Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pound Foolish

'All that stuff about the markets falling, that doesn't really mean anything, right? That's just businessman stuff. The important thing is we're free, right? Wheeeeeee!'

Okay, so I'm not an economics expert but here's the thing: the pound fallling is not just an academic, esoteric thing. It is going to have severe real world consequences and they will fuck you up.

The pound's value dropped relative to other currencies. This means those currencies are worth more than the pound. One consequence of this is that you will get fewer Euros to the pound if you travel abroad. But that's not all.

This link gives figures for how much Britain exports and imports. You'll notice we import more than we export: $663bn as opposed to $472bn (yes, it's measured in dollars, that's because the US is the hegemon now. Get used to that feeling of not mattering.).

Basically we import more than we export, and now that the value of the pound has dropped all the stuff we export will cost more. And what happens to the stuff you buy when the costs of importing go up? Prices go up. You will now have to pay more for goods you would once have been able to acquire cheaply. Living paycheck to paycheck? Having to stretch your money out more and more each month, somehow? Congratulations. That is going to get worse, not better, now.

The one advantage of the pound being cheap is we could export more stuff now because other nations will be able to acquire our goods more cheaply. But although we will be exporting more, people will be paying less for what we export , so it's uncertain if that will be enough to help us. Probably not.

It gets better. Companies have to make a profit, and keep costs down. And companies have shareholders who want to keep their share prices high. The share price of some companies dropped by 18% on Friday, which is huge. They're going to need to cut corners somewhere, and that will mean you either losing your job or being paid less to do it. Either way you will have even less money in your pocket, and it won't go as far as it used to because prices will go up.

I know that it can seem, especially since the 2008 crash, that the markets are an abstract thing, but they have consequences. And the consequence of Brexit is that a lot of us are going to deepen our acquaintance with hunger. However badly off you were on Thursday, you are a lot worse off now.

And that's what you voted for. Bregretting it yet?

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