New PM May a closet Brexiter? What does it all mean for gold?

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has come into the position post the Brexit vote despite officially supporting the Remain in the EU campaign.  However her statements and actions since her ascendancy to the UK’s top political position suggest she may have been at best lukewarm in her support for the Remain campaign, and perhaps at heart a closet Brexit supporter.  One suspects there may be more to her initial decisions since her ascendancy to the Conservative party’s leadership than just an attempt to unite the party, which only has a slim majority in the UK’s Parliament.

One of her first statements on achieving the party leadership was that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ – an extremely adamant position which she will not be able to back away from, even though the country is hugely divided given the closeness of the vote and a petition signed by over 4 million people to implement a referendum re-run – surely a non-starter.  Because you don’t like the result doesn’t mean you should immediately call for a second vote. Even the Scots didn’t do that after a close independence referendum.

Also her initial Cabinet appointments putting some strong Brexit supporters into key ministerial positions (the charismatic, but highly controversial Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary and longtime EU sceptic David Davis as Minister for Exiting the EU for example) indicates an additional determination to proceed with the negotiated exit, albeit perhaps not quite as quickly as some EU leaders might appear to prefer.  The exit will not happen until Article 50 is invoked by the UK and current indications are that this might not be until next year – and then there would be a 2-year countdown to the break – so the UK is likely to remain an EU member until 2019 at least.

So what does all this mean for the UK economy – and that of Europe and the rest of the world?  It will certainly be a destabilising influence on the rest of the EU where many member nations have their own anti-EU movements to deal with.  This is why the rhetoric from a number of national leaders is to play hardball over the UK exit, although the economics of so doing would almost certainly be counter-productive for their own economies.  In the event one suspects economics will win out and deals will be quickly renegotiated, particularly as the UK remains either the biggest or second largest market for trade from other EU nations depending on whether this relates to goods or goods and services – but of huge importance regardless.

The big sticking point may well be the free movement of EU nationals in and out of the UK, but there is the possibility that some fudge will be made here of at least partial satisfaction to both sides.

But it is EU instability which will be the most significant factor here.  Polls suggest that many EU nations, and in particular some with the biggest economies, have huge underlying anti-EU sentiment, but whether this would be sufficient to a move to actually exit from the Union is perhaps much more difficult to judge, but it could put the EU project – in particular with regard to ever-closer political union – into jeopardy.  It is this uncertainty which will impact the global economy perhaps for years to come and could well be a stimulus for precious metals as a continued safe haven investment.

Regarding gold, there has been a substantial post-Brexit drop in value over the past few days after a big rise immediately after the vote.  Ironically this has coincided with the publication of bullish forecasts from a number of bank analysts – perhaps these should be seen as a contra-indicator.  After all at the beginning of the year many of these were then preaching a gold price collapse and were hugely wrong then.  They could be equally wrong now.  So much for ‘expert’ predictions!  While the gold price fall has not reached freefall levels yet the trend looks to be downwards – but for how long?

Withdrawals from, or purchases into, the big gold ETFs – for which SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) – is probably the best proxy being the biggest of them all – is a key indicator.  After a big sell-off in the GLD holding on Tuesday, yesterday saw no change, but future day-to-day purchases or sales will likely be very closely followed by the precious metals markets.  Given the big rise in gold and silver prices immediately after the Brexit vote a degree of profit taking is to be expected – particularly in the UK where big gains had been made with the combination of a dollar gold price rise and a sharp fall in the pound sterling’s parity against the dollar.  The pound appears to be stabilising, although could be knocked back a little further if the Bank of England, cuts interest rates by 25 basis points today, as expected, although this could already be factored into current sterling levels against the dollar and the euro.

We would expect the UK economy and indicators to stabilise – or even improve – as the negatives and positives of a UK exit become more apparent.  Certainly the UK stock market seems to suggesting this with the FTSE100 index riding high at around its highest level since August last yearand even the FTSE250 – seen as more representative of the UK economy as a whole, picking up well and now only around 2.5% down on its high point for the year reached immediately pre the Brexit vote when a Remain outcome was seen as something of a certainty.  Indeed it is now up 12% plus since the actual outcome of the vote became apparent.  This does not suggest an economy in crisis as many still-smarting Remain campaigners and EU leaders have been suggesting.  The pound has been the only real indicator to suffer seriously so far and, as noted above this seems to be stabilising and we would not be too surprised if it should recover perhaps half the ground lost, or more, over the next few weeks and months.

But, uncertainty will persist as the post Brexit vote ramifications unwind, and could receive another setback if and when Article 50 is actually invoked.  If Brexit truly does mean Brexit, and this may not have played out fully yet, then the fallout will continue across Europe and in the UK, and all this would seem to be positive for precious metals in the medium to long term.

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Britain Facing Brexit Bombshell.  What Would Happen to Gold?

According to the opinion polls whether Britain will vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd, or to stay in, it is too close to call.  And given there is a large section of the population still undecided, and that this may end up voting with hearts rather than minds there has to be a serious chance that the ‘leave’ vote will end triumphant, despite the vast array of key figures from within and without the UK establishment pushing the ‘remain’ agenda unmercifully.

