In 1665, as the bubonic plague tightened its grip on England, Cambridge University took the unprecedented step of closing its doors. One of its young students put the period of isolation to good use: Isaac Newton spent his forced sabbatical at home doing the groundwork for what would become his theory of calculus.
This piece was written in February, before the impact of the coronavirus on global markets.
And so it begins. With near-perfect synchronicity, Donald Trump won his impeachment battle just as the state of Ohio was announcing the delayed results of the first Democratic primary. The US presidential election campaign is under way, even if we only know for now which Republican candidate will be on the ballot paper.
Santa rally or election elation? The UK stockmarket posted its biggest gains for more than three years in the week following Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory on 12 December, despite a simultaneous jump in the value of sterling that might have been expected to hit large firms with hefty international earnings.
Precarious. That’s how the International Monetary Fund describes the economic outlook as we head into 2020. It’s hardly a clarion bell of optimism with which to ring in the new year – but then the year just gone has not given forecasters much reason to be cheerful.
In these times of momentous political upheaval, old certainties suddenly look less sure. Just ask Christian Schultz, chief UK economist at Citibank, and Oliver Harvey, head of Brexit research and UK macro strategy at Deutsche Bank.
The duo made headlines in September with pronouncements that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could actually be a safe option for the UK – safer than a no-deal Brexit for sure, and maybe even safer than a Conservative government led by a fiscally profligate Boris Johnson.
After the disastrous suspension of Woodford Equity Income this spring, the board of Woodford Patient Capital (WPCT) felt compelled to act quickly to reassure shareholders. The closed-ended fund does not face the same liquidity issues as its sister vehicle, but the board was under pressure to prove its independence – and it had a good idea of how to do so.
Vanguard’s LifeStrategy passive fund range has built up close to £16 billion of assets under management since its launch in the UK just eight years ago. It seems remarkable that no other fund manager has sought to capture a slice of what is obviously a lucrative market with a rival product.
If painful experience has taught us to take politicians’ pre-election promises with a pinch of salt, what do we make of the pledges made by party leadership candidates, which aren’t even recorded for posterity in a manifesto we can scrutinise later on? Bear that thought in mind this autumn as you ponder what impact prime minister Boris Johnson might have on your finances.
When is a closed-ended fund not a closed-ended fund? That’s not meant to be the set-up line for an esoteric joke aimed at investment trust enthusiasts; rather it is a question to provoke some thought in the wake of the Woodford furore.
The world’s biggest technology companies are making plays for a share of the healthcare market. Apple, Google, Amazon and their rivals believe new technologies have the potential to transform healthcare, just as they have underpinned the growth of these big-tech companies themselves over the past two decades.