Good news: ‘My sources in the Gulf tell me they’re poised with big cash to buy into sterling, UK equities and property on any weakness,’ says an email from a reader who does business across the Middle East. Will the phenomenon I once called ‘the Curse of Qatar’ be the horse that pulls us out of the post-referendum quagmire and tramples the short-sellers? Might it even be strong enough to save the professional services firm, dependent on inward investors, whose owner told me he expects to make 50 of his 180 staff redundant if the vote goes the wrong way?
We have flirted with what the Washington Post called ‘an act of economic insanity’. If we have actually committed it, we won’t know for many months whether it was insane or inspired, and we’ll never know what the alternative would have looked like. Either way — with or without Osborne’s ‘revenge’ budget, if he’s still in office — the outcome will reshape all investment and consumer behaviour from Friday onwards.
So I’d be foolish to comment on most UK business stories this week. Except perhaps to say ‘I told you so’ in relation to Sir Philip Green’s six-hour select committee grilling, which extracted no useful information from the pugnacious former BHS owner while failing to humiliate him. And to salute an 11 per cent sales increase at Majestic Wines, as the nation has uncorked bottle after bottle to fuel Brexit argument. And to wonder whether cunning old George Soros — busy talking up the prospect of market mayhem — is long or short of sterling, or poised to cash in on volatility whatever happens.
Trump in front?
Let me turn instead to my friends across the Atlantic, and the act of insanity they may be about to commit for themselves.