FTAV survey thing

Just quickly click the image.


It will only take about 30 seconds. If that. Honest.

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Grantham on the paradigm shift that never was

GMO’s Jeremy Grantham famously speculated in 2011 that when it came to commodities and resources we were very possibly witnessing the most important economic event since the industrial revolution:

From now on, price pressure and shortages of resources will be a permanent feature of our lives. This will increasingly slow down the growth rate of the developed and developing world and put a severe burden on poor countries. Read more

Camp Alphaville 2016: The rundown

This year Camp Alphaville has been rebranded the FT’s Festival of Finance.

It’s on July 1, at the usual place: The HAC Royal Artillery Gardens, just by Moorgate.

More info about the venue, ticket prices and registration details can be found here.

But now… the much awaited details of our jam-packed agenda. (Some of the timings and panels, though, are still subject to change.) Read more

Markets Live: Wednesday, 11th May, 2016

Live markets commentary from FT.com 

It’s an extreme world. We just get to react to it

This might get zeitgeist-y, but stay with us.

It’s basically the idea that extreme events and outcomes are getting more common, in part because systems are getting more complex — it’s played out through inequality stats and in the polarisation of politics, geography, the economy and markets.

It’s also charted by Citi’s Matt King in his latest note: Read more

FT Opening Quote

Compass earnings are heading in the right direction, Tui is selling Specialist Group, National Express says it has made a strong start to the year. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Wednesday

- Get ready for high-frequency lawyers.

- Worth remembering that “conventional economics undermines the self-regard of the financial sector.”

- China’s middle-class anxieties.

- “Long ago, Schloss Hachenburg was a palace for local counts. Now it is home to an elite academy for about 350 young men and women. The castle offers only one degree: central banking. The typical student? “Risk-averse,” says the school’s rector, Erich Keller.”

- Gavyn Davies with an update on the Fed’s thinking. Read more

FirstFT – Obama to visit Hiroshima, the price of London’s success and why we should hang up on conference calls

Barack Obama becomes the first serving US president to visit one of the two Japanese cities devastated by atomic bombs dropped by the US during the second world war Read more

The legal tweak that led to disaster for Lending Club

The circumstances leading to Renaud Laplanche’s departure from Lending Club began with a rather innocuous request from Jefferies, the investment bank securitising a batch of the online lender’s loans. Read more

Markets Live: Tuesday, 10th May, 2016

Live markets commentary from FT.com 

There are bigger questions for Lending Club to answer

Back in January, Renaud Laplanche, the ousted chief executive of Lending Club, said that his business wasn’t interested in taking credit risk. To do so would be a betrayal of the company’s investors, he suggested.

“The representation we made to our equity investors is that we operate as a marketplace and that we don’t take credit risk,” he told FT Alphaville. Now that promise, like Laplanche’s reputation, lies in tatters. Read more

How short-selling can (theoretically) improve your portfolio

The trick with investing is owning things that go up and not owning things that go down. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to know which is which in advance. For most people, the best choice is to buy lots of different things and hope the stuff that goes up makes more money than the stuff that goes down loses — a strategy that, over time, tends to work pretty well.

But if you could somehow avoid buying the worst assets before it’s obvious to everyone else how bad they are, you could do even better. This, in a nutshell, is the appeal of the short-seller. Read more

Podcast: Brad DeLong on Hamiltonian economics and US economic history

Alphachatterbox is available on Acast, iTunes, and Stitcher. Read more

FT Opening Quote

EasyJet is boosting payouts to shareholders, Hiscox has made a “very good start” to the year, Hotel Chocolat has checked in on Aim. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Tuesday,

- The repudiation phase of the bubble.

- Mehrling: Shadow banking’s enduring perils.

- Banking’s new (regulatory) normal.

- Economists vs bankers, redux.

- Today in tech land: a 5 foot tall panda statue made of chrome that (supposedly) cost about $100k for Dropbox, and Evan Spiegel has a painting of Jobs hanging in his office. Read more

FirstFT – City jobs risk, Foreign Office to be more like ‘24’ and the rise of pheromone parties

George Osborne has warned of ‘tens of thousands’ of potential job losses in the financial services industry if Britain leaves the EU Read more

In other news, Skynet and tech mysticism

Bitcoin business pioneer Jeff Garzik told Cryptocoinsnews over the weekend his latest venture Bloq will behave as a sort of consulting platform to bridge the world of private blockchains with bitcoin, because it is “very important to make Bitcoin a part of the blockchain discussion again”.

