If you happen to be a grouse living in Scotland, it is the right time to start to feel a bit nervous, as grouse shooting season starts on “the glorious twelfth” of this month. Another sharp reminder of how this year is slipping away. I have also noticed already that the long days we enjoyed in June, are starting to shorten noticeably but on the positive side, there is a lot of Summer left to enjoy.
Although our planned client trip to Spain and Portugal next month has had to be cancelled for the time being, with Spain now added to the UK “Red List” which is all very frustrating, we can of course carry on with our “virtual meetings” courtesy of Skype, FaceTime and Zoom etc
I must confess, I managed a short trip to France with Chis at the end of last week, prompted by a new client meeting, all of which was very enjoyable and we stayed 3 nights in Caen, in Normandy. An interesting town and one we intend to return to at some point. We observed that France is taking the social distancing very seriously in the main, particularly indoor spaces, shopping areas and crowded streets. What absolutely amazed me though, was the degree to which all social distancing was being ignored by large numbers of people.
With many street bars in the town centre, it was very busy with young people which I guess as a University town should be expected, but they had a total disregard for Covid concerns. While I was getting grumpy about “the younger generation” we then dined at small restaurant, (with outdoor seating & social distancing in place) – a great spot for a bit of people watching by the way, and lo and behold, my generation, mainly men, were also ignoring advice and were greeting each other in the traditional French way of cheek kissing. I began to wonder whether the lockdown has made me paranoid in terms of taking sensible precautions etc.
With these thoughts in my mind, we returned home on Sunday and working my way through the recent news in the weekend press, I realised it is not just a French symptom as clearly, the same things (apart from the cheek kissing perhaps) are going on back home just as much. Pictures of crowds of people carrying on as if nothing has changed!
Complacency is steadily creeping back in it would seem, and I feel desperately sorry for the key workers who have been putting themselves on the line for the rest of us; how must they feel? As long as those of us who are being sensible, don’t end up being looked down upon as the bad guys – that really would be too much!
A couple of nights ago, I watched a Channel 4 documentary which was looking at the “race for a vaccine” and they went through the timeline of events since 31st December 2019 – you forget just how fast things changed earlier this year and that within the space of a matter of days, the world turned upside down.
My second confession of this newsletter, is that I missed the last 10 minutes as being a man of a certain age, I dozed off in the chair but I was impressed by the amount of effort that is going into finding vaccines that can help and at the moment, it would seem that the Oxford labs are out in front. Whilst there is of course, severe corporate competition to be the first on the market, for us it really doesn’t matter who gets there, as long as someone does. Actually, it would seem most likely that a combination of solutions, each addressing different aspects of symptoms, may well be the answer. Time will tell but there is some optimism that we will see something available by the end of the year. Let’s hope so.
Looking now at the financial world, it is the same symptoms that are having an impact on markets. A bit of positive noise about the US and China talking to each other about their trade agreements and markets flick up and then increased concerns about the increasing Covid cases globally and down we go again. That, as I have said previously, is likely to be the trend for some time to come.
In the corporate world, the success of SpaceX should not go unnoticed as they had their first successful, commercial 2-month long mission to the orbiting space station, all of which seems to have gone without a hitch. On the opposite side of the coin, the travel and aviation industry remain under severe pressure with only this week, Virgin Atlantic filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US.
Overall though, there does seem to be a sense of slow normalisation in the markets, and although there are clearly winners and losers, we can look forward to an improving trend in the medium to longer term.
As always, markets dislike uncertainties, so once we know the outcome for the UK post Brexit, and if the US presidential election goes ahead as it should in November, then they will be two of the major uncertainties out of the way.
All in all, we are not in too bad a shape, but many challenges remain.
As always, stay safe and be vigilant.
With our best wishes
Richard Chris and Lesley