On a personal level, you may be wondering where the year has gone and why Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier (with both Selfridges and Tesco beginning their Christmas promotions in August). To refresh your memory, here is a quick guide to the key events of 2018 so far.
Brexit continues to dominate news headlines and will probably do so for some time to come. We’re reluctant to comment on the current state of Brexit since negotiations seem to be in a continual state of flux, not to say acrimony. At the present moment, the Irish border question remains unresolved and there are calls both for a second referendum on Brexit and a referendum on any deal agreed between MPs and the EU, so effectively we think all anyone can say is “watch this space”. Similar comments apply to the UK property market where tax and legal changes have made life much more challenging for buy-to-let landlords. It remains to be seen whether or not these changes will help tenants and those looking to buy for the first time - or whether they’ll simply result in a shortage of rental properties and fewer landlords.
While the official position is that Europe has a solid front in the Brexit negotiations, many of its key players are facing domestic challenges. The German elections left it in political limbo for months and even now it’s an open question how long the grand coalition can survive, let alone how effective it will be. France has seen extended strikes by rail and air workers. There are signs that the government may have managed to get the upper hand with the national rail company, but that does not mean it will have a clear path for further reform, in fact, this may just be the start of its battles. Italy’s elections also brought a coalition and have raised further questions about its relationship with the EU and some of the countries on Europe’s eastern border are in open rebellion with Brussels.
In the U.S. President Trump continues to make headlines and divide opinions. While his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have been more about publicity than action, his run-ins with China and the U.S. tech giants have to potential to influence the U.S. economy in a big way. It remains to be seen whether the overall result in the U.S. will be positive or negative (or non-existent) but whatever happens, it could be a win for Canada and Latin America, both of which would probably be quite happy to step in and fill in any gaps left in the Chinese market by a lack of U.S. imports as well as any gaps left in the U.S. market by Chinese exports. These (and other countries) would also probably be quite happy to offer a new home to the tech giants should they choose to move. Attracting tech companies would require giving them access to skilled labour as well as practical resources, but a combination of work permits for staff willing to relocate from the U.S. or indeed other parts of the world, plus a decent pool of local workers could do the trick.
China’s diplomatic spat with the U.S. could be good news for India, particularly its IT sector. The U.S. has long had concerns about cyber attacks and the Pentagon recently drew up a “do not buy” which aimed to put a stop to software vendors using code which was created by developers based in China or Russia. India, however, remains acceptable.