Stopped clocks, inexplicable reports, increasing tax and failures such as Brexit and shrinking willies

4 April 2021

After his husband David died, the Revd broadcaster Richard Coles’ clock stopped.  This wasn’t due to any magical connection, or even coincidence, it was just an old grandfather clock with an intricate winding mechanism that only David knew how to operate.

However, there have been cases when clocks stopped when somebody died, not all of them linked to the song that was popular on the radio in the 1950s but was written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work (and is, incidentally, believed to be why longcase clocks became known as ‘grandfather clocks’).

During World War II, my wife’s father commanded one of the destroyers that accompanied and protected convoys of merchant ships across the Atlantic (Nicholas Montsarrat’s 1951 novel ‘The Cruel Sea’ is supposed to portray a horribly accurate idea of what conditions were like on these convoys).  When he was off watch one night and sleeping, he woke suddenly for no obvious reason and, at the end of the watch, he found his clock had stopped at the time he woke.  He later heard that his brother, who was in the RAF, had been killed at that exact time on a flight over Germany.

While the link between a clockwork mechanism and a human life seems rather unlikely, I still side with Hamlet when he chided Horatio for doubting that he’d seen his father’s ghost and I have no problems with telepathy, or at least some currently inexplicable link between two different minds in different places.

Thinking of mind-expanding experiences, I noticed New York has legalised marijuana for recreational use “to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition” (as one American lawmaker said).  Legalising dope could also, quite coincidentally of course, be worth an estimated $4bn to the state, some $350m of which would go into state funds.  It would also, one hopes, reduce the need for stoners to find street dealers and perhaps drug gangleaders will lose some power as a result.  It would be interesting to know how the weedmeisters’ activities have been affected in, say, Colorado where it’s been legal since 2014.

This was a week of inexplicable reports, not all published on 1 April, one of which claimed that somebody’s trying to set up a charity to raise £1m for a Brexit museum.  Why do we need one?  We’ve already got the London Dungeon.

Another was that Denise Coates, the CEO of Bet365 paid herself almost half a billion pounds last year in salary and dividends.  Bet365 is a company that spends money trying to encourage people to get addicted to a potentially lethal habit.  If other addictive and potentially lethal recreational habits such as nicotine can’t be advertised on television, why can betting?

Abigail Disney (a granddaughter) is a member of The Patriotic Millionaires, set up in 2010 by a group of the super-rich who believe that they should pay higher taxes to fund public services and welfare and to tackle growing inequality.  It has since grown to an international organisation with more than 200 members who are proud to describe themselves as “traitors to their class” and share a concern about the “destabilising concentration of wealth and power”.

In Britain, six billionaires have signed up so far and have expressed their shock that, according to the Office for National Statistics, the richest 1% of Brits hold almost a quarter of the nation’s wealth while 2.5 million Londoners are classified as living in poverty.  One of the members of this club is Gemma McGough who made millions from the sale of a wireless technology start-up.  She thinks the top rate of tax should be as high as 75% to help contribute to the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic incurred by the government and says she’s happy to pay her share.  “If you’re earning £200,000, paying a higher rate of tax on earnings above that is not going to make you poor, is it?”

(What odds do you think Bet365 would give me on Coates not being a member of the club?)

US Senator Elizabeth Warren was proposing an annual wealth tax of just 2% on people with more than $50m, which would have raised $4tn, but has now added a higher rate of 3% on those with more than $1bn, targeting people who have been made richer by the pandemic and pointing out that the top 0.1% (that’s one in every thousand people) pay a lower effective tax rate than the bottom 99% (that’s 990 in every thousand people).  I wonder if it will become law …

Since the rabid chickens of Brexit are already coming home to roost, let’s have a UK referendum on higher taxes for the very wealthy so that no government or party has to take the blame.

In June, it’ll be 5 years since the UK voted to leave the EU and, on 29 March this year (!), the Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy wrote to all UK companies to say (inter alia) “the Government’s decision to delay the implementation of full border control processes by six months … will provide time to prepare for changes at the border and minimise trade disruption”.  It also admits “Completing a customs declaration can take time, so do consider using a customs intermediary to deal with importing and exporting on your behalf” but I couldn’t find the bit where it says the government will provide the services of such intermediaries free as an admission of its culpability for failing to negotiate a deal four years earlier that would have allowed everyone to prepare for the change.

