Of Our Elaborate Plans, The End

“Goodbye, Great Britain. It was nice knowing you.” – Wall Street Journal editorial, 1975. “[Gordon] Brown‟s Britain is like an episode of Life on Mars.” – George Osborne, UK Shadow Chancellor, at the time of the Northern Rock Crisis. Does every Labour administration end in economic chaos ? Like Andy Beckett, who has just published […]

Lessons from the 1930s

From Mr Thomas Janichen – Sir, Why create another bad bank ? We have enough already.”

–  Letter to the editor, Financial Times, January 17/18, 2009.

“Conspicuous intelligence seemed actively unwelcome in the Bush White House.”

–  David Frum, speechwriter for George W. Bush during his first term.

His administration staged some 200 ‘town hall’ events attended by pre-screened participants.. yet at the end of it all, support for Mr Bush’s proposal was lower than when it began.”

– The Economist, January 17-23, 2009.

Bush – or at least his reputation – is dead. Long live Obama. The Economist magazine makes a decent fist of providing a not entirely partisan assessment of the achievements of George Walker Bush (in a special article entitled “The frat boy ships out”, and to be fair they endorsed him the first time around) but it is plain where the journalistic, if not editorial, sympathies broadly lie now. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz is cited:

“Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.”

Schroedinger’s cat revisited

“I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.” – John Maynard Keynes, ‘The End of Laissez-faire’.

It is sometimes useful and always amusing to look back at one’s earlier thoughts. The following piece was originally published two years ago (June 2, 2006 to be precise) – an altogether more innocent age, and from the vantage point of Autumn 2008, seemingly aeons ago. I have made no alterations (other than omissions for the sake of brevity) to the original and current, languidly ironic, commentary is added in parentheses in a jaunty orange.

The Fed giveth, and the Fed taketh away

Market commentators are prone to the overuse of terms like “unprecedented”, but this time the word is finally appropriate. No sooner had markets started to adjust for the nationalisation of US mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when investment bank Lehman Brothers was allowed to implode by the US authorities, investment bank Merrill Lynch […]

Crowd-dead trades

“Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.” – John Steinbeck. “Welcome to the Great Falling,” writes Tony Jackson […]

Don’t just do something; stand there!

“No.” – Amy Carter (President Jimmy Carter’s daughter), when asked by a reporter if she had any message for the children of America. At some point over the last quarter century, politicians, administrators, regulators and bureaucrats appear to have uniformly succumbed to the simple-minded doctrine that people have become allergic to any form of loss. […]

Five-year-olds in pursuit of a football

“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.” – Henry Miller. The response of certain market participants to recent financial turmoil “reminds me of the way five-to-seven-year-olds play soccer: players on both teams tend to chase the ball in the manner of a noisy herd. They are, in effect, […]