Buxton on a 'resilient' economy post-Brexit

Buxton on a 'resilient' economy post-Brexit

The UK economy is strong enough to survive a no-deal Brexit, according to Merian Global Investors fund manager Richard Buxton.

Mr Buxton runs the £1.8bn Merian UK Alpha fund.

He said: "This year to date sterling has been quite strong as the market thinks the chances of a disorderly Brexit have receded.

"Throughout 2019 I have been waiting for a period, even a period of a few hours, where the shares of companies like Next and Lloyds bank would fall, so I could buy more, but it hasn’t happened."

Next as a retailer, and Lloyds, as a bank with significant exposure to the UK housing market, are particularly sensitive to the performance of the UK economy.

Mr Buxton holds both companies in his fund, with Lloyds Banking Group being the third largest holding.

He said: "The circus in Westminster rolls on but my base case continues to be that we won’t have a no deal.

"If we do have it, then I think the UK economy, with unemployment at below 4 per cent, with real wage growth, would be resilient enough to cope.

"I think sterling would fall and the share prices of Next and Lloyds would fall, and if that happens I will be there to buy them."

He said in the event of an outcome for the UK economy other than a no-deal exit, he would expect economic growth to pick up markedly.

He said: "Before the Brexit uncertainty began, the economy was growing at about half a per cent a quarter, it is now about 0.2 per cent a quarter.

"I think the end of the Brexit uncertainty, in whatever way, would help close that gap, and push growth back up towards the 0.5 per cent a quarter mark."

Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, told the Treasury select committee of the House of Commons last year that a soft Brexit would cause the trend, or usual, rate of growth of the UK economy to drop from 2 per cent a year to 1.5 per cent a year.

The trend rate of growth is the level at which an economy can expand with government and central bank action being neither stimulative nor contractionary.

Mr Haldane said he believes a decline in the number of migrant workers will fall, and this reduces the productivity of the economy, driving the long-term growth rate lower.

Henry Dixon, who runs the £832m GLG UK Income fund, said: "Simplistically there are three key players in any economy, the consumer, government and business.

"Starting with the consumer we think that record job vacancies, rising wages and falling inflation is not the basis for despair domestically.

"This combination of events is starting to pave the way for a meaningful improvement in income available for discretionary spend, which is forecast to return to levels not seen since 2014 and 2015, a period when the UK would be the fastest growing G7 economy."