Thursday, 23 June 2022

Mr Putin's Gas is Heating Things Up

We've several times mused over Putin's gas weapon:  how he's carefully kept Germany supplied and, in turn, how careful Ukraine has been with the transit pipelines; how 'green' ignorance on the critical and frankly irreplaceable role of gas in European economies contributed to the remarkable willingness of European countries to approve swingeing sanctions; how Putin couldn't believe this degree of ignorance really existed; how on earth Germany might do without their continual fix of Russian gas.

Well now he's done it: not content with shutting off supplies to non-ruble-compliant buyers in half a dozen 'lesser' countries, Putin has now cut back Nord Stream 1, Germany's only direct import route from Russia, to 40% of capacity, at exactly the time new German laws require that much-depleted gas storage be steadily filled, in order to be full at the start of winter.  The Germans are running around like headless chickens, busily bringing old lignite burners, FFS, back into the powergen fleet.  There isn't a country in Europe with any coal capacity that isn't actively trying to maximise it, Greta or no Greta.

The MSM in this country hasn't really cottoned on yet: hey, it's a record June heatwave!  Barring some astonishing (and right now, quite unexpected) climbdown by somebody, this makes next winter a perilous time for us all: outright gas shortages in mainland Europe, and unheard-of prices everywhere.  Oil won't be far behind gas and electricity.

What is the UK government doing?  Tinkering with a couple of coal plants.  What it's NOT doing is preparing the populace for what's to come.  Ordinarily, this would be a rather obvious thing to do: at least there's a very genuine externality to blame, however you define it.  But I guess an 'optimist' like Johnson has absolutely no interest in looking forward further than, well, the next shag.  I can't even guess how this is going to play out, socially or politically.


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Amusing Week in the Culture War

'Nuff said
Some smiles to be had from this week's Culture War exchanges.  Firstly, and hearteningly, the world swimming body FINA has banned participation by 'trans women' in women's competitive swimming.  This is judged by some as likely to be a domino moment as the equivocal figure of Seb Coe of World Athletics is limbering up to consider enacting the same principles for track and field.   Cue the inevitable outbreak of counter-lobbying, including muttering from the cycling body that maybe fairness in competition isn't important after all, compared to the great 'inclusivity' imperative. 

Mercifully, in rugby and the fighting disciplines it's a stark and simple matter of safety all the way, and the disingenuous bleating of Stonewall cuts no ice whatever.  Sport will always provide nice, clean examples of the fundamental contradictions and illogicalities of the more extreme trans positions (if I may use that phrase) - one of several reasons why SJW lefties et al hate sport (see also "I always knew it would start with sport").

Secondly and outright hilarious is Amy Callaghan, an SNP MP, who has been recorded saying something she now greatly regrets.  (Well, regrets having been caught, anyhow.)  Guido has the full gen here, and her grovelling apology which is a gem, nay, a veritable collectors item of the woke art.

... a wholehearted apology to anyone who have been hurt or triggered ... I have been searingly reflective and honest with myself. Whilst I can’t forgive myself for how inappropriate it was for me to frame my input in this way, I owe everyone, not least survivors and my constituents, an explanation: I am both sorry and, ultimately, take full responsibility for my words, as insensitive, poorly worded and misplaced as they were. I’m taking full accountability for the hurt and disappointment I’ve caused ... This isn’t good enough...  Zero tolerance can’t be a slogan, it has to be real...  I got it wrong... I can see now how hollow and inappropriate ... I cannot condone the way this was presented on my part. This was wrong, insensitive and I am deeply sorry. I am hugely saddened that I have let myself down in this way... this isn’t reflective of who I am as a person. There is a complainant who has been let down this week by my words and by my party. There is no moral high ground or false equivalence when it comes to misconduct. We must do better, myself included.

I am guessing there's a woke handbook that contains all these phrases, and you just cut-and-paste them into your statement of contrition when you feel the need to abase yourself.  This one must surely be an 8 or a 9 on some scale?  But curiously she doesn't offer to resign or get herself to a nunnery or anything meaningful; so we can't be plumbing the full depths of this turgid stuff.



Sunday, 19 June 2022

Shorting Germany?

Anon, BTL previous post - "any investment suggestions?" ... 

Well we can't and don't do financial advice or recommendations on this blog, so DYODD etc.

But here's something from Capx which is a clear enough recommendation from somebody else: buy dollars and Italy, sell Germany! 

