Trevor Abrahmsohn, Founder and Managing Director of Glentree International, gives his predictions for 2018, covering topics including inflation, the Pound, the stock market, property, UK politics and the World Cup.
I don’t believe inflation will rise next year above its present level of about 2.9%, or there about, since a number of ‘one off’ factors, such as the drop in Sterling after the Referendum, have already been discounted in this figure. In any event the Pound has recovered a little recently, now that the talks with the EU have gained momentum again.
The fall in retail spending will calm down the runaway money supply and therefore Interest Rates need not rise appreciably further. Inflation in 2018 will probably be circa 2.5% and that will please Mr. Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, who will not need to write his customary letter to the Chancellor explaining the excess inflation.
2. The Pound
The Pound against the Euro and the Dollar will remain within a few percent of their present levels, until the Brexit trade deal is done, which, in principal, could be by October 2018. You could even find that it strengthens somewhat, to within 5% of the pre Referendum level. If, of course, the negotiations with the EU flounder and the threat of Britain resorting to WTO rules becomes more of a reality (however unlikely this may be), then this will undoubtedly have a depressing effect on the Exchange Rate. I feel sure the participants will threaten this scenario as part of the usual posturing and ‘three ring circus antics’ that Mr. Juncker likes to indulge in. Personally, I think common sense will eventually prevail, even amongst the European ‘hardliners’, particularly when they realise that 15% of European trade is with the UK and ‘shooting oneself in the foot’ actually, does not serve to scare your opponent.
These EU negotiators cut an unedifying spectacle with their attempts to try to punish the ‘Blitishers’ for the temerity to want to leave the EU. They take no responsibility for the fact that had more enticing terms been offered to the UK populace in the first place, perhaps Brexit may not have ‘won the day’.
If being in the EU satisfies the utopian ideal, then why on earth would anyone want to leave? There are no bars in ‘Club Med resorts, but plenty in Parkhurst’.
Every country will be ‘better off’ with a mutually beneficial trade deal, but it just goes to show, how political the EU has become, which is a far cry from the very sensible trading organisation we happily joined in 1973 and would join again today, i.e. the EEC (European Economic Community). Why did they drop the ‘E’ in EEC?
3. Stock Market
The Stock Markets on both sides of the Atlantic have risen consistently for over five years and given that short-term growth in the UK is muted, one would have certainly expected the Footsie Index to correct. However, now that Trump’s major tax reforms seem to be passing through Congress, this will act as a further stimulant to the Economy over there.
In all probability, there will be no further ‘loose money tricks’, such as Quantitative Easing, since inflation is now a greater risk with near-on full employment on both sides of the Atlantic and therefore, as both markets are indivisibly linked, the Dow Jones will push the Footsie even further.
As concern eases about the EU trade deal with the UK, the Pound will recover some ground, which technically is not good for the capital markets here, since a significant amount of earnings of UK companies are derived in Dollars from the USA.
Since there is still a stock overhang of properties over £10million, I don’t think there will be growth in this sector next year, even though trading has significantly increased over the last two quarters of 2017, mainly as a result of international investors being seduced by the cheap Pound and a drop in values as a result of Brexit and the Stamp Duty changes.
The only area of the market that could show some perceptible growth is between £1-3million in London and where there is an even balance between buyers and sellers. At the moment we need more stock and properties that are sensibly priced will sell in 8-12 weeks, which is what is termed an ‘orderly market’. If there is an acceptable trade deal with the EU in 2018 and Interest Rates/Mortgage Rates remain where they are, then the present uncertainly generated by Brexit will lessen.
The market up to £1million in London will be affected by the rising trend of Interest Rates (and therefore Mortgage Rates) but, the extension of Help-to-Buy and the abolition of Stamp Duty up to £300,000 will certainly serve to stimulate this sector, where you could find that prices increase by 2-3%.
Changes to the Green Belt and reform of the planning process will definitely assist the much-needed supply of new and affordable homes, but they take time to process. The government’s initiatives to ‘fix the broken housing market’ by injecting more money into the building of 300,000 new homes will help this sector.
Until there is a trade deal with the EU, the depreciation in rental prices will continue. Some of the multi-national companies will need this certainty in order for them to continue to exchange their employees in the UK, when work place contracts come up for renewal.
5. UK Politics
There is no question that Prime Minister May, will continue with her ‘caretaking’ role until well after the trade deal has been concluded, which, in principal, should be in autumn of 2018 and certainly by the deadline of March 2019. In true European tradition, there will be ‘sabre rattling’ to the ‘bitter end’ with a ‘fudged’ compromise finally agreed.
Following this, there will be some sort of Tory leadership contest, if not coronation and I believe, the choice will be between the arch populist Boris Johnson and a ‘safe bet’ such as Amber Rudd or David Davis, particularly if the latter is seen to have scored a victory with the EU negotiations.
Technically, Boris is too comedic and does not fit the archetypal impression of a dignified Prime Minister. He may be the only hope for the Tory’s to counteract the resurgence of the ‘Corbynista Muppets’ who are promising everything to anyone, in order to gain the ‘reigns of power’.
Personally, I am a ‘Moggy supporter’. He speaks such good sense but what a pity that he looks like a ‘Victorian undertaker’. He certainly should be, at the very least, in a major cabinet position but for his entrenched, religious view on abortion and homosexuality, which I am only sorry he felt necessary to share so openly.
I would ennoble Michael Portillo back to the Cabinet as a special adviser, since every utterance that he makes is crafted and poignant.
6. The World Cup
England was very fortunate to be voted into a weak group for the World Cup in Moscow, 2018. Frankly, they do not deserve it. In true English football tradition, they ‘stagger’ through to the knock-out stages and, if past form is anything to go by, at best, they will be ignominiously eliminated in the quarter finals and will ‘slink back’ to the UK, via a private airport, so as to avoid being pelted by rotten eggs thrown by an assortment of disappointed supporters. Predictably, the Manager, Gareth Southgate, will ‘fall on his sword’ and another ‘Muppet’ will be chosen to replace him, who, as usual, will be an over paid ‘has been’. Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?
It is ridiculous that the English Premier Division Football League is the richest in the world and yet we have to suffer a Third Division national team. Look at the hero’s welcome that the returning Olympic Team received by way of contrast. When you think of the comparative salaries of the participants, it ‘turns your stomach’.