A great last year on the markets and a survival plan for 2017

This post lacks a little bit of the bonhomie and cheer normally expected at this time of year. Sorry about that and Happy New Year!

A rheumy Ermine rises from his den and sticks a head out, to hear wild celebrations of stock market success from otherwise sober fellows like Monevator’s TA. What is all this jubilation I hear? January is normally the time to unitise one’s portfolio at Ermine Towers, but what with a hit of the flu, and the thudding recollection that last year was the Year of the Man-Child of Trump and Boris, meant I couldn’t really hack that until now. I recall last year as a desperate battle to simply try and survive on the markets when all around was going tits-up as Britain decided to do untold damage to the one thing we seemed to be good at, making money out of money. True, none of it seemed to ever leak outside the M25, other than in making house prices go up, but nevertheless, I don’t see Britain as a full-employment haven of manufacturing industry any more, the universal income seems a better way to try and reproduce the 1950s than cursing our nearest neighbours and the horse they rode in on.

So what happened then? I mean yeah, people are talking highs for the FTSE100, but let’s not forget that these highs are measured against a ruler that is 10 inches long rather than a foot. The whole Brexit brigade are celebrating because the sky hasn’t fallen and these highs are symbolic of the market’s view of the protean powerhouse that is Brexit Britain. Clearly the standards of what passes for intelligent discourse at the Telegraph have dropped into the gutter when they allow headlines to escape like

FTSE 100 set to match longest record-setting streak in 33-year history as pound slides on Brexit fears

At least in earlier days you’d try and push the second clause out of the headline and preferably out of the lede too, you don’t want the old buffers reading the yellow press to choke on their tea and marmalade sandwiches with the realisation the FTSE100 is high because the pound is sliding. It’s like celebrating that the operation was successful and cured the pain – because the patient died on the operating table. Fortunately there are cooler heads to set you right on the FTSE100’s stellar run. Looks like bonhomie and good cheer is in short supply elsewhere in the PF scene, bloody Remoaners the lot of y’all, talkin’ bodacious Brexit Britain down.

Haven’t you heard? Magical unicorns are in – all those tedious facts are sooo last year, dahlink, dreaming is in these days

Have you no vision sirs, and for heck’s sake STFU on those facts, we don’t do facts these days, we do dreams of magical unicorns?

Nevertheless, the stock market rise shows one way to perhaps try and stave off the personal implications of last June’s brain-fart. Although the Ermine instinctively dived into the stock market in those troubled times it seems others are now turning this into real numbers. Basically cash in GBP is doomed, for Gawd’s sake get the hell out of there. Preferably into foreign assets, although the FTSE100 ain’t all bad – it’s roughly 70% foreign assets anyway. That glug-glug sound you hear is the sound of the pound in your pocket draining away down the plughole.We can’t blame the Gnomes of Zurich for this one like in Harold Wilson’s day[ref]There’s a decent argument that the Gnomes were only responding to UK own goals then, the forex market doesn’t seem to be particularly partisan, but it does recognise economic folly and try and route round it[/ref], this one is entirely our own work.

It is permanently destroying the value of my deferred final salary pension, possibly ameliorated by the inflation linking up to a point, it is destroying cash savings, to the extent that while I was holding all my AVC money in a SIPP as cash on the grounds I was going to call on it in the next five years, after that vote I rammed about half into a mixture of gold and index-trackers, on the grounds that I’d rather be shafted by my own fuckwittery than that of other people, or at least I’d like to share their view of the world if I am going to take the shaft for theirs. The movers and shakers among the bodacious Brexit brigade have enough non-cash assets and don’t rely on wage income, so they can survive the fall in the pound. The odious Nigel “I want my life back” Farage was a broker, though not a particularly successful one according to the FT. He still earned more than I have ever done, even as a scummy MEP. There are shitloads of people that are going to want their lives back, Nige, hopefully a load of them will be people who voted for your project though I’m sure they’ll blame some other poor bugger. I look forward to the first disaffected Brexit prole upending a pint of beer all over your noggin when he discovers he’s paying 20% more for it, there still aren’t any jobs and there are still people talking furrin’ on the streets because we need vegetable pickers who know one end of a carrot from another even if they call it a marchewka.

A lying sack of shit in front of one of his lies. How do you know Boris is talking cock? “His lips are moving”. As the Atlantic said of the Donald “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

I want to be closer to the place where the movers and shakers are. They needed votes, so they told everyone that they wouldn’t hear Polish on the streets any more and the NHS would get £350million more every week. Well, I guess it’ll need it to make up for the loss of staff numbers, eh? Wonder what the Red Cross will be saying about the humanitarian crisis in NHS in a couple of years when all those EU immigrants working in our elderly care homes f*ck right off back to Eastern Europe where they belong.

Brexiteers sold the idea to people who probably can’t afford to take the hit in their wages, and who will see the price of food and fuel rise, will see interest rates rise to more normal levels[ref]I am personally of the opinion this is A Good Thing, interest rates of 4-6% which is the historical long term average for the UK please[/ref] and generally come to enjoy the fruits of their cleverness. Well done you.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Let’s hear it from Michael “Experts, schmexperts, WTF do they know

We are still far too unequal a society, with wealth and power concentrated in too few hands. Our economy is still too dependent on financial services and we don’t invest enough in science and technology. Working class voices are crowded out of our economic debate. We have relied too much on cheap imported labour, which has meant wages for working people have been kept too low and we haven’t taken the right steps to improve productivity.

The Bank of England’s monetary policy has made wealthy owners of property even richer at the same time as our chronic shortage of affordable homes has got worse. University vice-chancellors pay themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds a year but technical education doesn’t get the investment it needs and there aren’t enough good school places. Government squanders billions on vanity projects every year while our tried and trusted NHS needs more funding.

The one thing I was unable to detect in Michael Gove’s blatherings was any hint of exactly how it was the EU who were responsible for much this litany of woe, with the possible exception of being the source of some of that cheap imported labour. Gove is in the UK party of government. You guys are in charge of this mess, not the EU, which at least did a bit to invest in science and technology according to the Royal Society. Of the 13 issues listed in that diatribe the EU is a problem in the labour and an asset in the science and tech; all the other problems are homegrown. So how exactly is most of this going to improve with Brexit, Mikey? Particularly the science and tech, we really aren’t back in the days of Robert Watson-Watt and splendid isolation, science is more collaborative these days. I worked on some of these European research projects in the 1990s, they really were a little bit bigger than one company could resource even 20 years ago. Experts, schmexperts, eh?

