Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Financial Times is no longer a credible witness

The Financial Times has seen fit to publish an article which appears to be a re-spinning of public relations from the fund analysts industry.  Analysts are basically part of the marketing function of financial institutions, i.e. low-level salesmen.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d3b5d766-dbbb-11e5-a72f-1e7744c66818.html#axzz41N2z4xli

In trade, Brexit will certainly trigger a struggle between EU members and the UK, but no more than would normally have happened anyway.  Troublemakers will find that Brexit triggers far few opportunities than they might have initially thought.  The FT should know this, so why scaremonger?

International insurance law centers on London because it is the most convenient legal system to use, and replacing it would cost more than any benefit the change would cause.  Insurers are a major customer of fund managers.  The FT should know this, so why scaremonger?

The FT writes:

In the worst-case scenario, UK-based fund managers could be stripped of access to EU investors “overnight”, according to a senior regulatory expert who asked to remain anonymous.

What a load of bullshit!  EU investors need liquidity (free-flowing cash) even more so when idiot European regulators ban liquidity measures (such as short-selling).  The 'source' is clearly illiterate in basic economics and finance (no surprise there, then).  No wonder the 'source' remained anonymous, assuming there is a genuine source at all.  The FT should know better, so why scaremonger?

Why would a Brexit be a "shock" to the global economy?

The BBC has reported that the G20 group of governments thinks that a Brexit would "shock" to the global economy.

UK Chancellor George Obsorne reportedly said:
"The financial leaders of the world's biggest countries have given their unanimous verdict and they say that a British exit from the EU would be a shock to the world economy - and if it's a shock to the world economy imagine what it would do to Britain."
It turns out that the BBC has spun the story to favour UKGov.

In fact, other sources report a more-likely-accurate story in which UKGov wanted the G20 to express an opinion on a Brexit (articles from Bloomberg, FT, Fortune, Reuters).  On the first draft of a G20 press release/communique, the G20 allegedly had made no such comment.

I'll guess that the G20 can't see the relevant of Brexit to the G20, because UKGov's membership of the European Union has zero bearing on UKGov's membership of the G20.  On balance, it seems to me that the G20 has as much bearing on UKGov policy as the European Union does, except that membership of the European Union deprives UKGov of useful and competent policy choices when adapting to changing world circumstances (because, when in the EU, UKGov has to toe the EU's line: let's sink in solidarity, and all that).

That UKGov saw fit to hijack the G20's draft communiqué to whitter on about something irrelevant to the G20 is quite embarrassing.

The BBC did its best to underplay the main story, which is one of attempted deceit/whitewashing, reporting obliquely that:
Asked if he [Chancellor Osborne] or his officials had asked for the warning [the "shock"] to be included in the statement, the chancellor said: "We've got countries around the table like the United States of America, like the IMF, like the Chinese who frankly don't do what anyone tells them to do... "
Exactly.  So why should we want to be different to the USA or China?  Why should we willingly deprive ourselves of opportunities arising from the outside world, or sabotage our own defence against threats arising from the outside world?  Clumping together with the EU like scared sheep is a dangerous choice and a disingenuous, counter-productive defence: when the EU gets it wrong, the UK has no residual policy defence.

As for the ridiculous non-claim that a Brexit would be a "shock", so what?  Nationalising corrupt banks was more of a shock, one which taxpayers in the Western world shall be re-paying for generations to come.  Allowing monetary authorities to maintain 0% interest rates, protected from democratic scrutiny and accountability was initially a shock, to which governments have become addicted (largely because it helpfully launders resources from poor savers to rich borrowers).

Thursday, 25 February 2016

David Cameron's statement of 19 February 2016

I watched David Cameron's statement broadcast by both Euronews and the BBC live on 19 February 2016 ~11pm GMT.

My overall impression is that UKGov's position is incredible and that the other 27 governments' position is doubtful.  I don't feel that I can trust any of them!

Competitiveness

Regarding competitiveness, Cameron said:
For the first time, the European Union will now say competitiveness is – and I quote – “an essential objective of the Union.” 
This is important because it goes to the very heart of what Europe should be about. 
It means Europe will complete the single market in services.

Hold on: this is the notion of the Common Market.  So if this single market is a new "win" for Britain, what was the Common Market that we voted on in 1976?

Who expects us to believe that 40 years - forty years! - after the public's approval of a Common Market that finally we're going to get a Common Market?

In my own job, I yearn for a single market in services.  But every European subsidiary I run has to report to its own European state.  And although the rules are similar, they are different.  And they all need to done in their own local language.  And they all need a local fiscal representative (in some way shape or form).  And most of them need paper books and paper records (like, this is still 18th century, right?).  But governmental parochialism, protection of 'culture' and each country's legal trade and so-called 'sovereignty' appear to be vested interests that block a single market in services from developing.

If either Common Market or Single Market ever had any credibility, we'd have had a single market in services decades ago.

Migration

Regarding migration, Cameron said:

New powers against criminals from other countries – including powers to stop them coming here in the first place, and powers to deport them if they are already here.
And an end to the ridiculous situation where EU nationals can avoid British immigration rules when bringing their families from outside the EU.

