Markets are still digesting the repercussions of the Chancellor’s “mini-budget”. In the latest move, the BOE increased the amount of authorized buybacks through TECRF facility. That’s the intervention launched to shore up the pound in the wake of the announcement of financial reforms. Despite a rebound in the later part of September, cable has resumed its longer-term downward trend against the dollar. However, that has been aided in large part by the unexpected drop in the US unemployment rate, which increased the bets that the Fed would raise rates by 75bps at its next meeting.
Now, the main concern surrounding the budget appears to be the uncertainty. In that situation, the market often assumes the worst. As presented, the budget appears to increase spending (which is pro-inflationary), while reducing taxes (which questions the financial stability of the government). The combined response is to expect the BOE to hike rates more aggressively to fend off the expected increase in inflation.
Bringing things back to reality
Depending on how the “mini-budget” is financed, however, it could allay many of those concerns. The problem is that the key “detail” won’t be available until the end of November, and the BOE will have to decide at their next meeting before that. It also opens questions of just how well planned this plan was, since the long wait is ostensibly to figure out where to get the financing for the spending. It doesn’t inspire confidence that the government is issuing a plan to increase spending and cut taxes without having first ironed out where the financing for that will come from.
In the meantime, there is rampant speculation that the government will cut government expenditures on a wide range of services, from pensions to government employment. That makes investors nervous, and likely would lead to even less popularity of an already unpopular government. The Labour Party, already leading in the polls, would be expected to radically change the financial situation.
Getting the data in hand
Government spending is included in GDP measures, meaning that if one of the ways to balance the budget is to reduce government outlays, it would put downward pressure on the leading measure of economic growth. Last quarter GDP was revised in the final reading to be barely positive at 0.2%, from a flash reading of -0.1%.
On Wednesday, the UK reports August GDP, which is expected to come in at -0.1% compared to +0.2% in July. The BOE has warned that a recession is coming, and now traders are focused on the September data to see if Q3 will be the start of that.
On Tuesday, the UK will release September Claimant Count numbers, which are expected to show a relatively modest increase to 10K from 6.6K. Remember that the higher the number, the more negative it is for the markets, since it accounts for the number of people seeing unemployment assistance.
The total employed figure from the rolling three months to July is also released at the same time, but is unlikely to move the markets despite a surprising forecast. The expected significant drop in employment is due to a technicality, of the unusually high number in April rolling off.