, 2022-09-26 10:23:02,
LONDON (AP) — The British pound fell to all-time low against the U.S. dollar early Monday after Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng pledged a sweeping package of tax cuts, fueling concerns about the government’s economic policy as the United Kingdom teeters toward recession.
The pound fell as low as $1.0373, its lowest level since the decimalization of the currency in 1971, before rallying to about $1.08 in London afternoon trading.
The weakening currency piles pressure on the U.K.’s new Conservative government, which has gambled that slashing taxes — and increasing borrowing to compensate — will spur economic growth. Many economists say it’s more likely to fuel already high inflation, push down the pound and drive up the cost of U.K. government borrowing — a potential perfect storm of economic headwinds.
The turbulence raised speculation that the Bank of England may step in with an emergency hike in interest rates to help shore up sterling.
Despite mounting concern, the government dug in its heels Monday.
“We’re not going to be commenting on daily market movements,” said the prime minister’s spokesman, Max Blain. “This is a plan for the medium to long term.”
The British currency has been hammered since Friday, when Kwarteng announced the U.K.’s biggest tax cuts in 50 years.
The government plans to cut 45 billion pounds ($49 billion) in taxes as well as spend billions to help consumers and businesses struggling with high energy bills that are driving a cost-of-living crisis. The combination has sparked investor concern about spiraling government debt.
Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss, who took office three weeks ago, are betting that lower taxes and reduced bureaucracy eventually will generate enough additional tax revenue to cover government spending. Economists suggest it is unlikely the gamble will pay off.
Opposition Labour Party economy spokeswoman Rachel Reeves accused the government of “a return to trickle-down economics, an idea that has been tried, has been tested and has failed.”
“They are not gambling with their money — they are gambling with yours,” she told an audience at the party’s annual conference Monday.
The new and untested Truss, who replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister on Sept. 6, also faces pressure from a nervous Conservative Party, which faces an election within two years.
Some Conservatives have welcomed the tax-cutting moves as a return to free-market values after years of state intervention…
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