In 1931 the UK faced a balance of payments crisis and a run on the pound sterling which in the end led to a negation of the Gold peg and the dollar pricing of $4.86. By modern standards the deficit was no big deal. In 1929, the country had a credit balance (current account) of some £100 million falling to £30 million in 1930. In 1931 there was an estimated debit balance of £90 to £120 millions. It was this anticipated deficit on current account that led to a run on Sterling and a repatriation of assets particularly to France and the USA. In Q4 2010, the UK visible deficit was 7% of GDP and the pound traded at $1.56. The current account recorded a deficit of £10.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, equating to 3 per cent of GDP. UK reserves amounted to £40 billion.
Revisions to the trade data for Q4 2010 will provide little comfort to those anticipating an improvement in the trade balance. In fact it looks as the visible trade deficit is getting worse and the service sector is flagging in its efforts to offset the visible shortfall. The deficit in goods and services moved to an overall deficit of £15 billion in Q4 as the trade deficit soared to over £25 billion.