Happy anniversary

Since everybody else in financial media has been indulging in an orgy of self-reflection, selective recollection and brazen virtue-signalling on the back of the 10 year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in September 2008, and in steadfast keeping with our principle of ‘no bandwagon left unridden’, we reproduce below, word for word, our…

Everything is awesome

There has been an amazing improvement in human living standards over the past 50 years. The average person on the planet is earning three times as much as they were 50 years ago. They’re living 30 percent longer. They’re burying 2/3rds fewer children – the greatest measure of misery anyone could think of. And on the whole, people are wealthier,…

On the wealth, and poverty, of nations

Every year at around this time, something rather magical happens to Edinburgh. The population of the Scottish capital swells by over 4 million people – and in a very good-natured way. Only the Olympic Games and the World Cup sell more tickets – and they only take place once every 4 years. As the comedian and writer Dominic Frisby puts it,If…

Less is more

Having finally gotten around to watching John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, we can side with the consensus: it’s a modern day classic. It clocks in at just 90 minutes, but there’s not a single idle second. The whole film is pared down to the bone. And it’s a ruthlessly efficient exercise in sustained suspense. The film is an elevator pitch made…

Three years down the toilet

Up and down the land, hundreds of thousands of students have been receiving their A-level grades. Some of them will doubtless plan to read PPE at Oxford. Others will doubtless aspire to studying Economics at Cambridge (note: at the time of writing, the Cambridge economics web page was broken, much like the spirit of its students soon will be). In any…

Speaking truth to power

Being There is a bizarre little curate’s egg of a film. Directed in 1979 by Hal Ashby, who by all accounts at this stage in his career was no stranger to substance abuse, it also happens to be Peter Sellers’ last film, and it maintains an elegiac quality throughout. The film is punctuated by illness and loss. Sellers plays a simple-minded gardener…

Tangled web

In April 1999, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger created a website called Cluetrain. The Cluetrain Manifesto was a modern day reworking of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses – the pamphlet which, nailed to the door of the church at Wittenberg, is credited as having triggered the Reformation.

Four types of people

As Mike Tyson never quite said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the Facebook. Just when it seemed that Elon Musk’s notorious Q1 Tesla conference call couldn’t be surpassed for CEO-inspired trainwreckery, or that Netflix’s Q2 earnings miss and its associated 14% share price fall might be setting some new kind of financial market low…

Per ardua ad astra

The history of the Spitfire is a catalogue of triumph against adversity. Its designer, the aeronautical engineer RJ Mitchell, died in 1937, three years before his creation’s finest hour. Throughout its history, the Royal Air Force had been dismissive of fighter aircraft, hewing to the conventional wisdom that the bomber would always get through. When,…

An odd, non-linear game

For historians, there are primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are the original documents that point to the raw history, like the original Magna Carta, for example. Secondary sources are effectively historical derivatives – they incorporate interpretation and analysis. In financial markets, the equivalent of primary sources are prices…