CEO Update

Published: 5 January 2023

Happy New Year from BAB

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Duncan Edwards
BritishAmerican Business

A very happy new year to members and friends of BritishAmerican Business.  I hope everyone was able to enjoy at least a few days of downtime before heading back into the fray. 

The new year newspapers are full of the usual forecasts and predictions for the year ahead which are always worth reading to get a sense of the prevailing mood as much as for the likely accuracy of the forecasts.  In fact, the one thing you know for certain is that the forecasts, especially economic, are going to be wrong, it is just a question of by how much!  But the more interesting stories are the qualitative predictions, the evaluation of risks, the sense of optimism or otherwise that is in the minds of the authors, the economists, the think tanks and journalists that produce these pieces.

And it seems that the mood is pretty gloomy; the assessment of high levels of geo-political risk and low levels of consumer and business confidence is fairly consistent and it is hardly surprising given the events of the last three years.  That said, my own far from scientific analysis is that the picture for business is much more mixed.  Yes, there are some big challenges to face, but there are also lots of new opportunities.  More often than not when I ask them, our members are optimistic about the coming year; clear-eyed about the difficulties but ready to face them and confident about continued revenue strength.  It is possible that we may already have gone through the worst of the post-covid correction with the high inflation and gunked-up supply chains of 2022… we will see.

On the political side, it is hard to imagine a year as chaotic as 2022 in UK politics but the Sunak administration will have its hands full with labor disputes, immigration and a healthcare system that needs urgent reform but is somehow deemed untouchable.  With an election no later than the end of 2024 it will be a year in which the government will be desperate to turn the economic corner, and for the Labour opposition, to convince people of their readiness to govern.

In the US, the next presidential cycle will kick off against the background of divided government and, as we are seeing this week in Congress, divided parties!  Assuming a Speaker is eventually elected, the next two years will be particularly hard to get anything done (for better or worse).  At least for now, we have reached the end of the massive spending bills of the last couple of years; everyone will have their own views as to the wisdom and implications of such spending and it will be interesting to see the impact.  It is certainly clear that in areas like micro-processors, renewable energy, EVs etc. investment money is going to pour into the US economy.

At BAB we have a busy start to the year with a full schedule of events for members on both sides of the Atlantic which you can see here. Our intention is to provide high quality content on issues that businesses are grappling with in a format which members can use to make and renew their contacts.  We are always interested in feedback on our convening program so if you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know.

Our Policy work will focus on issues that can make trade and investment smoother and easier between the US and UK.  Of course, we would like to see progress on a Trade Agreement, but we will also publish our assessment of the state level MOUs that the UK government has been pursuing with some success.  There are unresolved issues in data transfer and real risks of renewed trade disputes as a result of the US government subsidy for US based businesses in key industries of the future.  We could easily see an unravelling of the recent progress in solving long running trade disputes and a spiraling cycle of new ones if this is not handled carefully.

Whatever your interest, whether it is meeting new people, hearing the latest thought leadership from domain experts, digging deep into public policy issues or just being part of a terrific network of interesting and connected people, BAB will have something for you in the coming year.  We hope, despite all the real challenges it is good one for you and your business.

And finally, away from business, I am definitely not in the prediction business, but I reckon a British or American team will win at least one of the three major World Cups in 2023, and maybe two!  Let’s hope so!

All good wishes