Some coherent thinking coming out of the Brexit camp at last

The thousand typewriting monkeys that are the architects of Brexit seem to be coalescing on  some sort of narrative after all, although the parrot trotting out Brexit means Brexit still hasn’t been knocked off its perch yet. Back to Michael Gove, in his triumphal summing up on Brexit Central.

Once Article 50 is triggered, we should be very clear about our simple, straightforward, generous approach to leaving. We don’t want or need to be in the single market – outside we can control our own borders, laws and taxes. Inside we’re trapped. We don’t want to be bound by being members of the customs union. Outside we can negotiate new trade deals with emerging economies. Inside we’re trapped. And we don’t need to waste months talking about new tariffs. We don’t have any at the moment with Europe, we don’t want to impose any and attempts to over-complicate the issue are a trap.

If we guarantee the rights of all EU citizens currently here to stay, pledge to continue our role as the principal European defender of NATO’s eastern border, offer to continue co-operation on science funding and agree to respect EU regulations when selling to their market then we could – quickly – reach an amicable agreement.

It’s amazingly simple, really. Tell the Remoaners to STFU, waltz out of the EU cleanly whistling a dancing tune, keep hold of all that cheap imported labour you were bitching about earlier, ‘cos knocking that was feelgood dog-whistling like the NHS bus and you actually quite like them cheap Polish plumbers for your Islington pied a terre, and then tap gently on the EU door and go “psst, how’s about we play a deal again?”. I actually share some of Gove’s sentiment, you do need to go big or go home and walk out of the bloody door first. However some of the potential problems are summed up in the actions of spurned Linda –

Linda didn’t appreciate Graham running out on her. The EU may feel similarly – as European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said, Brexit was “not an amicable divorce”, adding “it was not exactly a tight love affair anyway”

Usually when you tell people to piss right off it tends to offend. We humans are not perfectly rational decision makers. Brexit and Trump Q.E.D. We may just end up with a load of broken heart stickers around the place and the keys to the car industry and half the finance industry  in the Channel. Nevertheless, if there is to be any coherence to Brexit, then it isn’t going to come from trying to ghost from the dinner party but still drink some party Martinis in the cloakroom. It means going right out the door, closing it properly behind us, taking the hit on Britain’s largest industry, which is probably still resilient enough to do business with some part of the world. And then starting over. Hoping the gravity theory of trade is a load of bollocks and distance and shared culture is entirely irrelevant to trade, because people in this country have had enough of experts.If I may trouble you, Mr Gove, with some tiresome facts

Casual inspection of the purple bit on the left indicates most of Brexit Britain’s exports go to the EU, which is geographically and culturally closer to us than the US and China, offering support for the gravitation theory of trade flows. Just sayin’

We need magical thinking, apparently, in the Govian world. I’m up for that.

Magickal thinking Mikey boy? That’s not magical thinking. I’ll show you real magical thinking…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the right sort of magic; the chaos magician RuneSoup’s deconstruction of the West’s current economic predicament is highly cogent narrative of how we got to such a sorry pass from a refreshingly different angle. I note he isn’t a fan of a universal income for some fairly decent reasons which may cause me to change my mind about that, cos unlike you, Mr Gove, I am not so smart as to be right all the time. Sometimes I talk arrant bollocks, and I’ve found it pays to consider the possibility of that happening once in a while. I commend the practice to you, Govey-boy. You just can’t knock RuneSoup’s summing up

What I would dearly like is for everyone to temporarily set aside their declared home on a spectrum of political representation set up in response to the realities of a Victorian industrial economy, take a calming breath, and read some ideas they find dangerous. Make your heads hurt a bit. But above all go decentral rather than central.

Because no one has a model for where we are in 2017. You will be better served by thinking quantitatively -ie with actual data- rather that tribally. It is a fascinating moment in the history of money.  There are huge opportunities to be found in solving the problems we going to have to solve. The risk/reward potential has never been higher.

That’s the Brexiteers’ fundamental problem – tribal thinking. It’s the Remainers’ problem too, but they lost the fight so what they think doesn’t really matter. There is no runner-up in a binary choice.

I need to get on the toff Brexiteers’ side rather than the proletarian side, and that means side with Capital, not Labour, and foreign capital at that.

I need assets out of GBP cash and in something else. There is absolutely no point in trying to resist Brexit. It’s big, it’s bad and it’s coming to ruin my wealth. One thing that is deeply in my advantage is that I have earned pretty much all the income I am ever going to earn[ref]that is earn as in sell my time for money, rather than earn as in interest and dividends, ie making money from Capital[/ref], so income now is money made on money, and different rules seem to apply to that. For starters, if I were earning £100k a year beginning of 2016, I’d now be earning £80k equivalent (it’s worse than that because tax thresholds haven’t been lifted 20%). But if I had a share portfolio of £2mill and were getting 5% on that in 2016, then this year I would have 2.6 million and would be earning £130k at 5% on that[ref]This would be a barmy way of running my portfolio/income, use a five year integration period. I had a crap last year of -7% and -1% year before that, though previous years were well into double figures. The 5 year integration is much more even. Nevertheless, the Brexit fall in the pound is a localised and as a filthy capitalist I am of the view that the capital is worth the same but measures different, while the proles income measures the same but is worth less.[/ref], with the able assistance of the proletariat that I’d suckered onto my side. Obviously I would still be eating the 20% fall in real value making about £104,000, but that’s a lot better than Rosie the Riveter on £20k which would now be earning a real pay of £16k. If you’re gonna be a Brexiteer, be a toff Brexiteer with capital behind you, because you are better able to survive, and perhaps profit from the fall in the pound. Unfortunately I don’t have £1 million, so I am on the wrong side of this fight, though probably a lot less on the wrong side of it than many who voted Brexit.

Plus of course if you employ riveters to make your widgets for you then the value of what you pay them falls and you win. The riveters will see their real incomes fall and their children will be stunted, but hopefully they voted for Brexit and think the hardship’s a price well worth paying to get their country back and stop hearing foreign languages in the street which seems to really piss them off. Obviously if they didn’t vote for Brexit then they have my commiserations. Life gives you lemons, though here I think the result will be more Grapes of Wrath than lemonade.

