December 2019 News Roundup
Welcome to the last News Roundup of 2019, covering the relevant news stories you may have missed during December. With a general election and Christmas demanding our attentions this month, here’s a recap of what’s been happening in the world of finance, precious metals and luxury watches.
Value of Pound Sees Jump After Election Before Stabilising
On 12th December, we got down to the polls and voted in a general election, with the Conservatives winning a majority. When the result was announced the value of the pound jumped by 1.9% against the dollar. This was the highest level seen since May 2018 and a positive sight for those who have been watching the pound struggle since the Brexit vote. Now that the dust has settled on the result of the general election, the value of the pound stabilised again; returning to pre-election levels by Christmas Eve.
Brexit Concern for Economy in 2020
With the UK going through another tough year, economically, many will be looking to 2020 as the year when things will begin to improve. However, although we are closer to eliminating some of the uncertainty that has gripped our economy in recent months, we are certainly not out of the woods just yet. Brexit continues to be a very real concern for investors; particularly as a No Deal Brexit continues to be a possibility and very few – if any – workable trade deals have been reached. The uncertainty continues into a new decade and we’ll be keeping our eye on the value of the pound as we move into 2020 and beyond.
Business Confidence Returns after Conservative Win
Despite the short-lived rise in the value of the pound, as well as concerns about the type of Brexit that will be implemented, business confidence in the British economy has risen following the general election. The Institute of Directors polled their members in the days following the election, and found that the result had buoyed their confidence. Previously, confidence in the UK’s economic outlook was at -18% in November but had risen to +21% just after the election.
Increase in UK Household Debts
In the two years leading up to March 2018, personal debts (credit cards, loans, store cards etc.) rose by 11% to £119billion in the UK. This rise in household debts (which does not include mortgages) is concerning to some economists, but it’s worth noting that these figures also include student loan debt and hire purchase debt, which have slightly different repayment rules. The figures also show that the poorest 10% of households have debts which are three times bigger than the value of the assets they own, which is clearly a dangerous situation to be in should repayment become impossible. In contrast, the top 10% have total wealth - where their property, pensions and other assets are worth 35 times more than their debt.
20 Communities ‘Win’ ATMs in National Raffle
With concern rising over ‘cash deserts’ in the UK – when a community doesn’t have access to a cashpoint – ATM provider Link have awarded a free-to-use cash machine to 20 communities in the UK desperate for access to physical cash. One of the chosen communities – Durness in the Scottish Highlands – has a good reason to celebrate, with residents previously having to make a 100-mile round trip to access cash after their ATM was taken away in July. It is hoped that more communities will receive a free-to-use cashpoint in 2020, with £4million having been put aside for the installation of these much-needed machines.
Largest Gold Nugget from the UK Discovered in Scottish River
The largest gold nugget ever to be found in the UK has been discovered by a treasure hunter in a Scottish river. The gold nugget, which was found in two pieces, weighs an impressive 121.3g and has no impurities. The doughnut-shaped nugget has a hole through the middle, which one expert suggested could have been man-made with a Neolithic antler pick. Named the ‘Reunion Nugget’, this find trumps the previous record holder; the Douglas Nugget, which was also found in a Scottish river and weighed 85.7g. The exact locations of these finds have been kept a secret and even the man who found this latest record-breaker wishes to remain anonymous in order to protect the river from gold hunters.
Secret Mission to Return £4billion of Gold Bars to Poland Successful
During the Second World War, Poland found itself in the terrifying position of being occupied by the Nazi’s for the majority of the war. In order to protect their economy and to prevent the Nazi’s from taking the country’s gold, the Polish government took 8,000 gold bars from the nation’s banks and sent them to London, where the Bank of England kept them safe.
At the time, very few people would have known this and the gold bars have been under lock and key in London ever since, until now. All 8,000 bars (worth a whopping £4billion) were sent back to Poland over the last few months in a secret mission that has only now been revealed. The gold was flown back in eight separate night-time flights, with specialist police, helicopters and lorries also being used to ensure the safety and success of the operation. See some amazing images from the mission here.
Luxury Watch News
Marlon Brando’s Rolex Sells for $1.9million at Auction
A Rolex worn by Marlon Brando in the film Apocalypse Now has broken records by selling for $1.95million at an auction in New York on December 10th. The notable Rolex GMT-Master is famous for having the 24-hour bezel removed on-set as well as a hand-etched inscription on the back which reads ‘M. Brando’, done by the actor himself. Three bidders – two on the phone and one internet bidder – upped their offers in $10,000 increments, which lasted for almost as long as the film itself, before one of the phone bidders found success with their £1.95million offer. The proceeds for Brando’s Rolex will go to the Brando Fischer Foundation, which helps children in poverty.
Omega Unveils Latest James Bond Watch
Omega have revealed their new watch design for the next James Bond film, No Time To Die which is set to be released in April 2020. The Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 007 Edition has been meticulously designed by Omega withinput coming from Daniel Craig himself after his experience in the role. The watch is a slimmer, lighter build than previous 007 edition watches giving the timepiece a classic feel whilst still keeping its traditional ‘military look’. Keep an eye out for James Bond wearing this exciting new piece in No Time To Die – and if you fancy splashing out, you can buy your very own from Omega from February 2020. Prices start at £6,520.