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Screaming and Shouting

Banking, computers and perpetual crisis

Life lessons from the floor

life lessons - text in wood type

A long-term friend and ex-colleague – now retired from finance – recently sent an email to me and a few mutual workmates from the old days. His message? He had just applied a golden rule that he (and we) used to use in our days on the trading floor to solve a problem totally disconnected from trading or derivatives.

“It’s amazing how often lessons from finance help in real life,” I wrote back.

And of course, that got me thinking: what lessons from a career in finance do I still use?

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Enron with diggers

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So Carillion has gone bankrupt. The interesting thing is why.

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Emotionally short: the new bitcoin futures

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It’s Christmas and for me that means drinks parties. In the past, knowing that I was meant to be some sort of expert on finance, at least one or two people would ask me about the Euro or UK interest rates or bank stocks or, more usually, internships for their kids.

This year? It’s all been bitcoin: more particularly, bitcoin futures.
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Just one word: Lithium

plastics

 

I’ve always loved the film ‘The Graduate’. Near the start, Dustin Hoffman’s character Ben – the young graduate of the film’s title – is taken aside by Mr. McGuire, an older friend of Ben’s family. He wants to talk about Ben’s future.

‘I have one word for you’, McGuire says. Ben waits expectantly for a few, uncomfortable seconds. What is McGuire’s advice?

‘Plastics,’ he says.

In a similar spirit, let’s talk about Lithium.

Why? In short, it’s a potential road block to three huge technology trends.

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Feeling stressed: the BoE and hard Brexit

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The Bank of England has announced that the UK banking system would be fine in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Pardon me if I’m not comforted.

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Catalonia and Currencies

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I’ve been a bit busy recently [1] and have not been following current events with my normal degree of attention, but the crisis in Catalonia has changed all that. An excitable commentator on the BBC yesterday – the day of the regional assembly’s vote for independence – called the region’s unilateral declaration ‘the greatest crisis to hit Europe since 1945’ and predicted possible civil war. I don’t think it’s quite that bad, but it won’t end well.

In part, it’s down to currencies.

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… and go to Vegas: a joke about financial planning

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I recently saw a news item about a family whose elder members have sold up everything to make a big bet on bitcoin. While I applaud their daring, I am less certain of their wisdom. It reminded me of one of my favourite jokes – a joke that I always think of whenever I make decisions with my own money.

Here it is.

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Jamie’s bitcoin bother

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Bank CEOs –  although the few I have met personally have all been delightful – are not normally noted for the bitingly controversial nature of their public statements.   Anodyne CEO sentiments about ‘tactical downsizing’ or ‘seizing new growth opportunities in China’ are par for the course. Coruscating attacks less so.

So it was refreshing to see that Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan has not held back in his opinion of bitcoin.

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Paying for extreme weather: Big Oil and Big Legal

hurricane irma

Over my toast and marmite this morning, listening to the radio, I heard reports of the devastation caused by hurricane Irma (taking over after a few weeks from its older brother Harvey).  Then an Oxford Professor called Myles R Allen came on and announced new research that can – via climate science – pin the blame on specific companies

To quote the Kaiser Chiefs: I predict a riot.

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