And two updates on other failures:

  • On 7 March, I mentioned the unfortunate test flights of Elon Musk’s SpaceX prototypes.  This week, Starship SN11 followed the precedent set by the previous three launches when it “experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly” or, in English, it exploded in mid-air.  Musk still anticipates launching the Dragon capsule with people on board in the autumn.
  • You may also remember that, in mid-2019, the investment fund manager Neil Woodford’s luck ran out and more than 300,000 investors in his funds lost most of their money while he kept the £63m he’d trousered as he ran the funds into the ground.  Well, he’s trying to crawl back into the market, announcing last month that he was planning to set up a new business based in Jersey.  What a pity he hadn’t mentioned this to Jersey’s financial regulator who seemed rather less than enthusiastic about the idea.

The good news is that some 2017 research by Professor Shanna Swan of the Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City showed that, as a result of chemicals used in plastics affecting sex hormones, the average sperm count of an Alt-Right male has more than halved in the previous 40 years, their dangly bits have shrunk, Alt-Right females libidos have decreased and their risk of premature ovarian failure, miscarriage and premature birth have increased in the same period.

Actually of course, as you will have guessed, Swan’s findings applied to all western men and women, not just Alt-Right people, but let’s look on the bright side.

Climate change, US impeachment, nominative determinism, where the money goes

14 February 2021

No response from Chuck Schumer yet, not even an acknowledgement. 

At least the White House replied when I was emailing the last president even though they sent an identical reply to my first two (different) emails.

However, I did get a reply from the writer of frequent letters to the local paper written by a far-right climate change denier.  A few weeks ago, his letter saying “child poverty and climate change are woke concepts, used to describe parental poverty and nice warm weather” inspired me to ‘explain’ that because the volume of ice is greater than the volume of liquid water, if all the polar sea ice melts, sea levels will fall not rise.  On Friday another of his letters was published thanking me for pointing out “the anomalous expansion of water” and disagreeing with another correspondent who’d attempted to correct one of his misapprehensions about the climate crisis.

I was disappointed (but unsurprised) by his immediate acceptance of my claim without first checking the volumes of water in polar sea ice in relation to the volume of water in all the world’s oceans while he went to some lengths to explain why somebody else wasn’t up to date with the meaning of ‘woke’ and that his own earlier claim about the adverse effects of burning hydrogen had been misunderstood.

I now feel I must write to apologise for having teased him (Oh what a tangled web we weave …)

But isn’t it fascinating to see how extremists will unquestioningly accept a claim that appears to support them, however daft it is, while they attempt to counter the arguments of scientists and other experts.

This week’s entertainment has been provided by the evidence presented to the US Senate hearing on the impeachment of The Man With A Mouth Like A Dog’s Bottom*.  The prosecution presented a detailed and illustrated case containing some frightening new footage from security cameras.  

The defence made only a token effort, knowing that Republican senators from states whose voters supported Dog’s Bottom feared they might not be re-elected if they didn’t vote to acquit him.  They produced some carefully edited and misleading videos taking historical clips of Democrats using the word “fight” out of context, slotted them between clips of the violence and produced the punchline that, if a president tells a crowd to “fight like hell”, “No thinking person could seriously believe that [this] was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection”.  Absolutely right, old chap, how could any sensible person possibly think that.

I actually thought of a much better case for the defence which would have left enough doubt in people’s minds to make the decision much harder (for obvious reasons, I’m not going to tell anybody what it is until we know if he’s going to face criminal charges).

In the event, only 7 Republican senators had the courage of their convictions, not enough to give the required 70% support, and he was acquitted by 57 votes to 43.  Let’s hope that the weak senators’ support for Dog’s Bottom will continue to taint their reputations (see how I resisted saying ‘dog their days’) until the next elections in 2022.

(A friend suggested the vote would be fairer if it were taken my secret ballot – what a great idea!  That can be the 29th amendment.)

After the acquittal, Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said the former president’s conduct amounted to a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and he was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day”.  He added “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office.  He didn’t get away with anything yet.”

And Nancy Pelosi reminded people that the mob had chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after he’d refused to support Dog’s Bottom’s claim that the election had been rigged.  “They just dismissed that,” she said. “Why? Because maybe they can’t get another job.”

