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28 March 2017

London the top trader

Amid the frenzy of the last days before the Prime Minister pulls the trigger on Article 50 professional services firms have been busily conducting surveys in the City of London to get a handle on how big the consequences of Brexit will be. The answer, nowhere near as dramatic or as bad as the doom mongers have been threatening.

Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills interviewed executives at 70 major businesses on what the impact Brexit would likely have on their spending plans, a key indicator. A full 89% said that they are planning no changes.

Pressed on the looming Brexit question of being able to operate across European borders, one executive said: “No banks have turned down business with us – this is probably because of faith that the situation [of cross-border financial operations] will get sorted out”.

Forecasters at UK accounting giant EY predict a 6% rise in personal and business lending over the period 2016-20. Asset management will grow a whopping 12% compared to a more modest, but impressive 4.2% for the banking sector.

At the global level, London has retained its crown as the world’s financial capital, according to a report by Z/Yen. London is the only European financial centre to make the top five. The ranking is based on more than a 100 different factors and verified by the

World Bank and the UN among other international organisations.

On the investment front, Qatar, which has already invested £40 billon in Britain, has announced plans to shovel another £5 billion into UK transport, property and digital technology.

Brexit boom for overseas turnover

Britain’s medium-sized businesses saw their overseas turnover increase from £119 billion to £127 billion in 2016, a jump of 7%.

International trade is increasing for mid-sized firms, flying in the face of the economic scare stories put out by Remain about what a Leave vote would mean.

The continued growth in trade for these companies follows news of a boost for the tourism industry in the UK, a retail sales surge and huge optimism in British factories as the country prepares to leave the EU.

Economic prospects continue to look good, with the country about to embark on a political journey that will end up with the UK’s Trade Secretary able to negotiate global trade deals.

17 March 2017

Another week of bad news for Remoaners as good news continued to emerge for the British economy.

Britain received lots of good news about upcoming trade deals as Commonwealth allies Canada, Australia, and New Zealand continued to compete over who would be the first to agree a comprehensive trade pact with the UK and Theresa May planned for a big trade push at a major Commonwealth meeting; Liam Fox was set to visit China for talks with the world’s second largest economy and the largest trade delegation from Qatar came to the UK for a major conference.

Rumours swirled that Theresa May would demand £9bn in EU assets while exiting the bloc as the IMF looked set for another forecast boost, Morgan Stanley boosted its 2017 forecast, and UK unemployment continued to fall. More data also emerged showing factories being boosted by sterling, the UK growing rapidly in the last three months, and deal activity booming. Vodafone and Toyota made big investment commitments as experts predict strong FDI after Brexit as economists were left baffled by the fact that even Remainers are going on a Brexit spending spree.

The Sun – Canada’s trade minister promises Brits cut-price lobster and maple syrup if free trade deal follows Brexit

Commonwealth allies are rallying around the UK as they seek to be first in line for a trade deal with an independent United Kingdom. Canada’s trade minister Francois Philippe Champagne has met with Liam Fox to discuss the future of our commercial ties as Britain frees itself from the constraints of the protectionist EU, looking to ensure “more and better choice for consumers” – something the EU usually doesn’t care about.

But New Zealand’s trade minister Todd McClay insisted that his nation and neighbouring Australia would be the first global trade partners to strike a deal with the UK, claiming that “we’ve been working hard at this for the last six or seven months”. Calm down Todd, there’s enough trade for everyone! With Theresa May set to make strategic use of a major Commonwealth conference ahead of our EU exit, it’s clear that the Commonwealth will be a more important part of our trading life going forward.

The Scotsman – Fox to visit China in quest for post-Brexit trade deal

But the government isn’t only looking to the Commonwealth. They’re looking to the east too, with trade minister Liam Fox set to visit one of the world’s largest economies, China, at the beginning of April. The move could open massive markets for UK goods and capitalise on one of the few achievements of the Cameron administration – opening the door to a warmer relationship with the Orient at the start of the Asian century.

Qatar seems to be interested in Brexit Britain too with its largest trade delegation heading to the UK this week for a major conference that could generate billions. The nation’s finance minister said that “Qatar and the UK have a long and productive shared economic history and we will build on this partnership as the UK shapes a new role for itself in the world”.

