Brexit: Central Banks Abandoning Unstable Euro, Display Confidence in Long-Term Stability of the Pound

Government central banks are jettisoning the euro over fears for the stability of the European Union (EU) – but continue to see the pound sterling as an attractive long-term investment.

Trade outlet Central Banking Publications and high street lender HSBC surveyed 80 central bank reserve managers, collectively responsible for almost 6 trillion euros’ worth of investments, reports the Financial Times.

They found that continuing stability of the German-dominated currency bloc was the managers’ chief concern for 2017, with some having cut their exposure to the euro entirely and others retaining only a nominal sum of euro-denominated holdings.

According to the FT, which has generally maintained a studiously pro-EU editorial stance, more than two-thirds of the surveyed banks have altered their portfolios and/or the duration of their investments, with those serving developing and emerging markets being the most likely to turn their backs on the flailing single currency.

Sterling, meanwhile, enjoys continuing popularity, despite a much-trumpeted drop against the U.S. dollar following the Brexit vote. Seventy-one per cent of the reserve managers surveyed by Central Banking Publications and HSBC said their assessment of the pound’s long-term attractiveness was unchanged, viewing it as a stable long-term investment.

The euro’s reputation, on the other hand, appears to have been rocked by seemingly intractable problems such as the migrant crisis and the ongoing strangulation of Greece, which have fuelled the growth of populist political parties such as the the Dutch Freedom Party, the Sweden Democrats, and Marine Le Pen’s Front National – all of which have a strong Eurosceptic bent.

The negative interest rate policy of the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) have also reduced the euro’s attractiveness, steadily eroding profits.

The cheaper pound has been welcomed in many quarters. Princeton University’s Ashoka Mody, a former Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Europe, described it as “desirable from every point of view” in October 2016.

“The idea that Britain is in crisis or is on its knees before the exchange rate vigilantes is ludicrous,” he added.

Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King, meanwhile, said that the “higher interest rates, lower house prices and lower exchange rate” which Remain campaigners warned against during the referendum “were what we’ve been trying to achieve for the past three years … now we have a chance of getting it”.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery


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