Thursday 29 August 2019

Brexit Aftermath: Printing Money, or Taxes?

I notice that recently (just before the tactical nuke went off) a bright spark amongst the Graun writers opined that there was not much for it than for Labour to "pivot to Revoke" (everyone has to 'pivot' these days - so much more delicate than U-turning or just plain changing your mind: and a lot more dignified than flip-flopping.)  This is in keeping with Polly Toynbee declaring 'civil war', as she has done in her bid to beat Owen Jones in the hyper-ventilation stakes. 

So, as the armies head off doggedly to Philippi, we are left to wonder about post-Brexit strategy - notwithstanding our musings earlier in the week as to whether Cummings/Johnson even has one, beyond a GE at any rate.

Aside from dealing with short term issues and civil commotion of various sorts (not so easily brushed aside in reality, I well realise) the question will surely arise: to print money, or to tax?  Nations have been perennially been confronted with this issue in times of War (Polly's coinage, not mine) and its aftermath.  It seems to me that (a) there is a very strong anti-tax camp within the Tories (rather like 18th & 19th century America, in fact - they always printed money); (b) Keynsian spending is getting a new lease of life in several quarters; and (c) even McDonnell hasn't sounded too bullish on tax, and the Corbyn-Left are toying with something called Modern Monetary Theory which seems to absolve them of the need to do anything so atavistic as smashing the rich with a supertax.

I freely admit to knowing nothing about macro-economc theory (even as I reckon to know quite a bit about practical micro-economics).  But I well recall how our good host Mr CU predicted Quantitative Easing last time around (and, for good measure, the £/$ collapse from 2.10).  

What do the highly knowledgeable, or even the more modest, C@W readers reckon (i) Boris / Javid; and (ii) McDonnell have up their sleeves for us, in the event they have their hands on the levers of power next year?


Wednesday 28 August 2019

Boris-Cummings in tactical nuclear strike on Remainia

Well, that has set the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons.

This morning the UK Government has decided, as it is quite within it legal rights to, to arrange a Queen's Speech for early October. The remainer PM May could not afford one of these for fear of a Vote of No Confidence, so there is in fact a desperate need for one to announce the Government's strategy.

Too clever by half though, as this has sent the remainers into another meltdown. Only yesterday they were lining up to create an alternative Parliament full of only remainers so that they could all meet and vigorously agree with one another on how horrid leavers are. Today though this plan is already in tatters. The main outcome of yesterday had been to admit they were not very united and instead had to work on Parliamentary legislation to undermine Brexit and the Government negotiation strategy. This now has only a few days in early September to work.

Boris-Cummings has put paid to this idea, perhaps. Their plan will be to halt parliament so they can negotiate a better deal with the EU that they can then bring back at the last moment and force a Parliamentary vote affirming it.

Alternatively, if the anti-Brexit MP's can manage it, they might now conjour up a vote of no confidence and therefore a General Election prior to October 31st. However, as I wrote some weeks ago, the timetable for that is very challenging. 2 weeks before parliament is dissolved, a five week election - so seven weeks minimum and the Vote of No Confidence can't be tabled until early September. I am sure the Remainers and EU will bend any rules they have too - but anyway as of today I fully expect a Tory-Brexit party victory as the remainers will be seen to be the ones forcing an election (remember how well that worked out for May in 2017).

So, lots more heat and little light to be generated in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Cummings: Strategist or Tactician?

Many years ago I worked for, and learned a huge amount from, a negotiator who was (and is) a legend in the energy business.  His achievements in bringing home the bacon against all odds and all predictions are legion: and his methods have always been ones I have sought to deploy wherever appropriate.  

However, as is often the case with anyone of extreme achievement, his MO was itself at an extreme end of the spectrum.  He was essentially 100% a tactician - strategy never came into it, it wasn't in his repertoire.

The typical story would go like this. Andy would be summoned at short notice to a meeting of deeply worried senior executives.  By hook or by crook, they would say, we must get a controlling interest in this new production licence that's become available.  It's critical to our operating plan, and our year-end targets.**  But OtherCo aren't budging.  We can afford $X million, and not a penny more, otherwise the reserves won't be earnings-accretive.  Andy, it looks to be impossible - but we need you to work your magic: and we need it by the end of next month.  We absolutely must have it!

