I hope you enjoyed a good break over the summer holiday period, because there is a lot to think about over the final four months of 2019 and beyond.
Snack manufacturers are enjoying a boost in sales in American states that have decriminalised marijuana.
We Wealth Managers and of course you, our clients, don’t know about these things; however, scientific research suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in Marijuana releases a hormone that triggers hunger pangs and a neurotransmitter that increases appetite! I believe in some circles this phenomenon is known as “The Munchies”.
Celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the Academy Award-winning movie Forrest Gump, we revisit many of the movie’s themes which remain relevant in today’s world. Forrest Gump’s mother always said that “Life was like a box of chocolates.” This memorable observation could just as easily be applied to the financial markets, as you never know what volatility-inducing headline you’re going to get next.
With ‘fast fashion’ being so prevalent in today’s world, perhaps we should not be surprised that Oscar Wilde’s dictum looks a little slow as the world only racked up four successively positive months before a reversal. May 2019 will not go down in the financial market almanacs as anything other than a shabby month, with the regional pan-European share index falling around 5% and more than reversing any gains seen earlier in the quarter. Broadly speaking, this performance pattern in May – supplemented by the compression of sovereign bond yields – was repeated all over the world.
Thinking about everyone’s favourite subject, it was striking to read that a well-known UK consumer confidence index indicator released in the last few days was flat for the third month in a row, with an accompanying write-up that included the comment that ‘despite political carry-on in the Westminster bubble with the clock ticking on Britain’s eventual departure from the EU, consumers are holding firm and remain unshaken by the daily headlines of turmoil and intrigue’. Too right that there is a real and breathing UK economy still out there… and that the ongoing Brexit debate does not need to exclusively define the UK economy and its prospects.
The Spring Statement is not meant to be a major event. In announcing the date of the Statement this year, the Treasury emphasised that “there will now only be one major fiscal event each year”, i.e. the Autumn Budget. However, on the day after a 149 vote government Brexit defeat, the Chancellor’s view on the UK’s financial and economic situation could hardly be classed as a routine report.
Welcome to March, a time in the past when I have gone all Shakespearean in my written musings and quoted the famous words imagined uttered to Julius Caesar before his assassination. It looks as if the Ides of March (typically regarded as the fifteenth day of the month) will be just after a series of further Brexit related votes which could provide the greater clarity consumers, industrialists, politicians and investors seem to desire. As one economic survey, focused on the view of UK manufacturers, strikingly put it recently: ‘The march of the makers has turned into a painful crawl, where only certainty about the Brexit way forward can ease the sector’s pain’.
If you had to sum up why world, ex-US, financial markets typically underperformed during 2018 then economic growth, currency movements, and trade talk uncertainties would be the three most influential headwinds. Simply put, U.S. economic growth surprised on the upside whilst other major economies did not, the dollar appreciated against most other currencies, and concerns about essential future trading relations impacted the more export-focused European and emerging markets last year. In order for international markets to gain momentum over the U.S. in 2019, these concerns need to be quelled.
I realise the title above sounds a little like a famous advert from the 1990s (other telecoms operators are available) but, at least during the last month, the world’s political and economic leaders have continued to talk. And talking is just what they need to do. Of course making a few decisions is even better… so thank goodness the season of perpetual hope is almost upon us. More on the global financial markets Christmas presents wish list later.
As the intensity of fears of a no deal Brexit rise, it is clear that businesses are quietly going about their business and taking the necessary steps to keep trading. From steel to chocolate, from drugs to vinyl material, companies are putting plans in place to build up stocks of materials in case there is unrest at the ports.
Despite the usual weather downers such as the tennis at Wimbledon or the start of the school holidays, July was a warm month pretty much anywhere you looked in the northern hemisphere. Global stock markets were hot too, led by the out-of-favour emerging markets and Continental Europe. Funny how all throughout June and July the aggregate investment flow data was profoundly negative for both regions…
Attached are our quarterly valuations to the end of September. Across the board the portfolios have delivered performance in line with expectations with values falling back a little during September primarily on the back of Donald Trump, North Korea and what one might call slight confusion on the strategy for Brexit!
Whilst ‘Brenda from Bristol’ captivated the British public with her displeasure about the upcoming UK election, investors elsewhere in Europe were celebrating as the first round of the French Presidential contest appeared to continue the trend started by the Dutch vote in March of stepping away from the populist brink.
On Wednesday 29th March the UK gave official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the UK/EU divorce proceedings (just in case you missed it). Since the Referendum there has been plenty of speculation about what the divorce will mean for the UK and the rest of Europe, all of it meaningless, as in our view the outcome is impossible to predict, particularly if the UK invades Spain to secure Gibraltar!
This Budget was Mr Hammond’s first – and last – Spring Budget. From now on Budgets will take place in Autumn and there will be a financial statement each Spring. Thus, the next Budget is probably a little over eight months away although, as 2016 revealed, much can happen even over such a brief period.
All investors are likely to agree that ‘Brexit’ is an ungainly word that is likely to be heard far too often in the remaining time before the European Union ‘remain/leave’ vote on 23 June. But what should voters – and investors – think? Here we make the case for both sides… and leave the ultimate decision up to you.
This was Mr Osborne’s third Budget within the space of a year, even if you disregard the quasibudget measures announced in November’s Autumn Statement. Since last March’s preelection Budget Mr Osborne has been quietly tightening the tax screws with, for example, the revisions to dividend taxation and a new employment tax in the guise of an apprenticeship levy.