Monday, September 8, 2014

Pound plummets, stocks plummet, economy in dire straights: why? Well, the Scots might well – perhaps - en masse tell Perfidious Albion to take a running jump

Las Albadas: Year three, fourth day.

Well into my week of doing nothing and caring even less about it. Nothing much to report, really, except that somewhere along the line I’ve been bitten several times – about nine or ten times – and have the marks to show it. Where the spider came from, and why it had it in for me I don’t know. I most certainly do not have a ‘thing about spiders’ (being afraid of them, rather than wanting to shag them, as is the other meaning of ‘having a thing for’), and had I seen the bloody spider and/or caught it in the act, it would have become acquainted with the full fury of a Powell bitten. But spiders are a long way from the Scots desire for independence from Perfidious Albion (or, at least, the desire of many Scots for independence – just how many there are, or rather just how many there are who can be bothered to leave the TV alone for the 15 minutes it takes to go along to the polling booth and cast their vote, will be revealed a week on Thursday.

I mention this for two reason: first writing about the Scottish independence referendum and, well, possible Scottish independence allows me once again to post the pic I came across several years ago of a Scottish bar stool. Here it is:

Scottish bar stool

The second reason is to register my bewilderment, experienced again today for the umpteenth time, at the behaviour of ‘the markets’, or more specifically ‘the financial markets’ and ‘the stock exchange.

I’m not a complete naif about the workings of the economy, the stock market and the rest of that goddam-awful shite, and, whisper it quietly, I even own a few shares, although these are part and parcel of my ‘pension plan’ (the inverted commas, as ever useful for making a point, are intended to convey what a pitiful ‘pension plan’ it is: with luck I shall be able to pay my yearly electricity bill and my weekly bus far to the local food bank.) But the stock market seems once again to prove the truth of a realisation most of us come to at some point in our lives, that however upright, bright, pleasant, rational and attractive folk are individually – or, of course, depending upon the individual, not – gather them into a group of more than, say, ten or twelve and they lose most of their rationality and most certainly the group as a whole begins to behave like a dumb shit.

A herd mentality takes over, and I know, because I once bought (but never read) a book about the herd mentality of the stock market, the group behaves like someone with an IQ in minus figures. So, for example, an opinion poll this morning revealed that, according to its research (i.e. the number of folk they questioned down the pub last night) more Scots want to become independent and leave the United Kingdom than want to stay and – well, there are better ways of putting it and I know that by putting it in this very crude way and am also betraying my own sympathies – carry on sucking the Westminster dick. And what happened: apparently ‘billions were knocked off the value of the pound’ and ‘stocks fell sharply’. But why, for God’s sake?

The standard answer is that ‘the market likes stability’. Well, don’t we all, but a bit of uncertainty over how many Scots will be bothered to tootle along to the polling booth and add their X to the choice to ‘Tell England To Fuck Off!, is surely nothing but a summer storm. Yes, there are dire predictions that ‘business will suffer’, but anyone taking the long view – which the herd never does – will know it will all blow over and be business as usual quite soon.

Then there’s the other curiosity: although this one poll signified that a majority of Scots want independence, ever other poll held at exactly the same time came to the opposite conclusion: that the number of Scots who want their nation to stay as a part of the United Kingdom (and as I so crudely put it above, carry on sucking Westminster’s dick) is still greater.

Admittedly, over the months and years that these polls have been held the Yes vote has been gaining ground and the No vote, conversely, losing it, but ask yourself: if just one poll of many predicts an overall Yes vote a week on Thursday (September 18 , to make things easy for the innumerate), is that really good enough reason to go into panic mind and junk the pound? (The point should also be made that opinion polls are questionable from about ten different directions, but apart from mentioning it, I shan’t pursue if further, because, well, I can’t think of anything facetious to say on that score, so dull are opinion polls. I mean, what would your reaction be if you asked a son or daughter ‘what do you want be when you grow up, sweetheart?’ and the replied with a toothsome lisp ‘I want to be an opinion pollster, daddy’.