So off Andy would go, make a few 'phonecalls, set up a few lunches.  (Lunch was a big feature of his tactical playbook.++)   After a couple of days he'd require one of the company's best lawyers to be at his beck & call, plus an economist and a couple of other select types.  He'd exude a well-practised air of terrible stress coupled with ultimate optimism; would always say "everything's OK", and mostly be left alone.

One month later, he'd reconvene the worried execs and the lawyer would drop a large bundle of draft contract papers on the table.  Have you got it, Andy?  - "Yep, 51% for X million.  Justin will go through the paperwork with you.  Sorry, I had to spend the whole lot, they wouldn't take anything less.  And best not ask me about my lunch bills, hoho!"  The mood in the room would rapidly become euphoric; there'd be a joky conversation about expense accounts and how he'd be fired for his lavish ways, hohoho! - and a queue would form to shake his hand.  Justin would be set on to convene them again at a later date to summarise the terms of the deal.

A few days later, the CEO would erupt into his room.  You never said you'd sold them the ABC exploration concession!  That was going to be the centrepiece of next year's drilling programme!!

"Ah well", Andy would say:  "don't worry, it's a side deal, not a consideration: it won't affect the earnings.  'By hook or by crook', remember?  'Absolutely must have it' -?"

See, Andy was a tactician.  He'd win you any particular battle, as instructed, against all odds, widely thought impossible: but with no view to what happened thereafter.  There were other tough commercial challenges that ultimately proved to be tractable using different approaches, but were quite beyond Andy to pull off.  Not A Strategist.

So here's the question.  Dominic Cummings is evidently thoughtful (see his copious writings^^), and seems to know how to win battles.  Maybe he's about to win another, and crown his career.  

But is he leaving 2020+ to look after itself? 

** meaning their bonuses, inter alia
++ a tactic I have gladly adopted in my own dealings ... well, I'm a good student
^^ upon analysis, many of them have the benefit of hindsight

Friday 23 August 2019

You had one job: Friday Fun

So last week we took it upon ourselves to find the ultimate leader for the September Government of National Disunity.

(I know its just phase, but a Government of National Unity that replaces the elected Government is no such thing and  should be called out more frequently, harumpphh).

Now of course we know the only purpose of that Government will be to delay or cancel Brexit and in this phoney war phase of August lots of noise is being made about how this will be done and then an election called. Again, the mechanics of this are not very clear and indeed to me suggest there may not be a vote for an election (the Tory rump can vote against it, leaving PM Clarke or Junker swinging with the backing of communists etc - oh what japes!) that passes easily.

So, here YOU are, head of a Government of a rag tag bunch of anti-democrats, Scottish nationalists, Tory Quislings and an eco-loon.

What would you do, the power is there to coerce on policy through Parliament, what do you choose?

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Send the Remainers and EU mental, then onto Victory?

This seems to be the strategy of the new UK Government. Just this morning it has announced the UK teams will stop attending EU meetings. In the round, with Brexit, this makes sense. To the large number of people never attuned to this idea of actually leaving this has caused a very negative reaction. Even MP's are on the airwaves decrying the move.

It comes hot on the heels of the signing of the law to leave the EU on Monday; again it is symbolic more than meaningful, but it lays out the truth that Parliament has already voted for a No Deal Brexit and as such has legislated its way into a big hole of its own making.

The ideas behind these moves are simple; cause Remainia in the UK to go into meltdown and encourage it to try to topple the Government in a couple of weeks time. At the same time, allow the EU enough time to dismiss all our activities out of hand now, but with enough time to reflect on what they may do before Halloween.

If the Remainers manage to topple the Government, then it seems to me we will end up with Prime Minister Farage in 2020, the sheer affront to democracy will be to great to bear and the Remainiacs will find their victory short-lived. But Boris is betting he can beat Farage to be leader of the populists if the Tories are defenestrated by a rainbow coalition.

