Corona Virus effects on FX and financial markets

Covid-19.  If we didn’t know what that was before this week we certainly do now.  What was perceived as an Asia specific epidemic has spread to Europe and US. It has yet to be declared a pandemic. If it does then expect another leg lower in risk sentiment. Why? Pandemic means it is a cross boarder crisis and that a universal protocol will be enacted causing events, travel and the consequent investment and spending associated with this to dip sharply. Markets are fearful and as always start to price in scenarios before they happen. We live in a world, post crisis, that still has huge amounts of liquidity in the system (low rates, QE) which means the path of least resistance for risky assets is to drift higher while volatility remains low. Remember everyone saying how expensive equities were? That was because there was too much money washing around chasing too few assets, pushing them higher. This works fine until there is an event or crisis which brings a sharp reality check / increased risk to the environment that brings about these inflated asset prices.  It is a bit like being on an escalator up before getting into a falling lift.

What does all this mean for fx? On the face of it in times of stress there are 3 ccy that benefit: USD, CHF, JPY.  What has actually happened this time around is that as the stress has grown so too has the need to unwind big risk positions. In the initial sell off, the moves are fairly sharp but orderly. However, as the stress continues and deepens more disorderly and indiscriminate moves take place as investors and institutions unwind much bigger trades that ordinarily would hold.  A rush for the door type exit. Towards the end of the week we see this particularly in the euro, which despite having the least chance of an immediate and coordinated response has been strengthening against not just the pound but also USD.  This is because it has been used as a funding a currency and the carry trades big funds and institutions had put on are being unwound. What is a carry trade? It is when they have borrowed in stable, low interest rate currencies, like the euro (at v low interest rates) and then invested that back into higher yielding assets, in this instance mostly in USD. If this is unwound they need to sell their US assets therefore, selling their USD and buying back their funding ccy the Euro. Hence the euro’s recent strength. This move has been exaggerated vs GBP where the pound has weakened vs Euro as it has been on the end of the double whammy of Euro strength and GBP weakness given PM Johnson’s talk of walking away in June if trade talks don’t materially progress.

Can we be positive?  Yes, firstly this is an influenza virus which like most spread best in winter and winter is almost over. Second, those that can cut interest rates probably will do so to shore up sentiment and those that cannot will look to spend. This is important as Europe is notoriously slow to react due to the complex nature of its union of differing cultures, economies and language and like any difficult conversation,  a time sensitive crisis will sharpen minds and add impetus to creating a co-ordinated response. So don’t rule out some form of fiscal related stimulus in Europe either in the form of relaxing debt limits, tax breaks or actual spending / demand side stimulus in the near or medium term.  Any globally co-ordinated stimulus would, medium term, be very positive indeed.


GBP Falls 1% Following Clash Of Visions For The Future Of UK/EU Relationship

GBP Fell over 1% against both the euro and U.S Dollar following a clash between European Union and Britain over a post-Brexit trade deal on Monday, with the two sides setting out very different visions of a future relationship that could result in the most distant of ties.

Almost three days since Britain officially left the EU, both sides presented their aims, with the question of whether London will sign up to EU rules to ensure friction-less trade shaping up to be the defining argument of the negotiations.

Both want to secure a trade agreement, but Britain has set a deadline of the end of the year and the EU has warned that if Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a no-tariff, no-quota deal, he will have to sign up to its rules to ensure fair competition.

Johnson said he would not do that, in a speech that harked back to Britain’s past trading successes, promising that his government would again be a champion of free trade and jealously guard his country’s new-found “sovereignty”.

“Humanity needs … some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with his cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other,” he said, referring to Superman’s alternate character.

Saying Britain was ready “for that role”, he went on to say London was ready to accept an agreement with the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, similar to that enjoyed by Canada, whose rules are not aligned with those of the EU.

GBPEUR trading at levels of 1.1750 and GBPUSD at 1.2993 at 09:28 GMT.


Sterling Gains Further as BoE Rate-Cut Fears Recede..

Britain’s pound rose against the dollar and the euro on Wednesday as investors debated whether or not the Bank of England would cut interest rates when it meets next week.

Financial markets saw less chance on Wednesday that the BoE would trim the current 0.75% rate at its meeting on Jan. 30, after the Confederation of British Industry reported a pick-up in manufacturers’ sentiment.

Money-market pricing suggests investors see around a 50% chance of a quarter-point rate cut, down from 70% on Monday, data showed.

Sterling was rising beforehand, after data released on Tuesday showed the British economy created jobs at its strongest rate in nearly a year in the three months to November.

The pound gained to its strongest level against the euro in more than a month at 1.1852 this morning, building on gains seen in the previous session. It reached a two-week high of $1.3153 versus the U.S. dollar.

For many, the focus now is Friday’s January purchasing managers’ index, widely viewed as a forward-looking indicator that could swing the rate debate one way or another.


GBP Strengthens Following Stronger Than Expected Employment and Wages Figures..

GBP was seen trading higher against the Euro, Dollar and a host of other major currencies on Tuesday, Jan. 21 after the release of official labour market figures that showed both a jump in employment and wages in December.

The strong numbers come in defiance of a recent run of soft economic statistics, and will give policy makers at the Bank of England reason to keep interest rates unchanged and cast into doubt growing market expectations for a January 30 interest rate cut.

The ONS employment in the UK expanded by 208K in the three months to December, well above the 110K expected by the market. The claimant count in December did see an addition of 14.9K out-of-work benefit claimants, but this was well below the more pessimistic 22.6K the market was expecting. The UK employment rate was estimated at a record high of 76.3%, 0.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.5 percentage points up on the previous quarter.

Based on the employment statistics out today, it would be hard to argue that this is an economy that requires an interest rate cut. Members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee have signalled through a series of speeches in January that a rate cut might be warranted in the first half of 2020 based on the observation the economy is slowing. An interest rate cut would, in theory, boost the economy as the cost of borrowing money falls. A side effect of such a cut is however often a softening in the currency.

