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Woodford: UK economy faces bigger challenges than Brexit

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Neil Woodford has said a number of global issues will have a “more profound influence” over the UK economy in the long run than the result of the impending Brexit vote.

The country’s best known fund manager said he was “very cautious” about the outlook for the UK and European economies due to a number of “linked challenges” but that these problems would not be resolved by an ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote during next week’s EU referendum.

He called for “co-ordinated global policy action” to tackle these “multi-regional, global problems” similar to the “gathering of delegates from 44 nations in the aftermath of World War II’.

He listed the challenges policymakers face, in no particular order, as: excessive consumer and government debt; excessive capacity and deflation; rapidly ageing demographics; very weak productivity growth and a lack of investment.

Woodford also highlighted unfunded retirement commitments common among Western democracies, inadequate savings, wealth inequality, the rise of political populism and the challenges posed by the scale of the Chinese credit bubble and the implications of its rapid deflation.

The manager, who runs the CF Woodford Equity Income fund, also confirmed that he won’t be altering his investment strategy, whatever the outcome of the EU vote.

“We commissioned some research several months ago, which helped to inform our view about the likely economic implications of ‘remain’ or ‘leave’. We have spent some time and expended much intellectual effort testing our hypotheses and with only a few days to go to the vote, we stand by our initial conclusions. They were, for the record, that we could not construct a convincing long-term economic argument that supported either ‘remain’ or ‘leave’,” he said.

He admitted a ‘leave’ vote would be “destabilising” for investors and governments across Europe and “this would take time to dissipate”.


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