The invasion of the Capitol building did produce a wonderful example of nominative determinism.  A police officer, already hailed as a hero for saying “Don’t do it” to the rioters as he led them in the wrong direction, away from the Senate door and the chamber, is now known also to have warned Republican senator Mitt Romney that the invasion was heading his way and turned him round.  His name?  Eugene Goodman.

Despite (or perhaps because of) all this, the latest newsletter from investment managers Charles Stanley has just said “Despite global economic growth entering another pandemic-driven soft patch, we are constructive on equities over the next few months.”  Apart from providing a great start if you’re playing BS Bingo, all this means is that they’re hoping markets will hold up despite all the bad news around at the moment, but you must remember that their firm’s existence depends on people giving them money to invest instead of buying gold bars, Bitcoin or tulip futures for themselves, so they’ve a vested interest in being bullish.

While 2 million people died and tens of millions lost their jobs and the rest of us just had to stay at home in 2020, the world’s 15 most active hedge fund managers (all of them men surprise surprise) made about £17 billion (that’s £17,000,000,000) between them.

There’s something wrong somewhere.

What happened to kindness, caring, being nice to each other, sharing, and helping those less fortunate than ourselves?

*          Not only is there an unmistakable physical likeness but identical material issues from both orifices.

Covid vaccinations, HS2, KGB assets, Proud Boys, verbising, nice people and a royal double bind

31 January 2021

We had our first Covid vaccinations yesterday with our second booked for 19 April, which gives us plenty of time to catch Covid with the 50% that isn’t protected.  Then, this morning I had Jerome K Jerome’s problem:  I’d read the list of possible side-effects and woke up with a headache and feeling fluey.  Bit better now though thank you for asking and a friend has just said she too had a bad reaction but it only lasted a day. 

Problems crossing the new “frictionless” and “tariff-free” borders with the EU continue to appear and Boris Johnson is busy rushing round the stables shutting doors while, in the distance, there’s a field full of equine escapees.  However, for a change, this week’s problem wasn’t of his making and came from the EU which was forced to do a U-turn over trying to control vaccines travelling to the UK through Ireland but, even though they had the grace to recognise their mistake and apologise, they’ve thrown a lighted match into a political powder barrel.

Protestors against HS2 have dug tunnels under Euston Square Gardens to delay the work.  They’ve stocked up with food and drink but my first thought was to hope they’ve got a loo down there.  Sadly, they’re apparently already running short of oxygen and rain is causing leaks of mud and collapses in the tunnel.  Great idea to draw attention to the futility of HS2 but why is there never a civil engineer around when you want one?

With the demographic changes wrought by the pandemic, some of which are certain to be permanent, it’s obvious that whole UK transport system needs to be thought again from scratch and HS2 is a white elephant.  The problem is that a vast amount of money and reputations have already been sunk into it and it would be politically difficult to cancel it and make a fresh start on a UK-wide plan.

The government seems to be full of people who will hold onto an investment whose value has plummeted and wait for its value to come back to what they paid for it.  This can feel emotionally comforting but is nonsense.  It’s generally much better to cut your losses and buy another investment with better prospects.

On Tuesday, Johnson said he was “deeply sorry” for the world-beating 100,000 deaths from Covid in the UK and, as prime minister, he took “full responsibility for everything that the government has done”.  When he asked if he now wished he’d done more sooner, he refused to answer the question and waffled “What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage, and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that.”

Perhaps the Tories should cut their losses.

Of course it’s not all down to the government’s feeble reaction to the pandemic because other factors, such as the increasing incidence of morbid obesity and diabetes, increased the number of deaths caused by the virus.   And the UK’s progress in developing a vaccine and sticking it into people’s arms might genuinely have been ‘world-beating’!

A former KGB major, Yuri Shvets has revealed that Donald Trump was one of hundreds of young people the KGB recruited as ‘assets’ in the 1980s.  They had identified he was very vulnerable intellectually and psychologically and was susceptible to flattery, and was too thick to realise they were using him, so they cultivated him for the next 40 years, feeding him soundbites he could use.  Tragically, the rest is history.

One of the far-right groups in America is (or was, they keep changing their names) called Proud Boys.  Why does this conjure up in my mind a crowd of very camp men in rainbow-coloured leotards dancing to Abba songs on a trailer at a LGBT+ street parade?

On Tuesday’s BBC 1200 news, a reporter said “it is worth caveating that …”, which stopped me dead.  Turning nouns into verbs, and vice versa, has become much more prevalent over the last few decades, in some cases making the original usage redundant and, ultimately, archaic. 

