Marketwatch: All bets are off… but it’s no joke

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We must be positive about the US election: perhaps things will not be so bad, and at least Brexit is now a sideshow

Just when you thought a Tory election win and a vote for Brexit could not be trumped, they were – well and truly.

Donald Trump’s election as US president was another stunning blow for the polling industry. But is it really a surprise? A worldwide feeling of disenfranchisement means regular people are joining the ranks of far-right or far-left activists all over the place through exasperation. Clinton represented the establishment with even extra baggage, as well as being a woman. For many in the US, sadly the combination was just too much.

While I gawp, like many others, in disbelief at another crazy result, we must be positive; perhaps things will not be so bad. For one thing, Brexit is now a sideshow.

Trump has promised (ha!) to put Britain at the head of trade negotiations; he may just be the only person who can actually placate Vladimir Putin; and the rest of Europe are quaking in their boots about their own elections. We hope the US legislative process, with all its checks and balances, curtails Trump’s most offensive, borderline racist utterings, which I doubt he actually believes himself.

Bets are already on around whether he will last the term. We can only hope the next president will be a woman, however: one with no baggage who is passionate, articulate, intelligent, empathetic and talented. Michelle Obama, the world may need you to be ready.

Meanwhile, in Europe ‘shocks’ are still to come. Marine Le Pen in France should scare everyone, while the establishment in Italy and Germany, among others, are getting very sweaty palms.

A hard Brexit – whatever nonsense Mrs May trots out about it – looks ever more unlikely. There will be Brexit, but it will not be what the bigots envisaged; more likely what the more sensible leavers spoke about: the EU back to a simple trade agreement rather than a politically, regulatory and economically linked super state.

All of a sudden the UK looks even more like a safe haven.

The next few years will be fascinating to observe and we, as world citizens, must keep a careful eye to ensure this does not become a rerun of the 1930s: US isolationism, the rise of the far right, economic hardship and, ultimately, conflict. It is our responsibility now.

In the markets, three-month Libor is still at 0.4 per cent while swap rates have been struck dumb by the latest turn of world events.

  • 2-year money is unchanged at 0.62 per cent
  • 3-year money is unchanged at 0.69 per cent
  • 5-year money is up 0.01 per cent at 0.85 per cent
  • 10-year money is up 0.01 per cent at 1.21 per cent
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So, to the relative calm and security of our mortgage market.

Halifax has withdrawn the £500 cashback from first-time buyer products and has a new combined first-time buyer and homemover range to 85 per cent LTV. It has also reduced rates by up to 0.15 per cent.

Virgin Money has some new intermediary exclusives, with a two-year fix to 65 per cent LTV at 1.32 per cent and a 90 per cent LTV product at 2.24 per cent, both with £995 fees. Its buy-to-let product is 1.74 per cent fixed for two years to 60 per cent LTV, with a £1,995 fee and £500 cashback.

Nationwide has some decent five-year trackers with no early repayment charges. Rates are 1.89 per cent to 60 per cent LTV and 2.09 per cent to 70 per cent LTV, with a £999 fee.

Harrods Bank has cut its minimum loan to £500,000 and reduced a swathe of fees by up to 0.5 per cent on some products.

Tesco Bank has some new rates including a two-year fix from 1.24 per cent with a £1,300 arrangement fee, while Clydesdale Bank has introduced online case tracking.

Newcastle Building Society has cut high-LTV rates by up to 0.7 per cent and has a 95 per cent LTV product priced at 3.75 per cent fixed for two years, with a free valuation and £250 cashback.

In the buy-to-let world, more lenders are using a blanket 145 per cent rental calculation. This may make sense for higher-rate taxpayers but others may be unfairly treated. We wait to see what BM Solutions has planned following hints in the press.

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Andrew Montlake is director at Coreco Group