Mint - Blain’s Morning Porridge
The market is apparently trading higher today because of veiled hints we might get US tax reform – I thought we’d been promised that months ago?
Top of Monday’s threat board is France. It’s the double binary Non election on Sunday. I have a gut feel only in the unlikely event of Fillon getting through to the second round is there a chance of any long-term upside for France. If he does, then it’s a buy! Otherwise, the likely outcome is OATS still snap tighter in two weeks time when the compromised Macron wins the booby prize of a coalition government for an ungovernable country without any discernible ideas on how to improve it.
The shocker will be if Le Pen does better than expected. Last night’s Paris outrage plays into her game. If it sounds like the worst thing will be Le Pen versus JLM in the final - then redefine your idea of very bad indeed. What is worrying is I am being told the big data alchemists/manipulators think Le Pen is not only a shoo-in for the second round, but will actually win the presidency.
Tush and nonsense...surely? Er...that’s as daft as the Americans electing a buffoon like Trump or the UK voting to leave Europe. The reality is voters have learnt to hide embarrassing voting intentions from pollsters, and give vent to them in the privacy of the poll booth.
Why? I guess that is “populism” in action. It’s like sticky toffee pudding: you know it's wrong, but you can’t help yourself. I read a very interesting commentary yesterday comparing the current populist movements to what George Bernard Shaw termed the “magic idealism” surrounding communism (and dare I say fascism) in the 1930s.
People believed because they desperately want to believe in something. Ultimately, neither economic philosophy worked particularly well. The reality is questions of global economic growth, the standard of living and improving health, education, opportunities and equality are very difficult. They aren’t going to be solved by narcissistic politicians focused on climbing their greasy pole and surviving the next election before going off to make loads of money. They need saner and dedicated minds – which we used to produce in spades.
Which brings me round to our limited choices in the UK elections?
Regular readers will know I am afflicted with that common Scottish genetic condition making me unable to vote Conservative; 80% of Scots carry the gene. If carriers vote Tory, we burst out in festering plooks before spontaneously combusting.
My Mum (happy birthday to her!) doesn’t have the Blain genome. She dragged herself up and out from the worst circle of hell on Earth (we call it Glasgow), and now plays the close-to-Morningside-Lady almost to perfection. She has been known to vote Tory on occasion – particularly since the Scottish National Party got too big for its boots. Last time she voted Blue it put my Dad in hospital.
But what do I do when it comes to the UK election? Is it acceptable to vote for idiots or shysters? That’s pretty much my view on many of the mediocrities that pass for politicians these days. Shouty, desperate, and big on promises, less convincing on delivery prospects.
It would seem one half of the Labour party is completely self-engrossed with how to chuck Jeremy out in time for next election in 2022, while the other is trying to ensure he is still there in 2022. Meanwhile, the small cadre in a smoke-filled room (which is required by law for any socialist revolution) is planning to sell the party to the highest bidding demagogue from the Unions – I’m wondering if Bolshevik is Russian for “Momentum”?
Back in 1983 I had the pleasure of canvassing around Edinburgh student residencies with Alasdair Darling propping up the “Longest Suicide Note in History” manifesto. It was awful, the worst ever until 2017 (Selling Labour policies in the early 1980s was great training for some of the deals I sold when I became an investment banker.)
Should I give my vote to run the country to people so patently unqualified, who are mired in self-absorbed internal dispute, have no idea how to even start identifying the problems, or are just too wrapped up in meaningless self-righteousness around their own little issues to make any kind of sense? Probably not. (That pretty much sums up the Greens, UKIP and all the other nutters.)
And I really can’t see myself voting Liberal. They are lovely nice people...but would you want them whinging away at a dinner party? I’m afraid they are just absolutely wrong – utterly wrong – about absolutely everything. (I’ve taken out the swear words from the original draft of that sentence.) And if they demand I repent of Brexit one more time then I’m afraid I shall have to punch them with vigour. Move on and get over it.
And don’t get me started about the SNP. They are absolutely brilliant. Nobody is so absolutely ******** brilliant as they are at making a very bad situation much much worse. It's a shame they don’t have the same energy to sort out Scottish education or services like the police and health. Their grasp of economics and budgets is...thin. That’s not what they are there for. They have objectives and ambitions. “Freedom” to completely and utterly screw up their country in the name of independence. Their motto should be “We had to destroy the country in order to save it”.
But, they do have the electoral advantage that they can blame everything they’ve broken in the Scottish economy on the faitherless English: “Wisnae me – it was yon wee English lassie wot did it..” “SNP-voting Scottish electorate” is another way of saying “gullible”.
And then there are the Tories who have the somewhat redeeming grace of having shipped off the Eton Yoiks and Toffs, and do seem to be demonstrating a veneer of sanity. But...I just can't… no way.
Should I buy an asbestos suit for June 8?
Have a great weekend..
Fastnet Race Charity: http://www.sail4cancer.org/fastnet-2017-bill-blain
Head of Capital Markets/Alternative Assets