Monday, 13 June 2016

similarities between the Civil War and the Referendum debate

The Referendum debate of 2016 is, I imagine, much like the King versus Parliament debate of 1642. Families are divided, not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives. Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris, writes that her husband Ivo -one of my best friends at prep school -spits about 'Outers' like me and his brother -in -law. As we get nearer the day of voting so tempers are rising and it takes little imagination to see how, not so long ago, this issue could have ended up being decided on the battlefield and not by the ballot box.

But it is not just in the way Europe has split families (luckily all my children sensibly agree with their parents) that has similarities with the 1640.  Geographically the country looks like voting in a fashion which is almost a mirror image of how England ended up divided in 1642. Draw a line from the Tees estuary in the North East to the mouth of the river Ex in Devon, everything to the left of that line and above it is called the Highland Zone  and , by and large, declared for the King everything to the right of that line is the Lowland Zone and, by and large, declared for Parliament. Opinion Polls strongly suggest that on June 23rd this voting pattern will be repeated with the Highland Zone voting Out and Lowland zone voting In.

This time though it is looking like we in the Highland Zone have a good chance of winning and revenging our defeat on preaching hand wringing Puritan hypocrites of the 1640's who, sadly are still alive and well and seemingly inhabiting Rachel,s cosy 'right on' Notting Hill Gate household.  

Sunday, 5 June 2016

the BIG Short by Michale Lewis

I've just spent two days gripped by this great book on the economic crash of 2008. Boggled by the sheer arrogant stupidity of the Great & Bad of Wall Street as they staked the whole financial system of the USA on one mammoth bet on house prices and how a few mavericks made a fortune betting against them

Putting the book down and lying back in my bed I began to wonder what was the current equivalent financial madness.  I've long been a bear of London house prices but although they may be over valued by 40/50% that's not in quite the same leagues table as the US mortgage backed securities which went from being worth 100cents in the dollar to being worth zero.  No the biggest bubble I think is the Contemporary Art Market.

The annual report of the European Fine Art Fair estimated that the total value of the art market in 2015 was $63.8 billion. This is a boggling amount of money especially as most of it couldn't be called 'Fine' by any stretch of the imagination. . Whose buying?  Well need you really ask? Quite a lot of the buyers are the same idiots who nearly bankrupted the World economy in 2008 -bankers.  Today we laugh at the stupidity of the Dutch three hundred and fifty years manically investing in tulips and bidding them up to ridiculous heights. Future generations will I am sure view the Contemporary Art boom in the same light.