Unitised returns look good and the non-Brexit lift make up for a couple of crap years

Some things have got to get worse before they get better, so I need to examine the role of Capital in my life, because my deferred FS pension is going to take a Brexit hit. A FS pension is deferred pay, so I am still with the wage slaves in the impact of that, although I can press a better case for with inflation rises, up to a point. Now fortunately, as an investor I don’t do bonds and I don’t really do cash nowadays unless is ILSCs. I computed my unitised ISA performance over the last year, which was a 34% increase in unit value. In the past I overthought this massively, but now I seek simplicity. You unitise a portfolio by declaring year dot (2009/10 in my case) at £10/unit, and then you have as many units as your portfolio value divided by 10. The next year you put in an ISA’s worth of cash and buy units at £10, adding (ISA allowance)/(unit price=10) to the number of units you started out with. In January print out the value of your portfolio plus cash. You know how many units you have from last year, so dividing the value of your portfolio by the number of units tells you the new unit price. Hopefully it’s up, and up more than the value of inflation for that year 😉 Monevator tells you how to deal with putting money in and out of a unitized protfolio. I have only put money in, so life is simpler for me. I should also remember that 20% of that 34% increase isn’t real, it’s simply I am measuring with a 10-inch ruler not a 12-inch ruler due to the fall in the £. But I shouldn’t be such a miserable git, my unit price went up by over 1/4 last year regardless. Obviously there is a humdinger of a crash coming at some point, the bull run out of the 2009 crash is long in the tooth now. Which will take this all back down to size, although at least there’s no tremendous need for a reversion to the mean from the illusory Brexit boost. Some things you don’t get to un-cock-up in a hurry.

The trouble with this approach…

is called Donald Trump, because I am investing in only two funds in my ISA in this tax year, VWRL and a Legal and General DevWorld ex UK, although I have plenty of accumulated shares in my HYP and a lot of more racy EM stock from a couple of years ago when I miscalled the bottom 😉 Even my stake in that bad boy Putin‘s operation  is up 16%. I don’t think this is particularly because Putin is doing something right, more to do with the brain-fart otherwise known as Brexit lifting the apparent price, along with a fair amount of my other mis-called EM stock. It’s an ill wind…

Both of the funds have over 50% of the US, the US has been overpriced since 2009 and it’s still overpriced. At the risk of tempting fate with the dreaded ‘this time it’s different’ I came to accept American exceptionalism because too many of the massive global and tech companies are US only – there is simply no Amazon, Facebook, Apple anywhere else, and I came to the conclusion that I had to suck it up and drink the Kool-Aid, albeit in index-fund form. I have no ambition to stockpick the USA. But I was wrong to shun the US on valuation and have no doubt given up a lot of money because of that.

Very tough call, our Donald. Here is a dude who disseminates policy by Twitter. The (liberal, losing-case) Atlantic summed up the problem well

The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

Trump might actually be good for America in the short/medium term, but it’s hard to tell. If he is, then he will run up the debt, as Republican administrations tend to do for all their hard talking, but we can hope he can also increase spending. Structural problems will still abound – the robots will still be coming for Americans’ jobs, and just like the Brexiteers, Trump won’t be able to bring the 1950s back. At least he doesn’t have to bring the days of Empire back. At the moment we have no real way of knowing, no way of detecting the signal in the noise spouted forth by this man-child. It is possible that he is brighter than he appears, and he’s clearly more cunning. Like the Brexiteers, Americans voted for change, and change is what they will get. Whether it is the change they want remains to be seen.

I’m not sure I am comfortable increasing my US exposure beyond the end of this tax year. The PE ratio is shockingly high for someone used to UK values

S&P500 PE

where I usually want a good reason to pay more than 15-18 times earnings. And yet the US market looks like it is historically on higher earnings multiples. This year I was lucky, I bought from both a old Cash ISA moved into shares as well as this year’s allowance, before the Brexit vote. So it is likely that my fellow countrymen, in a heroic act of economic self-immolation, bought the Ermine portfolio out of overpaying for American exceptionalism. I guess there has to be some compensation for needing to get a visa to get on Eurostar, not having enough care workers when I get old and all that, and this is it. So thank you, Brexiteers. And even more thanks Lady Luck for the fact that I bought into this hopelessly overpriced region before Brexit. That ill wind again.

It is possible as a Remainer I may one day have to offer thanks to the Brexiteers

One word. Euro. It’s big, it’s bad, it was misbegotten from the off, and fudged by Germany when it was the Greece of the day. I went to Germany in 2004 and was surprised to see how down at heel it looked, Gerhard Schroder’s Germany went through the mill with the Euro then. Was a bit of a reversal of the time long ago when my German grandmother came to London in the mid 1960s and wondered at all the bomb-sites still left and all old bangers on the road, whereas Nürnberg was well into reconstruction with the results of the Marshall Plan and Konrad Adenauer’s Wirtschaftswunder. She obviously knew to STFU on the tactless observation “but I thought this was the place that won the war” but it did cross her mind as downright odd. So the other way when I went to Germany in the mid 2000s and saw the results of reunification and the place reaping the ‘benefit’ of the Harz reforms. Anyway, back  to the demon-child of European federalism, the Euro.

One day this sucker could go down. Perhaps eventually Britain may join EEC-Nord[ref]I am not actually sure that Britain is capable of Northern European economic rigour, so perhaps not[/ref] in a common market, where in the same way as Germans still don’t really like using credit cards because of the old collective memories of the Weimar inflation EEC-Nord will stick to economics and customs rather than trying to create a United States of Europe. That will only last a couple of generations, in the same way as Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall nearly 70 years after it was enacted in the Great Depression, but it will see me out.

The euphoria of the 1990s following the reunification of Germany, and the triumphalism of the fall of the Soviet Union went to people’s heads, and as the European Economic Community metamorphosed in the EU we[ref]In fairness that ‘we’ shouldn’t really include Brits, who were always Das Inselreich[/ref] told ourselves a story that there was more common cause among Europeans than there really is. The response to the Euro crisis, and the response to the refugee crisis show that this assumption of common cause does not hold across Europe – under pressure it dissolves into its nation-states in a way that states of the US just don’t do.

Perhaps Mrs Thatcher was the agent of destruction here as well – the pre-1995 EEC had about a dozen members of broadly similar economic capacity and she promoted the expansion to the poorer states of the East specifically because she wanted to put a brake on greater integration. She didn’t like the idea of France and Germany ganging up on poor li’l ole Britain.