This is plain simple common sense.  I would have assumed this was understood long before accession in 1972.  It beggars belief that UKGov signed up to a "trading agreement" in 1972 without checking these sorts of basics.

Why did UKGov choose to sign treaties before 1972 that exposed the UK to these risks?

In what other matters has UKGov compromised UK security by carelessness in reading, understanding and implementing EU-related treaties?

Powers for the UK Parliament

Regarding sovereignty, Cameron said:

Ever since we joined, Europe has been on the path to something called ‘ever closer union’.
It means a political union.
We’ve never liked it. We’ve never wanted it.

Why did the Foreign Office choose not spot this in the acquis communautaire pre-1972?

The founders of the European project - Monnet and Salter - were comparatively open about their respective visions between 1945 and 1970.  How did no-body in UKGov pick up on this?

Why did no-body in UKGov become suspicious when the French government changed its mind about UKGov's application to join?

Can the British trust UKGov to run the country post-Brexit better than it did in 1960s/1970s?

Cameron hints at the answer to that last question.  He said:
So in addition to these changes, I will shortly be bringing forward further proposals that we can take as country, unilaterally, to strengthen the sovereignty of Britain’s great institutions.
Much as I would love the UK to adapt to the world more slickly than it does at present (i.e. toeing the sclerotic line within the European Union), past evidence suggests that the UK is pretty hopeless at forming a useful strategy for anything.  It's called "disjointed incrementalism", an exercise of serial expediency instead of sustained, joined-up rational thought.

This means that if the British want to leave, they would need to have confidence in its institutions to do the right thing, on the right evidence, at the right time and in the right timescale, time after time after time.  On the other hand, if the British want to stay, then it would imply that the British have greater confidence in European governance than British governance, in which case ruling out participation in ever closer union is, at best, premature.  Neither of these choices, nor the low quality of public policy choices within the current competence of the UK Parliament, appear to be within the mindset of the average voter.  Yet they desperately need to be for the referendum of 23 June 2016 to have any credibility.

Referendum or referenda?

Cameron said:
This will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the destiny of our country.
If the British vote to "stay" on 23 June 2016, then how else can the British protect themselves from unapproved changes - or general sabotage of the draft agreement - by the European Parliament and the European Court without a second referendum in June 2017?

The risk of back-door sabotage-by-ideology seems high.

Here is my preferred question for the referendum of June 2017.
The European Union has had one year in which to implement your decision to "stay" in June 2016.  Considering the European Union's progress, do you want the United Kingdom to a) stay in the European Union; or b) leave the European Union?

A final cynical thought

I do hope the end result of this referendum for both Labour and Conservative Parties is worth our valuable resources that Cameron has committed to throw at it.



Who else is blogging?

As at 25 February 2016, there are quite a few other blogs out there already (many of which look to be in full flow).

For the leavers:



For the stayers:




Other blogs consider how Brexit impacts their core issues, for example:




This list comes from only 30 minutes of Googling and speed-reading.  I'm sure there's loads more.

There's a lot of passion out there, and these guys look like they have a lot of time on their hands.

Brevity seems to be the gap in this particular market.  There is a huge supply of lyrical waxing!


Why start this blog?

For years, I've never really seen the point of blogs.  Who reads them?  Who has the time to read them?  Within the zigabytes of data on the internet, who knows where even to start looking for them?!

I guess I'll find out.

Amidst:

  • long-term economic crookery (0% interest rates, unjustifiable taxpayer-funded bail-outs of banks, politically-motivated currency zones, widespread deflation followed by inflation followed by stagflation);
  • corruption in policy formation (deliberately choosing policy based on ideology, away from the provable facts);
  • a largely uninformed electoral base (take, for example, opinions about the immigration issue apparently with no connection to demographics and the government's tax base);
  • global warming (oh yeah, that);
... you'd have thought that there would be other things to worry about than Brexit.

During Prime Minister Cameron's negotiations with leader of the other 27 member governments of the European Union ending on Friday 19 February 2016, the mainstream British media reported all sorts of opinions arising from all sorts of quarters.  Crucially, however, the mainstream media tends not to prove the credibility of opinion-givers as thoroughly as they should before giving them airtime.  And those who claim "authority" (or are presented as such) actually end up talking mindless drivel.

Meanwhile, as part of their core grassroots campaign, both "stayers" and "leavers" seem set to create as much fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of the voter.

Yet, this vote potentially matters.  At one level, the European Union is merely a club of governments who seek to co-ordinate their policy choices in order to widen the scope of trade within Europe and therefore conserve some sort of tax base to run their public services.  However, at another level, the European Union is a rigid control structure designed to justify national governments ignoring their own electorates.

So this blog is going to be my reaction to some of the news and opinions that arise from time to time.

I wasn't going to bother.  But since 19 February 2016, I have been both astonished and depressed by the speed with which particular ideological quarters have rushed to the media with their blithering stupidity.  I'd love to believe that the silent majority of us voters have brains, but the medias' vox pop that I've seen have depressed me even more.  So it's time to set out de-constructing some of the bullshit that some opinion-givers want to give.

My views aren't authoritative.  They might not even be factually correct.  But as I have a vote, I need to be convinced.