Blast from the past: 2010
The rationale is basically that the Germans are about to cop the bill for the Mediterranean economies.  Hmmm - that's a bit like nuclear fusion, people have been predicting it for a long time.  But maybe now's the hour.  You can also chuck into the pot Germany at long last being called out / caught out as being the mainstay of the Russian economy (both as importer of stuff and exporter of tech), which may not be allowed to last much longer.  What other game do they have to play that could be equally lucrative?  Well, China, of course as regards the tech exports - but the USA won't let 'em have a free run at that, even if they've (the Germans) been surreptitiously sleeving, not to say laundering for Russia these 8 years.

Personally I went 'buy USD' when the whole current thing kicked off which I date to Feb 2021 (when I first reported far-east gas prices going through the roof here) - a general rule of mine over the decades.  He who underestimates the latent strength of the USA is often doomed to a big disappointment.  Saved me in the late '00's when I shorted GBP @ 2.10 in '07 (hat-tip CU, I might add: I can even tell you which pub we were in).  We tracked its glidepath down on the blog, all through the financial crisis.

Gold hasn't been quite as effective this time around.

How much further down can £ go?  Well 1.05 (1982) is the all-time low (That's what it says when I looked it up just now.  From memory, it actually went a bit lower that year).  The psychological floor represented by 1.00 is apparently quite sturdy.  That's not a prediction, by the way.


Thursday, 16 June 2022

Tepid Bank of England hamstrung by past leadership and groupthink

Does anyone remember Mark Carney. back in the days when we thought only hiring foreign experts would do, we had this Canadian lead the Bank of England.

In his whole tenure he promised much but did less. There were few changes in interest rates and post the 2008 recession we actually dropped rates throughout the recovery by 0.25%.

And we poured in yet more Quantitative Easing to create the easy money. This has come back to bite us quite nastily now. 

And yet today's Bank of England has chosen to raise interest rates by 0.25%. Whereas the Federal Reserve went for 0.75% - inflation is worse in the UK too. 

Whilst the £ has recovered a little today on the back of the rise, it is at a very low $1.23, exacerbating our energy crisis through the exchange rate fiasco. 

Moreover, the Bank is frit from cancelling QE  and reducing money supply. thereby baking in a long road to reduce inflation. in the 1980's we would be talking about Interest rates at 12% -15% by now. 

But so sleepy is the Bank and so slothful in its actions that we will be lucky to have 2% interest rates in 2022 whilst experiencing 10%+ inflation. 

Frankly, it is unbelievable. Mind-numbing. A wilful destruction of the Pound and people's real net worth and assets to bail-out the Government of its debt and to the hope that something will turn up. 

All the Bank of England Monetary Policy members should be sacked forthwith due to showing an insufficient understanding of their remit which is to manage economic stability! Not promote instability. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Only Psychopaths Need Apply ...

Here's a really telling piece of pop psycho-philosophy for our times. 

Who could she possibly mean?
It's Veronika Stepanova, a Russian online "psychologist" with a big youtube following, declaring that only a psychopath/sociopath (- ideally, a high-functioning one with a good IQ, natch -) is fitted to be a President.  Unfortunately I haven't got the direct link but you can view the relevant extract in this tweet.

In summary:  to be a good President, it takes someone with a pathological drive for power who can follow the necessary path of listening only to himself, and not the law, without conscience or guilt.  It's hardly a novel thesis: indeed, it's Nietzsche 1.01, The Will To Power, albeit expressed more artistically there.  Only such a man can become a Beethoven, a Caesar, a Napoleon who were certainly all complete shits.  Nietzsche included Goethe but I'm not sure that's as clear an example.  You can add your own favourites to the rollcall: many people put both Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson on the list, which (if that's right) goes to show it's a necessary characteristic but not a sufficient one.

(Ironically, it was of course Stepanova's compatriot Dostoevsky who gave us a compelling of the "maybe necessary, but not sufficient" aspect, in Crime and Punishment.)

It's also a view commonly held by many of our BTLers, who often include the sentiment that it's why they despise all politicians.  OK: but that still leaves a couple of key points to consider:

  • It ain't just politicians, is it?  It's great artists (per Nietzsche: consider Monet for example, another self-focused shit); business innovators (libel is libel and I'm sure we all have our nominees); scientists ... and so it goes on.
  • So - despise them or not: do we, actually, need them nonetheless?  Nietzsche, of course, didn't care about what "we" need, it was all art-for-art's-sake with him.  But George Bernard Shaw certainly thought we needed them: the hungry man had best follow the fat man, because fattie knows where the food is.
We are stuck with them!  Lamentably, there are those who merely think they are Napoleons - Raskolnikov, Johnson - and we are stuck with them, too.