The Bank of England on Thursday ramped up its UK economic growth forecasts for the next three years, despite the threat of Brexit storm clouds. The bank voted unanimously in its February meeting to keep interest rates at the record low level of 0.25% and keep its quantitative easing (QE) purchase targets at up to £10 billion ($12.6 billion) for corporate bonds and £435 billion for U.K. government bonds. Then, the British central bank lifted its 2017 economic growth prediction to 2.0% from a 1.4% forecast signalling the better-than expected performance of the UK economy since the June referendum. The BOE still believes growth will slow as Brexit negotiations begin, predicting GDP growth of 1.6% in 2018 and 1.7% in 2019. That was up from growth estimates of 1.5% and 1.6% respectively.
The number of EU students applying to study in the UK has dropped by 7% sparking fears that the impact of the Brexit vote is starting to bite in the university sector, official figures released today by UCAS reveal. UK applicant figures have also decreased to a total of 469,490, a fall of 5% on this time last year; among EU students, there have been 42,070 applicants, compared to 45,220 at the same point last year, around 7% drop. It is the third fall in applicant numbers since 2002, and the biggest since 2012 - the year that tuition fees in England were trebled to £9,000 (CFF 11,216). The other drop was in 2006, when fees were raised to £3,000 (CHF 3,730).
Johann Schneider-Ammann, Switzerland’s economy minister said Sunday he wants to have “background” talks with Britain so that a trade deal can be in place as soon as the UK leaves the EU. “My objective is clear. Not one day should pass after Britain’s exit (from the EU) without new regulations in place,” he told Blick daily. “It should be at least as good” as the present deal, he said. The paper said Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox declared during the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting that he was very interested in a trade agreement with Switzerland.
Credit Suisse is exploring options for expanding in Dublin, as the UK moves closer to exiting the European Union, according to a report from Bloomberg. It is believed Dublin is emerging as a favoured location for the bank’s so-called back-office jobs. The Zurich-based bank is also understood to be considering cities including Frankfurt as it develops plans for moving jobs to adapt to Brexit, according to two people familiar with the matter. Credit Suisse board member Noreen Doyle said in Dublin earlier this week that the bank is in the "early stages" of examining alternatives to the UK as it plans for Brexit's implications.
Barclays has settled on Dublin for its main hub inside the EU after Brexit, and is planning to add about 150 staff here if UK-based finance companies lose easy access to the trading bloc, according to Bloomberg sources. It is believed the bank started scouting the city for office space this month, and has been in contact with regulators here about expanding its operations.
Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process, the Supreme Court has ruled. The most powerful court in the land has upheld a High Court decision that ruled it unconstitutional for UK Prime Minister Theresa May to formally trigger the process of leaving the EU without first consulting MPs. But the court ruled the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies did not need a say. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against an E.U. departure in the June vote.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Britain should look to Switzerland on how to handle relations with the European Union, for a post-Brexit model of "close co-operation", according to Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) on Sunday. "Britons should take as an example how cleverly Switzerland has linked national sovereignty and close cooperation with the European Union," he said, Britain needed a "wise political solution" to Brexit added. A series of bilateral deals have been struck between Switzerland and the EU meaning it accepts free movement of people and certain rules on trade.
George Soros, on the sideline of Davos Forum, gave his views on the state of the world. The EU, according to billionaire investor, is disintegrating following last year's Brexit vote and Italian referendum, a course that must be reversed. The trading bloc has become dysfunctional because it is governed by laws that are "not appropriate to the current circumstances" and not easily changed, he said. "If Europe breaks down, the consequences will be very dire," the investor said. "But I do see a way it could be saved, and this is also recognized by many of the people in Brussels. They can't say so publicly, but they know that Europe is not functioning."
The top boss of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, has said it is planning to move some staff from London to Paris following Britain’s exit from the European Union. Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Gulliver said in an interview Bloomberg Television that "about 1,000 jobs which are carrying out activities which are covered by European legislation... would probably need, in our case, to go to France". While Gulliver had in the past already hinted at such a switch of investment banking jobs, his comments appeared more precise as he suggested France would take precedence over other EU nations.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to say on Tuesday that she favours a clean break from the European Union, dismissing a "half-in, half-out" Brexit deal with Brussels. In a highly anticipated speech, May is likely to give further signals that Britain is heading to what analysts call a "hard" Brexit. It is thought the Prime Minister is ready to take Britain out of the European single market and customs union, though it remained unclear whether she will give a definitive answer on the question.
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