Out with the new and in with the old

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Emmanuel KenningI think the Euro will collapse.


For what it is worth, and I know I'm no economist, I cannot see how it will survive even if the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, succeed in agreeing a rescue package, put by some commentators at €2trn.


Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, funnily enough is an economist. And he puts the case much better than me.


"It seems unlikely that it [the Eurozone] will survive very long, because of the political unpopularity of taking austerity measures seemingly to please foreign leaders and rescue foreign bankers," he says succinctly.


All in all, my theory is not so much when or if, but how the break-up of the Eurozone will be managed.


According to Mr McWilliams a break up, which he does not predict for the immediate future, would lead to a 2% hit on GDP across the Eurozone in the year it happened. The impact on the UK would be a 0.5% fall.


As with many economists he is quick to point out that there are a range of possible outcomes, but his central projections are: holding the Eurozone together will lead to 10 years of austerity; if it breaks up then within 30 months growth will be faster than if it survived in its current form; and after five years the UK would be at least as well off.


Clearly for brokers who deal with clients that export a lot the ramifications would be considerable. Lower demand for goods and services and banks becoming even more averse to lending would hardly make life easier for brokers and their UK clients either.


We could once again be faced with a world full of punts, lira, drachmas and pesetas. Out with the new and in with the old.


Now not every economist agrees with Mr McWilliams. But what interests me here is the gap between the arguments being put forward by politicians and those of many commentators and economists like him.


In the past week I have seen the same gap opening up in insurance. Granted it is hardly of the same magnitude as a continental currency crisis, but it is interesting nonetheless for the one simple question it throws up.


Firstly, Aviva Ireland is reportedly set to close its 26 Irish branches. The insurer has yet to confirm it but the news in the Irish press seems pretty comprehensive to me.


On the flip side A-Plan has opened two new branches in the UK in the past 12 months, relocated three further ones, and has "several more in the pipeline".


The demise of the broker in personal lines has long been predicted. But are we in fact seeing a move back to independent advice on the high street for insurance?

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