If they fail in their bid then the EU itself will be forced to consider how to make the best of a poor situation - the hardball negotiating will have failed and some decisions will have to be made as to how to mitigate the UK exit which will now be inevitable. Of course, the EU may remain intransigent, but politically they will bear some responsibility for that.

So both plans may work well in the medium term which is why the Government is taking what appears at first to be such a risky and divisive strategy.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Corbyn Launches a Very Revealing Insult

Jezza's set-piece megaspeech yesterday contains a crazy phrase which, surely, proves one or both of two things.  (a) The drivel was cobbled together by, er, Seamus Milne - and not reviewed by anyone: and/or (b) it was aimed only at meejah political editors.

Boris, he claims, is ... a phoney outsider!  Yer what?

There can't be a man-in-the-street in the entire nation who can parse that: it's a 100%, copper-bottomed Westminster-Bubble accusation.

The labelling of a politician as being an outsider would ordinarily be pejorative, rather damning, in fact - like "unclubbable", "remote", "out of touch", "too clever by half", "John Redwood".  Understandably, these are felt to be Bad Things in a politician.  We'd be a bit uncomfortable being represented or led by someone who makes us feel, well, uncomfortable.  It's a rough-and-ready sort of guarantee against nutters.  People vote for people they feel comfortable with: not too radical, not too many sharp edges, knows how to work the room, to talk to people; kinda predictable, reliable, emollient, warm, easy to have a drink with, etc etc.  Small-c conservatism.  Who wants to see the boat rocked too much?  

But that's in normal times.

More recently, as times get ever more abnormal, "outsider" as a non-pejorative labelling originates as a diagnostic assessment of someone who's done well to come from "nowhere" in circumstances where, it is felt, all the insiders are somehow tarnished by being members of just that once-comforting, now condemned status-quo club.  Churchill coming in from the wilderness.  Trump from outside the Beltway.  That kind of thing.

But still as a diagnosis.  Just as nobody ever describes themselves as a wanker, no-one, unless they are being clumsily self-referential (rarely a good thing - too knowing, too much artifice), proudly describes themselves as an outsider.  Unless they are Sarah Palin - which is to make the same point.

Now.  The bubble-commentariat used to credit Corbyn with this hallowed status (him and Farage).  It's how he attracted da yoof in 2017, how he commands devotion in his loyal Momentum shock-troops.  He been told it's his crowning glory. 

Which brings us to his accusation against Boris.  You can't be the Outsider candidate in the next GE - that's me!  But who the hell follows this tortuous stuff?  You, dear reader, might geddit (or you might disagree, of course), but you ain't the man in the street.

In short, despite the notionally "open" forum it was delivered in, this speech of Corbyn's is no rallying cry to voters, in any way shape or form.  It's strictly for the, errr, insiders.  


Saturday 17 August 2019

All Retail Property is Theft

Image result for all property is theft

Uncle Jez can almost touch the levers, {leavers?} of power.Tantalisingly close to his fingertips. The Socialist Utopia is  only weeks away. And so the benign mask the excitement. Revealing Karl or maybe even Josef, underneath.

The 'Retail Emergency' requires a five year plan. A collectivisation of commerce. A confiscation of the land of the Kulaks. The giving to the people of that bourgeoisie land that they can work. As a high street farm  Mechanisation, comrades, will free the serfs from the toil of profit obsessed industry.

JEREMY CORBYN has unveiled astonishing plans to nationalise the High Street by seizing control of empty shops.

The Labour leader said vacant properties would be given to community projects and fledgling firms to help revitalise town centres. But the staggering property grab was branded “crude and woolly” and experts warned it was more likely to fuel the problem than solve it. Mr Corbyn said he wanted to give local councils the power to hand over empty shops to start-ups, co-operative businesses and local groups.

Retail has lost 200,000 jobs in two years. It has lost over two million jobs since 2008. Something that has escaped the MSM, who rush down to a steel mill of a few thousand jobs to demand government intervention
 Retail jobs are disappearing faster than any other sector. And will continue to be lost at the same fast rate due to  falling demand. Over taxation. The domino effect of failure and automation.

