Down the rabbit hole

This is gonzo politics and puzzlement. What goes for normal service will be resumed when the dizziness goes away. I’ve tried to be equally offensive to all sides here, because none of them comes out with great glory.

I’m wondering if someone’s put LSD in the water supply. It’s less than a month since some of us including me discovered the limits of our filter bubbles. It’s like waking up covered in engineer’s blue with a cow looking at you strangely and surrounded by Swiss guys in lederhosen and thinking “Eh? I only started out last night with three bottles of cider in Croydon”. There’s only one thing to do – invoke the spirit of Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

Vada a Bordo …Cazzo!

Where’s Gregorio Falco when you need him? Been less than a month since the referendum and we’ve discovered that Cameron is made of the same stern stuff as Francesco Schettino. Having run the ship aground trying to appease the headbangers in his party that lacked the spine to join UKIP he starts calling for Mummy and abandons his post as the ship is taking on water. We then see a string of effective knifings and backstabbings which end up with the last woman standing allocated the role of top dog, while loathsome Leadsom who asserted having children uniquely qualified her for the top job exits stage left at the eleventh hour, pursued by a bear, the press pack and her own folly of denying the evidence of a tape recorder. Beware the hermeneutic rule about the bullshit before the but, dear lady, you parse such sentences by crossing it all out from the beginning until the t of but…

Yes. I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible but genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.”

Children – not prohibitive but not necessary and not sufficient to be PM, Andrea

Reproduction has been done since time immemorial with unskilled labour, and anyway, that’s not why we’d hire you to run the country, though I admire the swift decision to exit the kitchen due to an excess of heat. Next time feel the bloody door for heat before you open it, huh?

Back to the seminal question of the rabbit hole. Not only did I discover something about my fellow countrymen that I’d rather not have known, but okay, at least that’s opinions and like other parts of the anatomy we’ve all got one. It’s the succession of ghastly putative leaders in quick succession that did my head in:

the effete narcissist BoJo, motto “think only of yourself” and let the devil take the hindmost

cut down like a tree by the creepy wierdo Gove, who is apparently clever though he despises expertise in its many forms, frying pan, meet fire,

Leadsom’s self-immolation would have been entertaining if it hadn’t been for the real possibility of her trying to steer the ship off the rocks, presumably into a watery grave because she mistakes enthusiasm for ability. After all, Angela Merkel is child-free and appears to be a competent head of state, though perhaps not a competent head of the EU finance department…

Mind you, say what you like about the Tories, but at least they are efficient backstabbers. Her Majesty’s Opposition seems to be asleep at the switch in our hour of need. I never really did work out what their view was on Brexit, I had the feeling the bumbling fellow in charge was pretty much for it but didn’t really like to say so out loud and was press-ganged by his MPs to say the opposite. There’s no modulation or passion in his voice for what he was saying, this is not leadership, it is caretaking. This is a dude who couldn’t lead a fart out of a paper bag. Seeing all the backstabbing going on on t’other side Her Majesty’s Opposition figured they’ll have some of that too, but they don’t seem to be anywhere near as good at it. For heaven’s sake guys, if the party has to split then get on with it, the 2020 election is only four years away. If we get to have another one, that is…

I have the sort of feeling I imagine a cat would have after being through the tumble dryer, all fur standing on end and asking if it’s possible, pretty please, to get to know which way is up and for it to stay up for a week, that would be a nice start. Along with some answers to the general question WTF is going on round here, and did anyone have an answer to the vexed question of what happens next, you know, like a general plan of action? I guess that was David CamerSchettino again, ready to take the risk but not own one of the binary options. Never ask binary questions if you don’t want to hear one of the answers, eh, Dave? Take another bow, WB Yeats –

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

The slimy tosspot Nigel Farage as in garage who started it all off would quite like his life back, perhaps if you hadn’t been such a wanker in your last appearance as an MEP we might get a little bit of ours back too, but no, cocksure whazzock that you are, you hop skip and jump away from the mess you’ve created. Just as well, on second thoughts, though I suspect you’ll be back like dogshit on a shoe.

