Bordering on a Customs Union

Since the start of this year, the UK political consensus has moved towards a customs union for goods, including agricultural trade, in the final UK-European Union (EU) free trade agreement. This is largely the result of the EU’s rejection of the UK’s alternative proposals to solve the Irish border issue and the Labour party making … Continue reading “Bordering on a Customs Union”

The IMF and World Bank must evolve to remain relevant

It is hard to square a US President bent on protectionism with two institutions that have been a bulwark for free trade for over 70 years. The Bretton Woods institutions, as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are known collectively, were created during the Second World War to support the post-war economic and … Continue reading “The IMF and World Bank must evolve to remain relevant”

What causes recessions, and can we predict them?

The US economic expansion has just become the second longest on record. If it continues beyond mid-2019, it will be number one. Its longevity is probably due to a mixture of circumstances, judgement and luck. The severity of the recession following the global financial crisis (GFC), coupled with the slowness of the subsequent recovery, has … Continue reading “What causes recessions, and can we predict them?”

Many of pension freedoms’ true challenges yet to surface

I sat open-mouthed in the House of Commons four years ago as George Osborne announced the end of a national retirement system based on annuities. Three years on from the law change, several trends are clear. Overall, we remain in what I call ‘Income Drawdown’s Phoney War’: as long as the vast majority of retirees … Continue reading “Many of pension freedoms’ true challenges yet to surface”

Why I need a financial adviser

Combining risk frameworks with appropriate asset allocation is no mean feat. Economists call them “teachable moments” – life events which make us think more about long-term financial planning. Until my 40th birthday, I barely thought of my mortality. But since then I have barely thought of anything else. A major birthday milestone, combined with the … Continue reading “Why I need a financial adviser”

Property investors are in need of some retail therapy

Many would say that high street retailing is dead. The reality is that no high streets have truly perished and very few will be completely wiped out. Yet many are undoubtedly shadows of their former selves, most will never be the same again, and relatively few could be considered in fine fettle. The global financial … Continue reading “Property investors are in need of some retail therapy”

Trump’s tariffs

Last week, the White House announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum of 25% and 10% respectively – a move that sparked global indignation and threats of a trade war. But tariffs are more common than you may imagine. Almost every US president since Ronald Reagan has announced a tariff of one kind or another. … Continue reading “Trump’s tariffs”

Will the US infrastructure plan be effective?

The United States (US) presidential plan is to raise $1.5trn to $1.7trn to spend on US infrastructure over the course of the next ten years. The proposed plan aims to restructure the permitting process, which is currently inefficient and may have actually disincentivised investment efforts. Where is the money coming from and what will it … Continue reading “Will the US infrastructure plan be effective?”

Forces of nature: the emerging solar and wind revolution

In north-western China’s arid Tengger desert lies a spectacular city. Not one of buildings but solar panels, and millions of them. This “Great Wall of Solar” covers 1,200km2 – only 100km2 less than Los Angeles. It is the latest development in China’s aspiration to be the world’s leader in solar power. The renewables revolution is … Continue reading “Forces of nature: the emerging solar and wind revolution”

A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth

The 10% depreciation of the trade-weighted US dollar over the past year is an underappreciated driver of the synchronised upswing in world trade and global economic growth. That’s because movements in the US dollar have global consequences above and beyond movements in any other currency – dollar appreciation tends to crimp global trade and credit … Continue reading “A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth”