The Fed is going to have scant and unreliable data to hand

Consequences of the shutdown.

"There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip". Shakespeare’s aphorism sums up very neatly the likelihood of a near term deal to get America’s government back to work and to raise the debt ceiling, which is officially due to expire on 17 October.

As I write, (Monday 14th), the talk is of a short-term bill which would do both, but the Republicans haven’t abandoned hopes that they can come out of all this having forced reductions in spending, (maybe even on Obamacare), and agreement to tax reform. Although they might send a so-called "clean bill" extending the debt ceiling to November 22nd to the Senate, which would be acceptable to the Senate and the President, they also want to tie agreement to re-opening the government, via a "continuing resolution" (CR), to a successful conclusion to the spending and tax negotiations. The President has said he won’t yield to threats and he’s unlikely to agree to negotiations without a "clean" CR, and Senate Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling until the end of 2014, but they insist that budget negotiations should be for another day.

Washington’s impasse can be having nothing but detrimental effects upon the real economy. Consumer sentiment is certainly taking a hit; the daily Rasmussen Survey of same has fallen off a cliff, falling to 92.8 yesterday, from 103.0 on 1st Oct. This takes us back to average readings last seen in November 2012.

As a result of the Federal shutdown the Fed is going to have scant and unreliable data to hand at best when it meets in December, having had next to nothing for the October meeting.

In addition to the new Chairman’s accession, the other change in January will be the annual rotation onto the FOMC of four new Regional Fed Presidents as voting members. Uncomfortably for the probable new Chairman, uber-dove Janet Yellen, the newcomers are of a distinctly more hawkish hue than those departing. On the other hand, one of the Governors of the Federal Reserve Board, (who are permanent FOMC voters for their full 14-year terms), Jerome H. Powell, leaves at end January, and he leans more towards hawkish judgements than dovish. The President will want to select a suitably dovish replacement, and we know the type of candidate that Yellen will propose if he consults her.

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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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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