The internecine fighting ‘twixt the Brexit camps on immigration will be interesting, as it appears one group cares bigtime about stopping all that immigration malarkey and the other group doesn’t really give a toss, but just didn’t like the idea of Jean Claude Juncker running the show sovereignty yadda yadda but we would quite like to have access to the single market and the free movement of capital and goods. If free movement of people is still an essential part of the deal, well, at least you’ll still be able to get cheap nannies and plumbers in the Great Wen. Just none of those Johnny Foreigners telling us what to do, but it’s okay if we tell them what to do, what-ho, Jeeves? It’ll be interesting seeing them try to square that circle so the rich Brexiters get their cheap labour to keep London and the shires in the style they’ve been accustomed to while convincing the poor Brexiters who wanted a stop to their strawberry-picking jobs being stolen from under their noses that yes to stopping unskilled immigration really meant no, because what with the price of coffee going up  we can’t really afford to pay more for our babysitters while we sashay around to the Chiltern Firehouse.  My money’s on the metropolitan set winning the fight along the good old principle of follow the money. After all, BoJo let the cat out of the bag early on – if Britain is part of Europe and always will be than why pick the fight in the first place? There’s going to be hell to pay when the truth of his words come out, which is presumably why he was defenestrated PDQ.

In the meantime the numbers on the dials of my ISA holdings are spinning up while at the same time the dizzying feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me the lift/elevator is plunging to the ground. Normally you can say it’s been a good year if you unitise your portfolio and the numbers are up on last year by a decent percent, but this isn’t real. In the case of 2016/17 I think the report to shareholders of the Ermine Investment Trust will have to have a CEO statement roughly along the lines of

Dear  Ermine Shareholders.

To be honest, while the numbers would normally be a cause to break out the champagne, we’re still trying to work out WTF happened. Your guess is as good as mine. And whatever it was, my gut doesn’t tell me it was good

Now of course Americans may well titter about such a delightfully British fail and I can’t really blame them. However, the same sort of forces mean there could be a Trump-ocalypse this November – I see IG are selling binaries of 25% at the moment. Maybe I should buy £10,000 of that, on the grounds that £30k should be able to buy me enough drink to make it look less bad for a couple of days even if the pound is roughly worth a Reichsmark by then. The world can easily afford to shrug off a collective brain fart of a minor offshore island and sort itself out. The same sort of thing on a continental scale, not so much. Maybe that will be the second shoe dropping of the Global Financial Crisis. I can run towards VWRL to get my capital out of the UK. But I can’t run from Trump – half VWRL is the US.

Still chin up eh, the bright side of the falling pound means you don’t have to be clever about what to do with the rest of your ISA allowance. Pretty much buy anything not overly dependent on the UK and it’ll have gone up by Christmas. Well, depending on the Big T I guess 😉 You never know, he may be the saviour of the tattered Great British Pound. Then the problem is dodging the blood and guts and the zombie hordes. Happy days indeed.


28 thoughts on “Down the rabbit hole”

  1. I have breathed a sigh of relief that Leadsom is gone because at least there won’t be any idiotic rush now – May is sensible enough (I hope) to give it some time. With any luck it will be a bit like the Pirates of Penzance for a while: “Yes we go, yes we go, yes we go, yes we go”, “Yes but you don’t go”, “We go, we go” etc. There is a small, a very small chance that the EU and May will cobble something resembling a reasonable fudge together, perhaps even a fudge that bears a closer resemblance to staying than going – who knows? … But if Trump gets in I fear we’re all stuffed.


  2. haha – yes – I was thinking exactly that, in as much as we super smart globally diverse investors are patting ourselves on the back as we benefit as UK fails, but wait until the US goes over the falls, we won’t be laughing then I imagine.

    One thing it does make sense to do right now is spend on big ticket items before inflation catches up with the momentous gains in the non-£ markets, i.e. build that extension pronto


  3. I SO look forward to your postings. Always thoughtful, full of insight and unfailingly entertaining. Your talents were wasted as an engineer! This particular one has cheered me up somewhat, after the mischief making of the last few weeks. Anyway we are where we are now and it’ll be what it’ll be…
    Although not a Tory voter, I’m relieved that May is taking over – she’s from the less extreme end of Torydom, so hopefully will be at least a steady hand.
    And yes it is slightly odd to see my Vanguard US Equities ISA rocketing upwards just now while the pound has dropped and probably has some more to go. So it feels good, but in my heart of hearts I know it’s not really Thank you and keep up the good work – quality matters!


    1. Thanks! Let’s look on the bright side, the cat is out of the tumble dryer, even if the world is still spinning.

      And you have raw S&P, even undiluted with rest of world stuff, so you’re getting rocket boosters on it.