The first I remember was the use of ‘invite’ instead of ‘invitation’;  how many people now send out invitations?  Another is the misuse of ‘leverage’, often in a business context.  Using it as a noun (and even pronouncing it in American with a short E) is understandable but bankers and fund managers who’d never learnt the word ‘lever’ created a new verb from it and now ‘leverage’ deals.

Incidentally, wasn’t it encouraging to see the biters bit this week!  After a discussion thread started on Reddit, small investors started buying lots of shares in Gamestop using the amateur share trading platform Robinhood and the share price rocketed from $40 on 19 January to $400 within a week.

Wall Street institutions and hedge fund managers were outraged because they’d expected the price to fall so they’d sold Gamestop short* and now had to find enough cash to buy the shares they had to deliver at a much higher price. 

Wasn’t the crocheted Bernie Sanders doll that Tobey King from Kansas made and sold on the internet, raising $20,300 for Meals on Wheels America, wonderful!  After the image of Sanders huddled up in a warm coat and mittens at Joe Biden’s inauguration went viral, his own campaign has been selling sweatshirts and T-shirt with the image and has raised a further $1.8m for charities combating food insecurity.  Nice woman, nice man.

There was an advertisement on TV this week inviting applications to take part in a new series called Celebrity Home Cooking, or something like that, and my wife suggested I apply.  I said that, sadly, I couldn’t because I’m not a celebrity.  I’m not even a ‘celebrity’.  Not even in the street where we live.  And anyway, my knowledge of cooking is limited to pre-heating an oven, removing all outer packaging and putting the tray on the middle shelf for 45 minutes.

I also saw part of a programme on Wallis Simpson being manipulated by Edward VIII (previously known as David) who said he’d slit his throat if she didn’t marry him, and he abdicated, leaving the throne to his reluctant younger brother George VI (previously known as Bertie).  A classic double-bind!

*          ‘Selling short’ basically involves selling shares you haven’t got in the hope that the price will go down and you can buy them at a lower price before you have to deliver them.  It’s a form of gambling.

Blades, Catch 22, gin, bad companies, investments and artificial meat

6 December 2020

I was recently buying a gardening tool for pruning from a website I’m not going to name and it was delivered with a ‘magazine’ that I found very disturbing. 

The front cover showed a knife being held point upwards towards the camera by a hand wearing at least three chunky rings.  The ‘model’, out of focus in the background, was a sombre, chunky man in a leather jacket with dark glasses, a scruffy beard and what appeared to be a shaven head – not one of the smiley, bearded young men who model cardigans for Lands End.

Inside were pictures of various blades, a lanyard, a torch and a sheath to help carry them around and a backpack with a “long zipper in the front that enables you to easily reach your gear” – no sign of any shears though there was a selection of axes and meat cleavers.  They say of one knife that it can “legally be carried in many locations” or, in other words, it can’t be legally carried it in other locations.

The centre spread showed the word “Thrill” writ large under – yes, you guessed it, a knife –and, on another page, a knife that includes folding scissors and is so small “no one will be spooked when you pull it out to file your nails or cut off a loose thread”.  I’ve never “pulled out” a nail file in my life, I normally have to scruffle around in a drawer to find it, though I did once have one confiscated in the 1970s when flights were getting hi-jacked;  I still wonder if “Take this plane to Paris or I’ll file your nails” would have worked.

After I wrote recently about a couple of times when I’d dreamt of somebody and been inspired to ring them only to find one of them had just died, a friend said this sounded “spooky”.  There’s still so much we don’t know about things like this that it hadn’t spooked me at all. 

We know that trees and plants communicate, albeit at quite a basic level, and sometimes involve what are considered to be an entirely different species (e.g.  oak trees and mycorrhizal fungi);  what’s so strange about forms of human to human communication we don’t yet understand and can’t control or explain?

But I do find myself quite seriously spooked by a catalogue full of creepy blades.

As I’m sure you’ll have anticipated, my next move was to wonder what you can get on the dark web if clumsily disguised street-knives can be bought on the ‘light’ web so I naturally googled ‘dark web dope’.  A wide selection is available but it looks as if you have to download Tor and set up a Bitcoin ‘wallet’, which looked far too complicated for a direct descendant of the mythical Ned Ludd.  I wonder if they give Nectar points.