The implied probability of a 25bps interest rate cut on January 30 fell to 64%, from a little over 70% last week. Should market expectations for such an outcome be pared back further, it stands that the Pound will recover more lost ground.

GBPEUR rate is quoted at 1.1753 at the time of writing, having started the day at 1.1719  GBPUSD exchange rate at 1.3050, having started the day at 1.30.


Outlook For GBP In 2020 Looking Promising – Reuters Poll

GBP will gain more than 3% against the dollar this year, supported by interest rate differentials and hopes for a smooth departure from the European Union, a Reuters poll found.

GBP has been sensitive to any snippet of news about Brexit, largely ignoring economic data, and soared more than 2% after Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a resounding election victory in December, leading markets to believe an orderly exit from the EU was all but certain.

It has since dropped back and was trading around $1.30 on Thursday as Johnson has signalled he plans to take a hard line in talks with the EU, raising fears about the prospect of a new cliff edge at the end of the year if no deal is reached.

A Reuters poll conducted this week of nearly 60 foreign exchange strategists, said GBPUSD would be up at $1.32 at the end of this month – when Britain and the EU are due to part ways – and will have risen to $1.35 by the end of 2020.

The removal of near-term hard Brexit risks, the widely expected fiscal expansion, U.S.-China trade tensions lower and a global recovery in economic data suggest the Bank of England will stay on hold.

The Bank OF England is not expected to move interest rates until 2022 at least, and while the European Central Bank eased policy late in 2019 it is expected to stay on the sidelines for the next two years.

So against the common currency the pound will have barely moved by the end of the year. Today GBPEUR is trading at 1.1700 and at the end of 2020 its value is predicted to only reach 1.1830 region the poll found.


USD Strengthens With Safe Haven Flows. GBP Retreats Awaiting Brexit Outcome

Safe-haven currencies such as the Japanese yen retreated on Thursday as the United States and Iran backed away from further conflict, with markets flipping back to a more risk-taking approach on hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded overnight to an Iranian attack on U.S. forces with sanctions, not violence. Iran offered no immediate signal it would retaliate further to a Jan. 3 U.S. strike that killed one of its most senior military commanders.

Markets seem to be brushing aside fears of a major escalation in U.S./Iranian conflict.

USD was down 0.1% versus the euro as euro/dollar traded at $1.1115 and by the same versus the pound, last trading at $1.3112.

Sterling fell on Tuesday as the dollar rose, with investors watching British lawmakers’ return to parliament after the Christmas recess in preparation to vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s European Union (EU) withdrawal deal./Eur has retreated awaiting results from Parliament on the Brexit agreement.

GBP/EUR currently trading at 1.1754 down from 1.1800 levels earlier in the week.

Focus is expected to shift back to the global economy, with expectations that the United States and China will sign a trade deal next week providing underlying support for risk assets.

Traders will be watching the euro zone November unemployment rate, expected to stay at 7.5%, and U.S. jobless claims, which economists polled by Reuters expect to have inched down to 220,000 in the week to Jan. 4 from 222,000 in the comparable period.

The jobless claims should give an indication of how healthy the U.S. job market is ahead of the more closely watched non-farm payrolls data due out on Friday.

 


GBP Suffers Following Poor U.K.Construction Data and Affects Caused By International Events..

GBP Suffers Following Poor Construction Data and Affects following International Events.

Safe-haven currencies such as the Japanese yen jumped to their highest in months on Friday after U.S. air strikes on Baghdad airport killed a senior Iranian military official, stoking tensions in the Middle East.

U.S. Treasuries, oil prices and gold rallied after Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed in the attack by the U.S. Forces.

The Pentagon confirmed the strike, saying Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack Americans in Iraq and the Middle East.

A stronger dollar sent the pound down 0.2% to $1.3117  and 0.1% lower against the euro at 1.1753.

The Japanese yen hit a two-month high of 107.92 against the U.S. dollar and was last up 0.5% on the day.

The yen is often seen as a haven from risk, given Japan’s status as the world’s largest creditor nation. A holiday in Tokyo also made for thin conditions, exaggerating the move.

The Swiss franc, another currency perceived as safe, surged to a four-month high of 1.0824 against the euro.  The U.S. dollar hit a one-week high versus the euro.

Market participants are now calculating the risk of retribution from the Iranian side, he said. “We are still waiting and watching to see whether there is going to be (the) dynamic reaction that the initial headlines suggest.”

Traders will be watching preliminary German inflation numbers for December, due at 1300 GMT. Economists polled by Reuters expect yearly inflation to have risen to 1.4% from 1.1% the month before.

Preliminary data in France showed inflation beating market expectations, rising to 1.6% from 1.2%. Polls had forecast an increase to 1.4%.

An index of U.S. manufacturing activity is also due at 1500 GMT, but markets will be more interested in scrutinising the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting in December.

Though the Fed has left interest rates unchanged, analysts will look for clues on how the bank is looking to solve the liquidity squeeze in the “repo”, or repurchasing agreement, market, CIBC’s Stretch said.

Several Fed official are speaking on Friday, including Governor Lael Brainard and the heads of the San Francisco, Chicago, Richmond and Dallas banks.

Analysts expect they will stay upbeat on the economic outlook and reiterate a steady outlook for rates.

 

 


GBP Heads For It’s Biggest Gain Since Post-Election Rally

The pound headed for the biggest gain since its post-election rally two weeks ago, benefiting from improved global risk sentiment and broad weakness in the dollar.

Sterling rose above $1.31 and outperformed all major peers Friday, on track for a weekly gain amid thin trading ahead of year-end.

The UK currency strengthened as riskier assets gained across markets, reflecting a pickup in global investor confidence as a thaw in US-China trade tensions brightens the world economic outlook.

The greenback fell against all Group-of-10 currencies, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index set for the largest two-day slide since October.

While the pound surged to an almost 19-month high after Boris Johnson’s party won a majority in the December 12th UK election, it has since pared gains on concern Britain will take a hard-line stance in talks with the European Union.

