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…

The long march of the bezzle

The world of economics is indebted to JK Galbraith, author of The Great Crash 1929, for his coinage, the bezzle."To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months, or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period,…

The outrageous cost of a free press

Whilst a student of English Language and Literature in the late 1980s, this commentator spent several summers interning at advertising agencies and newspapers. The ad agency jobs involved first-hand experience of copywriting assignments and real campaigns. The newspaper jobs, on the other hand.. On walking into the offices of The Daily Express (more…

Failure, guaranteed

There are at least three serious impediments that prevent fund managers from doing their job – to make the best possible return for their clients – properly.

Darkest hour

"When historians of the future look back on Britain in our time, they will surely see our row over Brexit as extraordinary. Not because people disagree and campaign: that is normal and healthy; but because an influential section of the country, and particularly of its upper classes, are refusing to accept the will of the majority as legitimate or binding.…

Holding out for a hero

"The appeasers distrusted France, blamed her for the punitive Versailles clauses, felt Germany had been wronged, and were determined to make restitution. Lord Lothian declared that it was Britain’s moral obligation to support the Germans in their struggle to “escape from encirclement” (the encircling powers, presumably, being France, Switzerland,…

#Parmageddon

Something rather odd is going on in the mainstream media, when the most insightful commentaries around Brexit are surfacing from publications like The New Statesman as opposed, say, from The Financial Times or The Economist. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that the most insightful reportage of the credit crisis came from the…

#EUvacuate !

A few months ago, a publisher and bookseller kindly sent us “a little gem of a book”: ‘The Making Of The €uro’ by Claudio Hils, a somewhat humourless coffee table hardback redeemed by one or two beautiful photographs of printing presses and hologram foil security patches. Recounting, as it does, the literal making of the euro, the book already…

May Day

There are weeks when decades happen, and this past week feels like one of them. While US inflation expectations touched a four-year high and 10-year US Treasury yields reached seven-year highs, the voters of Italy – or rather its anti-establishment Five Star Movement and its far-right League – delivered a resounding raspberry to the EU and any lingering…

The best fifty minutes you will spend this year

We live in a golden age of information. Anybody reading this commentary also has an entire virtual Library of Alexandria at their fingertips, with wisdom from the ages accessible almost instantaneously and at more or less zero cost. If we choose to spend our time exclusively on kitten videos, well, that’s a choice too. While the signal to noise ratio…