We are well into 2019 yet the themes which characterised 2018 are nowhere close to being resolved. More than two thirds of investors who were exposed to markets last year have nothing to show for it; on the contrary, are still well in the red, despite the market flurry registered in the first couple of weeks of the year. More importantly, the events which had a long lasting effect on the markets are still prevalent, though not with the same equal force or with the same level of intensity which impacted the markets in 2019. Us-China trade wars, plummeting price of oil, a stronger US Dollar, Brexit, Italian political uncertainty and quite a handful of others. It wasn’t the micro economy which impacted the macro economy, rather the macro economy (and global events on a large scale) which impacted the micro economy.

Out of the events which adversely impacted markets in 2018, we can easily single out the US-China trade wars, Italian political impasse and the Brexit (deal or no deal). All added to some great extent market volatility, causing investors to spurn the markets, as evidenced by the large swings and corrections. The recent chatter between the world’s leaders could well explain the mini rally we’ve seen so far in 2019, particularly in EM assets. Though the issue seems nowhere close to being resolved, we expect an element of truce to prevail, which could ultimately prove to be benevolent to markets. The Italian political saga showed some clear signs of positivity towards the end of the year, and whilst this ongoing standoff between the Italian government and EU is not a closed chapter, the volatility which it had contributed to markets has dissipated significantly.

And that leaves us with Brexit. Today’s parliamentary vote is the first in a series of critical events over the next 7-10 days which are expected to seal Britian’s fate in and out of the European Union.

Today’s vote is expected to be followed by many; politicians, investors, asset managers. The magnitude the outcome of the event can have on markets is unquantifiable. It is the uncertainty about the outcome of Brexit, pretty much uncertainty of an unknown, which has left most fazed, and including markets at times, directionless. Parliament is to hold a critical vote today, interpreted by many as judgement by the MPs on the Brexit deal May has so painfully negotiated. It is being touted as the main focus point which could signal a change in force, or rather, shift in the balance of power within parliament. May the force be with you…

Polls indicate that there is no bleak chance for May to win today’s vote. Following a recent administrative amendment approved in parliament, Theresa May would then be compelled to present an alternative plan to the House by next Monday, 21 January, which could also be rejected. Speculation is rife at this stage, with some (in the minority) indicating that the vote against the deal might be so blatant that she would be left with no option but to resign.

The situation is more than fluid and expected to fuel further uncertainty.