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Newsletter August 2016

international update - the effects of brexit on the british pound

The pound has plunged 14% against the U.S. dollar since the UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23. Since the start of the year, the pound is down about 12% and trading at its lowest levels since 1985.

The possibility of the UK experiencing negative consequences with EU relationships, as well as a lingering recession being triggered by an exit from the EU, has dampened consumer confidence throughout Britain and held back any further expansion plans for companies. Conversely, the depressed pound has made Britain a tourist destination for travelers whose currencies have risen versus the pound, such as for Americans and Canadians.

The rating agencies have all made revisions to Britain’s debt since the EU vote, including downgrades, making it more expensive for the country to borrow money.

Standard & Poor’s lowered its rating and warned that Brexit will weaken the predictability, stability and effectiveness of British policymaking and deter foreign investment in the UK. S&P said that the country’s banking system, which is a vital component of the economy, is very susceptible to EU fallout leading to more possible downgrades.

Fitch Ratings, another ratings firm, also issued a downgrade for the UK at AA, down by one notch from AA+ previously, and warned more cuts could come. The UK now has a more unfavorable rating from S&P than the U.S. S&P famously lowered the U.S. rating by one notch to AA+ in 2011, setting off financial and political disarray. The UK has the highest financing needs among all 131 countries that Fitch rates, at nearly twice the level of the U.S. and France.

Sources: S&P, Fitch, Moody’s, Reuters