Michael O’Leary was forthright, opinionated and humorous as ever today at a Bloomberg News conference where he warned that Brexit could lead to contagion. The CEO of one of Europe’s largest airlines said that the airline would be unlikely to diversify into gold, as it is in his eyes a “risky asset.”
In response to a question, put to him by Research Director of GoldCore, Mark O’Byrne:
“Given event risks and risk of contagion posed by BREXIT and the advent of negative interest rates and threat of bail-ins, will Ryanair follow the lead of the world’s largest insurer, Munich Re and diversify some of their cash reserves into gold?”
Ryanair CEO O’Leary said that he would leave that to greater minds than his – referring to his treasury executives. But he said that his own view was that Ryanair would not diversify their cash reserves into gold as he did not like sitting on cash or indeed diversifying into other “risky assets.” He said he preferred to use cash on balance sheet for productive purposes like “buying planes.”
After the event, Mark gifted Michael a copy of Jim Rickards latest best selling book, ‘The New Case For Gold’ so that Michael would have a better understanding of gold’s renewed importance as a safe haven asset and a hedge against negative interest rates, currency debasement, deposit bail-ins and indeed cyber hacking and fraud.
Michael graciously accepted the book but whether he reads or not is another story. As one wag quipped he will “probably throw the book at a cyclist when he is driving home today!”
O’Leary is a breath of fresh air in terms of not being politically correct, speaking his mind and calling it how he sees it. Some see that as divisive, others as honest.
Like him or dislike him, he is always interesting and has something interesting to say. He was the highlight of what would have been a fairly hum drum event even given the fact that the Irish Prime Minister, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny gave the opening address. He warned of the severe consequences of BREXIT.
O’Leary has said Britain leaving the EU is “far too serious for politicians to make spurious arguments” and that if the UK left it would end up like Norway where it would have to implement EU legislation but would have no say in the issues. He disputed arguments by those who said Britain could remain in the free trade area without implementing EU rules and said Britain could “not afford to stay outside the single market.”
He said a vote for BREXIT could lead to contagion in the EU as other states seek to leave. He said it would create a lot of uncertainty in the short term for markets and the UK economy but that the UK economy might do well in the long term from BREXIT.
One of the most interesting questions posed to the attendees – some 100 of them – was whether the UK would vote for BREXIT. The vast majority said that they would not and only a handful of attendees – including Michael O’Leary and I – said that UK would vote for BREXIT.
Markets and bookies were wrong about the Nice and Lisbon referendums in Ireland and I believe they will be wrong re BREXIT as well. They are completely underestimating the degree of anger among voters and deep concern about the ‘democratic deficit’ at the heart of the EU both in the UK and now throughout the EU.
This is evidenced in the rise of Trump and Sanders and of popular parties of the left and right throughout the world. A few shorts weeks ago, Trump was given little chance to win the Republican nomination.
O’Leary articulated it very well when he said how he was very pro EU and pro the single market and all the benefits that it brings in terms of free markets, freedom to trade and the free movement of people and capital. However, he warned about the rise of the “EU Super State” and the lack of democracy in the EU with the bureaucrats in Brussels not listening to the wishes of the people.
This is what concerns people in all European countries he said.
Immigration is a distraction and is not the primary reason for many people being increasingly concerned about the EU project. For a small minority yes but not for the majority of voters in the UK or elsewhere.
Stephen Flood, CEO of GoldCore concurs:
“Europe is heading towards a federal republic without any meaningful dialogue as to what this would mean for state sovereignty. The project means that the people of Europe are been threatened with the removal of economic supports and trade agreements unless they acquiesce to this super state.
Many British people have become aware of this threat and the increasing changes in their governance and legal system. They rightly express discontent at this progression and demand a debate as to where Europe is going.
The European debt crisis has bot been resolved and the behaviour of the ECB towards debtor countries has broken with every capital market norm since the dawn of time. Political decisions were made by a non elected body to the detriment of smaller countries, i.e. Ireland and Greece. The ECB and Commission have broken the social pact for its own political, economic and monetary purposes and gains.”
O’Leary’s view on gold is the typical group think, herd view of gold as “risky asset” prevalent among most of the Irish and British population where there is little understanding of gold as a safe haven asset and as financial insurance. This is due to a lack of a culture or tradition of owning gold and a complete lack of coverage and analysis of the gold market. This is in marked contrast to the Germans, Austrians, Swiss and most Asian nations who understand gold as a store of value.
This is changing in Ireland and the UK but slowly as there is still a significant focus on stocks, bonds, deposits and especially property. In Ireland especially, we love our property and have weekly property supplements which are 20 page plus and are getting as big and frothy as the property supplements we had prior to the last property crash.
We sincerely hope for his financial well being and that of his company, that the Ryanair CEO reads the book and subsequently diversifies into gold – both personally and with Ryanair itself. I believe that Jim Rickards would gladly meet with his team to discuss the importance of proper diversification of the Ryanair cash reserves.
We are happy to send copies of the book and our extensive research on gold as a safe haven to Michael and his Treasury team.
Gold and Silver Prices and News
Gold up today as European stocks decline – Gold -1% for week (WSJ)
Carney Warns Brexit Risks Causing Recession (BBG)
Post-Brexit UK May Feel Cold Chill From EU States, Kenny Says (BBG)
Gold demand is off to its fastest start ever in 2016 (CNBC)
Global gold demand up record 21% in Q1 (FT)
Gold Fund Buying Frenzy Spurs Demand to Second-Highest Ever (BBG)
Gold prices are heading higher – ETF Securities (CNBC Video)
Fundamentals improved – Precious metals bottomed (CNBC Video)
Can anything stop this global cycle of doom? (Telegraph)
Brexit isn’t to blame for slowing UK growth. It’s more serious than that (Guardian)
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