The position taken by Tony Blair's government yesterday on possible adoption of the euro has met wit...
The position taken by Tony Blair's government yesterday on possible adoption of the euro has met with a range of responses from trade bodies and associations - some positive, some negative, and some fairly neutral.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders, which as the representative of that part of the economy cited by chancellor Gordon Brown as a reason for staying out should have quite a lot to say, simply took the view that its members could do well either in or out of the euro.
"The CML believes that the UK mortgage market is sufficiently sophisticated and flexible to thrive either inside or outside the euro environment," it says.
"UK mortgage borrowers are already extremely well-served. Despite the fact that base rates in the eurozone are lower, the UK has lower mortgage rates than the majority of euro countries.
"Perhaps the importance of the structural differences in the UK housing market is being a little over-stated - one thing that is abundantly clear is that housing markets across Europe remain massively divergent for a variety of reasons."
Interestingly, given the government's stance on long-term fixed interest mortgages - it wants more of them, in part to make it easier to adopt the euro - news from the US today is that mortgage broker Freddie Mac's senior management is being axed because of accounting problems.
The US model of packaging mortgage debt and selling it as bonds on Wall Street has been raised by parties on both sides of the House of Commons as a possible way forward in relation to creating more stability in the UK housing market - but obviously it has its own difficulties.
Halifax yesterday said it supported the development of a market for long-term fixed rate mortgages, but only as a complement to existing forms of lending and borrowing - not as a replacement.
The Institute of Directors last week said the much-leaked rejection of the euro was the "right thing to do" at present.
And, following yesterday's announcement, it added that it was "disappointed" with the decision to revisit the question in one year's time, saying that it could take a minimum of two to three years before the IoD felt that convergence was sufficient to merit voting in favour of entry into the eurozone.
Instead, the institute would like to see the question put off until after the next general election.
This might come as some surprise to those members of the IoD who represent financial services, clearly one of the areas that is sufficiently converged with Europe to merit entry - according to Gordon Brown's speech yesterday.
Then again, financial services companies have other issues, such as market harmonisation being developed through the implementation of EU Directives to concern themselves with that take precedence over issues of currency.
That partly explains why the ABI and IMA have not put out particular statements in response to the chancellor's words.
The ABI, for example, is more concerned with the barriers to the single market, which are higher up the agenda of its members, and which are what the association is focused on at present, according to a quick chat with a spokesperson this morning.
A quick review of the IMA statements on European issues in, say, the past six months also clearly shows that its concerns are, for example, tax harmonisation in the treatment of domestic and non-domestic funds in markets such as Germany.
The issue of currency is clearly second-rate where laws are stopping business from taking place in the first instance - only after will issues of earnings being in euros or pounds become of significance.
Paul Bruns and Elaine Parkes
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