“The dollar has a softer tone against several G10 pairs, the largest being the pound, though the softness seems stemmed from the overall risk-on tone of late rather than specific news,” strategists at NatWest Markets led by John Briggs wrote in a note.

Sterling rallied as much as 0.9% to $1.3115, climbing above its 21-day moving average for the first time in a week. Against the euro, the UK currency appreciated 0.3% cent to 1.1743.

Option prices signalled improved confidence on the pound. One-week sterling-dollar risk reversals climbed to 21 basis points in favour of put options, indicating the least bearish sentiment since early December.

“The pound may stabilise and possibly rally into January and February before trade negotiations come back to haunt in mid-March ahead of the EU ” – Bloomberg


Sterling Expected To Remain Heavy In The Current Political Environment…

The British Pound is likely to retain a heavy tone in the short-term as the UK political environment descends into crippling uncertainty, after the Government said it would table a vote for an early General Election on Monday but opposition parties indicated they would once again reject the request.
Those watching Sterling should expect it to remain heavy in the current environment that is characterised by growing political uncertainty.

The Government on Thursday night stated that it will offer the UK Parliament a vote on a holding a snap General Election on December 12, however it appears opposition parties are all but set to reject the offer, ensuring the 2/3 majority threshold required for Parliament to trigger such an outcome will be unachievable.

If an election was approved, Johnson would bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back to Parliament, giving MPs until November 6 to pass judgement on the legislation and deliver Brexit.

Should opposition parties refuse to vote for an election, as appears to be the case, “we would campaign day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a parliament that has outlived its usefulness,” Johnson told the BBC.

A Downing Street official has suggested that under such circumstances parliament would have little work to do as “nothing will come before parliament but the bare minimum.” In short, the Government is threatening to go on strike.

“Labour has instructed its MPs tonight to block Johnson’s attempt on Monday to have 12 Dec election. So Johnson will shelve the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. He will cancel the budget. There will be no government worth the name. Parliament will become a zombie Parliament, unless and until the opposition find a way to wrest control from Johnson or hold an election. This deadlock is without modern precedent,” says Robert Peston, ITV’s Political Editor.

The Pound has fallen over the course of the past 24 hours as it tends to perform poorly when political uncertainty rises, and we expect to remain heavy until such a time as clarity on the way forward is delivered.

GBPEUR holding steady at 1.1564 at 08:36

GBPUSD drifting at 1.2844 off this mornings high of 1.2897.


Pound Pares Gains as Brexit Hangs In The Balance as EU Doubts a Deal this Week, UK Departure Date Looms

A deal to smooth Britain’s departure from the European Union hung in the balance on Monday after diplomats indicated the bloc wanted more concessions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said a full agreement was unlikely this week.

Monday sees the British Pound pare some of the impressive gains recorded last week, amidst news that a Brexit deal between the EU and UK still remains some way off.

GBPEUR Currently still trading in positive territory up over 3% since last week sitting at 1.1388 off a daily high of 1.1439. GBPUSD also trading up over 3% from last week at 1.2563 off day highs of 1.2617.

Boris Johnson and EU leaders face a tumultuous week of reckoning that could decide whether the divorce is orderly, acrimonious or delayed yet again.

Johnson says he wants to strike an exit deal at an EU summit this Thursday and Friday to allow an orderly departure on Oct. 31. But if an agreement is not possible he will lead the United Kingdom out of the club it joined in 1973 without a deal – even though parliament has passed a law saying he cannot do so.

EU politicians such as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a deal was possible and that much more work was needed. But EU diplomats were pessimistic about the chances of Johnson’s hybrid customs proposal for the Irish border riddle.

In light of developments it appears markets will be prepared to adopt a wait-and-see approach to Sterling before making any major directional decisions on the currency ahead of the crunch European Council summit starting on Thursday, where it will be known if the two sides have struck a deal.

 


Pound Falls Once Again After Initial Rally Following Court Verdict Respite

The Pound’s gains dissolved on Wednesady evening and throughout Thursday trading as investors prepare for yet more uncertainty, this albeit following an initial rally after Tuesday’s UK Supreme Court verdict quashing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament marked a big step back from a no-deal Brexit.

Sterling has fall this morning has been compounded as The Bank of England policymaker, Michael Saunders, has said that a cut to interest rates may be needed.

For the first 24 hours after the court ruled Johnson had acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament, sterling rallied. But a vitriolic parliamentary session on Wednesday made clear that the political deadlock over Brexit is far from broken, heralding a difficult few months for the pound and other British assets.

Investors doubt Brexit will happen at all next month. Odds on Johnson managing to strike a deal with Brussels are now at 5/1 compared with 7/2 last week, according to Betfair Exchange.

And odds on Johnson leaving Downing Street in 2019 have narrowed to 2/1 from 11/4 last week. Currency traders might see that as positive given his willingness to embrace an abrupt exit if a deal cannot be secured.

GBPUSD having risen more than 5% from a three-year low of below $1.20 on Sept. 3 to $1.2582 last week, and popping up half a cent on the Supreme Court ruling, the pound slipped back towards $1.23 on Thursday.

The ruling increased confidence in UK assets but the prospect of a general election and potential Corbyn government would unsettle things anew. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has promised nationalisation, higher taxation and tighter regulation.

The main risk seen by markets is that Johnson circumvents parliament’s wishes and manages to take the UK out of the EU by Oct. 31 without a deal.

Second is a general election by year-end. Opinion polls put Johnson’ Conservatives in the lead, with all that means for a Brexit crash, but markets are also wary of a Labour victory.

GBPUSD is trading at 1.2292 this morning at 09:30 GMT and GBPEUR trading at 1.1255.


Queen Elizabeth Approves Law Seeking To Block October 31 No-Deal Brexit… GBP Rallies

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on Monday gave final approval to a piece of legislation which seeks to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union without an exit deal on Oct. 31.

The step, known as Royal Assent, is effectively a rubber-stamp from the monarch for the law which passed through parliament last week despite opposition from the government. The Royal Assent was announced in parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.

