It's not surprising that interest rates might finally be on their way up

Carney's warning not all that shocking.

New UK bank governor Mark Carney warned yesterday that interest rates could finally be on their way up after over four years at 0.5 per cent.

The move would not be surprising for a number of reasons:

  • Savers, particularly the elderly, are coming under increasing pressure due the low rates over the past four years.
  • UK house prices have begun to recover. According to figures from the Land Registry, house prices in England & Wales rose by 0.9 per cent in 2012 and by 0.1 per cent in the first four months of 2013. Although this growth is moderate, it does show that the market is stabilizing.
  • The British Pound has deprecated by 5 per cent against the US dollar so far this year. This has impacted on inflation which rose from 2.4 per cent in April 2013 to 2.7 per cent in May 2013.
  • The UK stock market (FTSE 100) is up by 7.6 per cent so far this year in GBP terms and by 3.7 per cent in US dollar terms (as at 19 July 2013).

Increasing rates will a number of effects. It will:

  • Encourage more investment in the UK bond market which will help support the Pound.
  • Reduce consumer spending which will put downward pressure on inflation.
  • Cause people to pull money out of the stock market and move it into cash.
  • Put pressure on the housing market, particularly at the lower end.

The last point is the one that will weigh on the mind of Mark Carney the most. This is mainly due to the fact that over 60 per cent of UK individual wealth is tied up in the property market (according to the ONS). This is one of the highest proportions in the world and explains why the UK’s fate is so heavily linked to property. In contrast, German’s have less than 20 per cent of their individual wealth in property which shows why they are less susceptible to changes in its value.

In GBP terms, UK residential prices have declined by 12 per cent since their peak at the end of 2007 (Source: Land Registry). In US dollar terms the decline has been even more alarming at 34 per cent. This means that the average UK individual has lost over 20 per cent of their US wealth over the past five years due to the decline in property prices.

Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney. Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

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The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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