Friday, 27 July 2007

Global Climate: Heat, Floods, Bulls and Bears!

More losses today in the stock market indices (New York, London, etc.). Financiers having TGIF drinks in London pubs after a hard week.

Is it a "crisis" or not? Many opinions and points of view. Optimistic (bullish), realistic, pessimistic (bearish). Only 3 weeks ago, the indices were hitting record highs! Wow! Extreme heat and deaths in Southeastern and Central Europe, extreme rain and floods in the UK, China and elsewhere.

Climates! Financial/Economic and Natural (of nature). Up and down, hot and cold (showers), can the human body and mind take such roller coaster "rides"? Panic? From heat or from "cold", from rain and floods or from debt and risk of money losses?

A lot of money that was fuelling the world economy was to really there? The sub-prime mortgage market growth is at "fault"? Why was this market created? Did it have the required fundamentals?

Hungry for more clients or to maintain growth, because no growth in some mentalities means recession, if you do not move forward, the nature of the system sees that as going backwards!!! Thus a new "instrument" the sub-prime mortgage lending, was created. Higher risk than usual. Packaged and repackaged to be sold to mainstream financial institutions and markets.

So what if there is a crisis there, if the risk has been well spread over many investors? Are the effects primarily psychological? Are the rational investor markets not as rational as they are supposed to be? Are they based on fundamentals or trigger selling happy investors, human or programmes (buying and selling done by software programmes)?

Have the "machines" been given too much role in stock and financial trading in general? But can those "automatic pilots" handle non normal, extraordinary, conditions (as was the case in some aircraft crashes in recent years)? But has the system (avionic or financial trading) become too complicated for "human pilots" or "traffic controllers" to grasp?

It is summer, so stock trading volumes are lower. The sub-prime worries give rise to wider worries. And "support levels" a special financial lingo term that from what I can understand means "signposts" related to "technical" (statistics and modelling) analysis of the stock and other financial assets (as opposed to "fundamental" analysis of each companies potential future performance) having all of the sudden been reached!

Is this beginning to sound like "Matrix" and which part, I. II or III? When is "Neo" going to save the day? Neo-what? Neo-liberalism. Neo-capitalism, Neo-nationalism, Neo-populism, Neo-Socialism or New markets, new clients, new ideas, new theories, new perspectives. Or newly found wisdom? Maybe good old cold blooded patience, such as the one shown by the British in the terror crisis in July 2005? Survival of the calm and collected? The philosophised?

It is only money! Yes but many people's "livelihoods" depend of that money and many people invest on behalf of others, and how can they explain to their clients the "nature of the beast"? Was the final consumer of financial tools. behind all the institutional and other professional, the John and Joan Smith, told of the down as well as the up potential of the game, or when these things are sold, the up side is oversold and the down side left out?

Back to the bottom line? How many people really grasp these days even the main elements of the financial global systemics?

I am afraid that much of the system is based on trust or faith or greed or confidence/hope and not full understanding of the risks involved, by the voter, sorry, I meant the individual/citizen/investor!!! How rational and cool-handed is the so called "rational investor" after all?

How much heat or rain can the average citizen take too?

People are not dummies. Thus, can they survive those crash tests?

"You have to be able to put everything into perspective". No, that is not a quote I heard on TV related to climate or finance. It was a sports related one! But sounded like it could have been about the weather or the markets!

So, how many people are able to put everything into perspective these days, when everything is so chaotic (ie huge, complicated, global)?

"I do not understand and I am not interested in finance and economics" says to me, often, a friend. Well, what you do not perceive as a threat cannot hurt you can it? Well, it can and it doesn but in some cases ignorance is bliss. This may be one of them and it may actually "save the day", ie the system! Life is so simple and yet so complicated and yet so precious. And the best things in life are free, as long as one can afford them, right?

Better go read some Plato. They say that this calms people down!!!! LOL And thankfully the air conditioning works! Things could always be worse! Always look at the bright side of life! Humour and philosophy will get us through! To where? That is another story!

World Trade Talks: Any potential for agreement?

A new effort to complete the Doha round of World Trade talks is launched by the WTO. Delegations have until September 3, date of a meeting, to consider the possibility of reaching compromises in areas of dispute.

The US administration, while expressing that completion of the talks is its top world trade priority, has expressed reservations over the draft working texts.

Since July 1, any WTO agreement the US administration agrees to will have to also pass from the US Congress, which may ask for amendments, not merely say yes or no (as was the case under the "fast track" powers of the US president that expired at the end of June). That any WTO agreement of all its members will require not only the agreement of the Republican pro free trade US administration but the US Congress where Democrats have a majority both in the House and the Senate since last year's midterm elections.

Thus the potential for a WTO agreement seems a tad complicated. But nothing is impossible. Probable?