GBPEUR hits 1.1229

GBPUSD hits 1.2385


Sterling To Rally 6% Against Euro If Brexit Deal Agreed – Reuters poll

Sterling will rally around 6% against the euro if Britain leaves the European Union with a deal, an outcome looking somewhat more likely after British lawmakers seized control of parliament to try and block a no-deal Brexit, a Reuters poll found.

GBP fell to a three-year low on Tuesday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s implicit threat to lawmakers to support him on Brexit or face an election sent investors rushing to dump British assets.

But while the currency rallied on Wednesday following Johnson’s defeat late on Tuesday, it is likely to face more big swings as the battle over Brexit rages on.

Over three years since Britons voted to leave the EU, there is still no clarity over how the two sides will part ways – or if they even will. However, Reuters polls of economists since the June 2016 referendum have repeatedly said a free trade deal will be the most likely eventual outcome.

According to a median forecast in an extra question in the poll of 66 foreign exchange strategists, taken before Tuesday’s vote, the pound would strengthen against the euro in the month after if Britain leaves with a deal.

On Wednesday On Wednesday, GBPEUR was worth about 1.1060 hitting 1.1106 in early trade this morning but could only get you between 1.1764 if a deal is reached, according to the poll.

This morning GBPUSD is trading at 1.2215 hitting a high of 1.2255.

This Article was contributed by Reuters.


Sterling Regains Loses Following Boris Johnson Losing His Majority- Lawmaker Resigns

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost his majority yesterday in the Houses Of Commons as he faces a showdown with members of his Conservative Party that will determine the U.K.’s exit from the European Union and the length of his premiership.

Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, but his political enemies are fighting to stop him him from doing so without a divorce deal. Tonight is the first of a series of key votes in Parliament.
Sterling rebounded on Wednesday after British lawmakers seized control of the parliamentary timetable to try to block a no-deal Brexit.
The gain, which followed the pound slumping to a three-year low on Tuesday, is likely to precede more big price swings in the currency as the battle over Brexit enters another crucial phase.
Lawmakers who defeated Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government late on Tuesday are expected to introduce a bill in parliament on Wednesday seeking to stop Britain from leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without transitional arrangements.

This prompted the prime minister to announce that he would push for a snap election. It is expected that the motion for an early general election will be submitted on Wednesday.

GBP Rallied back up to 1.1061 this morning against the euro and 1.2158 as of 09:57 GMT.


Pound Jumps After Germany’s Merkel Says Brexit Backstop Solution Possible By October 31st

The British pound jumped more than half a cent on Thursday to nearly a one-month high after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a solution to the Irish border issue could be found before the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

GBP versus USD hit $1.2265, the days highs currently trading.

Against the euro, sterling rose as high as 1.1057 more than 1% rise on the day and its highest since July 29.

The pound has fallen heavily in recent weeks on fears British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take Britain out of the EU without a transition deal.

However, with investors having bet heavily against the currency, any sign of a breakthrough in Britain’s efforts to convince the EU to renegotiate the deal is likely to send the pound jumping,


Sterling Jumps After Merkel Says ‘Will Think About Brexit Backstop Solutions’

Sterling briefly jumped on Tuesday after German chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union would think about practical solutions to the backstop, an agreed insurance policy for the Irish border that London wants scrapped.

The pound briefly rallied more than 0.7% against the dollar and the euro after Merkel’s comments. Sterling rose to as high as $1.2180 from trading below $1.21 earlier, before falling back to $1.2125.

Against the Euro GBP has reached the days high of 1.0984..


Sterling Bounces As Labour Prepares Bid To Avert No-Deal Brexit

Sterling rose on Thursday to the highest in more than a week, supported by news that the opposition Labour Party was mounting a bid to bring down Prime Minister Boris Johnson and stop him taking Britain out of the EU without a deal.

GBP was also was lifted by better-than-expected retail sales, which came on the heels of Wednesday’s higher inflation numbers that raised hopes the economy might be in better shape than previously thought.

Labour said it would call a vote of no-confidence in Johnson’s government as soon as it believes it can win it and would form a temporary government under leader Jeremy Corbyn to delay Brexit.

By 1530 GMT on Thursday, the pound was 0.5% higher at $1.2136 against USD, having briefly touched a high of $1.2150. However it remains not far from the 31-month low of $1.2015 it reached on Monday. This morning GBPUSD is trading at $1.2124.

Against the euro, the pound rose by 0.8% at 1.0905, standing well off recent 10-year lows of 1.0722.

 


Sterling Finds Some Support But Brexit Fears Remain

GBP rose slightly on Tuesday to hold above recent lows although it remained vulnerable as traders still worry that Britain is headed for a no-deal Brexit. This even though parliament law makers have previously stated that it will not let this pass.

Sterling hit a new 23-month low against the euro overnight, with the losses largely down to strength in the single currency rather than more Brexit-related worries.

The Guardian newspaper reported late on Monday that Brussels diplomats briefed after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief European envoy said it was clear Johnson had no intention of renegotiating the withdrawal agreement.

Johnson has said Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.

The risk of a no-deal Brexit in October has surged in recent weeks under Johnson, hammering the pound to its lowest in more than two years.

On Tuesday, sterling rose 0.3% against the dollar to 1.2173 , away from the 31-month low of 1.2080 hit last week.

Against the euro the pound recovered from a nearly 2-year low of 1.0811 pence to 1.0862, up 0.2% on the day.

In the run-up to the Brexit deadline at end-October, we expect GBP/EUR to remain volatile and maybe more so than we previously thought likely. Financial markets are taking Boris Johnson’s direct approach literally and, in the run-up to October.

We believe a less dramatic outcome at the end of October. We expect GBP/EUR to settle between 1.0989-1.1235  on the back of an extension and/or snap election.

 


Brexit: UK ‘Will Have To Face Consequences’ In Event Of No Deal.. – BBC Panorama Reports

The UK will have to “face the consequences” if it opts to leave without a deal, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier told BBC Panorama the thrice-rejected agreement negotiated by Theresa May was the “only way to leave the EU in an orderly manner”.