“We must never forget that east of the Iron Curtain peoples who once enjoyed a full share of European culture and identity have been cut off from their roots,” she declared in 1988. “We shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities.”

I guess she forgot to add watch out for blowback because there was some risk of these good people being somewhat dynamic than the lumpenproletariat who weren’t prepared to get on their bikes meaning there would be hell to pay in 20 years’ time. Or more likely she had a great crystal ball and a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War next to her copy of The Iliad open on the bit with the wooden horse and was biding her time. In 1975 it appears she was vaguely pro-EU but 40 years is a long time in politics.

Either way, that assumption of common European cause is plainly not true. Even once the pesky Brits have been ejected, it still won’t be true. It’s not like the love really shows ‘twixt Merkel’s Germany and Greece, when it comes to kein Finanzunion. The EU can perfectly well survive Brexit without missing a beat. But I don’t think it can survive the economic and philosophical tensions at the heart of the misbegotten Euro project. Until Germany is prepared to shovel money into Greece without question in the same way as the State of New York[ref]among all the other net contributors – more here[/ref] shovels money into Detroit, Michigan via the Federal government then the Euro will always be a source of danger. There just isn’t the same sort of carping about the defacto financial union of the US as there is about the Euro. And that’s why it’s a convincing United States of America, and that is why the EU is such an unconvincing United States of Europe. A common language would also help, as indeed would a common (and effective) military and defence policy. Even without Britain carping from the touchline this just ain’t going to happen, and while a common language isn’t necessary, as many EU nations show, the defence of the realm is one of the basic requirements of a nation state. Schengen is a lovely idea in theory, but the rubber of the ideal meets the road when you send your young men out to die to hold the borders…

I’m still of the opinion that Brexit is a clusterfuck of the first order that will do untold damage to most UK citizens’ medium and short-term wealth. However, if there is any silver lining, then it is gaining distance between the human and fiscal misery and blood and guts raining down if and when the Euro blows. That will be something that I may well live to thank the Brexiteers for. They will have got the right answer for the wrong reasons. I am also pleased to find some coherence in the outpourings of the thousand monkeys in that we have to properly go out into the cold and then see where we can go from there, rather than the trite have-cake-and-eat-it witterings of the man-child BoJo “what happened there”. Theresa May needs to shut up with Brexit means Brexit and say we will leave the EU and do whatever needs to be done to control immigration. It is what the proles voted for, although the toffs and BoJos of this world didn’t really give a toss about immigration because cheap labour ain’t such a bad thing if you have Capital. But they have the tiger by the tail and need to keep quiet about that. There’ll be reason enough for the masses rioting on the streets in the coming decade without giving them the extra excuse of we was robbed as far as hearing people not speaking English.

If we want our country back then we have to accept the economic devastation that goes with that; most trade is done with one’s neighbours. And this is a fight that will be lost less by Capital rather than Labour. The next ten years won’t be a good time if you’re earning minimum wage, and don’t even think about having children if so, it’s not going to be a good time if you are poor and elderly, it’s going to be rough if you owe too much money, though you may be saved from buying too much house by the inflation. But we’ll have our country back, what’s left of the former glory to scavenge in the twisted wreckage. And in ten years’ time we may hear that massive explosion go up next door, and be grateful for “Fog of Brexit in Channel, Continent cut off“. Once upon a time a more gallant Britain put a lot of blood and guts into alleviating a European tragedy, but we are all individuals and there has been no such thing as society since ’87, so we’ll probably shrug and say “nothing to do with us”.

Decline is like that. The Empire isn’t coming back and neither are the 1950s. There aren’t any good options here. The proletariat of the West is losing the economic fight because they are becoming less and less relevant to production/ productivity, and the enfeebled body politic seems to search and find no answer because it has caretakers, not leaders[ref]Exhibit A is the tosser David Cameron. Not only did he not have the balls to refuse the referendum and say this was for Parliament to decide in the first place, but then when he didn’t get the answer he wanted he scarpered at the earliest opportunity. Imagine the shit we’d have been in if Churchill had bottled it in the Blitz.[/ref] at the switch. In the words of Oswald Spengler

There wakes at last a deep yearning for all old and worthy tradition that still lingers alive. Men are tired to disgust of money-economy. They hope for salvation from somewhere or other, for some true ideal of honour and chivalry, of inward nobility, of unselfishness and duty. And now dawns the time when the form-filled powers of the blood, which the rationalism of the Megalopolis has suppressed, reawaken in the depths.

We want our country back rises the rallying cry. You got it, buster. Enjoy the ride.

No doubt Brexiteers will moan that I am talking Great Britain down. Sod y’all. It’s my blog and my vision of the future. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s what I think is most likely. I went to Oxford for a conference a week or so ago, and I saw levels of rough sleeping that remind me of Thatcher’s London in 1981.

Oxford High Street – lots of happy well-to-do people buying shiny baubles and nary a Money Shop, charity shop or other sign of deprivation in sight. But at night the character of the city changes, the empty shop doorways are populated by the homeless with tinnies in their hands. Even in the day there’s a high level of street begging. Brexit ain’t even started yet!

At least in London you have the urban heat island effect on your side as a rough sleeper – Oxford was bloody cold even in a camper van with electric hookup and a heater. The rough sleeping is a lot worse than when I went there two years ago, and that’s despite the Brexiteers’ triumphalism that the economy is going so swimmingly. We haven’t started to leave the EU, never mind finished it yet, there is time enough for some though not all of Project Fear to show up in the next five to ten years. If we’re gonna run on magical thinking, then let’s at least have the right sort of magical practitioners, and Govey-boy and your Brexit Central ain’t the right sort at all.

2017 – welcome to the decade of the candy diet [ref]H/T Monevator even if it did make me despair[/ref] and the wrong sort of magical thinking.



55 thoughts on “A great last year on the markets and a survival plan for 2017”

  1. I live in Oxford, but don’t normally venture into the town centre after dark. Several months ago I did so, and was horrified at huge increase in rough sleepers. It’s startling. Oxford has always been attractive to rough sleepers, but seeing them in this number was… troubling.


