Thursday, 19 September 2019

WTF is the Supreme Court Thinking About?

We're probably all good barrack-room lawyers around here (though no actual lawyers have ever made themselves known as such in BTL comments).  So there can easily be fine points of law we're missing.

But - WTF are the Supreme Court exercising themselves over?

Seems to unqualified me that they are being asked to opine on whether the government's perfectly legal action in advising HMQ to prorogue Parliament, was taken for ulterior motives, i.e. other than that stated (= need to limber up for a Queen's Speech for the forthcoming legislative session).  

So - is the argument that a politican not acting in (someone's assessment of) Good Faith is thereby unable to act in ways that are legal?

As regards the assessment bit, it's fair to say that judges and juries frequently take a view on motivation: some charges that are laid before a court positively require that they do.  So it's OK (I think) for them to consider what Boris' motivation was.

But: are we to allow that "politicians speaking with forked tongues" is a disqualifying factor on the actions they take?  And if so, just how often are the courts going to be invited to intervene?

Take a simple example.  We all know that when Corbyn ostensibly refuses to believe evidence that it was the Russians who let fly with Novichok in Salisbury, it's because he's a lying leftist shit who takes money from RT.  Suppose he was in power, and took this attitude to be a reason to intervene and prevent the security forces from pursuing their inquiries?   Does Gina Miller rush to court to obtain a ruling that his action wasn't in good faith?  

For that matter, what about 90% of the oeuvre of Tony Blair?

Seems to me we have always known politicians speak with forked tongue, and that it's their actions per se that should be the focus of practical attention, not the "window on men's souls" the court is being invited to attempt to open up.  We have other ways to reckon up with them if we conclude they are inveterate liars.

And who knows, in  due course maybe that's what the court will find.

Meantime: what do other amateur lawyers think?

ND

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Climate Crisis: What Crisis?

While we wait for the Supreme Court to have its day in the sun, there's another big issue to air: the soi-disant Climate Crisis, which is supposed to trump all others.  How's that going?  I have a trivial observation to offer, and a rather more interesting conjecture to try on you.

The easy bit first:  it's pretty obvious that despite L'il Greta's best efforts (she's 16, incidentally, not eight) very few politicians on the planet prioritise the Climate at #1.  In Europe?  Nope, that'd be Brexit and a host of other stuff as the Drunckerd gives way to the German woman.  The USA?  Election - for many months to come.  Middle East?  Duh ...   And so it goes on. 

My conjecture is this.  Actually, 2019 has indeed been something of a turning-point.  Credit may be partly due to Greta and Extinction Rebellion et al (it sort of feels a bit that way in the UK, anyhow); but even more so due to some mega actual climate events this year**, I'd say a very high proportion of people are now pretty much on board with the idea that, yep, Climate Change / Global Warming is real, tangible-ish, and moderately likely to get more extreme in the coming years.  More completely on board than they were last year, for example.  Everyone had heard the word several years back: but now it's like, well, yeah, of course.  

Some greenies no doubt think that's marvellous, and now they can swing into action with their loony anti-industrial, anti-growth, anti-civilisation plans.  McDonnell of course thinks it's his cue, his smokescreen to reationalise everything under a new red-green regime of labourist micro-dirigisme.

But I suspect the whole thing has over-reached itself, overshot.  It seems to me it's now in the sphere of people looking round for the sensible solutions - the whole world of Adaptation being top of the list.  A lot of greenies really hate this, because it suggests nothing can be done to stop It; so nothing needs to be done to stop It - just build higher sea walls, use more sunblock, and invest in better water industry infrastructure.  But anti-growth?  - nah, mate.  Growth is where the money comes from, innit?

And, whisper it softly, I'd say the time will be coming soon where geo-engineering solutions will start to be discussed seriously.  They'll really really hate that.

Anyone get the same feeling about all this?

ND

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** I realise many people would ascribe this also to the relentless proselytising by the BBC etc: and I don't disagree - it's just that they've been doing that for years, and 2019 seems to be their 'breakthrough' year

UPDATE:  well here's a headline apparently undermining my thesis.  On closer inspection, though, it's a lobbying confection, and in that context (loaded questions etc) even contains the seeds of its own contradiction, at leats as far as the UK is concerned. Let's see what nonsense unfolds on Friday

Monday, 16 September 2019

Saudi: Feels Like a Classic Scenario

Did We Say 'Gas and Power Prices Up' ?  Oh yes we did.

But it looks as though we ain't seen nothing yet.  Live by the drone, die by the drone: and bombing Saudi oil facilities, whether by Yeminis or Iranian proxies, is the stuff of classic scenarios for it All Kicking Off.