But back to the lunatics and fuckwits who run our banks, the stock market and upon whose utterly irrational behaviour depends whether stocks rise or plummet. Like a great many, I was baffled by the stock exchange for many years, just as I was baffled by ‘banking’, ‘derivatives’, ‘futures’, ‘the national debt’ and the rest of it. Then, not so many years ago, and having served for many years in the bullshit industry, the penny dropped: it is all very, very simple, but the schtick to stop folk realising just how simple it all is is to use jargon. Thus ‘debt’ – and we all know what debt is – becomes ‘highly leveraged’.

In fact just two days ago I read, just by chance I have to admit, a letter in the most recent issue of The New Yorker from the head honcho at S&P Capital in response to a piece a John Lanchester had written about the impenetrable jargon employed by the financial world to confuse the hell out of the rest of us. Lanchester chastised our bankers, brokers and their camp followers for describing ‘debt’ as ‘credit’.

Yes, wrote the S&P head honcho patiently in reply, of course, he took Lanchester’s point, but, you see in a sense ‘debt’ was ‘credit’. And he is right: I you owe me money, you are in debt and I have a credit. But that does expand a great deal more the already vast amount of land covered by the notion of bloody disingenuousness. Is, in a sense, ‘evil’ really ‘good’? At this point the bankers, brokers and their camp followers will certainly be nodding to each other and muttering ‘well, the trouble is this Patrick Powell chap doesn’t understand the subtleties of finance and banking’.

To which I reply: on the contrary, this Patrick Powell chap and a growing number like him are beginning to understand only to well the ‘subtleties’ of finance and banking. And they are getting rather fed up with carrying the can for the implications of those ‘subtleties’. This all started with a headline I spotted in several papers about how ‘the pound has plunged’ because one poll suggested ‘wee Scotland’ might finally be getting terminally fucked off with being patronised by the chinless Herberts who hold the reins of power in the United Kingdom.

There are, of course, two issues at stake here: Scottish independence and the herd mentality of another set of chinless Herberts who mad and manic panic can affect the immediate future of the British economy. And much as I’d like to waffle on for some considerable time, I am informed that supper is ready.

. . .

A few hours later

It is still another nine days to the Scottish referendum and I think from the above it is pretty obvious where my sympathies lie. I also get the feeling the the No Together campaign, or whatever they are calling themselves today, is panicking as only bullies can panic when they realise their bluff has been called.

All their sudden promises for ‘more power’ if you stick with us strikes me as just the kind of crap a violent husband promises the wife he has been beating up for the past 15 years: ‘Sorry, love, I really, really do love you and I’ll never hit you again. Promise.’ Several hours later, after yet another imagined blow to his ego, he lashes out, and the good lady packs her bag for ever.

My solution, and one which doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of ever coming about, not least cos Ireland, Scotland and Wales don’t trust England one inch, would be a truly federal arrangement, one in which all four constituent parts of the UK are equal partners, and the Commons is reduced to something like 200 MPs, with 50 (or whatever is regarded as an equitable number) representing each federal partner. But, forget it, that ain’t never going to happen.

So, my best wishes, Scotland. It might blow up in your faces, and it might not. But at least you will be shot of the English and their insufferable patronising attitude.

. . .

Later still (in fact, the following day)

It has come to my notice that in an entry (at some point somewher, I know not where now. Shame, eh?) I said (I ‘opined’ for Will Self fans) that when all was said and done I believed Scotland would be better off in the Union. It would seem I have changed my tune, but actually I haven’t.

I still think, if these things are considered in pounds, shillings, pence and salmon, that Scotland would be better off remaining in the Union. But there come times when not everything can be reduced to its financial value. (In the same spirit I heartily dislike the current obsession that reduced education, both secondary and tertiary (‘university’ for Will Self fans), to ‘finding a role in the workplace’ or some other such utiliratian and utterly soulless guff.

We don’t educate our young to work and become the next generation of worker drones, we educate them to expand themselves and their minds and to make the best they can of themselves in whatever way they choose to. OK, so 110pc of use do end up as worker drones, but there is not good case I know of for making the process easy and assisting the grandgrindian tendency.

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