There’s an old Red Indian, or perhaps I should say Native American, proverb which states that if you find yourself mounted on a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
It is with this approach in mind that I have decided to cease commenting on the economy, climate change, the Eurozone and the EU. I am not planning any more blog posts or any more appearances on news media on these subjects.
It’s not that there isn’t plenty to comment on or that I don’t have lots of views, but rather that I have concluded that the exercise is futile. The process of commentary has become too politicised, too few people want to be told the truth, whilst much of the media has become totally unfit for purpose yet they are still believed.
I have been heading towards this conclusion for a while, but a few recent examples may serve to illustrate why I have decided to withdraw:
I have commented before on my blog that the IMF is no longer an organisation which is fit for purpose or can be trusted. Under Christine Lagarde the IMF has become an instrument of French policy. Has anyone ever wondered why there have been a disproportionate number of French Managing Directors
of the IMF?
The Financial Times recently had as its “splash” headline the revelation that a senior Chinese auditor has said that Chinese local authority debt is ‘out of control’. This is indeed big news. However, in
another article on the same front page it quotes Olivier Blanchard (let me have a wild guess as to his nationality), the IMF’s chief economist, as saying that the UK government needs to consider reversing or softening its so-called austerity drive.
Apart from missing the point that there hasn’t actually been any austerity in the form of overall spending cuts yet, I find hard to fathom why the FT does not see fit to comment about:
1. The apparent contrast between what the Chinese official is saying and the course of action Monsieur Blanchard is advocating;
2. That in the full article on this IMF’s World Economic Outlook report on page 8 of the paper there is a table from the IMF showing that the UK economy is still forecast to perform better than the Eurozone; and
3. That the IMF far from acting like the world’s central bank by promoting financial stability and sustainable economic growth, which are unsurprisingly amongst its stated objectives, is now advocating continuance of the same policies which caused the current crisis.
It is a strange world in which the world’s central bank acts advocates that governments act with all the financial rectitude of a drunken sailor on shore leave and the world’s leading financial newspaper offers no comment. I thought its slogan was “No FT, no comment”.
I was out of the UK for a couple of weeks recently, but whilst I was away I note that Lord Mandelson has ‘become a key strategist’ for a pro EU movement called British Influence which intends to hold what it terms ‘the Dirty 20’ Eurosceptic politicians to account ahead of the proposed EU membership referendum. As the press noted the group’s strategy ‘bears many of his [Mandelson’s] hallmarks.’
As Nigel Farage of UKIP pointed out this is classic Mandelson strategy: play the man not the ball. Note that the strategy is not to engage in debate with the Eurosceptics about the merits or demerits of EU
But then it must be hard for people like Mandelson and other vociferous supporters of the EU such as Ken Clarke, Richard Branson and others to engage in such debate given that they were also vociferous supporters of the UK joining the Euro which would clearly have been an unmitigated disaster as it is been for all the peripheral countries.
Somehow this lack of credibility goes unremarked and so does not lead them to shamefully withdraw from the debate. It merely seems to encourage more dirty tricks to which they resort because of their lack of substantive arguments, tactics which are tolerated by the pro EU media. It reminds me of the question: “Why do people take an instant dislike to Peter Mandelson? Answer: It saves a lot of time.”
It seems not to have dawned upon the left wing supporters of the EU who admire its anti democratic tendencies, the imposition of suffocating regulation and EU desire for a large and interventionist government that their side has been hijacked by those who are in fact their natural enemies. Whereas in the 1975 EU referendum, Tony Benn and Denis Healey were prominent members of the anti EU camp, many in the pro EU camp seem not to have spotted that they are now marching side by side with Tony Bliar (not a misspelling), Peter “the Prince of Darkness” Mandelson, and the knighted bosses of some of the FTSE 100 and some of Britain’s largest private companies. Perhaps they should reflect on why that is and whether they are comfortable given the notion that you can judge a person by the company they keep.
I have long been a sceptic of the quasi religious belief that there is man-made global warming and more particularly that many or any of the measures such as carbon trading, wind farms, solar energy or electric cars would be of any efficacy if there was or in many cases are any more than an outright fraud. I have come in for some vituperative comment and action from “Warmists” for this stance, even though I have never said that I don’t think there is climate change, but that I would like some unadulterated evidence a) that it exists; and b) that it is man-made, and if that is provided, some
suggestions for dealing with it which might work rather than simply lining the
pockets of those who exploit this.
The media on climate change is so biased it would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the subject and the waste of scarce resources on cons which pose as solutions are quite serious.
