Every week our guest blogger, David Oakes of Mosaic Money Management (aka The Financial Ironmonger), shares with us his take on some of the major UK and overseas macro and political events that shaped the previous week.
Please be reminded the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall or rise. The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Chelverton Asset Management Limited or Mosaic Money Management. The contents of this article are not intended as investment or tax advice and will not be updated after publication unless otherwise stated.
–THE FINANCIAL IRONMONGER BLOG NO 32/2018–
Everyone knows when silly season has arrived; most of the main protagonists have withdrawn from their particular battlefield leaving news editors desperate for content to fill their pages, or even worse, their live TV bulletins. Boris Johnson, until recently the UK foreign secretary, started life as a journalist, and well knows all the tricks.
Since resigning, he has gone back to writing his weekly column in the Telegraph, the natural home for Conservatives of a certain type, who would like things to be as they imagine they once were. Cue a wonderful opportunity to fire up his support base by comparing women wearing burkas to “letter-boxes” and “bank robbers”.
Some European countries have now banned their use in public, for which I have a degree of sympathy, but he made the perfectly reasonable argument that it is not for governments to tell women what to wear. Which ignores the fact that if governments wont, other sectors will. You cannot wear a crash helmet in either a bank, or a petrol station, whilst there is a very strict dress code if you want to visit a church in Venice, for instance.
He therefore knew exactly what effect he would have by throwing himself into what had been a non debate, previously, but even he must be pleasantly surprised that it has dominated the headlines for five days. A lot of hot air has been generated, experts from all sides consulted and the Guardian, which passes as the flagship of the liberal left, apoplectic at what it termed “dog-whistle Islamophobia”.
Nothing is anything now unless it has a conspiracy bolted on to it, but this is no more than an idle journalist, with a deadline to meet, throwing a brick in the pond to see what happens. Remarkably, it transpires that the Guardian published a column in 2013 suggesting alternative uses for a burqa, one of which was relaunching the post-box.
By design, or otherwise, this non-news story has blotted out coverage of other things that have been going on, particularly over Brexit. There has been no official EU response to the Chequers plan, although early indications were that it was dead in the water. Today, however, the Austrian Finance minister has said that no deal would be disastrous, and by chance, it is their turn to run the show for the next six months. It is understood that both the Germans and the French feel the same way, so perhaps there is progress.
Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, reckons that the deal is 80% done, the major problem being the Northern Ireland border, on which one potentially useful idea has emerged. The present backstop solution is for a Common Rule Book, whereby the UK would adopt all present and future EU rules on goods, which would effectively stop us doing trade deals with third party countries. The second part of the solution is that Northern Ireland stays in the EU, negating the need for a border. Neither is acceptable.
Enclaves would provide a solution. If your company is quite happy to stay subject to the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union, your factory could be so designated, which would suit Airbus. Such arrangements are well recognised in international law, and already exist in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Cyprus and Switzerland.
The Irish are past masters at this kind of chicanery. I can remember when they were establishing the Financial Services Zone in the Dublin Docks in the early nineties, which had significant tax advantages. They were perfectly happy to designate one floor of a building as within the zone, whilst another could be outside, which suited our purposes, at the time.
Sadly, it didn’t work out, and thus I missed one of the greatest property booms ever seen. Together with the opportunity to live in a very beautiful country. However, if the pragmatic is to replace the puritanical note seen to date, there is the basis of a deal.
–MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER, DAVID OAKES–
David joined Manchester stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden in 1977 and after becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1984 held a number of senior positions within the firm including Managing Director of the in-house fund management company and member of the Executive Committee.
After senior appointments at Cazenove Fund Management and latterly Mercater Capital Management, David joined Mosaic Money Management in 2013. He has successfully managed private client and fund portfolios for over thirty years and has particular expertise in providing a multi manager service to his loyal client base.
The Financial Ironmonger is a hat-tip to Ironmonger Lane, the location of Chelverton’s London office.