On paper at least, history will show that 2019 was a very good year. Encouraged by sustained low interest rates, declining trade policy uncertainty and diminished fears of an economic slowdown, US stock markets led the way: the S&P 500 ended the year up 28% and the Nasdaq 35%. Meanwhile, the Europe-wide STOXX 600 increased by 23% and the FTSE 100 by a more modest 12%.
But on the ground, things seemed a little different for many offshore law firms. ‘Even by recent standards, 2019 was an extraordinary year in geopolitical and macro-economic terms: US-China trade wars, Brexit uncertainty, volatility in the US dollar/GBP exchange rate, tension in Hong Kong and the growing risk of a global economic downturn,’ says Jonathan Rigby, global managing partner of Mourant.