Then I read things like this: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/16/us-climate-slowdown-idUSBRE93F0AJ20130416%20
Compare and contrast the massive coverage for the self confessed scaremongering of the climate change lobby with the low key coverage of findings such as this i.e. that there has been no significant increase in temperature this century and the Northern Hemisphere experienced unusually cold weather this winter. Snow cover last December was the greatest since satellite monitoring began in 1966. The United Kingdom had the coldest March weather in 50 years, and there were more than a thousand record low temperatures in the United States. The Irish meteorological office reported
that March "temperatures were the lowest on record nearly everywhere." Spring snowfall in Europe was also high. In Moscow, the snow depth was the highest in 134 years of observation. In Kiev, authorities had to bring in military vehicles to clear snow from the streets.
The Associated Press has assured us, though, that this cold spell is not only consistent with a warming globe, it is actually caused by global warming. National Geographic News informed us that "global warming is the main culprit behind this month's eastern U.S. snowstorms. The proffered explanation is that cold weather in Europe is a result of melting sea ice in the Arctic. If this special pleading strikes you as unusually tendentious, it is all in the best tradition of explaining away ex post facto any weather event that appears to contradict the global warming religious beliefs.
In 2000, British climate researcher and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor David Viner told the Independent that "within a few years, winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event." Sadly, he predicted, "children just aren't going to know what snow is." In 2008, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled."
Of course, faced with the evident lack of any actual global warming, the flying circus has begun to shift its ground to claim that what it really meant was that there would be increased extreme weather events. But not only has there been no increase in mean global temperature for 15 years, drought is not increasing, tornadoes are not increasing in frequency or intensity. Routine hurricanes such as Sandy and Katrina have been offered as evidence of climate change, but worldwide hurricane activity is near a 40-year low.
And this absence of evidence of the predicted dire consequences is not limited to weather. Over the
past 20 years, sea levels have risen by about five centimeters - an ominous trend unless you're aware that since the end of the last Ice Age, global sea level has risen 120 meters. At the end of March, the areal extent of sea ice in the Arctic was 3 percent below the 30-year average. Sea ice in the Antarctic, however, was elevated 24 percent. Global sea ice was above the 30-year mean and higher than it was in March 1980. Yet a study published in Nature Geoscience on March 31 concluded that the increase of Antarctic sea ice is caused by you guessed it global warming.
With each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that global warming is not a scientific theory but a political ideology or religious belief that has to be fiercely defended against any challenge and whose risible claims and contorted “explanations” are parroted by a media which has made its mind up before viewing any of the facts. Why would I waste my time arguing with people who had long since decided their beliefs?
During Baroness Thatcher’s funeral I had one of those increasingly frequent moments in which I had to switch the TV off as the alternative would have been the need to purchase a replacement after I had put my foot through it. As a result though I can’t tell you the name of the woman who was being interviewed on the BBC who said that the Big Bang reforms under Mrs Thatcher were to blame for the financial crisis as they had allowed risky behaviour by financial institutions.
I don’t think it’s easy to find a more outspoken critic of some of the behaviour and structure of the financial services sector from a person working in it than me. My Tacitus lecture last year had as its title “is Occupy right?” But it is patently nonsense to suggest that the Big Bang reforms or indeed any of the many faults in the financial services sector was the fundamental cause of the current crisis. It was a collective desire to borrow and spend way beyond our means, which persist to this day. Rather the banks and others were simply instruments enabling us to do so. Still I suppose acknowledgement of that would require a) some acquaintance with the facts; and b) a willingness to confront an unpleasant reality.
You probably won’t recall that I wrote on my blog that Western support for the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime might be misguided because Assad may be a bad man but his opponents are much worse.
Well a couple of weeks ago one of the Syrian anti-Assad groups pledged allegiance to Al Quaeda. Now a couple of Syrian Christian bishops have been kidnapped by one of the rebel groups. A BBC correspondent reported an interview he conducted with a Salafist Jordanian who recruits jihadis to fight in Syria (in case you didn't know the Salafis are a kind of hard-core Wahabi Muslim group who make the Muslim Brotherhood look moderate). He said that the Assads were only the first stage, and that after they were done with them they would go after Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
So as predicted, the Syrian "pro-democracy movement" now has a nakedly sectarian group in its vanguard whose primary aim is to ethnically cleanse the Shiites, Alawites and Christians from the Levant. Ironically, in so doing it will help the US and Israel by getting rid of Israel's most effective opponent in the area (Hezbollah).
Sadly, my uncomfortable and unconventional prediction has turned out to be the correct one.
So faced with this level of ignorance, indifference and prejudice I have decided to bow out for now. I have faced threats from banks over my views about the need to reform the banking sector, withdrawal of monies from my fund over my views on climate change, a FTSE100 CEO advising an entrepreneur not to invest in my fund because I disagree with him about the EU, and calls from individuals at fund management groups to become more involved in the EU debate whilst their colleagues at the same group castigate me over my outside interests.
I will be concentrating on my businesses and personal interests. I wish you all well and thank you for reading and participating in my blog. I hope that my views about what will happen are wrong, but sadly I doubt it.