The Times – May ‘will ask EU to pay back our £9bn’

As impotent European negotiator Michel Barnier starts to back down on his outrageous demand that the UK pay tens of billions into the EU coffers after we voted to quit the EU, Theresa May has now turned the tables as major sources within the government claim she’s looking to demand Britain’s share of the EU’s massive assets – a share worth £9bn. The move would take more courage than the government has shown so far as they’ve continued to delay Brexit, but it would set a suitable tone for our exit negotiations.

Telegraph – IMF chief signals upgrade for UK as global economy picks up speed

The head of the IMF Christine Lagarde has continued her embarrassing u-turn on Brexit, speaking of her enthusiasm about the current state of the world economy and suggesting that we’ve reached a turning point. Ahead of G20 meetings, she said that “policymakers will likely share a sense of growing optimism, because the recent strengthening of activity suggests that the world economy may finally snap out of its multi-year convalescence”. The IMF has already boosted its UK growth forecasts once – will they be forced to do it again?

The major bank Morgan Stanley joined the chorus too, nearly doubling its forecast for the UK’s growth this year and pointing to healthy exports to justify the massive boost. They back the country to expand by 1.8% and hailed the “relatively smooth path” to Brexit talks, while suggesting that growth of 2.5% is within the realms of possibility.

Telegraph – UK unemployment falls to joint-lowest level in more than 40 years

And why wouldn’t these organisations boost their outlook for the UK as key economic indicators remain so strong? Just this week unemployment fell to its joint lowest level in more than four decades, sitting at a mere 4.7%. Full-time employment is on the rise, up 136,000 to 23.3m, as wages continue to rise. Even Remainers are enjoying Brexit Britain with economists confused by the fact that they’re going on an even larger spending spree than Leavers, indicating faith in the future of the economy. A balance of 19 percent of those who backed EU membership increased their spending, above the balance of 8 percent of Leavers.

Recent work by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research backs up the optimism too, claiming that the British economy expanded by 0.6% in the three months to the end of February. It’s down slightly from the huge 0.8% expansion the group reported in the three months to the end of January, but still suggests healthy economic expansion.

Sky News – Trade and factory data suggest Brexit boost from weaker pound

The value of sterling did provide a boost to certain economic sectors according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, rebutting the desperate claims of Remain campaigners who have pointed to the foreign exchange markets as evidence of Brexit folly.  In the three months to the end of January they claim that exports in goods leapt 8.7% and factory output grew by 2.1%, helping to close Britain’s global trade deficit.

New figures from Thompson Reuters also pointed to healthy activity in UK deal-making as British involvement in mergers and acquisitions rose a massive 38% in the year so far compared to the same period in 2016. JP Morgan chief Ed Byers spoke to City A.M. and claimed that “the UK has many strong global companies who will continue to undertake strategic acquisitions to build value for shareholders. We would absolutely expect that to continue.” The news undermines claims that the weaker pound will have the perverse effect of making British firms easy prey for predatory foreign rivals.

Sky News – Vodafone to create 2,100 jobs in ‘UK economy investment’

The UK also received huge investment news this week as mobile giant Vodafone pledged to create 2,100 jobs over three years in a massive £2bn investment scheme. The jobs will be spread around the country in Manchester, Newark, Stoke, Glasgow, Newcastle, and Cardiff. Toyota also made big investment plans, vowing to plough £240m into the country with an upgrade to a major plan near Derby. No wonder economic experts at Columbia University expect foreign direct investment to remain strong after we quit the EU.

10 March 2017

Another strong week for the UK as growth prospects were boosted…again.

As Philip Hammond delivered his first spring budget, the UK’s growth prospects for 2017 were boosted by two previously gloomy organisations; UK manufacturers felt the benefits of sterling’s new value as foreign shoppers created a huge online sales boom and export orders drove manufacturing output to its highest since 2013; 89% of British firms backed the county, saying that Brexit wouldn’t damage hiring plans as wages and job postings continued to rise; Peugeot affirmed its commitment to Britain in the event of a so-called “hard” Brexit; and the full importance of Britain’s market to German business was revealed.

