Welcome to December’s news roundup, where we look at the industry stories you may have missed throughout the month. As 2018 draws to a close, we look at December’s finance, gold and diamond news from the UK and around the world. With 2019 hot on our heels, bringing uncertainty surrounding world markets and a possible no deal Brexit; keeping up to date is more important than ever.
UK Finance News
New Study Raises Cashless Society Concerns
A review of consumer spending by Access to Cash has prompted warnings that the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into becoming a cashless society, and this this could have severe implications for a lot of people. We’re moving quickly into a digital economy, but this can mean that those in rural communities, those who have mental health problems, those who are in problem debt and the elderly could struggle to access what they need.
The report has highlighted the need to maintain a reliable cash infrastructure in the UK to ensure those who cannot access digital solutions are able to manage their own finances effectively. Over the past decade cash use has halved, but for many it’s still their primary method of making payments and warrants being protected in the years to come.
UK Leads Fight Against ‘Dirty Money’
The UK has recently been praised by the FATF for its excellent record in the fight against illicit finance. The Financial Action Task Force, or FATF for short, is a global standard setter for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. On 7th December, they released a report which put the UK at the very top of the list, meaning that we have one of the toughest anti-money laundering regimes in the world – stronger than any of the other 60 countries they have assessed so far.
The detection and conviction of financial crime helps to keep money away from criminal gangs and terrorists, and greatly affects their ability to cause harm in communities all over the world. To ensure the UK stays at the top of the list, the government is creating a new unit within the National Crime Agency, called the National Economic Crime Centre. This new unit will concentrate on dealing with economic crime quickly and effectively.
Bank of England Cuts Growth Forecast Over Brexit Uncertainty
Just before Christmas, on 20th December, the Bank of England cut its growth forecast for the UK from 0.3% for the final quarter, to 0.2%. This is thanks to worries over a no deal Brexit, and the lack of clarity over what is going to happen in March, when the deadline appears.
In the previous quarter, growth was at 0.6% - a much more favourable number. Unfortunately, the BoE expects slower economic growth as we go into 2019, and much will rest on the outcome of Brexit. Unfortunately, the abandoned Brexit vote earlier in December triggered a drop in the value of the pound, but on a brighter note the outlook for pay is improving, with wages growing faster than expected in November.
High Taxes Could Mean Hasty Bank Exits
On the 19th of December, news broke that the UK is at risk of driving big banks away if current high taxes on the industry continue. With an uncertain Brexit looming, London-based banks have already started planning to move staff and certain operations abroad so that business with the EU is easier.
The concerns over taxes has stemmed from research by consultancy PwC. They found that a bank in London faces a tax rate on profits of 50.6%, compared to 34.2% in New York and 22.7% in Dubai. UK Finance has urged the government to rethink its tax on banks to ensure the UK’s competitiveness as a global financial centre can be maintained after our exit from the EU.
Interest in Precious Metals Sees Palladium Make Historic Gains Over Gold
For the first time in 16 years, the precious metal palladium was more valuable than gold on the stock markets at the beginning of December. Palladium is widely used in catalytic reactions in industry, and is also used in dentistry. Palladium is a white precious metal, much like platinum, and is hard enough to be used for jewellery – you may see palladium wedding rings for sale, for instance, but it’s not yet as popular as gold, platinum and silver.
It may be interesting to see how palladium fares over 2019 as gold continues to fluctuate alongside the US dollar and GBP, and it should be particularly interesting for those who own palladium jewellery – it may now be worth more than you think!
Largest Diamond in North America Discovered
On 17th December, it was reported that a Canadian mine – the Diavik Diamond Mine – has found the biggest diamond in North America to date. The 552-carat yellow diamond breaks the previous record diamond of 187.7 carats by some way. This record was also held by the Diavik Diamond Mine, which can be found just 135miles south of the Arctic Circle. The stone is to be cut and polished in the coming weeks, and is expected to eventually sell for millions of dollars. The previous record holder, which was cut into two pear-shaped earrings, sold for £1.2million.
Unwanted Christmas Gifts?
Make Money With Your Unwanted Christmas Presents
Did you receive any Christmas gifts this year that you don’t really want to keep? Perhaps you’ve been given something that isn’t quite to your taste or is a duplicate of something you already own. If these items include electronics, gadgets, jewellery or watches, then you could make a decent amount of money from them, so that you can purchase something you really want or need.
Bring any unwanted Christmas presents to your local H&T Pawnbrokers, where we can offer you cash for them, or alternatively you can unlock their value by taking a pawn loan or opting for our electronic BuyBack scheme. Use your unwanted valuables to your advantage – come and speak to us in store to find out more about what H&T can do for you. With 180+ H&T branches across the UK, we shouldn’t be far. Alternatively, you can sell to us or apply for a pawn loan online.