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The rumbling financial markets

Security specialists use a variety of ways to address the risks that they face: and these risk assessments are made in the certain knowledge that the actors in the system hold only incomplete information. Although much mocked at the time, Donald Rumsfeld’s categorization of “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”, is now generally recognized as a succinct summery of his strategic quandaries.
By contrast, actors in the financial markets have a more sanguine assessment of the risks they deal with: they divide them into two kinds of risk: quantifiable and unquantifiable. Unquantifiable risk is not generally considered, since there is usually no financial profit that can be made except from pure supposition. Therefore for the purposes of the financial markets, any given event is priced relative to its level of probability, that is to say its quantifiable risk. 
Depending on the market, higher levels of risk generally carry higher prices, lower levels generally lower prices. Clearly such an…
Recent posts

Rallying Round Theresa... No Chance

The Prime Minister (pro tem) of the UK has made another speech imploring the British people to rally round and come together in order to make the country a success post-Brexit.

Let me state why I, for one, will not be doing that.

The surprise result of the referendum on British membership of the European Union could have been answered by the Conservative government in a variety of ways.  Once the Conservatives had time to change their leadership after the precipitate departure of David Cameron, it could have been reasonable to say something like: " we understand that the British people, by a small margin, are asking us to start the process of leaving the European Union. However we believe that it is imperative to retain our economic links in the single market and the customs union, so we will initially negotiate an economics-led relationship that could either be full membership of the EEA, like Norway, or a customs union, like Switzerland, once this is enacted, we can either consul…

Trump and Brexit are the Pearl Harbor and the Fall of Singapore in Russia's Hybrid war against the West.

In December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent declaration of war, within three days, the Japanese had sunk the British warships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the rapid Japanese attack led to the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and the fall of Singapore only two months after Pearl Harbor. These were the opening blows in the long war of the Pacific that cost over 30,000,000 lives and was only ended with the detonations above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"History doesn't often repeat itself, but it rhymes" is an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain, and in a way it seems quite appropriate when we survey the current scene. 

In 1941, Imperial Japan, knowing its own weakness, chose a non-conventional form of war, the surprise attack. Since the end of his first Presidential term, Vladimir Putin, knowing Russia's weakness, has also chosen non-conventional ways to promote his domestic powe…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

The American national nightmare

On August 9th 1974 Gerald Ford took the oath of office to become president of the United States. In his brief speech he said:

"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over... Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men."

43 years later, the American Republic is being tested in a way it has never been tested in the 241 years since the declaration of independence. 

It is not just that Donald Trump is a vulgar, boorish, lecher. It is not just that he has consistently lied about his businesses and has consistently used mafia levels of intimidation and fraudulent promises in order to cheat his way out of trouble. It is not just that his absurd self-regard renders him utterly unfit for any public office. It is not even that Trump was over three million votes behind in the popular vote.

There are three intersecting crises in America today. They are economic, political, and constitutional.

The United States is no longer the engine of glob…

No island is an island entire unto itself...

OK so there has been a breakthrough apparently...

But the breakthrough is not that a framework agreement to start substantive talks is kinda, sorta, done, maybe...

It is that now the UK public knows that the leaders of the "Leave" campaign were a bunch of charlatans. 

David Davis took "hapless" to new lows with his "my dog ate my homework" explanation of why -in fact- no impact assessments of the single most important economic policy change in 60 years, were made. Whether you choose to believe or disbelieve the shifty excrescence is a matter for you, because its all the same to the Secretary of State as to whether you believe him or not.

Meanwhile the refusal of the Conservatives to recognise that Ireland is a separate and sovereign state, and that therefore of course the UK has a land border with the EU, nearly brought the whole process to a shuddering halt. In fact that actions of the DUP have now, for the first time brought the departure of Northern Irelan…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …