Archive for August 2011

John Griffin

I was momentarily startled yesterday to read that S&P could be responsible for the meltdown of the US economy – I hadn’t realised that the reach of Spence & Partners stretched so far. I then realised, of course, that they were referring to the “other” S&P.

Standard & Poor’s, one of the three main credit rating agencies had decided to downgrade its ratings for US debt because it felt that the recently agreed debt-reduction plan, forced on President Obama by the US Tea Party, wasn’t going to do the trick.

The stance taken by S&P (the ‘other’ one), however, may not be well-founded. For instance, the other two of the three main agencies – Moody’s, and Fitch – are less pessimistic, and the yield on US 10-year Treasury bills is still lower than almost all other nations that still retain the AAA-rating, so lending to the US is still perceived to be a safe investment.

This put me in mind of the American US satirist, P J O’Rourke, who, loosely translated, once described economics as an entire scientific discipline of not knowing what you’re talking about. Who really is in a position to predict the future? Read more »

Neil Copeland

The term nanny state was probably coined by the Conservative British MP Iain Macleod who referred to “what I like to call the nanny state” in his column “Quoodle” in the December 3, 1965, edition of The Spectator.

I’m not sure when nanny took on the slightly pejorative sense of an interfering busybody dispensing unwanted advice and meddling where they have no business to meddle, as opposed to the the all singing, all dancing and not entirely unattractive Mary Poppins, spreading order where once there was chaos, joy where once there was sorrow and Dick van Dyck were once there were cockneys.

So if the concept of a nanny is slightly schizophrenic so too are my feelings towards the nanny state.

I like to strike the pose of a Libertarian (and indeed in my wilder imaginings, a Libertine), bridling with a righteous fury when I hear news of some interfering busybody or other lambasting the over 65’s for having a second glass of sherry of an evening, or suggesting that we should embrace the travesty of food without salt.

We have these do-gooders in the pensions sphere as well, as a recent article in the Sunday Times makes clear. The article states that: Read more »

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