With its fourth prime minister—Liz Truss—in six years, lower GDP per person than pre-pandemic, surging inflation, a looming recession, high energy prices, slowed productivity and potential labor strikes, many would point to the U.K. as chaotic at present. But an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal puts forth an argument for why it’s a good place to invest.
Britain is facing many of the same issues the rest of Europe is dealing with, though the turmoil in the government as it selected a new prime minister is unique to the U.K. And there are several points made in the article as to why markets may be losing faith: the Pound Sterling fell to its lowest mark since 1985, below even the low it hit in 2020, with musings of “dollar parity” being bandied about. There’s also been a massive sell-off of gilts, and investors are fearful that the new government will have to borrow more than $115 billion in order to stem energy prices, in addition to canceling tax increases for companies. Meanwhile, the price of the FTSE 100 has hardly moved from its highest point more than two decades ago; the article points out that an investor wouldn’t have made any money since 2014 in the FTSE while they would’ve doubled their investment in the S&P 500.
But the article is also quick to point out that the pound isn’t alone in its descent; the euro and the yen have dropped 13% and 19% this year, respectively. And German bonds have lost only slightly less than gilts. While small and midsize British companies have been outperformed by European ones this year, it hasn’t been by much, and the FTSE has outperformed the S&P 500 and European stocks alike. Many of the issues Britain is facing are the same across the continent and the pond. There are potential problems that could arise; the U.K. currently holds a record amount of debt, and more will need to be borrowed if Truss wants to enact her plans. Policy reversals put forth by her new government could result in a loss of faith in the markets, though there are indications that she wants to tighten monetary policy, which would be a boon to foreign investors. While an inexperienced government could make some missteps, there is still a lot to be optimistic about in British assets, the article concludes.