May 1, 2009
In the last week or so, the International Monetary Fund released another of its major economic outlook statements. Business and financial media all over the world earnestly pored over the numbers as if the future had been foretold by some all-knowing wizard. The strong sense was that, with this new-found certainty, decisions could finally be made.
Which would all be well and good except for one thing: the IMF is a false prophet.
Even a cursory review of the IMF’s fortune-telling performance reveals that their predications are, at best, a reasonable guess. IMF forecasts typically come close to the mark during relatively stable periods. But they nearly always fail to predict major economic adjustments which is, of course, when they would be most useful. Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2009
We are all used to disasters. Modern communications bring images of disaster from all over the world, directly to our living rooms, as they happen. You would think this relentless exposure to the cruelty of both man and nature would prepare us for when disaster strikes close to home. It doesn’t.
Saturday, February 7, 2009 was a hot day in Victoria. Unbelievably hot. As they had the week before, temperatures ramped up to levels three and four degrees higher than had been recorded in any previous year. That’s the meteorological equivalent of taking a full second off the 100m sprint record.
These temperatures combined with hellish winds, dry air and an already baked countryside to create the most bushfire conducive circumstances in living memory. Read the rest of this entry »
December 19, 2008
A good friend comes to see you. He’s setting up a securities company and is looking for investors. This friend has impeccable credentials: former chair of a major stock exchange, senior and well respected member of the financial world. Simple decision? Of course. You jump at the chance to invest and you spread the word to all your friends.
As it turns out, your investment with this friend is a winner. The fund starts providing you with consistently solid returns; it’s astonishing how clever this bloke is. The fund’s reputation grows. Soon everybody who’s anybody wants in – even more so when admission to the fund is restricted by invitation only.
Things continue in this comfortable vein for some time. While the market is strong, the performance of this fund is greenbacks on the cake. Whenever the market starts to head south – and this is the best bit – the fund continues to grow at over 10%! It seems too good to be true.
And it is. Read the rest of this entry »
December 4, 2008
November 12, 2008
So how was your week? Mine? Busy. Started out casually enough with a game of basketball, dropping the kids at school, a trip to the gym. I did have to do that speech to a couple of hundred thousand cheering people but hey, I’ve been doing those for a couple of years now – no big deal.
Things hotted up after that though. The ‘to do’ list quickly got very long. Apart from finding a puppy for the girls and organising a basketball ring for the White House, you wouldn’t believe how much work there is to do to get ready for the top job. Read the rest of this entry »