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Why UK interest rates will rise – MoneyWeek

Allthreetrendsarerelated,ofcourse。

Indeed,theyshareacommonroot–cheapcredit,itselfbornofthelaxmonetarypoliciesthathavemarkedtheearly21stcentury。

Sofar,itsimpactappearsdiffuse,buttoday,wewillexaminehowthesetrendsinterrelate。

ForBritain’ssuper-rich,thingshaveneverbeensogood。

Boomingstockmarkets,escalatingpropertyprices,atakeovermania,thesuddengrowthofhedgefundsinLondon,investmentbankersdrippingwithCitybonusestheyhaveallcontributedtothisexplosionofwealth。

Thecombinedassetsofthetop1,000listedinTheSundayTimesRichListhasclimbedbymorethan21%inasingleyearto£301bn。

Indeed,thisfigurehastrebledsinceTonyBlairbecamePrimeMinisterin1997。

Butthisisaglobalphenomenon。

Therichest50inEuropehaveincreasedtheirwealththisyearbyanevengreater33%。

AndoverseasbillionairesfromIndia,RussiaandScandinavianowmakeabeelineforLondonandtheSouthEastofEngland。

Some52%ofTheSundayTimesRichListliveinthisregionoftheUK,contributingtotherenewedpropertyboomsweepingthemostexclusivepartsofthecapital。

HousepricesincentralLondonhaverisenby14。

7%inayear。

Inthelastfourmonthsalone,propertypricesinChelseaareupastaggering11。

8%。

Atypicaltwo-bedroomflatintheareawouldnowbeworth£500,000。

AgentsKnightFrankhavenotedahugesupply/demandimbalanceinthemarketfortop-endhomes。

It’sthemostlopsidedforadecadewithsupplyfallingby21%inthelastyearanddemandsoaringby43%。

Thisisalocalisedboom,however。

OutsidetheboomtownsofCentralLondonanditsstockbrokerbelt,thehousingmarkethasbeenmuchweaker。

PricesinScotlandareupjust1%sincetheNewYear。

Yorkshire,theNorthWestandSouthWestareup2%overthesameperiod。

Formorehumblehouseholds,thereareseriousstrainsontheirdomesticfinances。

Inthefirstquarterofthisyearanall-timehighof23,351peoplesoughtindividualinsolvencythroughthecourts,a73。

4%increaseonthecorrespondingperiodlastyearand12。

9%higherthanthepreviousthreemonths。

IndividualVoluntaryArrangements(IVAs)accountedfortwo-thirdsofinsolvencies,therestwerebankruptcies。

Theeaseofobtainingcredit,pluslegalchangesmakingitsimplertogointobankruptcy–andamorerelaxedattitudetodebtinBritaingenerally–arethemainfactorsbehindthesesoaringinsolvencies。

Althoughrecentlywehaveseenamoderatingofnetunsecuredlendingtoindividuals,wewouldneedaprolongedperiodofreducedcredittobringtheUK’sprivatefinancesbackintobalance。

It’snotjustindividualconsumersthataredrowninginaseaofdebt。

Businessinsolvenciesalsoroseinthefirstthreemonthsofthisyear。

Companyliquidationsincreasedby17%onthefirstquarteroflastyeartostandat3,439。

Withinthistotal,compulsoryliquidationssawa30%rise,whichoutstrippedvoluntaryliquidations–upjust10%。

Retailingandmanufacturingwerethesectorshardesthit。

Thesmallcornershoportheindependentfillingstationisstrugglingtocompeteonpriceandlocation。

Liquidationsinthechemicalsindustrywereupamassive62%–whichbringsustothecommodity-priceboom。

Copperhasrisenmorethan70%sofarthisyear,recordingfreshall-timehighsof$7,780atonne,evenafterChinahikeditsrateslatelastmonth。

ItseemsthatsupplyconcernsinminesinChileandMexicoarefuellingpricegainsinthisphaseofthebullrun。

Otherindustrialmetalsarefollowingsuitwithaluminiumbreakingthroughthe$3,000barrierforthefirsttimein18years。

Zinctouchedapeakof$3,492pertonnelastweek。

Itwasonlyinthemiddleoflastmonththatthepriceofgoldconclusivelybreachedthe$600perozmark。

Threeweekslater,amazingly,the$700levelhasbeenbreached。

AccordingtoBankofEnglanddata,theyellowmetalhasreachedanewall-timehighforBritishinvestorsabove£376peroz。

Thissignalsmuchhigherinflationahead。

Butwhythesuddenleap?

AttheendoflastmonthaG7communiquecalledforgreatercurrencyflexibilitytoreduceglobaltradeimbalances。

ThishaspulledarugfromundertheUSdollarandinturnhashelpedunderpinhighergoldpricesinallcurrenciesthismonth。

Butthereisanewstory,too。

Chineseeconomistshavesuggestedthatthecountryshouldquadrupleitsbullionreservestoprotectagainstafallingdollar。

IftheBankofChinastartstoswitchaportionofits$875bnforeignexchangereservesintogold,itwouldelectrifythemarket。

Oilpricesalsoremainfirm,anothersignthatcommodity-ledinflationcannotbedeferredmuchlonger。

Brentcrudewasjustshyof$75abarrellastweekafterBolivia’sdecisiontoseizecontrolofforeign-ownedgasfieldsaddedshort-termfearsofdisruptiontolonger-termconcernsaboutglobalsupplies。

AtthesametimetheSaudioilministerhassaidthatheexpectedmoreassaultsontheKingdom’soilinfrastructurefollowingthefoiledattackontheAbqaiqrefinery,whichprocessestwo-thirdsofSaudioutput,inFebruary。

Solowrateshaveencouragedprivateindividualstotakeonmoredebtthantheycanmanage。

Atthesametimecheapfinancingcostshavefuelledtheboominmergersandtakeoveractivity。

Excessliquidityhasalsoboostedthepricesofmostassetclasses,includingcommodities,withoperatorsinthefinancialsectorbeingkeybeneficiaries。

Butthesethreedevelopmentsdon’tsimplyshareacommonroot。

Thestrongincreaseinenergypricesisresponsibleforthathighnumberofbankruptciesinthechemicalindustry。

Atthesametime,boomingLondonhousepricesandsoaringcommoditypricesputpressureonlower-incomehouseholds。

TheyalsomakeitdifficultfortheBankofEnglandtocutratestoalleviatedistressedborrowersandstrugglingretailerselsewhere。

ThemarketsnowexpectthenextmoveinUKratestobeup。

Inshort,astheboominassetandcommoditypricescontinues,itisdifficulttoseethetideofpersonalinsolvenciesandcorporateliquidationsebbing。

ByBrianDurrantforTheFleetStreetLetter

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