The world is upside down

“We live in an economic system in which a particularly good crop is often an economic disaster, and we restrict some of our agricultural productivity in order to ‘stabilise the market’, although there are millions of people who do not have the very things we restrict, and who need them badly.. We have a literacy […]

We’re economic agents and we’re here to help

“Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.” – Abraham Lincoln. By all accounts, this is not an April Fool. Alistair “Northern Rock” Darling and Sir Win “Citigroup’s writedowns and credit costs ? $54.6 billion” Bischoff are chairing a Treasury-sponsored committee, the Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group (FSGCG), to report on the weaknesses jeopardising the […]

Think the unthinkable

“The terrible, cold, cruel part is Wall Street. Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and […]

It’s all relative

“You won’t learn much about capitalism at university. How could you ? Capitalism is a matter of risks and rewards, and a tenured professor doesn’t have much to do with either.” – Pournelle. The first half of the Bloomberg headline looks shocking: “Hedge funds have worst first-half performance in 18 years..” But the second half […]

The perils of market timing

“Let Wall Street have a nightmare and the whole country has to help get them back in bed again.” – Will Rogers. Congratulations to Goldman Sachs for a particularly (un)timely call on Marks & Spencer. The brightest firm on Wall Street (this construction is known in English as an oxymoron), having had the stock as […]

Rational zestlessness

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker (attrib.) In addition to lending his name to market data tracking the downfall of US real estate, Yale economist Robert Shiller is justly famous for his biography of the stock market bubble, ‘Irrational Exuberance’(Princeton University Press, 2000). Subsequent price action […]

Stuck in the Middle

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight I got a feeling that something ain’t right I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair And I’m wondering how I’ll get down those stairs Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right Here I am..” – ‘Stuck in the Middle with […]

Oil aboard !

Every crowd has a silver lining.” – Phineas Taylor Barnum. We are all oil experts now. As simple-minded trend-followers watching CNBC sector analysts on Wall Street have spent recent months trampling over each other to issue increasingly facile pronouncements of ever-rising price “targets”, the value-added commentary department for oil was temporarily closed after the Financial […]