BBB deadline December

03 Dec 2018

Brexit wonders if the world has gone mad and fears for our democracy. If giving people a second choice democracy, or is it violating the first vote? Will there need to be a third “tie-breaker? Certainly in the past when Ireland and Denmark had referenda that conflicted with the EU they were told to vote again and get it right, and they did.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the CBI, has explained that Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement has the backing of business and deserves the support of MPs. Even a bear of average brain has to admit that the antics of those that lost the vote have undermined the UK negotiating position and led to a less favourable result than might have otherwise been achieved. Does a plan that involves one side getting the divorce settlement they wanted and the other side getting clearance to negotiate for the trade terms they want constitute a good deal?

The Financial Conduct Authority has called on European and British lawmakers to quickly recognise each other's rules for banks and insurers to avoid significant disruption from a no-deal Brexit. The FCA said: “Many of the effects of a no-deal scenario could be managed if the EU and UK were able to find each other equivalent ahead of exit. There is a strong case for this, since the UK and EU would have the most equivalent frameworks in the world at the point of exit.” Meanwhile, City AM reports that the German Treasury has drafted a law permitting UK financial services companies to keep operating in the country until 2020 under current conditions in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Confidence in the UK's manufacturing sector has slumped to its lowest level since June 2017. A downturn in global trade and weakened demand due to uncertainty over Brexit top the sector's concerns. Elsewhere, growing demand for craft spirits has led the number of distillery businesses to rise from 131 in 2016 to 170, maybe we all need a stiff drink: "The UK spirits industry is in growth mode and shows no signs of slowing. Public demand for artisan drinks continues," according to a leading accountant quoted in the financial pages of the Sun.

Another recent study reveals a "sudden reversal" in the numbers of EU and non-EU migrants in employment, leading to an increase in the shortage of skilled workers. It said research among over 1,000 employers suggested that vacancies are becoming harder to fill leading employers to increase pay rates. Gerwyn Davies of co-authors CIPD warned that failure to make the post-Brexit recruitment process simpler and cheaper will heighten difficulties “and could lead to negative consequences” for businesses.

European companies cite political uncertainty as a top concern as pessimism over revenues increases on the continent, a survey of CFOs has found. Ian Stewart, chief UK economist at Deloitte, said: “Geopolitical uncertainties and slowing growth have dented CFO confidence and lowered risk appetite across Europe. Yet CFOs have not turned their back on expansion, and despite a dip, remain pretty positive on hiring and investment.”

Which should come as a surprise to UBS chief economist Arend Kapteyn who has warned that a range of broadly cyclical factors are set to result in a global economic slowdown not seen since the Eurozone crisis.

A survey of 650 small business owners by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales shows that just 7% of SMEs have started exporting in the last two years, despite a government drive to encourage small firms to trade internationally. The poll saw a "downward trend" in the number of exporters planning to enter new markets, with a fifth investigating new territories, compared to one in three in 2014. That's NOT good.

A pro-Brexit economist has criticised research that claims the Prime Minister's Brexit deal could reduce the UK's GDP by up to 5.5% over the next 10 years. Researchers at the London School of Economics, King's College London and the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the withdrawal agreement could shrink UK GDP per person by between 1.9% and 5.5%. According to the think tank The UK in a Changing Europe's report, the cost to public finances would be between 0.4% and 1.8% of GDP over the same timeframe. It comes the day after a separate report said the economy would be £100bn worse off under Theresa May's deal. However, Arbuthnot Banking Group economic advisor Ruth Lea said that both studies were flawed, leaving many questions unanswered. “These 'studies' are barely worth the paper they are printed on, it is difficult to forecast 12 months ahead never mind 12 years," she said. "So many assumptions have to be made. Will we have Thatcherite or Corbynite policies? How successful will our trade deals be? Will there be radical tax and regulatory reforms or not? How is the world economy going to grow?"

Brexit wonders if it is time to hibernate now…