Living without Bitcoin, I make do with a Sainsbury Bank account and have just come across an absolutely brilliant Catch 22 created by some geek in their back office.  For some reason, the site wouldn’t let me log in even though I’d reset the password and online PIN several times and it then announced that “Your online access has been suspended … just choose ‘Reset your details’ to get back into online banking”.  So I did.  Several times.  Guess what message kept reappearing. 

Then I tried the ‘contact us’ options, which also has another clever little system that takes you in circles back to where you started.

Since they gave a phone number for online banking support, I rang it and explained the problem to The Geek and asked him to unsuspend my access.  “I can’t do that” he said (yes, it was of course a man) “You have to do that yourself.  Just log in and follow the instructions.”

In an attempt to make things clear, I said “You can’t unsuspend my account and only I can do this by logging in, which I can’t do because my access is suspended?”  “That’s right” he said so I had a cup of tea instead.

I saw a much more wholesome advertisement in the paper with a picture of a car and the legend “It’s OK to stare.  The new Audi Q5.  With OLED rear light technology.”  Imagine you see one in a friend’s drive and ask what its performance is like;  you’ll probably get the answer “Dunno, I only bought it for the rear lights”.

Then, while shopping online, I came across an ad for Sipsmith gin, which says it’s “Hand crafted in London”.   I always thought it was distilled, not crafted, but they obviously have rooms full of people hunched over juniper berries, carving them into irresistible patterns;  not that juniper is mentioned in the list of ingredients unless it’s included in “a classic ten botanical recipe” (I quote exactly, don’t complain to me about the grammar).  Perhaps that was where The Geek used to work.

Perhaps all supermarket managers are geeks.  On Wednesday, two of the largest supermarket chains gave up and agreed to repay more than £850m in business rates relief they had accepted from the UK government and, on Thursday, three more supermarkets were shamed into following suit, taking the total refund to more than £1.8bn.  Then yesterday, two more big companies doing the same.  How sad that they had to be embarrassed into returning government subsidies they didn’t need;  and how stupid that the government hadn’t linked the subsidies to an embargo on dividend payments and a limit to executive pay.

But it’s not just supermarkets:  the Arcadia boss, Philip Green, has come under pressure from MPs and unions to sell assets to make good the huge shortfall in his retail empire’s pension scheme ahead of the company’s collapse into administration.  Do we think he will? Is the Pope a Muslim?

Other charmers include Philip Heath, a “senior executive” at Kingspan, the company which made the inflammable cladding that killed 72 people in the Grenfell Tower inferno after safety test results had been falsified.  The public enquiry was told he invited a builder who’d queried the panels’ safety to “go fuck themselves”.  It’s also claimed he told friends the builders were mistaking him for “someone who gives a dam [sic]”.

Elsewhere, what a not-surprise that the EU negotiators have failed to reached an agreement and have passed it up the line to their guvnors, a classic negotiation ploy which I’ve used myself in the past.  However, for this to work, you need to have a competent guvnor to take over and all we’ve got is Boris Johnson.

Nevertheless, the FTSE 100 has recorded its best month since 1989 in the belief that the discovery of a working coronavirus vaccine will immediately put everything to rights.  Isn’t it fascinating how thick investment managers are.  The second lockdown took them completely by surprise and markets plummeted and now the apparent success of a single vaccine still to be introduced showed that everything’s OK again.

The third surge that celebrates our Christmas freedom to share germs with friends and relations will no doubt amaze them and markets will fall again, and this is before they realise that a few small uncertainties still remain, like whether Brexit will actually benefit the British economy, how to find the money borrowed by the government to help us survive the pandemic, if Ireland will survive, whether Joe Biden’s presidency will be able to repair the damage Trump’s done, and so on, and on.

While some scientists are working on vaccines, others are culturing meat that can be grown in laboratories so animals don’t have to be killed to produce it and the Singapore Food Agency has recently approved ‘chicken bites’ produced by a US company.  I don’t eat (or like) meat so I’m not the best person to comment but I don’t find the idea of eating something “made from biopsies on animals … using bovine serum extracted from foetal blood” entirely irresistible.

Life in prison, new opposition, the economy, some investment advice, and kindness

10 May 2020

Life in a UK prison is described in some detail in ‘A Bit of a Stretch’, a fascinating book by Chris Atkins that was published in February.  Atkins is a respected film-maker who was given a 5-year sentence for tax fraud, the first part of which he spent in HMP Wandsworth, and the book is based on the diaries he kept there.

