Is the glass half full or half-empty? It’s one of the oldest questions (and clichés) there is. But right now you could be forgiven for thinking that as far as the UK economy goes the glass is not just half full, it’s completely full.
The last few weeks have brought us a steady stream of good news. Post-Brexit the UK has agreed – or is very close to agreeing – trade deals with Norway, Iceland, and Australia. According to recent reports, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is aiming to sign a free trade deal with New Zealand ‘by August.’
Manufacturing growth is at a 30 year high and even car sales – which were hit so hard by the pandemic – have recovered. The UK “optimism index” is at a six-year high, and recent figures showed the average price of a house in the UK rising to record levels.
Optimistic forecasts abound, with the CBI predicting that the UK economy will grow by 8.2% this year, up from a previous forecast of 6% and taking the economy back to pre-Covid levels. The economy will grow by a further 6.1% in 2022, the CBI forecasts, up from a previous figure of 5.2%.
Still not convinced? The UK is now officially home to 100 “unicorns” – new tech firms with a valuation of more than $1bn (£721m). Tractable, an artificial intelligence start-up building computer vision tools became the latest, joining companies such as Skyscanner (from Scotland), Durham-based challenger bank Atom Bank and Darktrace, based in Cambridge, which uses AI to develop cyber-security solutions.
There are, of course, areas for concern. All is looking up, apart from the fact that ‘Freedom Day’ – originally scheduled for June 21st – has been pushed back. Apart from the fact that the UK could well face a third wave of the virus as the seemingly more infectious Delta variant holds sway. Apart from the fact that many UK businesses – especially in the hospitality sector – are struggling to re-open because of a shortage of staff.
The simple fact is that there is likely to be a mixture of good and bad news for the foreseeable future. This good and bad news will be reflected in stock markets, not just in the UK but around the world. So the only certainty is that regular contact with your financial advisers will be essential – and that your financial planning will need to be flexible and regularly reviewed.
Yes, there is an increasing amount of good news but no economy – either in the UK or anywhere else – is out of the woods. We will continue to keep you up to date with developments and keep your financial plans under regular review.