Cryptocurrencies have a mysterious allure – but are they just a fad? | Robert Shiller

Attempts to reinvent money such as bitcoin often create excitement, but achieve little

The cryptocurrency revolution, which started with bitcoin in 2009, claims to be inventing new kinds of money. There are now nearly 2,000 cryptocurrencies, and millions of people worldwide are excited by them. What accounts for this enthusiasm, which so far remains undampened by warnings that the revolution is a sham?

One must bear in mind that attempts to reinvent money have a long history. As the sociologist Viviana Zelizer points out in her book The Social Meaning of Money: “Despite the commonsense idea that ‘a dollar is a dollar is a dollar,’ everywhere we look people are constantly creating different kinds of money.” Many of these innovations generate real excitement, at least for a while.

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Prospect of UK interest rate rise dims as UK service sector struggles

Hotels and restaurants worst hit amid weaker recovery from cold snap than forecast

Britain’s services sector struggled to bounce back in April from the big freeze in March that brought the economy to a grinding halt, increasing the likelihood of the Bank of England holding interest rates at 0.5% next week.

Services firms reported the third lowest level of business activity since the EU referendum in 2016 to defy City economists, who expected a stronger recovery from the cold weather in March.

Related: UK economy suffers weakest period of GDP growth in five years

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Bank of England under pressure to delay interest rate rise

Slacker factory orders, less consumer demand for credit and weak pound may kill off increase

Fresh pressure on the Bank of England to delay raising interest rates has emerged after figures for manufacturing and consumer credit highlighted the weakness of the UK economy.

Until recently, next week’s Bank meeting was widely expected to sanction another rate increase, but weak growth figures on Friday made such a move less likely and data on Tuesday seems to rule it out almost entirely, sending the pound to a three-month low against the dollar.

Lenders have already bumped up the cost of fixed rate mortgages ahead of the Bank of England’s decision to raise base rate from 0.25% to 0.5%, and mortgage borrowers on tracker and variable rates will see their monthly payments become more expensive in the coming days. ​

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Bank of England and ECB set up group to address Brexit fears

Committee will assess potential financial disruption if Britain leaves EU without deal

The financial disruption that could result if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal is to be examined by the Bank of England in a joint working group with the European Central Bank.

Intense lobbying by banks and insurance companies in the City, fearful that billions of pounds’ worth of cross-border financial contracts would lose their legal status if negotiations failed, appeared to have succeeded when EU officials agreed that the ECB would join Threadneedle Street officials to assess the risks.

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RBS profits treble to £792m in first quarter as costs fall

Bailed-out bank easily beats forecasts but US expected to impose multimillion-pound fine

Profits at Royal Bank of Scotland more than trebled in the first three months of 2018, easily beating expectations as income rose and costs fell.

The bailed-out bank, which is still majority owned by UK taxpayers reported first-quarter profits of £792m, compared with £259m for the same period last year.

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EU doesn’t need the City of London, says chief Brexit negotiator

Michel Barnier torpedoes Theresa May’s hopes of a gold-plated deal for UK financial services

The EU does not need the City of London, and Theresa May’s “pleading” for a special deal for the UK’s financial services sector will not be rewarded, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said.

In his toughest rebuff yet to the demands made by the British prime ministerin her landmark Mansion House speech, Barnier suggested the City would be granted nothing more generous than that enjoyed by Wall Street.

Banks, insurance companies and other financial firms in the EEA – the EU along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are able to do business in the UK with separate regulatory approval. The system is known as passporting and allows firms to trade freely across borders.  It applies the other way round, so that UK firms can operate in other EEA countries.

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Hammond: Brexit transition deal has averted City job losses

Chancellor gives upbeat assessment of state of UK economy at IMF meeting

A damaging haemorrhage of jobs from the City has been averted by the signing of a Brexit transition agreement between the UK and the EU, according to an upbeat assessment of the economy’s prospects from Philip Hammond.

Speaking in Washington, the chancellor said the mood among big American-owned financial institutions was much more positive than it had been before London and Brussels agreed to a 21-month implementation period after the UK officially leaves the EU next March.

Related: It’s time to stop believing in these ‘magic’ Brexit solutions

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Global debt now worse than before financial crisis, says IMF

Fund warns all economies look vulnerable as low interest rates lead to debt worth 225% of GDP

The global economy is more deeply indebted than before the financial crisis and countries need to take immediate action to improve their finances before the next downturn, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The IMF said a prolonged period of low interest rates had stimulated a build-up of debt worth 225% of world GDP in 2016, 12 points above the previous record level reached in 2009.

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