May 4, 2020

Fathom’s Chart of the Day 04.05.2020: Precautionary saving boosts UK bank and building society deposits

by Fathom Consulting.

More unprecedented economic data were released at the end of last week, this time from the Bank of England. M4 deposits, excluding the deposits of financial intermediaries within the OFC sector, rose by a staggering £57 billion in March, a series high, with all three sectors seeing record increases — so the largest gains since 1963 in the case of households and PNFCs, and since 1998 in the case of non-intermediary other financial corporations. M4 is a broad measure of the UK money supply, and includes the sterling deposits of UK residents held at banks and building societies, in addition to the stock of notes and coin in circulation.

The UK money and credit data are both accurate and timely, and can sometimes offer useful insights into the behaviour of both firms and households. A surge in the deposits of both non-financial, and particularly financial corporates is likely to reflect strong demand for liquid assets in a time of substantial economic uncertainty. It is likely that the sharp pickup in household deposits reflected precautionary saving — it is notable, too, that households made the largest ever repayment of unsecured debt in March.

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