Despite decades of trade deficits (spending more on foreign products than foreigners spend on UK products), the UK’s net liability with the rest of the world remains negligible. How does it pull off that trick? By earning a higher return on its foreign assets than it pays on its foreign liabilities.
Despite the fact that the US dollar and the euro are the most traded currencies in terms of shares of average daily turnover (2013, BIS), my analysis suggests that foreign exchange rate (FX) market trends are usually driven by other currencies. Most notably, ‘commodity’ currencies (such as the Australian dollar and Mexican peso) and ‘carry-trade’ currencies (such as the Swiss franc and Japanese yen) tend to be the main drivers. In contrast, sterling typically does not often drive currency movements – FX strategists often consider that it is rare for sterling to be ‘the story’ amongst the speculative community in the FX market. But this is not always the case. This blog post zooms in on a selection of sub-periods to show when particular currencies, including sterling, became ‘focal’.