    1. It was quite amazing. While we had a return bus ticket (from your wonderfully integrated bus system that actually printed on the ticket which other services we could use, which is kind to tourists and foreigners) to the campsite only a mile away down Abingdon Road, we nearly bottled it to take a taxi, because it started to feel rather edgy with a possible fight (not with us) ready to break out.

      Rough sleepers have in fact more to fear from the general public than the other way round, but in the end the lizard-brain just doesn’t feel that at all at night in an unknown city. The juxtaposition of the opulent wealth with the reality was even more uncanny, it’s not like we don’t have any begging or homelessness in Ipswich, but it’s at a much lower level and less alcohol at the moment.


  2. the legendary ermine-rant gets off to a flyer in 2017

    I hope you care less than you seem to for your own sake.

    I too can report a massive increase in homelessness down on the south coast


    1. > massive increase in homelessness down on the south coast

      Interesting – I have the suspicion that the real economy where most Brits live is in much deeper shit than the financial economy of the PF universe.

      As a retiree I don’t really do cities much, so this has passed me by a bit. I’m more of a natural world/prehistoric stones sort of guy so I haven’t seen many other night-time city centres of late.

      I think a pick-up in homelessness is a leading indicator – the Charing Cross soup-kitchen I volunteered for a couple of nights in my first year of college was 1979, but Thatcher’s first recession didn’t really get its boots on until 1981/82. I was one of her 3 million unemployed for six months until I got my first real job in ’82


      1. there is probably an argument to be made that out of the various demographics abound in the UK – you are in the one that has benefited most from brexit thus far. TI pointed it out in the comments on his latest article, i.e. the decumulating baby-boomer.

        I would also argue that the you are the them, in the them and us view, in as much as you have capital on your side.

        I personally don’t subscribe to the them and us view. I think its a cognitive bias. But its a very popular one.

        Until we actually see a bit of rampant inflation – from a purely economic perspective, you could argue that brexit has done you a big favour right when it was most useful..

        I don’t expect much agreement on this one – but its worth considering..


      2. I thought that was some of the argument I was making in the section headed Unitised returns look good, I hat-tipped the ill wind 😉

        I am for self-preservation. I need to get more onto the side of Them. The trouble is in terms of pension savings only about 1/3 of mine is decumulating DC funds. In terms of the deferred pay of my DC pension I get to eat the Brexit fall in the £ like everyone else, though I do acknowledge the pay is guaranteed and is index-linked to a point.

        I wasn’t part of trying to make Brexit and didn’t vote for it. But now it’s happened I am going to prioritize my interests. Nevertheless I’m not such a heartless bastard as to be indifferent to the human suffering. Hopefully my prognosis is wrong and the Brexiteers are spot on. 5-10 years hence I would be more than happy to say I miscalled it rather than be right!


      3. > Brexit hasn’t happened yet

        True, I should have said happening. The time to do something about an impeding change is usually before it happens, unless it’s a positive change


  3. Welcome back Sir,

    Opinions such as yours are deeply refreshing in these shallow, clickbait times, where new depths seem to have been plumbed since the beginning of the current dumbing down era. I never thought I’d live to see our political ‘leaders’ elected via a sort of reality TV format – the f’kwit games perhaps – I’d wish you a happy new year, but honestly all I feel is apprehension too.

    As you say, if only there was something to jump to to avoid the avalanche of ignorance, at least to move your savings/investments, but the virus has spread across the world using the globalised financial system. It feels like the phony war is over now & we are going to collectively pay for that ignorance; at least to some extent if we’re not insulated by membership of the elite.

    As a layperson, I first started to have doubts about the financial economy having gone rogue in the early noughties, when too many things didn’t add up. It’s like the line in that song at the time by the Manic Street Preachers -‘And if you tolerate this, then your children will be next’ – most people didn’t get it …..presumably because they thought it was in Welsh. [ Forin, innit ]

    We need the wisdom of states-wo/men to get us out of this self-induced sh*t-storm, with the diplomatic dexterity of surgeons, but what we have is political pygmies who have to whistle on the bog to know which end to wipe. The discourse to date by our rulers that will dictate our survival reminds me of being at a zoo when a small child and seeing monkeys throwing sh*t at each other…..sure it’s undeniably funny & very entertaining in one way, but you wouldn’t want to entrust your future to them, that’s a queasy thought.


    1. I don’t think I can unimagine those shit-throwing monkeys 😉 At least Call Me Dave had the residual gumption to vacate the driving seat when the task became above his pay grade.

      I enjoyed the MSP track. Maybe the coming recession will bring the great years for British music I miscalled a few years ago during the previous bout of rioting!


  4. Another fine discussion for which it was well worth waiting. You have incisively summed up the the folly of prole Trump supporters in the US in your analysis of Brexit. Just substitute African elder care workers and zanahorias for your carrots. You’ve also illuminated the fact that high earners, along with the ultra-wealthy can ride over the bumps out but lower income workers and proles will have mountains to overcome.
    That is just how they want it in America. Threaten a person’s livelihood and dangle a carrot, excuse me, zanahoria, in front and you’ll have them in your pocket. When someone is worried about losing their home or feeding their family, they have will have less than aught concern for the environment and will happily destroy their own back yard with fracking and mining.
    I shall not start in on the for-profit American education system which will take anyone who can afford tuition and instead of forming minds for critical and rational thought, forms cogs to fit into the great economic treadmill and gives them just enough education to believe what they have been taught but not enough to question it.


    1. There seems a lot of commonality ‘twixt Brexit and Trump in terms of the underlying forces and causes. And your education system is rapacious and scary, and tragically we seem to be following you down the marketisation track in tertiary education 😦


  5. Check out Chart 11 in the following link and have a good long think 😉 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/10/blunt-heckler-economists-failing-us-booming-britain-gdp-london

    This whole mess was clearly understood before the starting pistol was fired (cheers Clinton) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwmOkaKh3-s

    But dismissed, because castrating and trashing the western rule of laws that tied capital to the people was worth it to raise the billions of poor out of poverty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qibxm52y1v8, with limited environmental downside http://www.livescience.com/27862-china-environmental-problems.html

    Still a democratic project such as the EU should not be challenged https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qfN-DQAAQBAJ&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=the+dark+heart+of+the+eu+commissioner&source=bl&ots=RSLeir7pxB&sig=uR2ly0ZaoPMpLZirrvUMh9sVSQ8&hl=en&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjlsbrRq7jRAhWlAcAKHReQBq4Q6AEIIDAB#v=onepage&q&f=false