27 July 2007

Thursday, 19 July 2007

On "Open Britain"

A couple of key points (from memory)and thoughts of mine resulting from the speech the new British Foreign Minister gave at the Chatham House in July 2007:

International Relations are not conducted only by governments these days, but business and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) as well.

"Open Britain" is the goal. In the 21st century, countries with "open" social, political and other systemics (eg business and economic?) not only to organisations but people too, will do the best.

Thoughts: Open (or Global) Britain seems indeed a permanent strategy of the UK's political leaderships (it is the EU which is not). But are the citizens and the media "in agreement" (or on the same boat as the "globalists") with this strategy and ready to deal with its pros and cons? Plus is Britain "risk converse" or in other words, not afraid to undertake risks in the pursuit of "returns"?

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Some more thoughts of mine on the concept of "Open Britain" that the new Foreign Minister referred to in his speech at the Chatham House, July 19, 2007:

Britain is indeed an amalgam of "roots" (I do not wish to use other terminology).

For example, last year there was news reporting of a study of the DNA "mapping" of modern Britons that found an immense variety of DNA traces.

In spite of its island geography, compared to "continental Europe" (aka "the Continent"), Britain was a very popular "destination" of various invaders over the centuries. I personally find the history of Britain, from BC times to date, amazingly complicated and thus interesting!

From Boudicca, whose sculpture can be found on the banks of the Thames, to the legend of King Arthur to its colonial activity around the World (eg India), the impact of Winston Churchill's leadership on Britain (and the outcome of WWII), British history is very useful in understanding modern British and European as well global dynamics.

The migration of UK jobs (albeit exaggerated as a recent report finds, see relevant recent post in this blog) to native-level English speakers in India is one "small" example.

For food for thought for European Union policy makers:
Why do most intra-EU "migration"-mobility is towards Britain (I have called this dynamic "The EU "works" in Britain")?

Which football league is today more multinational (in global not just European nationalities) than the English Premier League?

Which other football (soccer) superpower has had a non-native National Coach?

Where did Eric Cantona's super talent find ground to flourish?

Britain may, indeed, often irritate EU systemics with the anti-Brussels rhetoric of many British media, political forces and citizen reactions, but that does not mean that Britain is closed to the world, on the contrary, to some extent, I think, Britain's "Euro-scepticism" is a reflection of its scepticism of some EU related "Euro-centrism".

In the past, the British stance on the EU/Europe issue has made me consider the possibility that Britain is not "open", that it has an "island mentality".

Maybe that holds for some Britons, but for most, in my view, Britain is neither better suited for a state a US of Europe (something that Sir Winston said in the aftermath of WWII, ie that Europe needs a "sort of" United State of Europe) or a potential 51st state of the USA (as some claim they would like) role.

Britain 2007+:

Modern Britain is made up of fascinating and complicated systemics and has a certain "global player" mentality, not in a traditional "colonial" type of mentality, but in a dynamic "converse to globalisation" one. A globalisation that covers much more than just economic or trade affairs.

The current Prime Minister, who appointed the new Foreign Minister to his cabinet, made a speech last year at some City related conference that has resided in my mind. He spoke of
a Britain who is not afraid to take risks.

I also still recall Tony Blair's speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last July, at the beginning of the UK's Presidency of the EU.

Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's political and personal profiles are not identical. Neither, I think, is their "mindset" re Britain's internal (socio-economic and general) "model" and strategic thinking re Britain's role in the world. But the latter have common foundations. I am not sure how representative they are of the grass roots of the Labour Party or exactly how the mindsets and models and strategies of the Tory leader David Cameron and the LibDems differ from the "Open Britain" model. Food for further thought.

Modern Britain is possibly already the most "open" country in the world (more than the US of decades past) and to the extent that the theory that "open countries" will lead the world arena in the next decades is accurate, Britain seems to be already leading the field.

Comparisons: Open US?

But the US, I think, has not said its final word. The post 2008 period in the US, whether led by a Democrat or a Republican, will have a bearing on the "Open USA" model and strategy selection.

In varying degrees and with emphasis on different aspects (economic, social, cultural, etc), John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton are, according to my perception "open" to an "Open USA" model of thinking. We shall see.

We definitely live in interesting times.

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"England is England and we are strangers"
Anne of Cleves, the German 4th wife and then sister (!) of Henry the VIII.

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Sunday, 1 July 2007

Relationships: Friends, Laws of Attraction and Logic

What are the "laws" of attraction? Can they be analysed?

Attraction is too much of a complex and complicated and unpredictable "thing" to analyse using the rational tools we use to analyse other "things" in life.

And people are people, not glass thingies to be categorised/labeled as "friends" or something else and put on the "right" shelve and stay there for "antique" or "collection" purposes.

Logic may be a tool to think and make decisions, but it also takes logic, IMO, to figure out that some things are not to be logically analysed, ie fall out of the realm of logic and its tools of analysis.
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