Bank of England warns stock markets could drop 10 per cent: Job Vacancies reach record 20-year high
By Charles Kelly LONDON Oct 13: Financial markets and stocks and shares could see a “sharp downturn” if investors reconsider the prospects of economic recovery from the lockdown amid supply problems, rising prices and a spending squeeze, the Bank of England predicts. The UK’s central bank's financial policy committee (FPC) warned of a “correction”, defined as a drop of at least 10% in the price of a share from its most recent peak. The bank has seen signs of increased risk-taking at investment banks – the people who get paid huge sums to play with other people’s money at the stock market casino! Stock indexes around the world have hit record levels this year, from a crash in 2020, as investors bet on a strong economic bounce back from the pandemic. However, worrying levels of inflation have returned to the UK, US and Germany sparking fears that growth could be stunted in the face of supply chain bottlenecks, soaring wholesale natural gas prices and skills shortages. In the UK, millions of households and businesses are facing a long winter of discontent from a cut in benefits and state support combined with a surge in energy prices not seen since the 1970’s Arab oil crisis which sent economies across the globe into recession. The Bank is also concerned that higher borrowing during the public health emergency has likely put more businesses at risk. It said: "The increase in debt - though moderate in aggregate - has likely led to increases in the number and scale of more vulnerable businesses. "As the economy recovers and government support, including restrictions on winding up orders, falls away, business insolvencies are expected to increase from historically low levels." Around 1.7 million companies borrowed money under emergency loan schemes, like the bounce back loans, that were launched last year. Many of them were very small companies without high debt, but desperately needed of cash to avoid immediate collapse. 1.1 million job vacancies Job vacancies in the UK have reached a 20-year high, which will slow economic recovery. The ONS reports that the number of employees on payrolls showed another monthly increase, rising 207,000 to a record 29.2 million in September. The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) said labour shortages were "affecting the whole economy, and where likely between a quarter and a third is explained by lower migration". Tony Wilson, director of the IES, told the BBC there were now fewer unemployed people per vacancy than at any time in at least 40 years. This is down to fewer older people in work and more young people in education he said. The number of vacancies hit another record high of 1.1 million and average weekly earnings, including bonuses, are 7.2% higher than this time last year. Wage rises, which have reach 15-20% in some sectors, are normally followed by higher inflation and consumer prices for all. Business leaders want more immigration and say they should be allowed to import the workers they need to fill labour shortages. However, the government wants an end to low-skilled and low-wage migration. The energy crisis is threatening to shut down manufacturing production in the UK within days unless the government takes urgent action. Businesses want the government to protect them from huge increases in energy costs as well as reducing or removing ‘green tariffs’, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to countries like China. The UK is sitting on a gold mine of natural shale gas that the government will not exploit due to environmental concerns. The US takes advantage of its shale gas which is why prices are one sixth of UK gas. While China powers industry with coal fired stations, the UK refuses to reopen new coal mines in order to meet environmental targets which Asian competitors ignore. China’s debt and real estate bubble has not gone away, with Evergrande and Fantasia expected to default on more upcoming debt repayments. How can you protect yourself and profit from a stock market or property crash? Even if you do not directly invest in the stock market or property your pension fund manger may be doing so on your behalf. Check with your administrator or financial adviser. The answer is to learn about investing and become more financially aware. Financial education is the key to building and keeping wealth. Never stop learning!