    We will pay with our pockets, our recent forefathers paid with their lives…


    1. Sir James Goldsmith was a top rant –
      “It will be the poor in the rich countries who will subsidise the rich in the poor countries” at 43m

      I guess we got that now

      You can read the book he was plugging for free on his website


      1. Thanks for that link.

        I would also add that my vote is local, not supranational. I am not giving up my vote and I will campaign long and hard to ensure no one takes my vote. That is my well thought out personal understanding of “take back control”. The Ponzi economy can go *@!# itself long before I surrender that 😉


  6. This post was worth the wait 🙂
    I was almost resolved to divest Brexit of all real estate it had acquired in my brain, but mate, you can’t write posts like this and expect people to stick to their Almost New Year’s Resolutions.
    “I’d rather be shafted by my own fuckwittery than that of other people” – I share the sentiment. Also, according to HSBC’s Brexometer (https://www.ft.com/content/d7ef866c-f2ca-3f2e-bc8b-d5a5b4cad94e), and given our lack of a strong negotiating position, negotiators capable of negotiating, and, y’know, a negotiation strategy, we’re looking at GBP/USD 1.1. Unless a miracle happens, though I don’t know where that miracle could come from.
    Indeed, Nigel “I’ll lose my job(sic) as MEP” Farage and his ilk are unlikely to suffer much inconvenienced from having their country back. They wouldn’t have gone for it otherwise.
    To be honest, I think London and its financial services sector will be fine. This country’s rich and powerful have too much vested interest in the capital’s continued success, and Her Majesty’s coffers are too dependent on financial services to try and do without, especially after Brexit, with NHS and without cheap labour. It took my employer 6 months to set up 2 new companies on the continent. I have a few new grey hairs, but now that we’ve got the subs, we’re fine. If anything, our jobs are more secure, not less, and our shareholders are happily eating the startup cost because our USD and EUR revenues are now worth more while our GBP salaries are (sadly) as as you’ve described.
    Thanks for the link to Rune Soup – it’s an interesting read.


    1. Oh, I think there’s a lot of life in this old Brexit dog yet! There’s a whiff of special-interest pleading in the Jenga comment from HSBC. Your company’s solution seems to be the obvious and sensible solution, but if I were a bank I’d still want a good presence outside the epicentre of any impending Euro shitstorm. And after all, the fall in the pound mean you get to hire a bunch of talented and experienced people for 80% of their price this time last year. Brexit – making Britain the low-wage capital of Europe 😉


      1. To be honest, I’m not convinced the Euro will fall. They gave up democracy in Greece just so they could keep it. The federalist elements of the EU are the handiwork of the French. Conceived in god’s eye and passed down to us mortals by Europe’s finest nation. They don’t do bottom-up, those people. I’m not bigoted, just observant. The Germans have been going along with it for longer than I fought could be possible for anyone to put up with such merde. They also paid for East German unification with surprisingly little whining. When Euro was first thought of (by the French), Germans got summarily shafted. You may recall they had dubbed it ‘the expensive Euro’ back then. Many said it was the price Kohl had to pay to be allowed to unify the country. Obviously in the end it worked out. By devaluing the Mark on exchange to Euro it made German inputs cheaper and so helped their industry. I suppose what I’m saying is that there have been greater obstacles in the past that didn’t derail the project when arguably there was less to lose by admitting defeat and cutting the losses. They didn’t. Maybe the Euro is a bit like a critical patient – the longer it survives the better it’s chances?


      2. > They also paid for East German unification with surprisingly little whining.

        It just didn’t get out of the country. Blimey, you ought to have heard my grandmother grousing about the Solidaritaetssteuer on her pension.

        I don’t think the fat lady’s sung on that. The divergence is still running, and the compensations (the young of the EU-South if they have any talent moving to the EU-North) aren’t yet beating the divergence. The lack of common cause seems to stick out more and more.

        When they pass a Supremacy Clause declaring that

        [the EU constitution] shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby

        then there’s a chance. There’s no secession clause in the US constitution. They better repeal that damn Article 50 then, now we’ve shown people what it’s for. The US has been here before and shown how it’s done, and done a much more competent job. Even then they had to have a civil war to bottom it all out,

        > mobile site

        Blimey, I was under the fond impression that wordpress fixed that automatically. But no, you’re quite right, it seems that’s nto the case.


      3. Actually, it is Solidaritätszuschlag (solidarity surcharge) and not Solidaritätssteuer (solidarity tax)!

        As far as I remember it, there *was* very little whining, at least initially. Remember that the German division was imposed from the outside and that’s how it felt to most. And even then money flowed from West to East Germany – not to mention the subsidies to keep West-Berlin economically afloat. The realisation how expensive East German reconstruction turned out be only came later. The solidarity surcharge was only meant to go for a year or so, but it is still being charged and there is no firm political will to end it at all. There was some noticeable grousing when that first became clear. Nowadays only a very small percentage of that actually ends up in the former East Germany

        Mind you, you will always have some people complaining about every tax they pay. Fortunately that situation isn’t anywhere near as bad here as it is in the UK or US.

        Ermine, it’s good you have you back after that Christmas scare. And as curmudgeonly as ever!


  7. Thank you! A beautifully crafted piece that summarises a lot of what I have been feeling, more pithily and more wittily than I could have managed.

    Welcome back!


  8. Thought you’d been a bit quiet! Clearly this had been brewing and needed release. Brexit, Trump….nothing. Wait ’til Le Pen, and the end of this particular European project. They’ll soon start another one though, and ask us if we fancy it for around an annual £8 billion entry ticket. Limited free movement and a relaunch of the Mark with a new name, the Euro II. Far fetched? Oh, how they laughed when I bet money on Trump a year and a half ago. Unfortunately I cashed out my US trackers this time last year when I began to suspect he really might win. Plus ca change, eh?


    1. The Sir James Goldsmith book foretold the (non-Brexit associated) issues with eerie precision in 1994. Common Markets work well in regions of similar prosperity – EEC-Nord wouldn’t be a bad idea if it stuck to free trade among relative peers and avoided all the common currency and political union malarkey. Two things had to go wrong – one was Thatcher’s push to enlarge to the poorer countries to the East, which was a deliberate attempt to stymie further political integration. And then Maastrict, which was the further integration and free movement of people between non-peers seemed to be enacted. James Goldsmith pretty much outlined in detail in 1994 the sort of shit that would happen to low-end workers, Brexit was the result of that force at the low end, my early retirement and possibly yours was the effect of that force via globalisation and the middle range of the employment spectrum. I should have read his book ages ago!

