The global credit crunch and debt crisis have shattered previous notions of what is and is not considered a safe haven — and sterling is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this revolution.

In some ways it seems an unlikely candidate for safe-haven status.

Last week the U.K. officially entered a double-dip recession — where output starts to fall again before it has recovered from the last downturn.

Moreover, the government is running a deficit, which is even higher than the worryingly elevated advanced-country average — it was equal to 8.7 percent of gross domestic product last year.

Nevertheless, the pound has risen by about 7 percent on a trade-weighted basis since last July. At $1.62 against the greenback on Tuesday, it was up 10 cents, or 7 percent, from a mid-January low. It barely paused for breath on news of the recession — resuming its ascent within hours.

What accounts for sterling’s as yet unstoppable progress?

It is fair to say that the paltry growth of the U.K. economy over the past year — which may have fizzled out altogether — has disappointed many economists. However, the euro zone’s performance has been equally dismal, with most analysts expecting official figures to show the currency union has entered recession in lockstep with the U.K.

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