The EU's cat-herder-in-chief fails to move the markets where he wants

Mario Draghi strained to have an effect, but to no avail.

Unfortunately all rather boring really – and not a little bizarre. Whilst S. Draghi seemed to be straining every sinew to give the impression that the market simply was not understanding the full significance of his message to the members of the Governing Council to "expect key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time", he just couldn't quite get the market to play ball.

He could hardly have dropped more hints that we should be expecting rates to stay were they are, or move lower, for many, many quarters. He stressed (twice) that the ECB's Deposit Rate, could go lower, even though it is currently zero. He stressed that liquidity would remain ample, and if it didn't, he'd see to it (presumably with another Long Term Refinancing Operation, LTRO)

He even borrowed the Bank of England's assertion that "the current market pricing of rate hikes is unwarranted". Getting a little desperate, maybe, he emphasized the pathetic growth in money supply, and that lending by banks in the periphery was still very weak.

Despite all his efforts, futures markets remained steadfastly rooted to the spot by the time he finished, stubbornly refusing to extend their timescale for rate hikes, however he may insist they should. The euro weakened a little initially, but then recouped some of its losses – which may have been caused by a strong dollar anyway.

Perhaps the problem is that markets know he has the most unenviable role in major central bank leadership – he needs to be an Olympic-level Cat herder. Everything is compromise, mixed with liberal amounts of bowing and scraping to the Bundesbank. Therefore the markets are screaming "show us the money!" – until he actually cuts rates, or adds another LTRO, or firms up his forward guidance with depressingly distant economic thresholds, investors remain very sceptical of the current, "words are easy" form of forward guidance.

Finally, what about publication of ECB meeting minutes? They couldn't even reach a decision on this-Mr Draghi announced an intention to publish more specific information on decisions taken by the GC, but, the discussion is at an "early stage". The ECB board is to make proposal in the Autumn. Yawn.

Look for some, (but surely not all!), of these actions next month or in October.

Mario Draghi, the chief cat-herder of the EU. Photograph: Getty Images

Chairman of  Saxo Capital Markets Board

An Honours Graduate from Oxford University, Nick Beecroft has over 30 years of international trading experience within the financial industry, including senior Global Markets roles at Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Citibank. Nick was a member of the Bank of England's Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee.

More of his work can be found here.

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Is there such a thing as responsible betting?

Punters are encouraged to bet responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly.

I try not to watch the commercials between matches, or the studio discussions, or anything really, before or after, except for the match itself. And yet there is one person I never manage to escape properly – Ray Winstone. His cracked face, his mesmerising voice, his endlessly repeated spiel follow me across the room as I escape for the lav, the kitchen, the drinks cupboard.

I’m not sure which betting company he is shouting about, there are just so many of them, offering incredible odds and supposedly free bets. In the past six years, since the laws changed, TV betting adverts have increased by 600 per cent, all offering amazingly simple ways to lose money with just one tap on a smartphone.

The one I hate is the ad for BetVictor. The man who has been fronting it, appearing at windows or on roofs, who I assume is Victor, is just so slimy and horrible.

Betting firms are the ultimate football parasites, second in wealth only to kit manufacturers. They have perfected the capitalist’s art of using OPM (Other People’s Money). They’re not directly involved in football – say, in training or managing – yet they make millions off the back of its popularity. Many of the firms are based offshore in Gibraltar.

Football betting is not new. In the Fifties, my job every week at five o’clock was to sit beside my father’s bed, where he lay paralysed with MS, and write down the football results as they were read out on Sports Report. I had not to breathe, make silly remarks or guess the score. By the inflection in the announcer’s voice you could tell if it was an away win.

Earlier in the week I had filled in his Treble Chance on the Littlewoods pools. The “treble” part was because you had three chances: three points if the game you picked was a score draw, two for a goalless draw and one point for a home or away win. You chose eight games and had to reach 24 points, or as near as possible, then you were in the money.

“Not a damn sausage,” my father would say every week, once I’d marked and handed him back his predictions. He never did win a sausage.

Football pools began in the 1920s, the main ones being Littlewoods and Vernons, both based in Liverpool. They gave employment to thousands of bright young women who checked the results and sang in company choirs in their spare time. Each firm spent millions on advertising. In 1935, Littlewoods flew an aeroplane over London with a banner saying: Littlewoods Above All!

Postwar, they blossomed again, taking in £50m a year. The nation stopped at five on a Saturday to hear the scores, whether they were interested in football or not, hoping to get rich. BBC Sports Report began in 1948 with John Webster reading the results. James Alexander Gordon took over in 1974 – a voice soon familiar throughout the land.

These past few decades, football pools have been left behind, old-fashioned, low-tech, replaced by online betting using smartphones. The betting industry has totally rebooted itself. You can bet while the match is still on, trying to predict who will get the next goal, the next corner, the next throw-in. I made the last one up, but in theory you can bet instantly, on anything, at any time.

The soft sell is interesting. With the old football pools, we knew it was a remote flutter, hoping to make some money. Today the ads imply that betting on football somehow enhances the experience, adds to the enjoyment, involves you in the game itself, hence they show lads all together, drinking and laughing and putting on bets.

At the same time, punters are encouraged to do it responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly. Responsibly and respect are now two of the most meaningless words in the football language. People have been gambling, in some form, since the beginning, watching two raindrops drip down inside the cave, lying around in Roman bathhouses playing games. All they’ve done is to change the technology. You have to respect that.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war