Skip to main content

Life as a Talking Head

From time to time I appear on various television programmes being interviewed about Central and Eastern European business issues. Usually it is Bloomberg TV, sometimes CNBC or CNN or, as today, on the BBC.

Being a "talking head" is a rather odd existence. Usually you only have about three minutes to try to convey often very complicated issues to a journalist who may still be struggling to understand how to pronounce people's names, never mind understand how they fit into the bigger picture. It is something of an art and rather tricky to maintain fluency when it is important to be as clear as possible. Nevertheless I quite enjoy the challenge. In fact I appear regularly enough to have started to play little games. One is to incorporate an unlikely word suggested by someone else into the interview. I think my favourite was "crepuscular", although this morning I also managed "precipitation" - some harmless fun and it brightens my approach to what even I will admit can be quite dull issues, a little bit.

It was an exceptionally early start this morning and unlike at Bloomberg, the BBC is a long way from the office (though fortunately close to my flat in central London) and they do tend to keep the guests hanging around a bit. Also, the BBC does seem to like to do make up, which really only CNBC does otherwise- I find I need a wash afterwards.

Today was a brief discussion about the resignation of the Hungarian PM, and there are real chances that the country will either break the cycle of incontinent fiscal policy which it has established over the past eight or nine years or it will plunge into a deep period of economic gloom, coupled with political instability. It kind of depends on whether a technocrat like my old acquaintance Andras Simor is appointed or whether some more divisive and less competent figure comes through. That, dear reader, was more or less the entire substance of the interview- though I did not mention that I know Andras Simor.

I doubt that it added much to the sum of human knowledge- those that know about Hungary would want to know more, and those that don't probably don't care anyway. The only other surprises today were that I saw Jonathan Charles standing up- and was quite surprised to see that he was smaller than I am and that Sally Bundock is much prettier in real life than she is on the screen- it was the first time I had done a piece with her. Meanwhile the cavernous BBC newsroom is altogether a whole lot less high-tech than Bloomberg TV is- they even have paper scripts!

Funny thing was, I received several phone calls from friends who happened to see the piece- most unusual, perhaps even at 5.30 AM, there are more viewers on the BBC than I thought.


Charlotte Gore said…
Is this your way of revealing your identity? :)
Newmania said…
I have always enjoyed your stuff about foreigners and their funny ways , you have a talent for large subjects .
On this country you seem to live in a world of your own invention and almost always miss the point , perhaps its partisan thing

(BTW for the record I am not a rabid Libertarian but I found your banale post about the smoking bann sinister infuriating ill informed and everything about the Lib Dems that I loathe )
Cicero said…
Being patronised by you, Newmania is a reminder for me of just how breathtakingly ignorant the truly arrogant actually are...
Newmania said…
Being patronised by you, Newmania is a reminder for me of just how breathtakingly ignorant the truly arrogant actually are...

Yes , not bad ,but if you are going to attempt heroic irony ,I recommend a lighter touch in future . Keep it playful bantering and even the coquettish can be risked . You see someone might otherwise suspect you were actually unaware of how funny you were being (and that would be awful )

Popular posts from this blog

Concert and Blues

Tallinn is full tonight... Big concerts on at the Song field The Weeknd and Bonnie Tyler (!). The place is buzzing and some sixty thousand concert goers have booked every bed for thirty miles around Tallinn. It should be a busy high summer, but it isn´t. Tourism is down sharply overall. Only 70 cruise ships calling this season, versus over 300 before Ukraine. Since no one goes to St Pete, demand has fallen, and of course people think that Estonia is not safe. We are tired. The economy is still under big pressure, and the fall of tourism is a significant part of that. The credit rating for Estonia has been downgraded as the government struggles with spending. The summer has been a little gloomy, and soon the long and slow autumn will drift into the dark of the year. Yesterday I met with more refugees: the usual horrible stories, the usual tears. I try to make myself immune, but I can´t. These people are wounded in spirit, carrying their grief in a terrible cradling. I try to project hop

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo

KamiKwasi brings an end to the illusion of Tory economic competence

After a long time, Politics seems to be getting interesting again, so I thought it might be time to restart my blog. With regard to this weeks mini budget, as with all budgets, there are two aspects: the economic and the political. The economic rationale for this package is questionable at best. The problems of the UK economy are structural. Productivity and investment are weak, infrastructure is under-invested and decaying. Small businesses are going to the wall and despite entrepreneurship being relatively strong in Britain, self-employment is increasingly unattractive. Red tape since Brexit has led to a significant fall in exports and the damage has been disproportionately on small businesses. Literally none of these problems are being addressed by this package. Even if the package were to stimulate some kind of short term consumption-led growth boom, this is unlikely to be sustainable, not least because what is being added on the fiscal side will be need to be offset, to a great de