Flavour of the Week

mesmile I am working my way down a 2016 Corbières (Domaine de la Sauzine) which is an obscure red wine, and long should it remain so. That way I get to continue drinking it at a reasonable price. There is no health problem in my doing that, by the way, because there is a pregnant person in a circle on the back-label of the bottle, with a line through the circle guaranteeing that I will not get pregnant as a result of consuming the wine. It’s good to know that, because at my time of life I could ill afford more children

On the hifi (yes, I still have hifi and play real CDs) Bill Evans is gently tickling the ivories and demonstrating why he was such a seminal jazz influence in the mid twentieth century. Mercifully for him, Bill died long before Rap, Britain’s Got Talent, George Bush, Tony Blair and Barack Obama dismissed talent in favour of brainless hype. So tonight, I am a long way removed from the world of Front Holes, peace-loving Hamas supporters and For the Few neoliberals. But tomorrow, the whirligig starts up again, and we must all face it.


Setting aside for a minute the chance that President Trump might be impeached for not being nice enough about John McCain’s long overdue death, this promises to be something of a non-week in the markets. As on the European mainland, the majority of Americans and Brits are still on holiday, and the US has Labor Day weekend coming up – which means an awful lot of dark pc screens by Friday lunchtime New York time.

Alogorithms, of course, don’t take vacations or celebrate Labor Day, but most commentators are expecting “subdued volatility”, a term that conjures up some kind of Liverpudlian King George poking the dragon with his lance while saying “Calm down, calm down”. It would be nice to have a more positive description like “emerging millponds”, but that’s not the way things work any more.

On Wednesday, the US Commerce Department will release its second estimate of 2018 Q2 gdp growth rate. Commerce is allowed several goes throughout the year to get right what a fair proportion of analysts and commentators aren’t going to believe anyway, given that the real stats on unemployment and inflation are obviously wrong. But nobody’s expecting much change from the 4.1% first-stab fiction, so don’t expect any market-roiling surprises.

The next day, Commerce releases July personal income data. U.S. household incomes and spending both rose at what is being dubbed “a solid rate” in June, but given that household expenditure rose 4% while incomes grew 3%, that still suggests 25% of what they spent was added to the credit card bill. If we could round up all those household earners who rejoined the workforce because they weren’t getting welfare any more, we might see a very different picture. But I mustn’t be too cynical, otherwise all might become far too clear.

Just as everyone in the US buggers off for the long weekend, Brazil will release first, its gdp numbers, and second, its fiscal position as recorded by the Central Bank. Both figures are expected to be awful, but whether this will be of great import versus the fight to get out of New York before every plane has flown is a moot point.

Staying away from the make-believe of Government stats, one interesting factoid will be the latest Walmart results – usually as good a barometer as any of how Average America is faring.

Finally, at some point China releases its official gauge of factory activity for August. As trust in this number is even more diluted than belief in US payroll data, a panic on the basis of it is unlikely.


Brexit week 107 (yes, that is a real number) will see “talks” continuing in Brussels between Stonewall Barnier and Dominic Raab, as Theresa May jets off to Africa in search of goodwill post-Brexit, having been unable to find any in Europe. Keir Starmer’s latest soundbite is that a No-Deal Brexit “will leave Britain in a legal vacuum”, a statement which manages the tricky double-somersault of being both meaningless and wrong. There has been a legal vacuum between the UK and the EU since “talks” began (unless you consider one man saying “no” all the time to be any kind of constructive air-pump to progress) and although the WTO does have rules, it’s hard to find anyone who knows what they are because they really aren’t important: 1 in 5 British Poundsworth of export sales go to the US, and we don’t have a single agreement written down about any of it.

The week begins, as usual, with two scare stories: a lingerie company selling £3million of bras and knickers to women with voluptuous figures says it will leave Britain ahead of Brexit. The company – Big Bloomers – employs (cue drum roll) 10 (that’s ten) employees in Cornwall. And Sky yesterday went Big on why the Grand National “could be threatened” by a chaotic Brexit: Irish trainers are allegedly worried that, if the Border Issue isn’t sorted out, owners might not get their horses back after the Race. 

It’s only a matter of time before Barnier gets on his high horse about it.

At the Weekend Slog: applying intelligence to intelligence