A lot has happened in the four weeks since the UK’s decision to leave the EU: a new political regime, property fund capitulation, a slump in sterling and plummeting PMIs are just some of the standouts.
There have been winners and losers both in politics and markets, some surprising, others not. What there has been little of is clarity.
That there was likely to be a new prime minister should the vote not go David Cameron’s way was largely a foregone conclusion. But, few, for example, predicted the soap opera-like level of double crossing that was unleashed within the Conservative Party, or the chaos into which Labour would descend. Equally, as Wealth Club investment director Ben Yearsley pointed out on Friday, while the initial fall in the FTSE may have been unsurprising, “the strength of the market rally since has surprised many.”
The danger that now lurks for investors is conflating relative calm for a return to normality. As the Guardian pointed out in a rather tongue-in-cheek quiz on Friday, there remains a great deal that is still unknown. The difference is, while the outcome of the Brexit vote was largely binary, the moves from here look anything but.
The obvious jockeying for position has happened both in political and asset terms, but this is a long race and team UK forgets at its peril that it is not running it in isolation. A case in point is the higher education sector.
Given the amount of funding that comes from the EU and the collaborative, cross-border nature of much of its endeavour, higher education will take a hit as grants being written now are already starting to exclude UK academics. And while UK universities are doing everything they can to try and sooth academic fears, others are looking to exploit the uncertainty.
As the Times' Higher Education Supplement pointed out recently a Canadian think tank is suggesting Canadian universities profit from the Brexit uncertainty by trying to lure the UK’s top academics to its shores.