We will look back on 2020 and its extraordinary events therein and be grateful it is firmly behind us.
But forgetting it we will not do. Human experience is coloured by the big things that happen in our lives. A birth, a marriage, a new house. We forget the mundanities of everyday life – taking the kids to school, or making dinner in the evening.
That’s why 2020 will never be forgotten. It will enter the annals of history and stand among the biggest of the big – think 1914, 1848, 1492 or any other globe-defining year. Not because of the things we did every day, but because of the events that changed all our lives.
2020 will be the year humanity turned on its axis. A killer virus which caused massive government intervention in pretty much every minute aspect of our lives. The full implications this year will have are yet to be seen. But right now, for instance, can you imagine shaking someone’s hand again without thinking twice? Such a basic gesture, changed forever.
But 2021 is hope where 2020 became despair. There are vaccines now. Sure, we’ll argue about how they’re rolled out, but they’ll make it to everyone who wants one eventually. Life will return to some sort of normal. Will we all return to five days a week in the office? Probably not. Will our favourite pubs and cafes be there waiting for us? Quite possibly not.
But the hope in the despair is that human resilience will see us through that. New places to meet will appear. We will be able to shoot the breeze with a colleague in the office kitchen, creative combustion (thanks, Jamie Dimon) in full flow.
Sure, we’re not at the end of the road yet. As we trudge wearily on though we can be sure that eventually, this will all just be a memory. A painful one for many, but a memory nonetheless. Something students read about in history textbooks.
January is an important month to begin this renewal. We may be on the precipice of more post-Christmas lockdowns but life, of a sort, goes on. Veganuary and Dry January are back from the 1st, a day which also marks (depending on the outcome of talks) the first day Britain is truly out of the EU. It’s also the day that the FCA’s permanent ban on certain minibond marketing takes effect. The ban will apply to the most complex and opaque arrangements where the funds raised are used to lend to a third party, or to buy or acquire investments, or to buy or fund the construction of property.
On 4th January is the US Senate runoff for the too-close-to-call Georgia elections. This column does not usually report on US events but this one is important as it could have significant implications for the makeup of Congress.
From 6th January the FCA is also implementing a ban on the sale of crypto derivatives to retail consumers, something that will likely signal big changes in what is a growing market. Also on the 6th is High Pay Day, the now annual event in which we all pore over and pour scorn on the pay of FTSE 100 bosses.
On the 18th of the month is Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. While recognising the importance of helping those struggling at that time of year, with this one no exception, it always amuses me that the event was created by a travel PR to sell holiday packages.
Shortly after on the 20th, Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States. Some argue that Biden is not a new beginning, but an attempt to return to the past. But the country which he’ll take over will be very different from the one he left as Vice President in 2016. His task is enormous.
Finally, on the 31st is Self-Assessment deadline day at HMRC. It’s a banal event, but I’ve always enjoyed the annual tax duck campaign the revenue puts on, along with the press release it issues to remind everyone to do their returns. You’d be amazed how many people file on Christmas Day. This year I bet it’ll be higher than ever.
Wishing you a merry Christmas, and happy and healthy new year from all of us as MRM and CCM.