8 August 2019

Scott Reid

8 August 2019

Good morning,

Wednesday was none too cheery a day for this millennial.
 
As the skies opened above Edinburgh and my plans to hit the Festival took a turn for the worse, my fellow twentysomethings and I were met with a further double whammy of bad news.
 
Not only was Disney planning to take its grubby paws to the cinematic holy grail of our youths – Home Alone – but the UK’s membership of the InterRail scheme which had taken us culture-drunk (and more truthfully, literally drunk) into adulthood and across Europe was to be scrapped.
 
After 47 years of backpackers being able to travel the length and breadth of our continent armed with only one ticket and a hangover, the British Rail Delivery Group (RDG) yesterday announced that we had reached the end of the line (pun very much intended; I’ll take what humour I can from this sad state of affairs).
 
From next year, British railways will be exempt from both the Interrail and Eurail schemes and will instead be covered by a ‘BritRail’ card, the difference of which is hard to see, beyond a higher pricetag than its predecessors which is obviously geared to higher profits and efforts to cultivate British tourism.
 
True enough, you might agree with the comments issued by the RDG that “British people will feel no difference” (which in corporate speak is basically the same as saying “I’m alright, Jack!”). In the end, it’s only other Europeans that will miss out. But whilst Brexit had nothing to do with the decision, you’d be a fool not to identify the direction of travel for the UK’s engagement away from international goodwill projects. Anyone checked on Erasmus recently?
 
Taking my disgruntlement to this morning’s papers, I spotted a similar trend in some of the world’s more niche tourism news. Roman tourists facing a €250 fine for sitting on the Spanish Steps; Venetian cruise liners rerouted out of the Lagoon; and the thrum of ecowarriors taking against the Edinburgh Festivalworshipping at the altar of the plastic cup. What’s clear; the future of global tourism is uncertain, and folk are in the mood to gripe.
 
But it seems to me that it isn’t international travel at fault, so much as rapacious capitalism. If our interest was in delivering quality rather than quantity, sacrificing an extra pound for the sake of sustainability, maybe our railways would see no need to quit the continent. And maybe, just maybe, we’d be able to enjoy the 1990 version of Home Alone in peace.

 

News

President Trump has visited Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following two mass shootings that took 31 lives last week. Prior to leaving, Trump said he was concerned about “the rise of any group of hate… whether it’s white supremacy” or any “other kind of supremacy”. El Paso’s Democratic congresswoman, Veronica Escobar, refused to meet him, however, saying his refusal to call out racists was stoking hated towards Hispanic people.
 
John McDonnell has suggested Labour would tell the Queen “we’re taking over” if Boris Johnson loses of a vote of no confidence. Speaking in his second high-profile intervention this week from the Edinburgh Festival, the shadow chancellor said Labour was preparing to form a caretaker administration with cross-party support whose mission would be to block a no-deal Brexit before disbanding to allow for a general election. (£)
 
Luxembourg is set to become the first European country to legalise cannabisfollowing the unveiling of government plans. The country’s health minister, Etienne Schneider, said drugs policies of the last fifty years were not fit for purpose and only succeeded in making drugs “more interesting to young people”. Luxembourgish residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy the drug for recreational use within two years.

Business & Economy

Sky News reports that two-thirds of UK exporters have yet to take basic steps to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. According to HMRC figures, only 70,000 companies out of a possible 240,000 have so far registered for rollover trading documentation with the EU, which will be required to trade after October 31. The remaining companies are estimated to account for 25% of total UK-EU trade.
 
The UK government has cancelled the process to find a replacement to the South Eastern Rail Franchise. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, yesterday scrapped the contract citing higher costs to the taxpayer and a lack of assurances that the new operator could guarantee passenger benefits. The move is thought to make two further tenders for the West Coast main line and HS2 unlikely to progress, both of which had been due to be announced next month. (£)
 
Ryanair pilots have voted in favour of a strike in a dispute over pay and conditions. The British Airline Pilots Association announced two strikes yesterday evening, which will take place between 22-23 August and 2-4 September. The union suggested it hadn’t received any formal offer from Ryanair, which announced a 21% fall in quarterly profits earlier in the week and warned it could cut jobs.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London managed to avoid the general panic that engulfed global markets yesterday, following a series of poor indicators which signalled the global economy might be entering into recession. The FTSE 100 finished 0.38% higher at 7,198.70 points, while the pound was down 0.1% on the dollar at $1.22 and 0.41% lower on the euro at €1.08.
 
Global stocks fell after central banks in India, New Zealand and Thailand cut interest rates by more than expected. A steep decline in German industrial production also raised fears that the country could be heading for its first recession in six years. Lightening the mood, however, were positive comments by the Chinese government, which suggests that the next round of trade talks with the US in September would go ahead.
 
In corporate news, shares in food delivery group Just Eat (+6.82%) continued to surge, topping the day’s gains list, after a tie-up with Takeaway.com was agreed earlier in the week. It was joined at the top by Flutter Entertainment, formerly Paddy Power Betfair, which rose +5.97% on posting an 18% rise in interim revenue. Standard Life Aberdeen (-7.52%) lost ground as the asset manager posted a drop in first-half pre-tax profit to £280 million from £311 million during H1 2018.

What's happening today?

Finals
Hargreaves Lansdown

AGMs
Bould Opp
Investec
Majestic Wine
NextEnergy Solar
Ovoca Bio
Ventus Vct 2
Ventus Vct

Intl. Economic Announcements
(13.30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13.30) Continuing Claims (US)
(15.00) Wholesales Inventories (US)

Interims
Arrow Global
Aviva
Coca-Cola HBC
Evraz
F&C Investment Trust
Hastings
Telecom Egypt S
Temple Bar Investment Trust
Tritax Big Box

UK Economic Announcements
(00.01) RICS Housing Market Survey

 

 

Columns of Note

James Marriott writes in The Times that the fall in home ownership will have unintended consequences for UK society. He points to the correlation between rising housing costs and a decline in the birth rate, suggesting that demographic problem have a tendency to ‘snow ball’ once they’ve become entrenched. He predicts that ‘generation rent’ will continue to tack left politically, facing higher social care costs which will be supported by a smaller working age population.
 
As Disney announces a remake of Home Alone, Ed Power asks in The Independent whether Hollywood’s penchant for recycling reboots signals a dearth of creativity. From The Lion King to Ghostbusters, Power suggests producers are merely looking at ways to produce a quick buck at the box office rather than “reinvent” films for a new generation as they have claimed.

Did you know?

In 1943, the Nazis plotted to assassinate Winston Churchill using an explosive bar of chocolate.

 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
In recess until 3rd September
 
House of Lords
In recess until 3rd September
 
Scottish Parliament
In recess until 2nd September.