      It’s a big part of the problem for next year’s reviews though – how the hell do we know what success looks like – the numbers being bigger than 12 months ago won’t cut it.


  4. Really enjoyed this review of the revolting charlatanism and self-serving political chicanery that has landed us all in the slurry pit. The fact that we are all so relieved to have May as PM – a woman who pursued an rancid anti-immigrant vendetta and battled to leave the ECHR while Home Secretary – shows just how peculiar things have become. You’re right that the Leavers seem to want so many different and mutually contradictory outcomes there’s bound to be disappointment whatever happens.

    FWIW I suspect that there is far less chance of a Trump victory than Brexit, if only because the Americans enjoy a byzantine electoral college system that, whatever its faults, doesn’t work in Trump’s favour. If Romney and McCain couldn’t get anywhere close to their Democrat opponent Trump is unlikely to triumph (his WASPish voting base is being demographically outnumbered in key states by metropolitan/Hispanic/younger cohorts). The media in the US is also much less far right wing than here – with the exception of Fox News (which lest we forget Trump has also gone out of his way to insult) he is unlikely to get the kind of easy ride that Farage enjoys here.


    1. That’s the trouble with Leave being essentially a negative aim. If you run towards the light you all tend to get to the same place, but there are many ways of running away from the big bad EU wolf. And I suspect that discrepancy in the leave aims will be the cause of much strife and infighting to come 😦


  5. This is what FI is for, every now & then in life, even through no fault of your own, there will be turbulence, you will feel queezy & have to hang on until the room stops spinning so hard. The more FI you are, the shorter your personal spin cycle will be…..

    All you can do in these circumstances is have a good system & be disciplined enough to stick to it. It’s like my SIPP pamphlet’s strategy explanation says, invest in companies that are set up so well that an idiot could run them …….because sooner or later it will happen.

    Then hope that this doesn’t end up quite the car-crash it has some potential to be – given our rulers’ poker games, [that’s what happens when the bus driver goes off for a p*ss & a monkey takes over the wheel for a while] and thank your lucky stars that at least the UK doesn’t yet have the cultural love of the US for its liberal gun laws, given the evident wisdom of the electorate.


    1. Indeed – I wouldn’t want to be looking for a job in a year or so’s time. The taste of Fi is sweet there, although the ride is choppy.


  6. I’m not quite clear about your meaning. Are you saying that you’ve finished with your knicker-wetting phase after the People’s Plebiscite gave the Establishment a punch on the snoot, and that you’re now getting your knickers, be they wet or dry, in a twist about Trump?

    If I were of the knicker-twisting tendency I’d be a lot more worried about the warmongering Clinton winning; there’s a least a possibility that Trump wouldn’t be a warmonger. Certainly he’s spoken much more sense about Russia than she has, for instance.

    As for the world’s financial position: grim. Governments might have to be nimble, so the EU will be in the soup.


    1. Aw c’mon, you don’t expect coherence from someone after they’ve just fallen out of the dryer 😉 It’s been a rum week, that’s about it.


  7. Another good rant from Ermine plc.
    I’ve been concerned about Trump for a few weeks now. Especially about our clusterfuck of a referendum. But then I thought, really, the only tangible risk with Trump is him having access to the button for 4 years. So provided they assign him a keeper, and provided that keeper successfully keeps him from pressing the button, then, actually, we might be ok. Not great, mind you, but just ok enough to come out the other end (of whatever it ends up being). You see, even if that raving lunatic does get elected, the Congress will likely bury any legislation he tries to put forward. Of course, he may try and go down the executive action route, but that might end up being tricky… so realistically we’d probably end up with 4 years of a zombie US government, which, like any individual zombie, would stumble around snarling but would not inflict that much damage in the end. Zombies are only dangerous in groups.
    Anyway, whatever else one might say about Trump, there has not been another US presidential candidate in history who could inspire the internet to come up with these sorts of gems:


    1. I guess we lived with that sort of risk in the Cold War, but jeez…

      My fave was “A carnivorous plant watered with irradiated bat urine” 😉

      Irradiated zombies stalking the land – it gets more like a B horror movie every day. We’ll start looking back at the halcyon 8 years of Dubya with fondness at this rate


  8. I read that the reason Leadsom quickly withdrew was something to do with her tax returns. Surely not? But what I really want to know is what revelation Boris was threatened with? The number of people telling me that he is so “incredibly intelligent” means that there must be some sort of scurrilous back story to his volte face. Or perhaps he’s one on these eggheads who is so brainy that, when it comes to common sense, he’s actually thick.