It also includes a lot of background information about just how ineffective the prison system is (he includes 10 pages of sources for this information for those who like to check facts), some of which is horrifying, some of which is utterly dystopian and some of which would be funny if he wasn’t describing how real people’s lives are systematically destroyed by the system.  He reserves some of his more excoriating comments for reforms introduced by Chris Grayling, a former Secretary of State for Justice,

Remember Grayling?   His next job was Secretary of State for Transport when the full horrors of Brexit were first being appreciated and he gave almost £1m to consultants for a £14m contract for channel ferry services to be provided by Seaborne Freight.  He subsequently discovered they didn’t actually have any ships and the contract was cancelled.  (He also cost us many more millions in compensation to other ferry companies.)

Roger Lewis, a critic who reviewed Atkins’ book. wrote “Why isn’t Grayling behind bars?”  and his critique was published on 23 February this year in guess which national newspaper – yes, that’s right – the Daily Telegraph.  (For the full review, see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/non-fiction/think-couldsurvive-britishprison-good-luck/)

Atkins writes exceptionally well and his struggles to survive are humbling to those of us who find the present Covid-19 lockdown restricting.  While he was in Wandsworth, he also became a Samaritans Listener, offering confidential support to other prisoners who were struggling to stay alive in prison, which opened his eyes to some of the other deprivations that he hadn’t experienced himself.

This book should be required reading in all schools because, as Bob Dylan said of Lenny Bruce, “he just showed the wise men of his day to be nothing more than fools”.

Talking of fools, the government is still getting everything wrong but the Labour party now has a leader who seems capable of providing a genuine opposition.  Having eaten Dominic Raab alive a couple of weeks ago at Prime Ministers’ Questions, he did the same to Boris Johnson this week;  it was like watching an over-inflated balloon trying to fend off a stiletto.

Meanwhile, Matt Hancock’s proud claim to have met his target of testing 100,000 people for Covid-19 a day was proved the following day to have been an exaggeration and then his team captain put him under further pressure by announcing a new target of 200,000 tests a day by the end of this month.

Where do they find these people?

We’re just lucky that our gung-ho prime minister, who used to boast that he was still shaking hands with people suffering from Covid-19, caught a bad version of it but, happily, he just survived and now seems somewhat de-gunged;  so instead of saying “pull yourself together and get back to work”, he’s urging more caution about loosening the restrictions and, with any luck, regretting having delayed introducing them by some 2-3 weeks.  His broadcast earlier this evening sounded very sensible as he emphasised that they would be lifting a few restrictions at a time, and then only if the preconditions had been met.  He didn’t actually say that, if it looked as though Covid-19 was staging a come-back, some restrictions could be reimposed but this was implicit in what he said.

At least, unlike America, Johnson isn’t up for re-election later this year so he can cheerfully ignore the Bank of England’s warning that the economy could fall by 14% this year and GDP could fall by 25% in the second quarter in the deepest recession for 300 years, employers furloughing almost one in four of the workforce*, charities warning that domestic abuse cases have risen dramatically and the police reporting that there are early signs of an increase in suicides and attempted suicides during the lockdown (see my blogs of 22 and 29 March).

The EY Item Club, which is an independent forecasting group with a very silly name, believes it will take the UK economy until 2023 to recover from the collateral damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the IMF is forecasting the global economy will fall by 3%.

Investment managers, who take fees for fund management and dealing but are of course completely impartial, are suggesting this might be a good time to buy shares but they cover themselves by saying this will depend on whether the charts showing the fall in share prices is going to turn out to be V-shaped, L-shaped or W-shaped, or if the last month or so has been a dead cat bounce and markets still have further to fall.  So here’s some free investment advice for you:  whatever you think might happen, don’t invest money you can’t afford to lose.

Sociologically, I find the pandemic absolutely fascinating (a neighbour looked very shocked when I said this) and hope I live long enough to see how (if?) the world is changed by it.  At the moment, people are showing big and small kindnesses to others and some academics are suggesting that, deep in the heart of them, most people actually are kind if they’re given half a chance.  (Fat cats are just fat cats but let’s hope societal changes will show they’re nothing more than fools.)

 

*          American experts reckon unemployment could reach 20% in May, more evidence of Trump’s success in managing the economy