Lucky numbers

“On November 3, for example, Morgenthau suggested to Roosevelt a 19 to 22 cent rise in price and Roosevelt responded that he wanted 21 cents. Why ? “It is a lucky number, Roosevelt said laughing, “because it’s three times seven.” Morgenthau later wrote in his diary, “If anybody ever knew how we really set the gold price through a combination…

Hope, need and greed

In the history of fund management, the name of Fidelity Magellan’s Peter Lynch still carries a lot of weight. Lynch is considered by many to be the greatest mutual fund manager of all time. (Warren Buffett, for example, just to get technical about it, is a businessman managing a diversified holding company.) But is Lynch’s reputation all it’s…

Just who is the enemy ?

“At some stage the markets will have to deal with the inconvenient truth that the destruction of value for investors in Europe, particularly for the owners of financial institutions, is due to the creation of the Euro. Investors who are prepared to accept that analysis, seen by many as plain impoliteness, realise that not only is the current collapse…

The skies are darkening over Europe

“The European Central Bank is preparing another dose of easing, as discussed at this weekend’s Jackson Hole summit. But, in terms of supporting underlying economies, as opposed to assuaging bloated financial markets, eurozone monetary policy is already exhausted, as it is across much of the world. “Bond yields have never been this low – and,…

Take Shelter 2.0

Few films have managed to convey the feeling of approaching menace more effectively than Jeff Nichols’ 2011 drama, Take Shelter. Its blue collar protagonist, Curtis LaForche, played by the lantern-jawed Michael Shannon – whose sepulchral bass tones make his every utterance sound like someone slowly dragging a coffin over a cello – begins to suffer…

Central banker: useful functionary, or Cockney rhyming slang ?

“Central bankers control the price of money and therefore indirectly influence every market in the world. Given this immense power, the ideal central banker would be humble, cautious and deferential to market signals. Instead, modern central bankers are both bold and arrogant in their efforts to bend markets to their will. Top-down central planning,…

Serious advice

“Given all this, what do MPs do all day? Media manipulation, not operational planning on priorities. “Unsurprisingly, most senior MPs in all three parties are locked into a game in which they spend most of their time on a) launching gimmicks, and b) coping with crises. These two forms of activity are closely related. The only widely understood…

Bagehot ? Or bulls**t ?

“The Economist was established in 1843 by James Wilson, a hatmaker from the small Scottish town of Hawick, to campaign against the protectionist Corn Laws. The tariffs were repealed in 1846 but the newspaper lived on as “a political, literary, and general newspaper”, never abandoning its belief in free trade*, internationalism* and minimum interference…

Markets and the meaning of life

“God grant me the serenityto accept the things I cannot change;courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.”From ‘Serenity Prayer’ by Reinhold Niebuhr.

A mob of nasty, ignorant dwarves

Anyone reading Charles Moore’s 2013 biography of Mrs. Thatcher these days does so with a growing sense of unease. Whether on the right or on the left, British politicians of the 1970s and 1980 were, on the whole, decently educated, conviction politicians who, regardless of their differences, treated each other with respect. No matter how intensely…