Skip to main content

Tea on Today

Perhaps because Central & Eastern Europe is a relatively obscure topic, I often find myself asked to comment on events by different television channels. It is an interesting contrast. For example, Bloomberg television is very high-tech, CNN far less so, while BBC Television is positively spartan, not even having a "green room" where one can wait before being interviewed. Over the past few days the events in Dubai have caused the global markets to examine the finances of Greece and Hungary. As a result I have been called by several media outlets. Yesterday I did the early morning slot for BBC TV news. This morning I was called in to talk to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4.

"Today" does have a green room, and given that it is radio, one can take notes into the studio- as a couple of fellow guests did. The green room even has breakfast, including yogurt and toast- a distinct improvement on the simple dab of make up powder that television provided yesterday. It was obvious which of the two media has the better budget: clearly radio. More importantly, the response to events from radio was much more immediate: running orders were changing and new guests were being organised even as the programme was on air. The more cumbersome television shows are much slower to respond to events than the immediacy of radio allows.

As I nursed my first cup of tea of the day, I was quizzed by Adam Shaw on the subject of how the crisis in Dubai might pan out for other countries, in particular Greece. The interrogation was sharper than I usually get on television, and one got the impression that the radio programme was more on top of its brief. I am usually discouraged from using business expressions - even simple ones like basis point or yield- with Today, my impression was that such simplification was not part of their brief. It was, frankly, a relief. Although I listen to the programme regularly, going live to the studio one notices much more strongly some verbal ticks in the programme: in particular how the presenters end each segment by thanking the contributor- it is polite, but it is not in accord with the rather abrasive image of the programme. One also noticed the long gaps where each presenter is not contributing: Justin Webb barely spoke while I was in the studio, while Sarah Montague was even able to leave the studio. So, the power of each voice is rationed quite sparingly.

Even still, it is next to impossible to explain complicated issues in less than two minutes. Although Adam Shaw understood that the situation is perhaps more a function of journalistic speculation rather than market fundamentals, the key point was to underline that countries outside the Eurozone- including the United Kingdom- are more exposed to the gyrations of the global markets even than Greece is. So, perhaps the only point that I could make was that if you are not scared about the position of Britain, then you probably do not understand the mathematics of the situation. Perhaps at 6.20 in the morning it was the best that I could manage.


Popular posts from this blog

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…

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

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…