The past few weeks have certainly been interesting not just from an investment perspective, but also politically as well.
As I pen this note, the Brexit deal would seem to be getting ever closer to a conclusion, however, Theresa May still has one almighty hurdle to jump in the form of getting the deal agreed by parliament back in the UK.
Ironically, this could well be the toughest part of the whole process for our embattled Prime Minister. Regardless of your opinions on Theresa May in general, I think we can all agree that her job at the moment is near impossible. I certainly don’t envy her!
As I have spoken about before, I believe that the next few years could be punctuated by things which are good news in the long term causing short term market volatility.
If this does come to pass, it will be the opposite of the rather strange environment we have found ourselves in over the past couple of years since the Brexit vote, where things that have been perceived as ‘bad news’ have been very positive for the markets.
The Brexit vote itself is one such example.
Of course, before the event, there were prophecies of doom and destruction in the event of a leave vote and indeed we did get some serious market sell offs … for all of 2 days.
After this, something unexpected happened. The de-valuation of sterling actually turned out to be positive for markets and indeed, this factor has probably been the biggest contributor to UK market performance over the past few years.
This is one example of bad news being good news for markets. The election of Trump could well be another.
As we move into 2019, I expect this trend to reverse.
If we do (ever) agree a Brexit deal, I would imagine that we might see sterling strengthen somewhat. This is good news in general for UK PLC, but could be bad for UK markets in the short term.
In a similar vein, increasing interest rates and the unwinding of quantitative easing (both good things in the long term – signalling that we are finally getting back to ‘normal’ economic health), could drag on markets in the short term.
These things, despite the short term pain they might cause, are totally necessary for the economy to build a solid foundation on which to grow into the future.
The past decade of growth has been partially fuelled by artificial stimulus and this process has to come to an end at some point.
The ending of the artificial stimulus programmes around the world could well be the best thing to happen to markets in a long time, creating a solid and stable base for the next period of growth which will inevitably be to follow.
While unsettling, the volatility we have seen over the past few weeks does not concern the Buckingham Gate Investment Committee greatly. This type of market ‘wobble’ is fairly usual as we start to approach the end of the market cycle.
That’s not to say that the cycle is over at this point, but we should be prepared for a slightly more volatile ride ahead.
The main predictor of a significant market correction or a ‘bear market‘ is a recession and although global economic indicators (job numbers, GDP growth etc) are not the best we have ever seen, they are not bad either.
There is certainly nothing in the figures to indicate a recession at the moment, although things can and do change quickly.
As usual, we must insert that caveat that the past is no guide to the future and things can be unpredictable in the wonderful world of investments.
I shall keep the blog updated with my views. All eyes now are on the 11th December and the deciding vote.