Equity markets have stabilised and in fact have gained some ground in the first two months of 2019. The Chinese equity market, in particular, has achieved a remarkable recovery after a very disappointing 2018, very neatly illustrating the volatility and potential risks that equity investors sometimes take when investing in so-called emerging markets.

Much of the recent improvement relates back to the likelihood that further interest rate increases in the USA now look to be more distant than previously thought, against a background of uncertain global growth. At least one analyst suggests that the next US move, later this year, is more likely to be downwards, in an attempt to restore growth momentum. Against a background of apparently improving US/China trade negotiations, a US interest rate reduction appears unlikely and we are not uncomfortable with the level of global markets generally.

Brexit continues to monopolise debate within the UK, justifiably so. Assuming for a moment that the withdrawal agreement presently on the table is in the end caveated in a way that makes it acceptable to a sufficient number of MPs, then the UK will move into the deeply uncertain territory of ongoing negotiations with the EU. This will be in respect of our trade in goods and services while the mostly inconclusive negotiations that have been held with the rest of the world will similarly rumble on. It is hard to see how this can be supportive of medium term government revenue, so necessary to fund all public expenditure, a perhaps unappealing prospect for UK taxpayers.