Wednesday 17 October 2018

Pessimism on global growth reaches November 2008 levels; is it justified?

The WSJ reported this morning that, quoting BoAML data, "fund managers are the most pessimistic they have been on global growth since November 2008".

Now I find this very interesting. Global markets were a day ago down more than 6% MTD, and outside of the US, markets have been pummelled this year across EM (emerging markets) and Europe. Investors have been gripped by trade war fears, rising short and long rates in the US alongside tightening Fed policy, a rallying USD (harming EM, and creating fears around USD-denominated indebtedness in some of these nations), as well as rising nationalist politics in countries such as Italy. This has created a pervasive sense of malaise, and sent markets into a tailspin.

Monday 15 October 2018

Activist excess, incentives, and the undersupply of grievance

In recent times in the West, we have seen a trend towards outraged activism being taken to sometimes absurd extremes. Furthermore, we have seen unprecedented steps taken to silence dissenting voices pushing back against these excesses, from the de-platforming (sometimes violently) of speakers in universities; silencing of the media; contrary voices on social media being blocked; and academic research - including in the hard sciences/maths departments - being quashed on account of its non-politically-correct conclusions.* Record numbers of people are also being publicly called out and shamed for apparent racism/sexism where no evidence of it exists. This 'culture of outrage' and PC authoritarianism has seemed impervious to the forces of reason, and the institution of free speech has also come to be seen as subordinate to the primacy of sparing people from offense or discomfort.

Monday 1 October 2018

When reason fails: Mitchell's damning report; media bias; and disillusionment

I really hate to write another piece on the Kavanaugh saga, as I really do not wish to unduly politicise this blog. However, this is entirely a non-partisan issue for me (I don't even particularly like Kavanaugh - he is too conservative for my tastes), and the situation is simply so important, and so instructive about so many things, that I have been unable to contain a minor obsession with the issue over the past several days, and believe some of these insights need to be shared. And it's not really a story about Kavanaugh, Ford, and #metoo. It is instead fundamentally a story about the failure of both human reason, as well as our media institutions/journalistic traditions, which we rely on to sustain the health of our democracy.