Price isn't a big factor in occupancy numbers, at present. If you want the big,empty, former BHS store at your local town, the landlord will listen to any proposals you have. Will give you a low rent deal. probably, on those white elephant stores, a no rent deal.

Mr Korbyn,  the shops are not empty because greedy aristos are demanding too much for them. They are empty as they are not required.

The days of the greedy landlord, are over. The 1990s and millennium era retail boom is history.

Kobyn's plans are Zimbabwe or Venezuela economics. Hand over the land to people without the skills, knowledge, capital, drive, vision, work ethic,or desire to have them. It is a recipe for shortages, inflation and mass corruption. The next recession will be here long before any boom that could have supported a neophyte start-up.

As Mr Drew has pointed out many times, it doesn't take much for the Marxists to do immense damage, in even a short period of time. 
 Johnnie has already said he wants your garden for tax. And your inherited or second home, to be confiscated.

The gears of history are turning in the factories of the proletariat. The Great Revolution is at hand. And as a bonus, it will be an Oktober one too!


Friday 16 August 2019

Friday Fun: Pick Your Own Prime Minister Day

Here we are the silly season in full swing and make your own Government being played out in the Media and, rather more bizarrely, by actual politicians too.

What a shower we have been cast with, if only it was just the Weather.

But today, you can pick your own. The scenario is the losers and traitors coalition in Parliament manage to defenestrate Boris by a small margin on Sept 4th.

With no backing for Corbyn, the cry goes out, who can our Prime Minister be to cancel Brexit - in desperate times they could be from the House of Lords or even further afield - after all the losers coalition is literally making the rules up as it goes along with the Speaker Bercow's blessing.

For me, I think we need an experienced Politician who is used to playing and winning the long-game here. So I would go for Jean-Claude Junker?

Fun in the comments...

Thursday 15 August 2019

Corbyn Makes His Move

You have to feel a bit sorry for Paul Mason: an intelligent, thoughtful & imaginative chap, basically honest, a bit didactic & earnest, much taken with some of Karl Marx's insights, groping around for a 21st C application for them, would like to be consistent ... but the Real World somehow doesn't fall as neatly into his categories as he'd eagerly wish.

So now Corbyn's made his move - well, a move, he had to do something now or be condemned to utter, contemptible irrelevance - and Paul would like to think this immediately confirms everything he's analysed and was hoping for.  "Corbyn has taken a brave step. Now he must rule out any ‘Labour Brexit’".   Hmm.  Let's see how much Little Paul's enjoying it a fortnight from now.

So what to make of Corbyn's roll of the die?  It's clearly reactive, and no great stroke, that's for sure: comfortably within anything Cummings will have considered.  Team Boris is still drawing everyone else onto the battlefield of its own choosing.  (Which, incidentally, makes all the sillier Mason's opening contention that "Corbyn just got inside everyone else’s decision cycles" - a reference to the thinking of the great John Boyd that will be familiar to many readers.)

I think we may assume Team Corbyn, rattled by initiatives coming from elsewhere (Lucas, Kinnock, Hammond etc) felt the urgent need to slap something on the table.  With a couple of blatant attempts to shield their SNP flank as a preparatory step (but weakening their own Scottish legion in the process), their own effort looks very much like an attempt at a low-risk, win-win, no-regrets type of affair.  If it works, and Jezza is wafted into No.10 by this strange backdoor method, well, he's in!  No telling what he might do with executive authority whilst pretending to be arranging a GE and an A50 extension. 

If it fails, well, Boris gets to crash out (as the Leninist / Stalinist faction always wanted) with only his fingerprints on the deed; revolutionary purity is retained; and maybe it brings down Swinson in the process as an added bonus.  Indeed, you'd have to say on balance they are hoping for and expecting the latter, because by insisting on Corbyn being PM, they've actually blown it from the start, as well they know.

Now Swinson: there's an interesting thing.  The Corbyn outriders are busily saying this'll be the end of her, what with rejecting the saintly Jezza overtures out of hand like that.  Now I have no particular insight into the LibDems (does anyone here?): but I'd say her immediate reactions were spot-on, and that she'll be infinitely less discomfitted by this - maybe indeed, not bovvered at all - than Lucas was by her mighty BAME faux pas.  Why would Swinson wish to submerge her position as leader of the largest unequivocally Remain group of MPs in Parliament for a bit-part in a complex Milne-plot?  (The SNP - a group that really can see some win-win possibilities - are clearly banking on No Deal followed by IndyRef2.)  It'll be Lucas, Fish-woman and Grieve who'll be squirming at being told what to do by Labour.