He also insisted Mrs May and her ministers “never” told him during Brexit talks she might opt for no deal.

Publicly, Mrs May has always insisted no deal is better than a bad deal.

In his first UK broadcast interview – conducted in May before the start of the Conservative leadership contest – Mr Barnier was asked what would happen if the UK “just tore up the membership card” for the EU.

“The UK will have to face the consequences,” he replied.

Asked whether the UK had ever genuinely threatened to leave in such a way with no deal, he said: “I think that the UK side, which is well informed and competent and knows the way we work on the EU side, knew from the very beginning that we’ve never been impressed by such a threat.

“It’s not useful to use it.”

Elsewhere in the programme, Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington revealed that a senior EU official made a secret offer to the UK to put Brexit on hold for five years and negotiate a “new deal for Europe”.

Mr Lidington said the offer was passed on in 2018 by Martin Selmayr, a senior aide to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Martin sort of said, ‘Look, why don’t we have a deal whereby we just put all this on ice for five years?’

“Let’s see how things go, let’s get the UK involved with France and Germany, let’s see how the dust settles and let’s talk about whether we can come to a new deal for Europe.'”

In his own interview for the programme – also recorded in May – Mr Selmayr said he was “very certain” the UK was not ready to leave without a deal before the original Brexit deadline in March this year.

“We have seen what has been prepared on our side of the border for a hard Brexit. We don’t see the same level of preparation on the other side of the border,” he added.

In another interview for the programme, the EU Commission’s First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, said UK ministers were “running around like idiots” when they arrived to negotiate Brexit in 2017.

Mr Timmermans said while he expected a “Harry Potter-like book of tricks” from ministers, instead they were like Lance Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army.

In an interview in March 2019 with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Mr Timmermans said he found it “shocking” how unprepared the UK team was when it began negotiations.

“We thought they are so brilliant,” he said. “That in some vault somewhere in Westminster there will be a Harry Potter-like book with all the tricks and all the things in it to do.”

But after seeing the then-Brexit Secretary David Davis – who resigned over his disagreements with the deal – speaking in public, his mind changed.

“I saw him not coming, not negotiating, grandstanding elsewhere [and] I thought, ‘Oh my God, they haven’t got a plan, they haven’t got a plan.’

“That was really shocking, frankly, because the damage if you don’t have a plan…

“Time’s running out and you don’t have a plan. It’s like Lance Corporal Jones, you know, ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’ Running around like idiots.”

‘Playing games’

Mr Timmermans – interviewed two months before Mrs May announced her resignation – also criticised Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit negotiations from when they began.

“Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but it is about time we became a bit harsh. I am not sure he was being genuine,” he said.

“I have always had the impression he is playing games.”

Negotiations between the UK and EU began in 2017 after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the Article 50 process to leave the bloc.

At the end of 2018, a withdrawal agreement was settled between the two sides and EU officials said the matter was closed.

But MPs voted against the plan three times, which led to a number of delays to the exit date – now set for 31 October.

Mr Johnson was asked for an interview by Panorama, but he declined.

BBC Panorama Contributed To This Article


Pound Sinks Below $1.24 Due To A ‘Perfect Storm’

Sterling plunged briefly below $1.24 for the first time in 27 months on Tuesday and also hit six-month troughs against the euro as the two candidates to be Britain’s next prime minister vied to outgun each other on taking a harder Brexit stance.

Their positions appear to be leading markets to price a sharply higher risk of Britain leaving the European Union on October 31 without any transition trading agreements in place.

That would potentially force the Bank of England to cut interest rates to stave off an economic catastrophe.

The pound suffered its biggest one-day fall since March after Boris Johnson and his rival to be Conservative Party leader, Jeremy Hunt, said late on Monday they would not accept the so-called Northern Irish backstop element of Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Both are trying to appeal to the majority of the Conservative Party members who want to make a clean break with the EU.

Johnson further stoked no-deal Brexit fears by vowing to send British lawmakers home for up to two weeks in October if he becomes prime minister. GBP weakness was also exacerbated by a bounce in the dollar following strong U.S. retail sales data. A move like that could prevent them stopping a no-deal Brexit. Bearing in mind The House Of Commons Law markers previously discussed a ‘ No Deal’ Woulf NEVER get through Parliament and amny would resign and join other parties and pushing for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the existing government.

The British currency weakened 0.9% on Tuesday to $1.2409 , having plunged earlier to $1.2396, the lowest since April 2017 and below the “flash crash” of $1.2409 on Jan. 3.


First-Time Buyer Mortgage Approvals Hit A Six-Month High But Remortgaging Powers Ahead

The number of mortgage approvals for first-time buyers and home movers continued to climb in May but remortgaging is back in the driving seat.

Lending data from UK Finance shows approvals to first-time buyers were up 0.5% annually to 30,720, the highest level for six months.

Approvals for home movers were down 1.2% annually to 29,430, but still at the highest level so far this year.

However, remortgaging dominated the sector in May, with approvals up 20% annually.

The figures show a 19.8% jump in approvals for remortgages with additional borrowing.

This has been seen as sign that home owners are looking to improve rather than move.

UK Finance said this was also in line with fixed rate deals coming to an end and customers therefore reviewing their mortgage.

Meanwhile, buy-to-let approvals were flat.


House Price Rises On The Way Ahead Of Brexit Deadline – Forecast

House prices are set to jump this summer based on deals that have already been agreed, it has been forecast.

Conveyancing comparison website Reallymoving has analysed property price information from the quote requests it receives.

Based on these prices – which have already been agreed between sellers and buyers –  it has forecast annual price growth of 0.7% in July, followed by 1.2% in August and 3.8% in September.

If correct, this would be the highest annual growth since last November.

It is predicting more volatile pricing on a monthly basis, with values down 0.5% this month compared with last, up 3.2% in August and then falling 1.4% in September.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of Reallymoving, said: “The spring market was more robust than expected and this has prompted positive growth through the summer, particularly for deals agreed in May which are translating to sales in August.

“The chance of us leaving the EU without a deal seems increasingly likely and people are realising that the window between now and the end of October may present their best opportunity to sell.

