Cabinet moves while interest rates stay still: week in news

Cabinet moves while interest rates stay still: week in news

This week saw a new cabinet appointed, an anti-climactic monetary policy meeting and more change in the commercial property funds sector.

All of this, plus a few more choice news nuggets, will now be condensed into your Friday afternoon catch-up:

1. Cabinet May-hem

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The post-Brexit political circus ramped up another gear in recent days, as Theresa May won the battle for control of the Conservative Party, and therefore the country.

She set about appointing her cabinet, axing the likes of leadership rivals Michael Gove and Stephen Crabb, while keeping Jeremy Hunt in a job and promoting Boris Johnson to foreign secretary.

Mr Crabb was replaced as secretary of state for work and pensions by former coalition immigration minister and justice secretary Damian Green, while George Osborne saw Philip Hammond take over his cherished chancellor role.

Mr Hammond ruled out any emergency Budget and stated while austerity was the right answer to the 2008 financial crash, the economy was entering “a new phase” and it was right to review the pace at which the government balanced the books.

This morning, law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner called on the new chancellor not to alter the tax benefits system, should the UK head for technical recession later this year.

2. The rate rise that wasn’t

After days of predictions from analysts and pre-emptive tracker rate changes by lenders, the big day came and at 12 noon Bank of England’s best and brightest....

Did nothing. Again. For the 88th month in a row.

This was of course hailed by brokers as great news for borrowers, while those concentrating on savers bemoaned the continuation of their hardship.

Perhaps more importantly, the central bank’s lack of action - despite explicit statements that monetary policy loosening may well be on the card’s in August - led many economist types to speculate we could be stuck at 0.5 per cent for some time to come.

Our editor was among those predicting uncertainty as the new normal and calling Mark Carney the “governor of forward misguidance”.

3. Property fund ripples

As Aberdeen Asset Management ended a week-long suspension of its UK Property funds, this week saw other implications of the previous fortnight’s wave of similar temporary closures ripple out into the wider market.

FTAdviser sister paper Investment Adviser pointed out intermediaries and model portfolio providers face some “big problems” in the wake of the six retail funds suspending dealing to stem a run on assets, leaving £18bn shut off to redemptions.

Multi-asset funds and model portfolio services holding these funds will face mark downs as a result, but perhaps more problematic are the logistical problems now facing providers, rather than the risk their portfolios will also be gated.

Meanwhile, self-invested personal pension provider AJ Bell confirmed it has reclassified suspended property funds as a non-standard asset under the Financial Conduct Authority’s capital adequacy rules.