Meanwhile, Team Boris will be barely distracted.  Nobody shows any sign of getting ahead of them, or turning their flanks - still less "getting inside their decision cycle".  The fact that Corbyn has given up his distant reverse-slope position for a brief foray in the open, well, it's no great stroke.  Let him spend a few weeks in the woke version of a smoke-filled room with Lucas et al, and see how clever he feels at the end of that.

CU said yesterday that Sept and Oct could be fun.  August still has some life in it yet!


Wednesday 14 August 2019

September and October could be fun

- Chinese Industrial output at 17 year low

- Germany therefore heading into recession (I don't think many realise just how tied to China the German economy has become)

- US Trade War still fun

- Brexit issues

- Hong Kong on edge of a crackdown

- Argentina defaulting

So overall, a right pretty face for the world economy. Markets as we often say find ways of tanking in September and October if they are going too. This yeas, how do they not find a way!

Equally, a recession with real interest rates at such low levels will be very strange indeed with hard to predict outcomes. For a domestic example, short supply of UK Houses coupled with huge mortgage availability and low rates will stop a very over-inflated market from falling very far. Which in terms means the mortgage supply won't be turned off - so a very limited impact.

Monday 12 August 2019

Brexit Gallows Humour #47: The Cabinet of Women

When something quite as serious as Brexit begins to loom large, there's a strong temptation to look for solutions guided by one's basic prejudices, and/or use the crisis as a pretext for the same.   So Marxists will reach for the Revolution as both the solution to the woes that resulted in the Brexit vote, and/or what they can opportunistically promote during no-deal chaos; and Greens will say Europe needs to be reinvented as the *European Sustainable Union* (I'm not making that up).

Taking the biscuit, though, must surely be Caroline Lucas with her call for a *Cabinet of Women*.
Why women? Because I believe women have shown they can bring a different perspective to crises
She's the one who needs to have a bit of perspective here.  What do we know about Women In Charge?  Well, on the one hand we have Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir ... oh, not the examples you had in mind?  Well, how about Mary Tudor, Christine Lagarde, or Theresa May, or some of those chairs of health trusts that have overseen ghastly disasters befalling their patients?  Or Arlene Foster?  Maybe Diane Abbbottt?  Or Aung San Suu Kyi ..?

No - it turns out Lucas has in mind just ten carefully selected women of her own choosing.  With herself as PM, I'm guessing, in this ultra-democratic set-up.  (Hilariously, she's now having to back-pedal because ... she didn't include any BAME women!  So - not Diane Abbbottt after all...)

What we know about Women In Charge is that they are just as likely to be successes or failures, strong or weak, inspiring or disappointing, natural leaders or careerist hacks as anyone else.   No special guarantees of exceptional wisdom, superior humanity or a magic touch. 

It's always telling, when the Graun doesn't allow BTL comments on a piece like Lucas's.  And they don't.  We may imagine they knew what the response would have been.


Too hot in the Energy kitchen

Interesting news from the Energy sector. My colleague Nick Drew has written extensively on the problems in the Retail Energy market where over-regulation of the supply-side and consumer pressure from the demand end has led to a game where it is very hard to make any money.

Domestic supply used to be a real money-spinner, people have to pay their electric bills and if they did not there was in the old days the threat of a meter you would have to put coins in! Long gone are those days, now Uswitch and other services make it very easy to switch between suppliers and so the margins are disappearing very fast from the retail supply end of the market. In many ways, a good example of the market at work, destroying the business models of the oligopolies just as it should.

Of course, we have yin and yang in business. There are plenty of new entrants, funded by Private Equity and City institutions. who think they can come in and clean up where the old school has left off.

