Years from now, the result of the EU referendum will be another one of those historical moments in which everyone remembers exactly where they were when it happened. I certainly won’t forget nor the hours that followed as I was in a hotel built into the cliffs on a Greek island.
On Tuesday, a surge of half a million applications caused the government’s voter registration website to crash: 525,000 submissions on deadline day. This shows that we’re either a nation of complete procrastinators or the sheer political force of this referendum has prompted typically indifferent voters to actually take an interest in politics. Either way, it’s clear the Brexit debate has stirred up significant political intrigue across the country, which can’t be a bad thing.
Brent Crude rallied more than 8%, ending the month just shy of $50. It broke through that psychological barrier for a few hours earlier in the month as well. This rise in oil prices, driven by supply concerns in Nigeria and Canada, helped boost most equity markets. The cost of a barrel has almost doubled since January’s lows.
Is the latest ICM poll for the Guardian a watershed moment for the Brexit debate? For the first time, the telephone and online survey has put the leave campaign ahead with the overall result showing a 52% - 48% split in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.
As time ticks down towards next month’s Brexit vote the debate is getting loud enough to drown out almost everything else. Yet developments on the Continent are just as important for our future if Britons decide to remain in the EU.
It’s been just over a fortnight since Rathbones and The Spectator hosted a frenetic Brexit debate at the London Palladium. Yet in that short space of time the decision around ‘should we stay or should we go’ has continued to gather pace. And, just when you thought the debate couldn’t get any more farcical, the prime minister has issued a warning that Brexit could lead to World War III and Boris Johnson has been spotted waving a pasty from a bus in Cornwall.
I recently decided to take a trip up to the Lake District thinking that some down-time by the Lakes would be a good idea. The only problem was, everyone had the same thought as me, so the M6 on the way up resembled a car park - it took over seven hours to get there!
As I whiled away the hours, staring at the back of a white van, I realised that my unique idea to get away for the weekend wasn’t such an exclusive decision after all. As the traffic continued to back up, it dawned on me that the markets are also displaying a similar herd like mentality.
Global monetary policy loosened noticeably last month. Further stimulus from the European Central Bank, rumours of even heavier bond buying from the Bank of Japan, and a dovish US Federal Reserve have been a boon for asset prices.
My current box set addiction is Deadwood – a TV series about a gold rush in the American mid-West, with desperate men panning the streams for gold and trying to stay alive as rivals move in. They spend hours sieving stones from the river bed looking to find glints of the shiny stuff. As a fund manager in these volatile times, I can feel more than a little empathy as I try to generate positive returns in what are likely to be flat or falling markets.