A few dates for your calendar
13 January 2015
Have you completed that chore of updating the new calendar that hangs in the kitchen listing dental appointments, hairdresser visits and the other trivia of life? If not, you might like to add the following to the menu for the first half of 2015:
Lithuania became the 19th member of the Eurozone at the start of the month. On 22 January Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, could finally announce the start of quantitative easing (QE) in the Eurozone. Then, three days later, Greece could take its first step towards leaving the Eurozone as a snap election due on the 25th may well see Syriza, a far left anti-austerity party, top the polls. By the end of the year a similar situation could occur in Spain, where a new left wing political party, Podemos, is leading the polls.
The Budget will be on 18 March, but much of what Mr Osborne says will be election-contingent because Parliament will dissolve 12 days later. The first Finance Act of 2015 will is therefore likely to be an uncontroversial affair.
The UK general election will be on 7 May. To judge by the Scottish referendum process, investment markets are due a last minute bout of volatility that could last beyond polling day if, as seems likely at present, no one party gains an overall majority.
There will almost certainly be a second Budget in 2015, the precise timing of which will depend upon how long it takes to establish a new government. If Labour take the lead, Mr Balls has promised a mansion tax will be top priority. However, the likelihood is that whatever the colour(s) of the new government, the post-election Budget will contain the type of measures that do not get covered in the pre-election rhetoric. For example, there have been suggestions that if Mr Osborne remains in post, he may do as he did in 2010 and increase VAT.