The result of the above is a deal announced over the weekend. SSE (Scottish and Southern Electric in old terms) is selling its retail business to newcomer Ovo. SSE just can't see the point when they are churning customers so quickly at moment. Ovo think their superior brand and service will overcome this.

Personally, I think the lack of loyalty or any incentive to be loyal to your energy provider makes playing the game on superior brand a very dicey one - but it is not my money so good luck to Ovo!

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what the other of the old Big Six energy suppliers do with their low margin retail businesses - my guess is there is more divestment to come. They can then focus on generation where there are plentiful Government subsidies still to be found.

Friday 9 August 2019

UK Economy shrinks by 0.2% in Q2 2019

Quite a surprise today that the ONS has the UK economy shrinking by 0.2% in the second quarter.

Just a couple of days ago the services PMI read came out as 54.5, well above fifty and as the largest part of the economy, normally enough to carry the overall GDP numbers up.

However, a further drop in construction and also a drop in manufacturing (where stockpiling for a March Brexit boosted Q1) has been enough to see the economy slide into negative territory.

There is no much good news to be had here, with another Brexit shock due to hit in Q4 there won't be any recovery in Construction or much in Manufacturing - which is hugely hurt by the disaster of diesel car sales which disproportionately UK factories were set up to produce.

Services can help to keep the UK out of outright recession, but it will be touch and go as Politics is set to head into meltdown in September and that itself will temper optimism and business investment, as well we job hiring.

The UK really needs to go sign a Brexit deal and move on. Hard Brexit, on the back of what will already be an ailing economy now, will push us into a nasty recession. Not 2008 levels, but certainly early 90's pain.

The FTSE100 will hold up due to dollar earnings, the 250 and AIM are going to fare less well.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

They are refusing to negotiate...with reality

So says Michael Gove yesterday. Boris's new team are really on a roll, sadly it is downhill to nowhere.

Apparently the EU wont negotiate  - but negotiate with what? They can hardly just drop the Backstop having died on a hill for it for 2 years. Politically, this will be very hard for them to do and I would guess prove impossible. It is the wrong choice of battlefield.

There are no other demands from the new UK Government, so there is indeed nothing to negotiate. How about a side discussion on moving to EFTA for a start as a part way move - something to give the EU their own political cover to make some moves?

Gove used to be smart, but Brexit Derangement Syndrome has claimed another victim.

But it is not just the Government who need to engage their brains a little more, the classic August summer story is that we are going to get a Government of National Unity led by Ken Clarke or Caroline Lucas. I have expected for a long time that the Remain majority in Parliament would find a way to revoke Article 50 but desperation grows strong now for the Remain MP's.

But this wont be the way, there are just not enough Tory and non-Corbynite Labour votes for a GNU to make this work - let alone the insane spectacle of Parliament over-ruling the Referendum and the commitments make by most Parties at the last 2 elections - much as it would be fun to watch there are too many dark downsides to this outcome.

In 2015, Margaret Beckett and others swiftly regretted allowing Corbyn to stand for Labour leader and thus destroying her own party. I wonder how many MP's are at home this summer regretting their cavalier attitude to May's deal?

Monday 5 August 2019

Trump's alternative monetary policy

(Firstly, having been away for a couple of weeks my thanks to Nick and BQ for covering the blog, less thanks for putting up such good stuff that now I need to up my game!)

In the USA, much like the UK, the Federal Reserve is an independent body. They make decisions on their own balance sheet and set decisions on interest rates by dint of their reading of the market. The US President and rest of the Government are just bystanders.

Of course, it is not in the President's interest to endure this. After all, the Fed has no elections to win and the current President is very focused on winning one in October next year.

Now as we all know, economics and a good economy is not everything or else in the UK we would not have had Blair as Prime Minister in the late 1990's. However, there is a small correlation with plenty of jobs and a growing economy helping incumbent Governments.

As such, Mr Trump does not want the Fed to raise rates. In the Fed's view the US economy is at the end of a long-expansionary period. They have had very low rates and a huge amount of Quantitative Easing to juice the economy after the Financial Crash of 2008. Now the banking system is nearly recovered and the US is steadily creating plenty of jobs. House prices are rising and the stock market sits at all time highs.

