Panellists at last week’s IPE 360 conference in London highlighted a range of political concerns for investors – not all of which were necessarily on the radar yet.Vincent Reinhart, chief economist at Standish Mellon Asset Management, warned of the potential for “policy mistakes” in China in the near future.“Its desire to project a military force as powerful as their GDP on the global scale could lead to them interfering more than the US,” he said.Roughly 60% of global GDP was generated in emerging markets, Reinhart said, and half of that emanated from China. “Global GDP has actually been less volatile over the last few years because much of it is being increased in a region that delivers growth at 6.5% year-on-year,” Reinhart said.But he urged investors to “consider the tail risk in China”.With emerging markets getting wealthier but global GDP growth shrinking, some parts of society were being left out in the developed world – leading to the rise of populism.Reinhart said: “These global economic readjustments create resentment and there is no growth to appease the anger, which in turn leads to voter resentment against trade, migration, etc, and to more geopolitical risk.”Turning to the US, where the effect of populism has been arguably most prevalent, Reinhart said his biggest concern was “thinking about the day when three Republican senators say they want to run for president. This would mean there is no majority government anymore and it would be an incentive for [president Donald] Trump to use executive action wherever he can.”BrexitFor Anthony Arnull, Barber Professor of Jurisprudence at Birmingham Law School, the greatest political worries were related to Brexit – in particular the difficulties facing the UK government when seeking to strike new trade deals after it leaves the EU.Apart from the “chaotic lack of preparation” both leading up to the Brexit vote as well as to the negotiations with the EU, Arnull highlighted that the UK government’s plan to “peel off” some members from the bloc was “not looking very realistic”.“The EU does not welcome the UK’s departure but it is now in a post-referendum phase, adjusted to the idea that UK is leaving,” Arnull said. “It might even think the EU will develop faster without the UK, and this is a difficult dynamic for the UK to deal with.”More uncertainty over trade was added by Donald Trump, he said. Trump has promised both German chancellor Angela Merkel and UK prime minister Theresa May that their respective markets would be “first on the list” for a trade deal. “Now the UK does not know where it is on this list,” Arnull said.Finally, Ian McKnight, CIO at the Royal Mail Pension Plan in the UK, highlighted Italy’s forthcoming election as a potential flashpoint.Discussing potential triggers for an equity market selloff, McKnight said: “There could be something with the Italian election coming up next year. A lot of Italian MPs – as I understand it – will be against the EU. That’s potentially a catastrophic event.”Italy’s next election must be held no later than 20 May next year.See the July/August edition of IPE for a Special Report on Italy’s pension system.
Coaches from Bolivia, Albania, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Kuwait and Vanuatu have alleged that the 2013 Ballon d’Or votes were rigged, according to Catalan outlet La Xarxa and and Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo. Via Danish paper BT and Norway’s Dagbladet (h/t 101 Great Goals), the aforementioned coaches all suggest their original votes were recorded and published differently from what they had initially submitted. Jorvan Vieira, who coaches the Kuwait national team, reportedly told La Xarxa (via BT), “I think there has been any fraud here. I voted for (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic.” That despite FIFA’s official record of the submissions showing that he voted for Lionel Messi as the winner, followed by Neymar and the eventual winner, Cristiano Ronaldo. The same applies to the coach of the Fijian national team, Juan Carlos Buzzetti. FIFA recorded his vote with Ronaldo in first position ahead of Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski. He also insists his votes have been amended, claiming, “I voted for Cristiano, Messi and Ribery. I have in no way voted Lewandowski. He is not on par with the other three.” But the harshest, most colourful of all the criticism came from Albania’s coach, Gianni De Biasi. He didn’t hold back in a statement (NSFW), telling Mundo Deportivo what he thought of the scenario after his first-place vote for Ronaldo apparently changed to one for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “I gave five points to Ronaldo, three to Messi and one to Ibrahimovic. I did not give five to Ibrahimovic,” De Biasi said. “This is bullshit and lies.” These allegations are the second within a week which refer to the Ballon d’Or votes being doctored, as Qatar national coach Fahad Al Zarraa previously claimed his president forced him to vote for Ronaldo, as per sportsfan.com. The showpiece event saw Ronaldo pick up the gong for the second time in his career, staving off competition from Messi and Ribery, who accompanied him on the three-man shortlist. Whilst it would be difficult to deny that Ronaldo deserved the award, these emerging allegations will cast doubts over the validity of the vote, especially after FIFA extended the voting deadline until after Ronaldo’s one-man show in the World Cup playoffs, according to Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail. The extension only served to raise suspicions that FIFA were pushing for a Ronaldo win after Sepp Blatter’s unsavoury remarks about the Portuguese winger. The FIFA president claimed back in November that Ronaldo has “more expenses at the hairdresser” than his great rival Messi, per The Guardian. Ronaldo scored a sensational 66 goals in 56 games in 2013, per BBC Sport. He’s started 2014 in excellent fashion too, scoring four times in Real Madrid’s first five games of 2014, per WhoScored.