Lessons from WWII as Russia conquers Crimea
Who is more influential? In the left corner sits Ed Balls, potential Chancellor of the UK if the Labour Party makes it into power in the 2015 election. On the right, his brother Andrew Balls, Deputy Chief Investment Officer at PIMCO, which controls $2 trillion worth of bonds.
Even assuming Ed B. makes it into power, his brother wins hands down. The UK government spends around £720 billion a year and most of it is already earmarked. Chancellors – pace all the kerfuffle around budget announcements – can only affect policy at the margin. Andrew B., on the other hand, is head of European bond markets with the capacity to strike fear in the hearts of Italian treasury ministers, among others. Continue reading...
Why the UK government needs to speak up
I was uncommonly pleased to traipse through immigration in Zurich, en route for a half term ski break. With the Swiss having recently voted to impose quotas on immigrants from the EU, I feared they might mistake my intentions and put me on the next plane back to London.
For something similar had happened before, as I detailed in last week’s Financial Times:
There was not a handcuff in sight during my speedy deportation from the UK in 1988. The blue-blazered, silver-haired official walked me along Heathrow’s corridors making embarrassed small talk about the weather. It was quite unlike 2013’s deportation of terrorist suspect Abu Qatada after an eight-year battle and a cost of £1.7m. Continue reading...
Consumerism, compassion and resolve
As we forcibly surf into the holiday season on a wave of consumerism, spare a thought for Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which has somehow been overshadowed by another futuristic novel, George Orwell’s 1984.
Yet the parallels with our society are more insidious. In Huxley’s 1931 book, genetically-modified babies born from test tubes are brainwashed in special centres to believe that the old is bad, the new is good and thus buying things is central to their lives. Electric shocks turn them off from simple – and free – natural objects like flowers. Instead, they are conditioned to love anything that will keep them on the consumerist running track and keep the factories busy, such as certain country sports that involve the use of elaborate apparatus. Under-consumption is a crime against society. Continue reading...