Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. I don’t know what to say. Rare, indeed, for me, as sometimes I find it difficult to stop! I am starting to feel that the world is approaching ‘Trump Overload’ and because of that, I shall say no more on the subject – this issue.
On the domestic front, the Brexit issues are still as ill-defined as they ever were, but at least we know that there is a ‘No Deal’ scenario being considered, should the remaining members decide that no special consideration will be given to their ‘ex’ once the divorce is settled. We have been told consistently that all the European manufacturers will be keen to continue selling us their goods, which is clearly true. However, with regard to international trade, the imposition of Customs duties or tariffs is the domain of the country into which the goods are being imported. Therefore, the UK will still get its fix of Mercedes, Rioja, Champagne, Armani, etc, and our Government will decide how much we will pay in duties and taxes.
More of an economic issue is that of our exports to the EU. Whilst our manufacturing industry is not what it was, and our imports from the EU are considerably more than exports to these countries, we still have a considerable export trade to consider. Our exporters have benefited from a weaker pound, of late, but the imposition of tariffs in the EU will do nothing to help those companies. If the Britain-less Union imposes customs duties on UK exports, as they will in the absence of a specific trade deal, then these goods will be proportionately more expensive – and potentially less attractive to their prospective purchasers – than EU-manufactured goods. Should this come to pass, there may be a resultant effect on the share values of British exporters.
I have absolutely no idea what may transpire in the exit negotiations, but I am not alone in feeling that the future uncertainty will not benefit investment markets. In fact, it is difficult to see the good value opportunities at the moment, without there being a not insignificant downside risk. As I have often said, small and regular investments, such as regular savings plans, are a sensible way of mitigating risk over the longer term. It can be worrying, trying to work out when to invest, and the best time is invariably when it feels quite the opposite. It takes a certain mentality to pile your hard-earned cash into markets that have been in free-fall, but that is the time to do it. Similarly, it is difficult to take money out of investments when markets have been rising stratospherically. But the more they rise, the more the potential downside increases. Really long term, regular investments, take the decisions – and therefore the fear – out of the process.
There, I’ve managed to spout enough, what I hope is, sense to fill a reasonably-sized column, despite not having a clue what to say. I hope it helps. I’ll be back in the summer.