Until the present political uncertainties are resolved we cannot make progress towards a new relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. For the last 40 years, our financial institutions have been built inside an integrated European Union. As a nation, we will need to act quickly to re-establish this framework outside the EU. The following points flag up some the issues we should keep an eye on:
• As the banks adjust to the situation, credit may tighten up: it may become more difficult to obtain loans or mortgages.
• In the short-term interest rates may fall, longer term they may rise. The latter will have an impact on debt repayment.
• As the cost of imported goods will almost certainly rise, due to exchange fluctuations and as tariffs are imposed, the cost of the weekly shop will increase.
• Adverse movements in the sterling exchange rate will possibly increase the cost of imported oil and gas. If so, monthly utility bills may increase, as will the cost of filling up our cars. Time to look at hybrids or use public transport?
• Without increased government subsidy, rail, air and road transport costs may rise adding further inflationary pressures and increases in domestic expenditures.
• Employers, suffering from the same cost increases, will be reviewing recruitment and the cost of labour. We may see rises in unemployment and downward pressure on future pay increases.
• If house prices do fall in the medium term, buyers should be cautious and ensure that their intended purchase is based on a realistic assessment of current market value. Negative equity – where loans to purchase are higher than market value – will become an unwelcome consequence for those who purchase in haste in a falling market.
• If interest rates do fall, returns for savers could all but disappear.
• This may be a good time to check out your credit rating. You should position yourself at the top end of the scale if you want to meet your family’s needs.
• Finally, austerity cuts may not be enough to balance the UK’s budget and pay off our national debts so we should be wary, future tax increases may be on the horizon.
Re-engaging with the rest of the world and renegotiating our exit with the EU is going to take some time and associated uncertainties will likely continue until they are resolved.
Time for caution and tightening of belts.