TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 7th August 2014
“When I have heard Small talk about great men
I climb to bed; light my two candles; then
Consider what was said; and put aside
What such-a-one remarked and someone-else replied.
They have spoken lightly of my deathless friends,
(Lamps for my gloom, hands guiding where I stumble,)
Quoting, for shallow conversational ends,
What Shelley shrilled, what Blake once wildly muttered…
How can they use such names and be not humble?
I have sat silent; angry at what they uttered.
The dead bequeathed them life; the dead have said
What these can only memorize and mumble.”
Siegfried Sassoon – soldier & poet – 1890-1918
When it comes to prose and rhetoric, Boris Johnson is an absolute joy. Who else could refer to the EU bureaucracy as a tool used to fur the arteries to the point of sclerosis?
Boris Johnson praised Brussels as a “force for stability and economic integration” after the Second World War. However the praise abruptly terminated there, The EU was now suffering from a “crisis of economic under-performance, and a related collapse of political trust.” Despite talk of a corner being turned, he highlighted huge youth unemployment across much of the continent – putting the blame squarely on the troubled euro project. He was vehement in stating that J-C Juncker and Federalism was not in the UK’s DNA and that the EU parliament’s response to the huge success of minority parties of – “We understand” – was wholly inadequate and an insult to their intelligence.
In the past month I have been privileged to see the three best plays performed in London in the last decade – “Fathers & Sons” at the Donmar, “Wolf Hall” at the RSC and last night David Hare’s “Skylight” at the Wyndham’s with Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in the leading roles.
This play is a typical Hare ‘kitchen sink’ drama with all the grubbiness that life can muster together. Skylight is about schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Mulligan) who receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Nighy). He is a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died, and as the evening progresses, the two attempts to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires.
Carey Mulligan has all the attributes – beauty, fabulous speaking voice, great stage presence, warmth and sorrow. She is potentially greatness in the making. Nighy is just seedy. You dislike him from the moment he walks on to the stage – Just the sort of bloke you would not want your daughter within 100 miles of! He portrays the part to perfection – hateful; a person one would have little empathy with!
Now that it looks as if, regardless of “In or OUT” conclusion to the Independence referendum, that Scotland will have complete financial autonomy. That begs a question. Surely no Scottish MP should be allowed to vote on any issues involving the rest of the Union. I suspect that ‘hell has a better chance of freezing over’ than that ideology being adopted, but that legislation would only be fair!
The mood of the market has not improved since my lack-lustre comments yesterday. Germany posted dire Factory orders last month – -4.3%. Ta Uncle Vlad! Italy dropped back in to recession – growth -0.2% and this morning German industrial production of 0.3% was short of market expectations. …And so the seeds of doubt become more visual. It did not take long before reprisals were introduced by Moscow in response to sanctions. Putin has banned all food imports from the US and fruit & veg from Europe.
Hey-ho! Whilst I accept that we cannot allow a playground bully to behave like a tyrant, no one should whinge if the world’s economy takes two steps backwards. The dispiriting economic domino effect waits in the wings. The problem is that the earnings season is virtually over. Apart from Alibaba, which could be withdrawn due to adverse market conditions, IPOS are likely to go somnolent. People keep telling me that the US economy is on fire! But will that news in isolation be enough to call a halt to the slide in stock market values? I have my doubts. The rest of the economic data looks very unappetising to me. The UK has done brilliantly in the last 6 months. Have we seen the best of UK’S growth for the time being? The UK’s reliance on Europe could well be called in to question with adverse reactions to its economic performance.
Mark Carney, the Governor of the BOE welcomes two new MPC members today – Nemat Shafik and Kristin Forbes. Regardless of the appointment of these luminaries, the MPC is left with its continuing conundrum. Whilst the UK economy continues to perform well, there is still some slack in the economy, no visible wage increases and the declining threat of a property bubble. With the EU economy having a great stab of falling around its ears, Mr Carney’s committee will surely be in no hurry to jack rates up in the foreseeable future in the current uncertain climate. Even a symbolic rise of 0.25% in November is far from a “nailed on certainty!”
Today’s ECB Meeting will be a total waste of space, offering zippo in terms of policy. Europe never does anything in August, except holiday, eat, drink & doze! Any thoughts on QE from Mario Draghi can probably whistle until next month.
The Street of Dreams did well yesterday to tread water – still the Hamptons beckoned rather that a Wall Street awash with inertia. After talks with T-Mobile were terminated Sprint’s share price fell out of bed – -19%. So did Time Warner’s after Uncle RU pulled the plug – -10%! Molson Coors and Kellogg are put in decent performances with the latter about to agree to buy McVitie’s & Penguin biscuits for $2 billion. Bank of America may be about to agree a $16.5 billion fine for miss-selling bonds pre sub-prime crisis.
Asia seemed to be suffering from a metaphorical dose of the ‘pip!’ The NIKKEI rallied by 0.8% in the last 2 hours to close up 0.5%. The other indices, suffering from acute doses of Putin and sanctions were probably going to close below the Plimsoll line. At 8.40am the FTSE 100 was down 20 points. Volumes are derisory. Aviva’s and Rio efforts from results were seen as decent. Old Mutual was slightly disappointing and RSA looked very messy, with CEO Stephen Hester needing to put some meat on the bone for the analysts.
These are David Buik personal views
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