Monday 17 June 2019

Investment in UK on a slight falling trend - Brexit certainty needed.

It can be hard to decipher what are the actual facts behing many statistics these days. Media which used to be seen as matters of record - like The Times and the FT - are now as partisan thanks to Brexit derangement syndrome.

A good example of this has come out over the past few days. Investment in the UK by businesses is a crucial part of the economy. For a long time UK investment has been low, thanks to huge supply of low cost workers and this has been a big driver of low UK productivity.

Now, recent surveys show that business investment in the UK will fall by 1.3% this year. As ever this is just blamed squarely on Brexit. A bigger driver, although related, it the huge fall in car production both in the UK and across the EU. Given the huge investment in car production facilities over the past 15 years had been on of the key drivers in investment growth, it is not surprising that when this turns negative it will materially impact the UK. Now, many car makers are rightly worried about just-in-time delivery under 'no-deal' terms. however, the collapse in car sales, the ruination of the diesel market and the need to invest in all electrical car production are major factors too.

Also, the FT was gleeful last week in saying how FDI was also falling (which, confusingly, also has overseas car makers in the mix - given they are both UK and overseas businesses at the same time). Except that you have to read carefully to fine that it is fallen 1% from and 18% EU share to 17%. And the UK is still the leader by a country mile. In fact, it really shows the UK is in rude health with Brexit fears being a very weak driver, if at all.

However, the overall picture is still of UK investment declining and Foreign Direct Investment declining. The uncertainty over Brexit and the political instability this has produced (thanks to the remain media establishment, like the FT!) is not helping. We might well at this stage in the cycle see a decline in Investment but to me what this shows is the Tory leaders are broadly right. 2019 needs to see a resolution of Brexit to reduce uncertainty. Once that has happened, it is likely investment will start to accelerate again subject to normal market environs (ie if there is a recession).


Nick Drew said...

Interesting. Think I may have mentioned here before, a mega-mega FDI deal I was involved with last year (>> £1bn): the buyers (SWF + PE) weren't the slightest bit concerned abt Brexit. ("Anthony, people will always need energy!")

Doing another FDI now, pension fund, bit smaller, just multi-mega with potential for plenty of follow-on later. Same thing.

Funnily enough, I thought they'd be worried abt Corbs & his crackpot nationalisation plans. But no !

andrew said...

Look at it the other way up.

I hink there is quite enough capital in the uk.
We dont need FDI.

what we do need is business ideas that acually create something from nothing (small businesses - startups) and capital market support to transition small businesses to big ones.

At the moment foreigners buy good businesses (ARM - Autonomy?) And we buy houses. None of this builds for the future.