“The market has proved itself to be surprisingly stable over the last 12 months but this could change if we crash out of the EU on Halloween.

“Annually prices are on an upward trajectory from June through to September, when they are forecast to end the summer 3.8% higher than last September, but the longer term outlook remains uncertain.

“There is huge pent-up demand in the market, however, and if the UK is able to agree a deal with the EU we could see a rush of properties hitting the market in the late autumn along with a surge in buyer demand.

“A mixed picture remains regionally, but there are twice as many regions forecast to see price growth over the summer than price falls, with particularly strong performances in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Property Industry Eye Contributed To This Report..


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Pound Sterling Forecast: Talk of October Snap General Election Poses Further Downside

The Pound recorded its ninth consecutive weekly loss against the Euro ahead of the weekend, and it recorded its lowest weekly close against the U.S. Dollar since April 2017.

The weakness extends to the majority of major currencies, as a multi-week sell-off extended amidst a combination of political uncertainty and deteriorating economic data continues to weigh.

For Sterling, it’s not just the Brexit deal/’no deal’ equation that is injecting confidence-sapping uncertainty into the market: the prospect of a General Election is another factor at play with news that the Conservative party are gearing for a General Election before the year is out.

This is news that will do little to boost confidence in the UK currency.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that “Conservative MPs are spending the summer preparing for a snap general election, claiming that if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister he will either be forced to go the polls or decide to take a gamble to increase his majority.”

Even in pre-Brexit times, impending elections did tend to inject uncertainty into the market and contribute to under performance by Sterling.

The incoming Prime Minister – in all likelihood Boris Johnson – will find he has a wafer-thin parliamentary majority at his disposal.

If the EU refuse to renegotiate the Brexit deal in a substantial manner – as evidenced by incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent comments – then there is a high likelihood Johnson will have to pursue a ‘no deal’ if he is to deliver on his promise of delivering Brexit by October 31.

But, a number of Conservative Party MPs have warned they would resign from the Party in order to prevent a ‘no deal’ outcome. This could effectively paralyse government. There is also a chance they could join the opposition and deliver a vote of no-confidence in the Government if this was the only route to preventing a ‘no deal’.

With Parliament unable to agree on the next step forward, our economics team believes that the risks of a general election have materially risen. A hard Brexit or the prospect of a new election is likely to weaken the GBP further, while a controlled withdrawal or a second referendum is likely to reduce the risk premium on the GBP and strengthen it.

GBP/EUR currently trading at 1.1159 at 10:00 am GMT

GBP/USD currently trading at 1.2536 at 10:00 am GMT


New Head Of The European Commission Von der Leyen “Increases Downside Potential in the Pound” with Latest Comments on Irish Backstop..

EU leaders nominated von der Leyen, Germany’s defence minister, to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission on Tuesday and her approach to Brexit negotiations will be key to whether a new deal can be struck in coming months.

Following her nomination, von der Leyen travelled to Strasbourg, France and told colleagues she will not remove the Irish border backstop from the Brexit withdrawal Agreement. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the contenders to replace Theresa May as the next UK Prime Minister, have both committed to renegotiate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and know that removing the Irish border backstop is where any future deal lives or dies.

If triggered, the backstop would place the UK into a customs union with the EU to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit. There is no time limit to how long this customs union would last and there is no independent mechanism for the UK to exit.

On the current trajectory, it appears deadlock beckons and it is little wonder there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the British Pound.

Rabobank’s Foley says the nomination of von der Leyen reinforces a view “that the next UK PM will not be able to win concessions from Brussels ahead of the Brexit deadline in October… On the margin this can be seen as promoting the risks of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and increasing the downside potential of the Pound.”

The Pound-to-Euro exchange rate has trended lower since May with analysts now watching to see whether the key 1.11 area will be breached.

According to the poll, the GBP/USD exchange rate would slip into a range of 1.17-1.25 in the month after UK’s exit.

On the flip side forecasters are suggesting GBP/EUR to trade at 1.16 in 6 month if Brexit is again delayed in October and a ‘no deal’ avoided.

If the UK leaves with a deal, the exchange rate would rally to a range of 1.30-1.36. Such a lift in GBP/USD would almost certainly raise GBP/EUR towards, or even above 1.20, levels last seen in 2017.


GBP Under Pressure Following Carney’s Speech last Night

The British Pound is under pressure in mid-week trade with foreign exchange markets digesting a speech by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that prompted markets to rapidly raise expectations for an interest rate cut over coming months.

Carney spoke in Bournemouth late on Tuesday that the “stance of monetary policy is tighter than intended” owing to a disconnect between market expectations of interest rates and the Bank of England’s guidance on where they believe interest rate expectations should actually lie.

Carney’s added that downside risks to the economy have increased recently owing to global trade tensions and markets interpreted the comments as reason to increase expectations for an interest rate cut in coming months.

Currencies tend to fall when their central bank communicates the prospect of future interest rate cuts.

Carney said the global trade tensions have caused a “sea change” in investors’ outlook for the world economy that “suggests a shock to U.S. and Chinese business confidence and investment analogous to what has happened in the UK”.

“The latest actions raise the possibility that trade tensions could be far more pervasive, persistent and damaging than previously expected. The rationales for action are broadening,” he said in the speech.

The key phrase here being “the rationales for action are broadening”: markets quickly ramped up expectations for an interest rate cut at the bank on this comment. Money markets now assign a 57% probability of a 0.25% interest rate cut by the Bank in December, up from 41% ahead of Carney’s speech.

This repricing in expectations sent Sterling lower.

The intervention by the Governor means what had already been a poor day for Sterling just got worse leaving the currency trading near multi-week lows against the Dollar and Euro at the mid-week period.

“Things have gone from bad to worse for the Pound. After being knocked by a poor construction PMI earlier in the day, sterling slumped to hit a new session low moments ago in reaction to a speech by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney,” says Fawad Razaqzada, a Market Analyst with Forex.com. “Carney said the BoE expects economic growth in the second half of the year to be considerably weaker and that it will re-assess Brexit and trade tension in August.”

