Friday, 9 November 2007

UK spendfest - have we reached a turning point?

Does this look like a healthy state of affairs? This chart records the UK's balance of trade in goods and services. During the last three months, our external trade deficit was over ₤14 billion. In fact, our trade balance has been deteriorating for about ten years. Quarter after quarter, imports have outpaced exports, increasing our external deficit.

What is driving this deficit? Household consumption; as credit has become easier, UK consumers have borrowed and spent, with a large part of that extra spending going on imports. Credit cards, unsecured loans, overdrafts and mortage equity withdrawal have all helped drive up consumption and the trade deficit.

Can we continue pushing up our external deficit quarter after quarter? I don't think so, somehow. UK consumers are the most heavily indebted in Europe. Banks are getting increasingly nervous and have begun to tighten their lending standards.

It is time to start paying down that debt, folks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When the banks realise the UK consumer is not going to be able to repay their debts, they will quite literally leave this country for dead. The opportunity for expansion in the UK is now severely limited, all that is left is massive risks. The banks can make far more money by lending elsewhere, and standing by as the UK drifts into recession and then, eventually, depression.

A banker is a man who lends you his umbrella and then takes it back again just as it starts to rain.