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The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 43/2017

The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 43/2017

Every week our guest blogger, David Oakes of Mosaic Money Management (aka The Financial Ironmonger), shares with us his take on some of the major UK and overseas macro and political events that shaped the previous week.

Please be reminded the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall or rise. The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Chelverton Asset Management Limited or Mosaic Money Management. The contents of this article are not intended as investment or tax advice and will not be updated after publication unless otherwise stated.


The powers that be have spent the last few years enhancing the arrivals side of Venice Marco Polo airport, which finally seems to be completed. In the past, you had to wander through the car parks to get to the water taxis, and with arrivals still on the ground floor, it is disconcerting to find that the new high-level walkway starts two floors up, when you are looking for sea-level.

Clearly, tons of money has been chucked at this project, acres of marble, glass and stainless steel. Could be anywhere in the world. New from February is the speedy boat booking counter, which I ignored, already late to get the keys to the apartment. Down at the dock, lots of people were waiving their booking forms, and a chap with a clipboard, (improbably), was allocating them to boats.

Just as I thought that I would have to trek back to the wretched kiosk, I was approached by a chap dressed more like an investment banker who turned out to be a taxi driver. A cash price was agreed before he went in to a huddle with his chums, and announced that the water levels in this particular canal were too low, and he would have to drop me at the end. No problem.

I presume that the purpose of the new arrangement is to keep tabs on the drivers, and thereby seek to tax them, but in a city that relies on cash, and little else, it is unlikely to catch on. The reduced water levels are a reminder of just how hot it has been across Europe this summer; the grape harvest, already badly affected by spring frosts, has been decimated. The three most important producers, Italy, France and Spain are 23, 19 and 15% below last year levels, which can only mean price rises.

Last Sunday, Venice and the Veneto, together with Lombardy, voted in a referendum which seeks more power for these regions; the former pay €15,5bn more to the central government than comes back, whilst the later pays over some €54bn. Their leaders argue that they should not be propping up the feckless and idle people of the south, agreed by 58% of Venice voters, and 40% in Lombardy. Here, on the ground, you would have to search hard for any evidence that a vote took place, in sharp contrast to Catalonia.

It is, however, a further demonstration that these ideas are gathering momentum across Europe, and indeed elsewhere. Some think that this is a backwash from Trump, which it is not. The UK voted for Brexit before he won the GOP nomination; he simply built on the premise of self-recovery.

Whatever your political leanings, whichever the country that you live in, it is a lie to pretend to voters that globalisation, and increasing automation, can be reversed, for it would further impoverish the very people you seek to represent. Education is the only answer, not that you would immediately spot that from the current crop of politicians. In any country you can name.

Here, peaceful protest is the name of the game, rather than the violence seen in Spain. Today, the vaporetto water bus system was on strike between 09.00 and 13.00, and given that it is pretty much the only means of transport, the city was very quiet. The timings of the stoppage means that the locals going to work are not inconvenienced, and when you ask what it is about, there is a shrug of the shoulders implying that these things happen. Which they do every fortnight, according to reports.

To be fair, boats were scuttling all over the place from midday onwards, ready to pick up the timetable exactly as it should have been; a sharp contrast to the tactics employed in London. Or maybe, with unemployment at 11.8%, they realise that there is only so far that they can push it. The rate for the under 25s is 39%; indeed, the young lady who services this apartment, and others, relies on the activity as her only source of income. She is a fully qualified architect.

A general election must be held before May 20th, 2018. Presently, the Five Star Movement will emerge as the largest party, with an opportunity to persue its populist policies. Much will depend on attracting the have nots, and the left behinds to their cause, which might sound familiar.


David joined Manchester stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden in 1977 and after becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1984 held a number of senior positions within the firm including Managing Director of the in-house fund management company and member of the Executive Committee.

After senior appointments at Cazenove Fund Management and latterly Mercater Capital Management, David joined Mosaic Money Management in 2013. He has successfully managed private client and fund portfolios for over thirty years and has particular expertise in providing a multi manager service to his loyal client base.

The Financial Ironmonger is a hat-tip to Ironmonger Lane, the location of Chelverton’s London office.