    1. I kinda wondered that too. It can hardly be Boris’s sexual peccadillos because there are so many, so there must be something else. Whatever it is, it was powerful!


    2. The suggestion that Boris is brainy reminds me of that description of Stephen Fry that used to do the rounds, “the stupid person’s clever person”. I suspect BJ is partly just clever at giving the impression he’s clever.


  9. @Underscored. Thank you for sharing that. It’s the only complete analysis I’ve found to date that so articulately explains why half of any given country these days seems to consistently vote against the other half. It was riveting and clear, if only the leaders would understand it and implement the suggestions so we can all live in peace.

    There is nothing wrong with appeasing the fears of so many people – whether they’re deemed warranted or not is arbitrary, because we all have a right to our worries – that’s the democracy we all can agree on.

    I wonder also if things are not as bleak as it looks on the surface, in that referendums are such crude, often binary tools, that they inevitably obscure those voters in the centre ground, for whom a binary choice is just too inaccurate as they have sympathies on either side. I’m guessing this group, who even if small would be the deciding vote, either don’t vote because each option is too far from their position, or they reluctantly vote and are still unhappy with their ‘choice’.

    I am in this centre-ground grouping, though a ‘remainer’ on the whole and this article has now educated me on the unease I feel in common with some of those who voted to leave. I hadn’t understood what it was, but can now say that though it has many strands, one is the loss of the original culture; anywhere in the world, most countries suffer from this blight now. When you see ancient cities peppered with identical junk-food outlets or new swathes of identikit, poor-quality, accommodation unbalancing the whole with overcrowding, you feel the soul and history of the place is being eroded away – whoever the people, wherever the place – this is not about any given ethnicity/culture.

    Now I’m not saying the clock should be stopped for ever, just that significant societal changes should be carefully planned to take care of all and to retain what was important of the past with what is helpful for the future as well as what is beautiful generally from both. It will take considered planning, diplomacy and more democracy, not less to bring this about …..the rise of the populists then is a sign of a massive failure in that respect.

    There is an irony here in that both sides of the referendum decision actually have more in common than they realise while currently staring at each other across a gulf of misunderstanding. We all want to not fear for our futures, so feel safe, prosperity and a sense of belonging etc., the difference lies in our understanding of how the world we want to live in should look in order to bring that peace about. The world we live in now is that one that has been shoved down all our throats by the 0.001%, for whom this latest referendum is just the most recent proof that they’re still successfully dividing-to rule.


  10. That is a good article, very similar in its general thrust to Haidt’s righteous mind, which, as i mentioned already, is also very illuminating. I don’t think its properly sunk in just what an important idea it is.

    It seems it is by its very nature, an issue that people find very difficult to articulate as it gets almost everyone to the point of high-partisan-ship very quickly and from there they can’t see it.

    This is clear from the brexit debates of the last few weeks across the FI blogs. Just look at the visceral emotional response it produced in someone as normally smart and rational as The Investor. His button was well and truly pressed!


  11. @Underscored and @Ray – those two articles were interesting, and I feel I am getting a little bit more understanding of the gulf. And it’s good that there is a search for understanding to counteract the name-calling on both sides. It’s not terribly clear what to actually to about it to bridge some of the gap – I’m still a fan of the universal income, but is it enough to overcome the protestant work ethic in the cultural backdrop, else the 99% will simply feel farmed.


  12. @Ermine

    But how are a bunch of young mainly catholic southern and eastern Europeans really that culturally different from English people?


  13. Ermine !
    Lederhosen -> Bayern, not Swiss !!!
    ( and for that matter, cuckoo clocks are Schwarzwald, and most definite not Swiss, another one that is heard far too often)
    You did want to pass that German citizenship test, did you ?

    WRT to Brexit : leave some blame for the EU itself, for not being good enough to make staying in a no-brainer. As someone who most definitly feels as an european, this saddens me most.

    WRT to the rising numbers on your portfolio : my portfolio, almost all Vanguard ETF’s, is noted in CHF, and is slightly down after Brexit….


  14. When I was a lad…..1973-1979….we weren’t going to hell in a handcart, we arrived early in ’73 and stayed there for along time but life goes on…

    Invest in diverse global assets and let the dust settle and this too will pass.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s