Billionaire currency trader George Soros predicts gloomy future for the pound if Brexit goes ahead


Recent weeks have seen the dear old pound go on quite a rollercoaster ride, amid fears that a Brexit vote could put Britain on course for a currency crisis bigger than 1992´s Black Wednesday.

Experts have been lining up to predict the extent of the pound's plunge if Britons vote to quit the European Union, with some betting it will tumble towards parity with the euro for the first time in its history and could fall to its lowest level in decades against the dollar.

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Sterling has already suffered a sharp correction in recent months amid record volatility, with the results of each new opinion poll for Remain and Vote Leave sending the pound swinging wildly.

The recent sharp falls have highlighted the potential for a currency devaluation that could eclipse even the Black Wednesday crisis in 1992, when the UK was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).

Legendary investor George Soros became the latest to offer his gloomy prediction on the impact of a Brexit vote on the pound. He warned the fall in the value of sterling would be "bigger and also more disruptive than the 15% ­devaluation that occurred in September 1992´´.

His comments are watched closely given his knack for calling market events and given that he was the man behind the ERM troubles, betting against sterling in 1992 and making a fortune from the crisis.

billionaire currency trader George Soros
(Sean Dempsey/PA)

Also backing up Soros's predictions is Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who has made a series of interventions, warning of a sharp fall in the value of the pound and the possibility that a vote to leave the EU could trigger a recession in the UK.

In the minutes of the Bank's final interest rate decision before the referendum, the Monetary Policy Committee warned that recent movements in the pound meant it was "increasingly probable" sterling would tumble after Brexit.

In further melancholy news, UK economist at Capital Economics Paul Hollingsworth said a vote to leave could cause the pound to plunge by up to 20%, depending on poll results in the lead up to the vote.

He believes the "shock factor" would be greater if Britons end up voting for Brexit despite polls suggesting a lean towards a vote to remain.

A 20% fall would see the pound worth less than 1.20 US dollars, taking it within sight of the all-time low of 1.05 dollars hit in February 1985. It would also take it sliding down towards parity for the first time ever with the euro. At today's prices, the pound is worth 1.47 dollars and 1.30 euro.

Stock picture of euro notes and coins
(Niall Carson/PA)

However, it's not all doom and gloom projected by the experts. Respected economist Roger Bootle, executive chairman of Capital Economics, said the pound's devaluation should not be feared and is "exactly what the economy needs".

He is among a number of economists who believe a sharply lower pound would boost demand for British goods - making them less expensive to overseas buyers, while also prompting UK firms to buy from within Britain.