The Guardian – Hammond gets budget boost as OECD upgrades UK growth forecast

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has been left red faced as it was forced to boost its UK growth forecast for the current year. In late November they took a pessimistic view of the British economy and said it would only expand by 1.2% this year, but after 2016 growth smashed expectations they’ve been forced to wake up to the facts. They now admit that the economy will grow more than previously thought, forecasting growth of 1.6% instead.

And the Office for Budge Responsibility has boosted its growth forecast too, bringing it more closely in line with the revised growth forecasts of the Bank of England. Like the OECD it had bashed the potential of Brexit Britain, saying we’d only grow by 1.4% this year. But now they predict major expansion in the economy with annual growth of 2%. They continue to peddle fear though and predict a slowdown in years to come, but their track record to date has been far from enviable.

Reuters – UK manufacturers enjoy post-Brexit surge in orders – survey

A new survey from the manufacturing lobby group EEF and the consultancy group BDO points to impressive growth in the manufacturing sector as Brexit Britain’s factories boom. EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said that the sector was “now rallying far more strongly than even they had predicted”. The survey showed manufacturing growing faster than at any point since 2013 as firms reap the huge benefits of the new value of sterling. The balance of firms reported an incredible 31% growth and the EEF now predicts the sector will expand by 1% this year – up 1.2% from their previous forecast of a 0.2% contraction.

And SMEs are benefitting from the new value of sterling too with international PayPal sales booming. They increased ten percent on the prior year in the first half of 2016 and then surged a whopping 34% in the second half. PayPal UK managing director Mark Brant hailed the ingenuity of British firms, saying that “the small businesses that were best placed to benefit from the influx of international shoppers were the ones who had already adapted their online stores”.

Recruitment Grapevine – 89% of UK firms don’t believe Brexit will hurt hiring plans

British firms are backing the labour market big time too, with an overwhelming majority of firms confirming that they don’t plan to dampen their hiring plans in the face of Brexit. The employer-led 5% Club carried out the survey of 200 employers, who were confident that a surge in apprenticeships would deal with possible skill shortages arising from a tightening EU migration policy. The “experts” have one view, but market actors on the field feel quite differently.

The job site CV-Library confirmed that wages and job postings are both on the up too, with salaries rising 1.9% year-on-year in the month of February – beating out the inflation rate of 1.8%. They also reported a 7.6% rise in job postings too, revealing the wonderful health of the UK economy. The founder of the site, Lee Biggins, said that “companies across the UK are pushing their salaries up in order to offer competitive pay packages to talented recruits”.

Telegraph – ‘Hard’ Brexit would be good news for Vauxhall

Peugeot has hailed the opportunities for Vauxhall, which it now owns, should Theresa May follow through with her promise of a clean break from the crumbling European Union. The Chairman of PSA, Carlos Tavares, said that the company would increase its supply chain in the UK should Mrs May leave the EU without a comprehensive trade deal. “If it is a hard Brexit, then the supplier base needs to be developed. It is important that we source parts from the UK, so that the cost structure will be more in pounds”. Another day, another benefit of our exit from the European Union.

Handelsblatt – Beware the Ides of Brexit

German firms have also been given a harsh reminder about the importance of the British market on their business as the major professional services firm Deloitte laid out the stakes. A Institutes of German Industry poll earlier this year showed that 90% of German firms were complacent about Brexit, but they have much to lose. Warning the country’s industrial leaders about a hard Brexit, Deloittes‘s chief economist and head of research Alexander Borsch claimed that “no business that exports can afford to ignore Brexit”, highlighting that German firms have exported a massive €90 billion of goods to the UK. They also have links to the country with BMW, for example, employing 24,000 British workers and headquartering Mini and Rolls-Royce in the country.

Remoaners constantly claim that the government will be desperate to strike a deal with the failing bloc, giving the EU all the cards in future negotiations. How little they know.

3 March 2017

The British economy continues to defy the Remoaners as the public is set for a huge budget windfall.