The thing is, the general public no longer trusts mainstream politicians – and those key figures from outside the UK – like US President Obama, IMF Head Christine Lagarde are seen as just supporting the status quo – and their statements may even end up being counter-productive for the cause they are trying to help promote.  Brits don’t like being told what they should do by foreigners – which is perhaps the whole basis of the Brexit argument in the first place.  Even Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn – officially on the ‘remain’ side – seems lukewarm in his views more intent on castigating the Conservative government than for calling for the country to stay in.

Charisma may well win the day and Brexit does have two of the more charismatic proponents on its side in Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.  Even though the Brexit camp tries to sideline Farage, presumably because of the roots of the UKIP political party which he has largely single-handedly brought into the political mainstream, he does have a charisma lacking in most of the mainstream politicos and will certainly have an impact on the vote.

The latest poll of polls conducted by the Financial Times, published two days ago, puts the balance at 46% to remain and 44% to leave BUT of the last ten polls taken into account Brexit was either in the majority, or even, for six of them.  However there was huge volatility in the results in terms of percentage gaps. Does this suggest that the Brexit vote is gaining the momentum necessary to see it first past the post on the day?  The final poll is still just over a month away and a lot can happen in that time.  It might only take one significant event in the meantime seen as either positive or negative to the Brexit case to sway the final outcome – as may who is most successful in getting their supporters out to vote on the day.

Two polls out today, one by telephone and one online both conducted by The Guardian in conjunction with polling company ICM, show hugely different results.  As Reuters reports, the contrast in the two surveys is particularly stark, because they were conducted concurrently and deployed as similar vote adjustment methodologies as possible. In ICM’s telephone poll, the remain camp was eight points clear of leave, at 47% compared with 39%, with 14% undecided. Once the “don’t knows” are excluded, remain looked set for a clear 10-point lead, by 55% to 45%.

But the results of the online survey were very different showing those in favour of Brexit having a definite edge – standing on 47% to remain’s 43%, with only 10% of respondents undecided. Once they are excluded, leave’s four-point advantage is maintained, in a projected final pro-Brexit result of 52% to 48%.

Telephone polls in general have tended to show principal support for the remain option while internet ones for a dead heat or Brexit so the results shouldn’t be seen as too surprising.

Also, because Brexit is largely presented by the media as being potentially disastrous, among the economic cognoscenti, many are loath to nail their colours to the Brexit cause – at least openly – but there is a distinct feeling from this commentator that many of these are more open to the idea of Britain leaving the EU than they are prepared to admit in public.

The presumed economic arguments against Brexit are legion and heavily promoted by the remain camp, with government backing – but the truth is nobody really knows what would happen in the case of a leave vote in terms of subsequent renegotiations of key trade deals and political alliances.  Initial uncertainty would almost certainly cause some severe hiccups for sterling, the equities markets and the UK economy, but the leave proponents are of the opinion that this would be shortlived.  As a nation which despite its small geographical footprint still has the world’s fifth largest GDP (after the US, China, Japan and Germany), and has historic trading links which far transcend the EU, the argument from the leave supporters is that it can easily stand on its own feet outside any artificial union.

The whole result may come down to sovereignty.  There is a perception – only partially correct – that EU laws override long term UK ones and that a mostly unelected European Commission can impose all kinds of restrictions on what UK citizens can or can’t do or consume.

Freedom of movement between EU states is another area where one suspects UK citizenry, rightly or wrongly, is nervous about continuing membership.  When the EU comprised just  the major European economies this would not have been a problem, but now that there are 28 member nations, and the prospect of others being added to the list, mostly seen as being nations with poorer economies and less munificent social systems, prospective unchecked EU migration flows are viewed as being unmanageable if Britain remains in the EU and counter to the best interests of the British workforce.

These are emotive arguments.  The general populace probably just doesn’t believe the plethora of adverse economic projections spun out by the government-backed remain camp in a campaign which seems wholly have been designed to project fear of consequences of a Brexit, rather than any advantages of staying in.  This may well prove to have been counterproductive come the day.  There’s little doubt that economic data will be manufactured in the days leading up to the referendum to support the government’s case for staying in the EU.  Will this swing the result?

But don’t write off the possibility of a Brexit yet, whatever the polls may tell you.  And if it happens it will certainly result in economic uncertainty, perhaps even for a few years.  But this uncertainty won’t just apply to the UK – it could launch the whole of the EU into introspective turmoil.  There are ‘leave’ movements in many countries and these will gain heart, and numbers, from a UK Brexit decision were it to happen.

This website is largely about gold and precious metals.  What would be the effects of a Brexit on the yellow metal?  We think the impact could be strongly positive for gold.  The yellow metal tends to thrive on economic and political uncertainty and there are potentially far reaching consequences of a Brexit decision, particularly within the EU itself.  For UK holders a mini collapse of sterling as a result of a Brexit decision should it happen, would probably make moving some of one’s wealth into gold a very wise decision indeed.  Gold is in effect financial insurance and if the economists and politicians predicting disaster for the UK economy if Brexit happens are correct and sterling plunges – it probably would in a knee-jerk reaction anyway – then a global gold price rise coupled with a fall in the domestic currency looks to make holding some gold a no-brainer for the UK investor in particular.