We suspect the minimalist approach to the media makes sense when it’s yours to lose! He’s been under a little pressure from David Gauke, the former justice minister, making the comment that the country would be better off if there wasn’t a conservative majority! Mr Gauke fears that if that were to happen, we’d be careering towards another hard brexit at the end of next year, as Boris has said there won’t be an extension of the transition period past 2020. Asked about this, Boris reverted back to form and quoted ‘getting Brexit done’ rather than give anything substantive – the generic response we fear we’re going to hear much more of in lieu of actual answers to reasonable questions.
Speaking of reasonable questions, why is the government refusing to publish the enquiry document into Russian interference in UK politics until after the election? I’m sure the report doesn’t paint a great picture of anybody, but surely we’d all feel more informed if we got an opportunity to read it and then get some responses ahead of going to the polls. Hope this one doesn’t just fade into the background and we do somehow get to have a read!
Still, if you thought we had it bad, Trump’s impeachment dramas hit daytime TV in the states yesterday as the proceedings are now being broadcast. Trump hasn’t had time to watch them, as he was busy welcoming president Erdogan of Turkey to Washington – based on their conversations, there’s more that divides them than unites them, especially the Syrian conflict, where Erdogan was calling the US supported Kurds terrorists and Trump was criticising Turkey for buying Russian military hardware! The purchase of the Russian missile defence system means that the US are legally obliged to hit them with sanctions, but Trump is urging his party to swerve that inconvenience and instead strike a wider trade deal with Turkey and get trade from $20bn to $100bn.
Back to those impeachment proceedings; it hasn’t gone well for POTUS on day one! A previously undisclosed phone call came to light yesterday in which Trump was overheard on the phone asking specifically how the investigations into his political rivals were going! Whilst it feels like the Democrats are making a pretty compelling case early on, Republicans are backing their guy and want the whistle blower to be publicly deposed (currently they’re still anonymous) Despite Trump claiming he hasn’t watched it, he managed to Tweet and re-tweet 44 times about it just yesterday!
Anyone else feel like, on both sides of the Pond, we deserve better?
Back to economics: Russia has said that they want to reduce their sovereign wealth fund’s dollar exposure. The fund is ‘only’ $125bn so diversifying it isn’t going to shake up the value of the greenback, but its another pivot from Moscow away from Washington and towards Beijing, as they want to increase their exposure to Renminbi and Euro. The FT has more.
Down Under, the economic data hasn’t made for great reading and has left the Aussie Dollar open to a bit of a beating. The jobs numbers showed the biggest fall in employment in three years and pushed overall unemployment up in percentage terms to 5.3%. This has increased the bets on the Australian central bank cutting interest rates further. Over the course of this year they’ve already chopped the rate in half from 1.5% to 0.75% and markets are now forecasting that they’ll take that down to 0.25% by the middle of next year. One of the main issues in Australia is a reluctant consumer; the economy isn’t doing badly as a whole, but because wage growth is flat consumers aren’t keen to spend and that consumption constraint is hurting.
Back to politics: Hong Kong’s situation is growing more chaotic by the day. Protestors have blocked major arterial roads and the government is reportedly looking at fresh measures to clamp down on the crisis – which will invariably escalate things further. an interesting point made to us yesterday, was that HK is one of the most socially advanced countries in the world and if this sort of unrest can kick off there, it can happen pretty much anywhere – therefore we should all be looking at this a little more seriously than we are and judging the reaction and discipline of all sides. This Washington Post story ‘accountant by day becomes street fighter by night’ is a worthy read.
Back to economics: Nobody will be surprised that the UK housing market continues to cool. October compounded September’s move lower. Inflation also slipped, which has once again quashed any speculation that interest rates will be rising anytime soon and the next move could well be lower. Five year fixed mortgages must be getting close to 1.5%, if not there already!
Have a great day