continue to circulate the money, thus boosting the economy.
The problem is, such a tactic can dilute the currency, and the perception that such dilution is about to occur is dragging the Pound down right now.
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