So taking away the punch bowl would seems a logical thing to do. But raising rates may slow the economy and Trump does not want that with only 14 months to an election. Interest rate rises are delayed action too (though I doubt now the old mantra of taking 2 years to feed into the economy, modern tech and communications will have seriously reduced this).

What is Trump to do when all this is out of his control? Well, he could start a trade war with China. This is in his gift as President. Slapping Tariff's on China has the effect of slowing trade and taking the shine off the economy. As a result, it makes the Fed's predictions about the economy change and so with their change in viewpoint, comes a change in policy.

Last week, the Fed lowered interest rates, in due course this will come to be seen as a poor policy move, just as raising rates in early 2007/8 was the wrong thing to do (and as we wrote back then too!).

They lowered rates because a $300 billion trade war with China is not good for the US economy.

However, Trump can, and indeed has, fluctuated wildly with the trade war rhetoric and has the power to end the trade war tomorrow. He is far more flexible than the Fed and has fewer constraints (no monthly meetings or pesky Boards to convince).

Trump can game the system this way for domestic monetary policy. It is a very clever way to get change, albeit literally playing with the livelihoods of Americans in the process - but hey, what else is a President supposed to do?

Saturday 3 August 2019

The Desperate *Optimism* of the Left

Now this is getting funny.  The Left have taken another look at Boris, maybe run a few focus groups, and noticed that he engenders OPTIMISM.  How can this be, they say: we're as gloomy as all Hell, and so should everyone else be.  Crap leader; crap poll ratings; LibDems eating our lunch; nobody wants to talk about austerity or even, FFS, the 'climate emergency'.  Somehow, blokes in pubs who are our voters - Our Voters - are clinking their pint pots and toasting to - Boris.  Haven't they noticed??  He's a lying, womanising, ....

So they think they'd better rush around Engendering Optimism!  Take a look at these headlines, from the Graun:
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit could yet pay off, even for remainers. Here’s why
  • Boris Johnson is the last person young Brits would vote for 
  • Boris Johnson’s crew will repel voters – there’s no need to fear him
  • Labour shouldn’t worry so much about the Lib Dems, they hurt the Tories more
(That last one from L'il Owen Jones, of course; and the one before was Polly.)

The trouble is, it's like a kiddie holding a book upside down and saying "Look, I can read!"; or the large proportion of people who tell surveys that they are upper middle class.  To claim it is to prove the opposite.  

Looks like we're still watching the Denial phase.  Anger could get messy.  Bargaining will be fun!


Friday 2 August 2019

Greenwich School of Management - All Very Sad

Greenwich School of Management went bust yesterday.  Ordinarily this probably wouldn't have caught my attention greatly.  If people have heard of privately-owned GSM, it's probably due to its featuring in a Panorama investigation a couple of years ago into purchased admissions, dodgy degrees and bent assignment-brokers - which most of the papers writing about GSM today are too polite to mention.

There's something else nobody is mentioning, though a couple of oblique euphemisms can be found if you look.  A while ago I did a bit of lecturing there on a pro bono basis and one couldn't help but notice that every single student encountered was not just BAME, but black.  Given the incessant messaging we're all bombarded with that 'diversity' is the most important possible criterion for, well, pretty much anything these days, you'd imagine that the students themselves might have noticed this, and figured something was going wrong.  Probably they did (and the dropout rate was more than 50%); but maybe they hadn't reckoned it would end this way.

You can only feel sorry for the many enthusiastic and eager learners.  The false promises fed to students, all dating back to bloody John Major and his vision of 50% of school leavers going on to "university" (by hook or, as in some cases, by crook) routinely lead to massive disappointment, not to mention gratuitous debt.  Whether it's the fault of schools, or just human nature, the facts are that a good deal fewer than 50% of school leavers are truly ready for, or are going to benefit from, a university education.

Yet tens of thousands of kids in the other category are frogmarched into former polys (and debt) to keep the numbers up, with predictable results.

There's another post to be written about private universities, and markets in education generally.  For now, the point is that those preying on young people unsuited to tertiary study include the politicians with 'visions' and dumb numerical targets as well as the bent bastards offering to get students' assignments done for £500 a pop.