The speech appears to be a clear move by the Bank of England Governor to massage market expectations towards expecting a more sombre assessment at their next major policy update in August with the view to potentially laying the path to another interest rate cut.

 


Things To Watch Out For This Week On The Economic Releases Front 1st July – 5th July

Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

1. Trade talks

The U.S. and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after U.S. President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.

No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the two sides remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement. The last major round of talks collapsed in May.

Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, threatening to put the brakes on an already slowing global economy. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.

2. U.S. economic data

The U.S. June jobs report, due on Friday, will likely factor into the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates at its next meeting in late July.

The economy is expected to have created 164,000 jobs in June while Interest Rate Futures indicate 100% odds of a 25 basis-point cut on July 31.

But traders might be getting ahead of themselves. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has pushed back on rate-cut pressure. And the economy looks generally robust – unemployment, at 3.6%, is at its lowest in half a century and it likely stayed there in June.

Other notable data releases on the economic calendar include the latest surveys from the Institute for Supply Management on U.S. manufacturing and service sector activity, as well as reports on factory orders and trade.

3. Fed speakers

Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida is due to speak on Monday. Earlier this month, he said that the central bank is prepared to lower interest rates if necessary, but noted that the broad outlook for the U.S. economy remains positive.

New York Fed President John Williams is due to participate in a panel discussion about the global economic and monetary policy outlook in Zurich on Tuesday.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester a non-voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, is due to deliver remarks at a separate event the same day.

4. OPEC meeting

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will gather in Vienna on Monday and meet with non-OPEC states – known as OPEC+ – on Tuesday to discuss extending a deal – due to expire Sunday- on curbing oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day in order to support prices.

But Saturday’s announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman agreed to extend the current output deal has made the meeting almost redundant.

How much impact any decision will have is also debatable. Oil output in the U.S. hit a record 11 million barrels per day in 2018 and is on track to reach 12.4 million barrels per day this year according to the Energy Information Administration, offsetting OPEC’s output cuts.

International benchmark Brent Crude has climbed more than 25% since the start of the year, but still remains below its 2018 highs.

5. U.K. PMIs

Surveys of the U.K. manufacturing, services and construction sectors this week are expected to indicate that second quarter growth is likely to be more-or-less flat, which will diminish the chances of a rate hike by the Bank of England this year.

Much of this is being driven by weakness in manufacturing, where new orders and production are falling and companies are stockpiling in order to prepare for the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

“That should deliver another sub-50 manufacturing PMI, although things don’t look spectacular in the much larger service sector either. With Brexit uncertainty set to ramp up over the summer, thus unlikely that the Bank of England will hike rates this year,” ING said.


How Has Brexit Vote Affected The UK Economy? June Verdict Review..

Mounting no-deal Brexit fears hit sterling

The rising likelihood of no-deal Brexit has dragged down the pound on the foreign exchanges over the past month, as the prospect of a no-deal-focused Boris Johnson as prime minister becomes more likely. Sterling had fallen sharply to less than $1.26 against the US dollar and to about €1.12 against the euro. However, the US Federal Reserve coming closer to being forced into cutting interest rates amid fears over a slowing US economy has dampened the strength of the dollar in the past week. This has helped to inflate the value of the pound. The outgoing head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, also suggested that the eurozone requires more economic stimulus, which has sapped the strength of the euro.

Stock markets surge amid stimulus talk

Mario Draghi using one of his final speeches as ECB president to suggest that interest rates in the eurozone may need to be cut further has helped European equities power ahead over the past month. Increased stimulus can help the stock market to rise, as companies’ borrowing costs are cut. Investors have also become more positive about the chances of a resolution in the US-China trade dispute, after a prolonged period of concern over the standoff between Washington and Beijing. Although rate cuts from the US Fed could suggest a weakening economy, the prospect of stimulus from the US central bank has also lifted markets.

Business surveys paint weak growth picture

Surveys of business activity used as early warning signals for the British economy by the Bank of England and the Treasury suggested that UK economic growth remained weak last month. The latest snapshot from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply showed that service sector activity, which accounts for four-fifths of the economy, strengthened in May, despite manufacturing and construction slumping into contraction amid heightened levels of uncertainty over Brexit. The IHS Markit/Cips services purchasing managers rose to a three-month high of 51 from 50.4 in April, following a rise in domestic orders. A figure above 50 indicates growth. Still, economists warned the pattern of growth remained close to stalling point.

Jobs growth slows amid Brexit uncertainty

After months of employers appearing to shrug off Brexit concerns, jobs growth slowed in the three months to April. Employment in Britain increased by 32,000 to reach a record high of 32.75m, according to the ONS, significantly down on the 99,000 jobs added to the workforce in March. Driven by rising self-employment and women entering work, economists said the weak gains suggested that companies were becoming jittery about Brexit. The jobless rate has, however, remained at the lowest level since the mid-1970s, while annual growth in average weekly wages increased to 3.4%, up from 3.3% in March. Total average pay including bonuses rose by 3.1%, down from 3.3% in March, but beating economists’ forecasts for growth of 3%.

Brexit stockpiling set to fuel economic slowdown

After fuelling an upswing in economic growth earlier this year, the stockpiling rush ahead of the original Brexit deadline is poised to drag on the economy over coming months. UK firms face renewed risks around how to plan for no deal after the delay until the autumn. Some firms are likely to run down their stocks rather than place new orders, hitting growth, according to the Bank of England, as it slashed its forecast for the second quarter to zero from a previous rate of 0.2%. The Bank’s network of regional agents believes about a tenth will scale back their plans, while others will maintain theirs or ramp them up ahead of the autumn. Although Boris Johnson has urged Britain to do more planning for no-deal Brexit, most firms say they are “ready as they can be”, according to the Bank. However, the lack of clarity limits the extent to which they can be fully ready.


