As the Christmas Trees go up and the work clocks hit five, everything quietens down waiting for Santa to arrive. So pull up a chair, grab a mince pie and some beer, as we look back at what has been another eventful year.
January: Trumps Inauguration
“Billionaire TV Star becomes US President”. That was the headline that grabbed most people’s attention at the beginning of 2017 as Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. It will probably go down as one of the biggest shocks in US political history and most controversial due to his promises around the Mexican border wall and removal of “Obamacare”. One could say that only time will tell whether Trump has made a positive impact during his tenure, however I feel it is important at least at this stage, to recognise the good points since his move into the oval office. Stock markets have hit record highs, unemployment rates are at their lowest since 2001 and last but certainly not least, Twitter increased the character limit from 140 characters to 280. Talk about making a statement!
March: UK Activates article 50
March began with Phillip Hammond delivering his first and last Spring budget. However, the real story of March was the triggering of Article 50, a five-point plan designed to help the UK navigate withdrawal from the EU. This means that the UK now looks set to leave the EU by the summer of 2019. The big question we were all asking was whether it would be a “hard or soft Brexit” but It seems now that we are moving towards a soft Brexit given the latest indications. There are many crossroads, speed bumps and stop signs ahead in this regard but it remains to be seen if 2018 is the year that we finalise an agreement or whether we will be asking the same questions this time next year.
May: French Presidential Elections – Macron elected
The battle for French power between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, covered all news articles for much of April and May. It was one of the most closely watched elections with many journalists hinting that should Le Pen win, the EU would potentially face a bigger crisis than Brexit. In the end, the En Marche! Party (equivalent of the Labour party) beat the Far-right party and with it, Macron became the youngest ever French President. One point to note is that even in defeat, this was the highest score that the French Far right had ever achieved. Given that Le Pen proclaimed she was the leader of the “biggest opposition force in France”, Macron now faces a big challenge in winning a parliamentary majority.
September: Germany election – Merkel elected
Angela Merkel won command of German power for another 4 years in September but it certainly wasn’t her easiest victory. The return of the right wing AFD (Alternative for Germany) party along with the CDU’s (Christian Democratic Union of Germany) worst electoral performance since 1949, has put the pressure on her to make positive changes. In terms of markets, the German DAX rose to an all-time high in the weeks following the election. With the World Cup coming up next year, the German people will be looking for both their national football teams solid on pitch performances and strong economy to continue.
October: Scotland miss out on World Cup
Another qualifying campaign, another heart-breaking ending. Gone are the days of Ally’s Tartan Army when a major tournament didn’t seem unachievable. 4 points from the first 4 games led us to believe that hope was already gone. However, 13 points from the next 5 games brought back the fire, pride and true Scottish hunger that had deserted us for many years. There was belief that going into the final game, this was our year to finally prove the doubters wrong and book place in the World Cup playoffs. Inevitability, we came up short, only achieving a draw, so it is back to the drawing board for the Euro 2020 qualifying. There’s always next time, right?
December: Bitcoin passes $19,000
Things have been a “bit up in the air” recently with a lot of hype and discussions surrounding Bitcoin during the year. Demand has been at all time high and as a result, this has been reflected in the price. Bitcoin started the year at under $1,000 but has now soared, breaking the $19,000 mark. This has been a remarkable rise for an instrument which has been relatively quiet since it was introduced in 2009. Looking forward, many analysts believe that this is just the beginning whereas some are sceptical about the future, believing that we are in the pre-crash mania phase. Only time will tell whether this is a serious investment with potential to grow even further or whether it is a bubble waiting to burst*.
A very Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year when it comes.
Important information: Opinions constitute our judgement as of this date and are subject to change without warning. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results and forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future performance.
*Charlotte Square, Investment Managers, are not able to facilitate the trading of Bitcoin or any related security.