Chancellor Hammond is set for a whopping £45bn budget boost following the ongoing strength of Brexit Britain’s booming economy, but Germany won’t enjoy the same delight when they’re made to fill huge holes in the EU’s out of control budget once Britain quits the bloc; a new study by PwC showed Britain rising to become the third most important country worldwide for company growth prospects as UK firms report strong growth; services optimism hit its highest since the Brexit vote as the sector continued to grow; business leaders from Vodafone, Dyson, and Nissan dispelled more Brexit scare stories; and stock markets in the US and the UK boomed to record highs as the trans-Atlantic populist insurgency continued to take hold.

Mail – Philip Hammond gets a £45bn budget boost as UK economy proves resilient following the Brexit vote

The so-called economic experts constantly told us that voting to quit the failing European Union would ruin Britain’s economy. The most arrogant of them warned that a vote to leave would cause an immediate recession. That never happened, and now Brexiteers can celebrate the fact that Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to get a £45bn windfall because the economy is doing so well. The estimate has been made by PricewaterhouseCoopers who claim that the government is borrowing less than expected due to high tax receipts.

But Germany won’t be so lucky as Angela Merkel is forced to pile German cash into the failing European Union. Britain’s exit from the bloc is set to leave a £7.7bn black hole, forcing other net contributors like Germany to pick up the slack. Bad luck. Maybe without British cash, other nations will wake up to the unacceptable costs of EU membership and call for an end to this mad project.

Telegraph – UK rises to become third most important country for company growth prospects, PwC says

And it’s no wonder our budget position is looking relatively good. Brexit Britain’s big boom continues as a new analysis from PwC shows the country rising in the eyes of investors, who now see Britain as equal to Germany in terms of company growth prospects. The UK is only beaten by economic giants China and the USA in the highly lucrative tech and financial sectors too, showing Britain as a future-oriented economic actor. London also punched above its weight, being outdone only by New York globally.

A CBI survey also highlighted big potential for British firms as growth in the private sector accelerated. Growth rose to +15 from +10 in the period between November and January, showing that business hasn’t slowed since our vote for national independence. The CBI’s Rain Newton-Smith hailed the figures and said that “consumer-facing sectors [are] leading the way for now”. But growth is being enjoyed across the economy with UK export activity also accelerating last month. Manufacturing PMI data from HIS Markit showed manufacturing remaining steady as export orders shot up. Just imagine how much more business we can do once we can strike our own trade deals.

Reuters – UK services optimism is highest since Brexit vote – CBI

Optimism is high in the British services sector too despite continued attempts to talk down the country’s prospects. A new survey from the CBI shows confidence in the sector at its highest since November 2015 – proving that our historic vote for Brexit hasn’t dampened the moods of firms in the market.

No wonder too, given that so much of our post-Brexit growth has been driven by consumer confidence, with firms servicing British shoppers accounting for more than double their ordinary importance to the economy.

Telegraph – Mobile phone roaming charges won’t go up after Brexit

Major figures from business have also come out this week to put an end to Remoaner scaremongering. One big talking point was the reintroduction of mobile phone roaming charges for British travellers once we leave the EU. But the chief executive of Vodafone Vittorio Colao has attacked the idea, saying that “we treat Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, as part of it so why would we not treat the UK that way?” Common sense all too easily missed by those who want to do down Britain.

When will they start seeing the big picture of optimism and confidence going around British industry? British innovator James Dyson isn’t concerned about Brexit, investing in the UK massively with new expansion plans that will double the firm’s workforce and build a huge 210-hectare campus. The firm is leading the way in robotics research and understands that the best place to push forward is in Brexit Britain.

The global car industry feels the same way with the VP of Nissan Colin Lawther hailing the country before the House of Commons International Trade Committee, praising the fact that the firm’s X Trail is still “very profitable” to import into the US despite border tariffs. And Eurotunnel chief Jacques Gounon joined the chorus too, pointing to the group’s record year (where pre-tax profit doubled to  £131m) and speculating that Brexit won’t dent business.

The Times – Markets hit new highs in boost for growth

Stock markets in the US and the UK also enjoyed record highs once again despite constant hostility from the media about the Trump presidency and Britain’s move towards the EU exit door. The moves were caused in part by the new President’s commitment to a trillion dollar infrastructure project across the US which is set to spur growth in the American economy. On the night of Trump’s speech, both the FTSE 100 and Dow Jones hit highs of 7,383 and 21,116 respectively.