      I was toying with spreadbetting binaries on Trump, on the grounds that if it happened it would deeply piss me off and ruin my wealth, and if it didn’t happen I would be down a few grand. I guess started buying US trackers through 2016. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good eh 😉


  9. I was in Oxford last night, I’m not sure the homeless situation is much different than in the past, there has always been a regular contingent of them. Also there is a hostel behind the courts on the Abingdon road so you tend to see a few more of them around there. I’d want to see some stats before I read too much into it.


  10. Another great article. I’m 44 now and have watched the Euro-shambles since ~2000 with great interest. I live in rural Herefordshire and there were very few Remainers here in my circle. Not wanting to get into the debate, the scoundrel masses voted for what their puny brains thought was right. I have personally observed how immigration has affected people. We live in the society we make for ourselves. The proles are so busy fighting among themselves for the scraps (and checking their Smartphones) that they would never think about just taking what is rightfully theirs. The decision not to have children was the best one I ever made.


    1. > The decision not to have children was the best one I ever made.

      The writing’s been on the wall for people for getting on for 7 years and over two administrations. But I guess people don’t want to hear bad news…

      That James Goldsmith 1994 book called some of issues that were to arise on immigration – the 1975 EEC was a common market of 9 broadly economic peers, and such a free trade area is generally A Good Thing.

      The Maastrict 1992 treaty was probably where the rot started to set in and the seeds were sown for it to start going titsup for the poor of the rich countries, because the EU to be became much less a free trade area of economic peers.


  11. As a fellow Remainer, I have a lot of sympathy with your very fine New Year rant. However I reckon that the post-referendum devaluation hasn’t left you (and the rest of us) quite as badly off as you seem to imply. A 15% depreciation in the sterling exchange rate doesn’t mean that everyone in the UK is therefore 15% poorer as a result. We Brits are definitely poorer – but not by as much as 15%. Our real incomes are lower because the price of everything we import (not just Marmite) increases. The last time I looked, imports were roughly 30% of GDP. A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests that on average real incomes would fall by about 5% because of the depreciation in sterling. So significant (and unwelcome) certainly, but not as bad as the headline reduction in the exchange rate. And, as you note, the sizeable overseas component, direct and indirect, of most equity portfolios provides further mitigation for those who are fortunate enough to have significant investments.
    I’m assuming here that the Ermine remains in the UK. Clearly the position would be different if your income (e.g. your DB pension) was paid in sterling and you decided to live abroad. If this was the case, you would take the full currency hit, as you would be receiving your income in sterling and paying your living costs in, say, euros. For all sorts of reasons I hope this doesn’t happen. ‘Simple Living in Stuttgart’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.


    1. That’s a fair comment. I haven’t really finished building my DC capital (in my ISA) and for historical reasons I had a lot of home bias. So I’m a little bit more exposed because I want to buy more foreign assets.

      The less well off Brexiteers may take much of the hit because they spend a high proportion (~20%) of their devalued income on food than the 10% UK average on food. Fuel is probably lso a higher part of their spend, we import about 40% and rising of energy. We seem to import about half our food by value so I’d guess a 10% Brexit premium for these households. But at least they got their country back 😉

      I will be spending more on foreign assets for the next few years than on food and and fuel. But it is elective spend, and I’ve gained on a lot of what I have, so it’s a fair cop, on reflection I won’t probably be eating a 20% wealth hit.


  12. I followed the link, and read the runesoup article. It was interesting and well-reasoned. Then I clicked around and read some other stuff at the site and holy crap… Is it the same author? I realize I’m falling in the Ad Hominem fallacy trap, but I can’t, just can’t, take it seriously if so.


    1. hehe – in a world of echo chambers and filter bubbles it is one of the things an author shoud do is go off-piste and visit different viewpoints 😉

      I’m with F Scott Fitzgerald

      “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

      Crick and Watson and science generally has never yet quite nailed the problem of vitalism IMO. You can freeze embryos before consciousness (probably) has started and get a working human being. Alcor have yet to show any hint of unfreezing a head that’s died and getting a blink of an eye never mind rebooting the original consciousness from the BIOS. I suspect they are simply doing expensive deep-frozen long pig.

      I’m not saying RuneSoup’s magic is right, But it’s better than Michael Gove’s magical thinking because it appears interally consistent though the axioms are of course most open to challenge. Gove’s is merely wilful ignorance IMO 😉


  13. I don’t share your pessimism.

    The fall in the pound will impact on inflation on imported goods to the extent that these costs are passed on, so it might hopefully be less than the 5% mentioned above.

    Your final salary pension’s index linking should surely cover this inflation for you.

    You seem to have made an astute call in being in world/US assets this year.

    If the EU seeks to punish the UK on trade then they will punish themselves too. Maybe the current commission want to do that but hopefully the current or future national leaders may eventually decide against that.

    As you seem to be against the Euro and the super-state then Brexit is a positive in that it will further distance the UK from the Euro and get the UK out of the super-state.

    On Brexit I was reassured to read before the vote that “it is plausible that Brexit could have a modest negative impact on growth and job creation. But it is slightly more plausible that the net impacts will be modestly positive.”


    1. I’m pessimistic in the short term but less so in the long terrm because I suspect the centrifugal forces will overcome the original sin of the EU – the doctrine of ‘ever closer union’ whose highest exposition is the Euro project.

      Being middle-aged, I only have 30-40 years of future at the outside, so the short-term costs loom larger for my lifecycle. But unlike many Remainers/Brexiteers I see something on both sides, just not on the same timsecales.

      Woodford’s not the only one – this is an interesting view derived from quite different axioms that comes to a similar conclusion on Brexit. Ugly short term suckout, but

      a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

      > You seem to have made an astute call in being in world/US assets this year.

      Nope. That was sheer dumb luck getting the willies about being too globally imbalanced, but before Brexit. The only call I made which was maybe astute was to jump into the global stock market very fast after Brexit which I hadn’t expected – but that happened in my SIPP, which it’ll now take me six years to flatten ahead of my DB pension rather than the anticipated five. I observed the short term suckout in equites caused by Brexit and figured the pound would eat the suckout for longer.