But he also said this (our emphasis):

“It’s the overall mission to make blockchain more acceptable, more stable and more widespread than ever before,” Garzik said. “And I think that’s really going to be the success point within twenty years. Bloq is gonna be building a decentralized system. I like to call Bitcoin the first decentralized autonomous organism. There will be many more decentralized systems built on top of this technology and long-term Bloq is going to play a role in launching side chains and blockchains, and launching digital identity that’s affordable and tying all that together.”

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A Stick Internet update

Rocket really is coming back to earth, moving 4.66 per cent closer at pixel…

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Well, at least things probably can’t get worse for Lending Club

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Distributed ledgers, centralised logic and competition

Blockchain fever has, as we all know, turned into private permissioned distributed ledger fever — loosely summarised as the idea that the advantages of blockchain can be stripped out of the only tried and tested blockchain (bitcoin) then applied to pre-existing token framework (a.k.a fiat money), without the need for costly proof of work verification mechanisms.

The hype on that front is now astronomical. And yet, despite all the column inches written about the system, nobody seems to have cottoned on to a critical contradiction with the premise. Blockchain, like the euro, makes little sense if it’s applied to participating institutions that don’t share the same business logic or governance standards. As a result it encourages unification around central systems, which don’t necessarily appeal to all parties involved. Read more

Markets Live: Monday, 9th May, 2016

Live markets commentary from FT.com 

FT Opening Quote

MPs begin an inquiry into BHS’s collapse, it’s salad days for Greggs’ healthier menu, Dignity mourns a lower death rate. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Read more

Authoritative person authoritatively admits China can’t keep going this way

From Nomura, with our emphasis:

According to today’s official People’s Daily [link here and Bloomberg writeup here], an “authoritative” person who was not identified indicated that China should not support growth by adding leverage. “High leverage will lead to high risk; if not well controlled, it will lead to systemic financial crisis and negative growth”. Considering China’s severe structural problems, this “authoritative” person believes that “China’s economic growth trend in future should be ‘L-shaped’, rather than ‘U-shaped’, not to mention ‘V-shaped’”, which suggests that growth will trend lower. This individual believes China should avoid using strong stimulus to raise investment growth in the short term, as it would create larger problems later. For now, the most important thing, in this person’s view, is to push forward supply-side reforms (i.e., cutting over-capacity, reducing property inventory etc.) and actively but steadily reduce leverage.

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Monday,

- Don’t panic, it’s just a tech bust.

- Gavyn Davies: When secular stagnation meets protection.

- Scott Sumner against Brexit and the reversion to nationalism.

- Advice for the media on how to cover Trump vs Clinton, from Krugman. Read more

FirstFT – Gove backs leaving single market, the end of American meritocracy and the woman who senses earthquakes

Leave campaign’s most senior figure says that Britain will opt to quit trade bloc post Brexit Read more

Thought for the weekend

How to live a life – this Shakespearian brief candle? Should I listen to the beat of a bass drum instead of an ancient tom-tom? Would I dare dance to strange new music with a different step? “Forward” is my futile response. Forward – with difficult questions. John Denver expressed it succinctly, “If there’s an answer, it’s just that it’s just that way”.

Bill Gross, Janus, May 4

Donald Trump and the sovereign debt restructuring mechanism revisited

Last summer, after watching one of the Republican debates when Donald Trump’s fondness for corporate bankruptcy protection came up as a topic, I saw an immediate link to one of my favourite subjects, and tweeted this.

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Introducing the FT’s Festival of Finance (yes, it’s Camp Alphaville)

Summer is coming which means one thing …

Festival season is on its way!

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So you want to map India?

Well things just got (more) interesting.

This is only a draft bill — to “regulate the acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information of India which is likely to affect the security, sovereignty and integrity of India” — and it’s mostly aimed at licensing internet companies like Google, but check out this bit:

15. Penalty for wrong depiction of map of India etc.-Whoever depicts, disseminates, publishes or distributes any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries in contravention of section 6, shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rupees ten lac to Rupees one hundred crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.

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Alphachat: behavioural economics at work; positional goods

Alphachat is available on Acast, iTunes and Stitcher. Read more