Several major economies on the brink of recession ... China widely felt to be a lot less robust than they'd be keen to have you know ... Europe thoroughly distracted ... Hong Kong in turmoil ... wars and rumours of wars ...

Yes, a classic scenario.  Hold onto your hats. 

ND
Oil price:  instant reaction


Friday, 13 September 2019

What is the City doing whilst the the politiciams blunder?

I have been amazed this week as the sheer level of stupidity shown by some commentators on the left. Bad enough that they have long flung around phrases like 'Disaster Capitalism' - which can mean anything but overall just is a slang way of saying capitlists = bad people.


But in recent days they have cottoned on to the concept that hedge funds might short positions that will be at risk in a hard Brexit. Obvious things like shorting the Pound or backing the FTSE to fall. This is not evil and it is not willing a hard brexit - it is gambling their hunch will pay off in that scenario. Plus of course, another fund or investor is on the other side of the trade betting the exact opposite. Both won't be right and one will win and one will lose - there is literally no political element to this. So the Angela Eagle level conspiracy is jus the most baseless and ignorant nonsense possible.....and the remainers say the leavers are the uneducated and stupid ones.


Additionally, after ND added in his tuppence yesterday on the Energy market, I thought I would add in a summary of anecdata taken from many of my recent meetings in the City and West End.


The property market is in a bind, the resi market is vey weak at the top end and has been since the stamp duty rises of 2015. Many units in central London are coming to market with very few buyers, but also not yet the huge drops in price that would stimulate real demand - the issue being the cost of building was likely above the now demanded sale price - so profit warnings ahead for these developers. Luckily for the UK economy, most of those parted with their money for these developments are wealthy foreign wealth funds or high net worth families who eventually can and will take the losses. However, as with all markets, construction has dropped off in response so now with much reduced supply pipeline as compared to recent years it is likely that the market will start to move up again in the next few months and years - Brexit or not.


In the commercial market, there is a good reminder that Brexit is not everything. A wave of money rushed our of Hong Kong as problems there meant capital fled to traditional safe haves - even French Chateau's have been selling. There are a plethora of fund launches into fine wines and art - things that Asian investors are often very keen on, despite the risks. Money flows are also helped by Sterling weakness as assets are cheap. however, commercial markets are very toppy price wise and a sharp drop is expected- perhaps the Sterling fall means in reality this has already hit, but us domestics don't see it!


With cheap assets comes deals, so lawyers and bankers are busy. Cheap interest rates mean firms can refinance and high levels of foreign investment means lawyers and investment bankers have deals to do. There are not may quiet offices in the City with people panicking over Brexit. They just want it done one way or other (revoke very popular as ever). one area of worry is that Luxembourg will eat the market share of European funds work as London and the Crown dependencies struggle with uncertatinty.


So, against the usual talking down of everything thanks to our universally useless political class, the economy seems OK. Which is why is it not surprising to see high employment and wage growth against this background. What is different I outside of services, where manufacturing has had to stockpile and hoard resources due to the uncertainty and construction is weak, as per above. Overall I think IF we can either Brexit or not and reduce the uncertainty we may even pull off avoiding a recession for another year or two yet, driven by the continued funnel of Foreign Direct Investment into the economy.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Back in the Real World, part 247: Big Energy News

In amongst the constitutional carnage, I just thought we should register a couple of big goings-on in the energy world.

1.  Price-rises ahoy

The wholesale markets in gas and power have responded instantly (particularly in the forwards) to three big European news items of the last two days:
  • Admission by EDF they have discovered welding problems and other issues in the reactors of "several" of their French nukes.  My spies tell me it's 20 out of their total 58 in France.  If they have to fix this in short order - and the French nuclear regulator is surprisingly independent and stern - the price of electricity for the whole of Europe will rise steeply
  • Europe's original and biggest (by far) gas field of the modern era, Groningen in the Netherlands, is having its output severly reduced with premature closure altogether in 2022.  This is because of the increasingly damaging earthquakes being caused by the gigantic scale of operations there over 50 years.  Groningen is a true monster, even by global standards, and the bedrock of north European gas supply for half a century.  Impact on price is pretty obvious ...
  • On top of these two physical problems, a man-made issue: Poland has won a court case limiting Gazprom's access to an important gas pipeline, which in turn will limit their ability to utilise their Nord Stream 2 system which is designed to outflank their previous dependancy on Ukraine as an export route.  A bit involved, I know - but that, too, is causing prices to rise!   

2.  GE the new Enron?

GE is going under.  That's what someone thinks. “GE’s $38bn in accounting fraud amounts to over 40% of GE’s market capitalization, making it far more serious than either the Enron or WorldCom accounting frauds.” 

Oooh-errrr ...

ND