      1. “The only call I made which was maybe astute was to jump into the global stock market very fast after Brexit which I hadn’t expected – but that happened in my SIPP”

        Me too – I had been well overweight in the UK up to that point. Done well since measured in GBP, in other currencies not so much ..


  14. Blog deleted, can’t be bothered to read your rant! I’m looking forward to Brexit and Trump – about time the establishment/liberal alliance was replaced.


  15. Excellent post. Oddly, I agree with basically everything you said about Brexit yet voted the opposite way, albeit with considerable misgivings.

    Certainly in my case that had fuck all to do with immigration (although favouring Europeans over non-Europeans for no other reason than their nationality is kinda racist, an occasional Brexiteer line of argument, it never kept me awake at night). It was almost entirely due to a sense that the EU is both unsustainable and incapable of the necessary change to become sustainable, for many of the reasons which you elucidate more eloquently than I could.

    None of that makes it feel good, though, knowing that my vote and those of people who voted similarly will have a tangible and destructive effect on many people who are not well placed financially to weather it in the short and medium term.


    1. I’m coming to the conclusion that on sustainability I am a Remainer short (5-10 yrs) and Leaver long (10 yrs out). So it is perhaps logical that we agree but came to a different voting decision, the age difference roughs out that you have 30 years of long view on me which could shift the balance of the outcome given some common concerns on EU sustainability 😉


      1. Fair point. Interesting (if we’re right) that it should have been the older folks who disproportionately voted to leave, though.


      2. their reasons may have been different 😉 The Euro in particular scares me, putting people in Greece and perhaps eventually Italy through the wringer like that may cause dark forces to rise.

        Some of my mother’s friends (she is German) over there seem to feel some of Trump’s rhetoric reminds them of the 1930s, but at least the US had FDR

        FDR explained in 1944 that “people who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” That observation was confirmed on Friday.

        whereas that sort of thing didn’t play out so well in Europe compared to the US


  16. I was thinking about just that the other day, the sanctity of free-movement (as long as your european). WTF?.

    My hope is that UK does business as usual after brexit, rest of europe sees that its feasible to leave. EU realises this, shits itself then acknowledges it needs to become EU light, i.e. ditch the euro, scale back its ambitions etc. and then, incrementally, UK effectively rejoins the new EU light in all but name, i.e. like Norway..

    Bit like sweden and finland not being in NATO, but you wouldn’t think that by the way they’re embedded in all that goes on..


    1. @Rhino ‘My hope is that UK does business as usual after brexit, rest of europe sees that its feasible to leave. EU realises this, shits itself then acknowledges it needs to become EU light, i.e. ditch the euro, scale back its ambitions etc. and then, incrementally, UK effectively rejoins the new EU light in all but name, i.e. like Norway..’

      The drawback to your hope is that it gives the EU an incentive to ensure that the UK does anything but business as usual after Brexit – which is basically what they’ve said from day one.


    2. On the question of free movement, there is a bit of a tension, as you say, between pro-European discrimination and the nicey-nicey “Brotherhood of Man” rhetoric of many Remainers regarding immigration. It’s far more about free movement of *labour* than of people, in my view, to support economic performance.

      The reason this never affected my own vote, though, is that pragmatically I do not believe 99% of Leave voters were thinking along the same lines. Rather, they wanted to “even out” this particular injustice by telling Europeans and non-Europeans alike to fuck off. For that reason, on immigration grounds I’d rather we at least had the Europeans, even acknowledging that the EU club is not truly inclusive.


  17. ‘Rather, they wanted to “even out” this particular injustice by telling Europeans and non-Europeans alike to fuck off.’

    A relief I’m sure for the ~3 million Europeans in the UK that constitute the main political football in this divorce, that the bigotry is generalised; so they shouldn’t take it personally that their lives have been upended. Stiff upper lip & all that hypocrisy.

    The state-sanctioned persecution of a defenseless civilian population to win a guaranteed 50% of potential votes will no doubt help convince putative new trading partners around the globe that little britain is a wonderful place to deal with …….& they can trust their people’s safety here.


    1. @Survivor

      I can’t tell if you’re simply agreeing, or whether you have misconstrued my comment and believe that my position is that “evening out” injustice by making things worse for one group until we reach the common denominator is a good thing. That is exactly the opposite of my position.


  18. @freedomsoul – Ah apologies for the lack of clarity, I hadn’t realised it could be interpreted in more than one way, let alone exact opposites – so it was unintentionally cryptic.

    I was trying to express frustration at the views of some Brexiteers that mistreating our former [EU] allies was somehow justifiable or else it’s racist discrimination to have a higher entry barrier against people from former colonies for example. I’ve actually had that argument put to me & suspect it’s just a fig leaf for those who were always bigots straining at the leash.

    If you were saying that freedom of movement encouraged by those in power was always intended to suppress the cost of labour across the EU-zone, I agree & see it as an unfortunate case of the 1% playing the masses against each other for their further enrichment. This has the ugly outcome of undermining the attitudinal project to foster solidarity amongst all the Europeans, so we don’t relapse into squabbling, let alone the endless wars.


    1. “I was trying to express frustration at the views of some Brexiteers that mistreating our former [EU] allies was somehow justifiable or else it’s racist discrimination to have a higher entry barrier against people from former colonies for example. I’ve actually had that argument put to me & suspect it’s just a fig leaf for those who were always bigots straining at the leash.”

      Oh, absolutely (my comment was no doubt ambiguous too – one of the hazards of online communication). I can speak only for myself, but I am sincerely pro-immigration despite also being pro-Brexit. This is paradoxical only due to the practical, anti-immigration effects we’re likely to see from Brexit, rather than because it is logically inconsistent per se. Like you, though, it is my impression that the discrimination argument is almost always a “fig leaf”, and as such I regard the likely immigration effects of Brexit as collateral damage rather than a positive.

      “If you were saying that freedom of movement encouraged by those in power was always intended to suppress the cost of labour across the EU-zone, I agree & see it as an unfortunate case of the 1% playing the masses against each other for their further enrichment.”

      This is indeed my suspicion. I fear the so-called “elites” are less bothered about freedom of movement in terms of its benefits to the individual, and more in terms of its benefits to business.

      Despite the above, if immigration/freedom of movement had been my sole consideration is voting, I would most certainly have voted Remain.


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