Global fees collected for mergers and acquisitions consulting and capital market underwriting fell 23% to $37.1 billion at the end of June, the slowest first half for fees since 2012. The collapse of new investment activity is a leading indicator showing that the world’s economy is set for a rough landing in late-2016.
Investment market activity has also been crushed by a slew of major mergers cancelled at the last second as investors began to get skittish about the safety and security of leading Western economies. The collapse is particularly disappointing in light of the fact that 2015 set a record for mergers and acquisitions.
Venture capitalists and hedge funds have decided that it is more prudent to keep their money in their pockets in a year of growing political instability with the United States putting forward a candidate being investigated by the FBI versus a raging xenophobe and Britain decapitating its financial industry in one foul swoop with the Brexit vote.
While the lead up to Brexit is faulted by Thomson Reuters economists as a reason for the faltering in investment outlays, the reality is that the market did not price in the possibility that Britain would leave as was evidenced in the two workdays following the vote where the world’s wealthiest lost over $3 trillion.
More likely the downturn in the market is based on decreased economic expectations in China and Europe, growing political instability worldwide, and the Obama administration’s Treasury Department’s move to flex its muscle to prevent companies from using mergers to engage in rampant tax dodging.
A number of potential shocks in addition to post-Brexit woes now threaten to send the world’s economy in chaos including rampant market speculation in China where the same derivatives products that fueled the US mortgage meltdown are being used at never before seen rates, the nearly $1.4 trillion student loan time bomb in the United States, and the rampant bloat in apartment buildings in both the United States and Europe that look to infect everyday investors’ portfolios.
The year 2016 seems all but certain to go out with a loud thud rather than a resounding bang.