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.
The bottom-fishers smell an opportunity. Woodford Patient Capital (WPCT) was the most-bought investment trust on interactive investor’s web platform during June, as bargain-hunters sought to cash in on its plummeting rating. But will the opportunists make a killing – and should you join them? Or will Patient Capital’s new shareholders rue the day they ignored that old stockmarket adage about never trying to catch a falling knife?
Politics is a parochial pursuit – on both sides of the argument. It’s easy enough to characterise those overcome by Brexit fervour as narrow-minded and insular: their desire for a more extreme form of departure from the EU than any referendum campaigner ever envisaged speaks for itself. Yet those who describe the potential for a no-deal Brexit as the most serious threat in our time to the UK’s economic prosperity are just as blinkered in their own way: there are any number of scarier risks that presage more substantial damage.
Further rate cuts in bank rate alone might not be enough to bring inflation in line… the Bank of England remains committed to improving liquidity in credit markets that are not functionally normally.” So wrote Mervyn King, then governor of the Bank of England, to Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the exchequer, in March 2009. A decade later, the fallout from that letter is still being felt by ordinary Britons up and down the country.