Residential Transactions In England And Wales At A Five-Year Low- Whilst Mortgage Approvals Up 0.9% YOY

It very much looks like first time buyers are awaiting the outcome of Brexit negotiations, with annual mortgage approvals figures year on year are up 0.9% the number of transactions in England and Wales fell to a five-year low last year.

The ONS figures shows that a drop in purchases of typical buy-to-let and first-time buyer homes leading the decline.

The ONS house price statistics for small areas found the total number of residential property sales recorded by HM Land Registry for England and Wales fell 5.3% annually to 856,420 in December.

This was the second consecutive year in which the number of property transactions has decreased in the two countries and is the lowest number of sales since the year ending December 2013.

The figures don’t include data for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Transactions involving flats and maisonettes suffered the most, declining 10.3% – with 17,352 fewer sales – from the previous year, a larger fall than any other property type.

The next largest decrease was for detached properties and terrace properties, of which there were 4.9% fewer transactions compared with 2017.

The overall value of residential property transactions in England and Wales – a combination of sales and prices – fell by 3.9% annually in 2018 to £255bn, the ONS said.

Separate data shows that the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase hit a three-year high in May.

Trade body UK Finance says there were 49,683 mortgage approvals last month, up 9.1% annually and the highest number since June 2016.

However, the value of home loans fell 0.4% annually to £21.9bn.

The previously strong market for remortgaging declined, with approval down 3.7% annually.

Property Industry Eye Contributed To This Article.


What is Consular Help?

What is Consular Help?

A considerable part of my years as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) British diplomat was spent in charge of what we called “consular” work. Essentially that meant looking after British Citizens who had got into trouble while overseas. Getting into trouble meant anything from losing their passport to being victims of crime, to being arrested, to getting seriously ill or – and sadly this happened more frequently than you might think – dying. Every year some 3,600 British Citizens die abroad.

Consular work is very rewarding. It’s about helping people who are in real need and are vulnerable. In Venezuela, we had regular customers, male as well as female, whose shoulder-bag had been stolen by a guy on a motor-bike, who had cut the bag’s strap with a knife. Inside the bag were often purses or wallets containing travel documents, tickets and other valuables. In Germany we worked with German and British police to ensure speedy resolution of incidents involving British football fans, who had run afoul of the law when supporting their favourite teams in European Champions’ League fixtures against Bundesliga opposition. And we also gave advice to the British mother of a child allegedly abducted by her German husband.

Governmental consular staff are well-trained and professional. And generally, they do a fantastic job. But they are not always able to help. Sometimes they are not allowed to become involved. For example, they cannot:

  • issue new or replacement passports, or accept applications for these, because passports are issued by Her Majesty’s Passport Office in the UK
  • give out legal advice or translate foreign documents, because such support is best provided by independent professionals.
  • investigate crimes or interfere in local criminal or civil proceedings, because they must respect other countries’ systems, just as we expect others to respect the UK’s laws and legal systems.
  • pay any bills or give out money from public funds because they are not funded to do this and it is the obligation of individuals to take responsibility for themselves.
  • get involved (including offering advice) in private disputes over property, employment, commercial or other matters, because they are in no position to judge the facts and have no jurisdiction overseas to resolve such matters

And sometimes they simply do not have the capacity to help, either because we do not have an Embassy or Consulate in the country concerned. Or the incident occurs out of office hours and is not a genuine emergency. Or the consular staff contacted consider the support requested an inappropriate use of government resources.  They might for example be in a position to provide advice about how to medivac the victim of a serious injury or illness. They may be able to issue an emergency travel document, if the original has gone missing, or is unavailable. They should have names of local doctors or lawyers, who can notarise documents required before the victim can leave the country. But they are unlikely to have the resources to help move luggage from the hotel of the person who has been medivaced. Nor would they be able to make arrangements for the family of that person to fly out to support the victim, or to help apply for the visas which would allow the victim to pass through a third country. Indeed, I suspect the average taxpayer, who ultimately pays for the consular service, would not be happy to have our Embassies and Consulates resourced to such an extent that they were able to provide these services.

The formal position, according to the FCO Leaflet “Support for British national Abroad”, is that: “Generally, there is no legal right to consular assistance. All assistance provided is at our discretion.”

While I was in the FCO, I often found this situation frustrating; not least because of the damage I could see arising for the Office’s reputation. Friends would often simply be baffled as to why we couldn’t – or wouldn’t – do this or that. And, over time, I came to realise that our capacity to help was shrinking. In the interests of efficiency and of maintaining consistency across jurisdictions, it was increasingly difficult for my staff to “go the extra mile”. And the number of staff available to do the job was being reduced all the time. In 2004 the number of FCO diplomatic staff engaged in consular work was over 2000. But 2018, it was less than 25. There has been a major reorganisation to make Consular Sections in Embassies be staffed by locally recruited personnel: often great people, but without the same background and experience. The statistics published annually by the FCO tell a similar story. In 2018, some 400,000 persons contacted the FCO with consular enquiries/problems. Only 17,000 – or 4% – received assistance.

I doubt if the resources situation will improve for consular work. Yet the numbers of people travelling and living abroad continues to grow: 68 million journeys in the 12 months to July 2017, compared with 56 million in 2010. And the world is becoming a more dangerous and less predictable place. Not just cities like Bangkok, Caracas and Mumbai, but even Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Boston and Paris (as Kim Kardashian recently discovered!).

Our Concierge company offers consular-type services in the private sector. It was founded by a former Diplomat with many years of experience in doing consular work and in training others how to do it. They employ other former diplomats, both in London and around the world, as they build up a network of Global Consular Assistance Providers who can provide on the ground support. Their services are available 24/7/365.  Unlike the FCO and other Governments, they are not bound by tight government rules as to what they can and cannot do. So they can for example arrange a local translator, help with application for a new passport and assist with arrangements for a family member to fly out to support a victim. And, unlike a holiday insurance company, they can actually give travellers hands-on support when they need it, rather than just sending a cheque to reimburse expenses on return.

Our concierge company are starting to make something of a name for themselves in the travel industry. And you can see why. They have developed a unique product and are well-placed to provide the sort of service government no longer can, indeed in many cases never could!