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The world continues to go mad

11 July, 2017

The slightly eerie suspension of life as we know it continues in 2017 as politicians fight their own tribe, not the invaders, and global markets seem to put in their ear plugs and ignore the latest ‘antics’ of the US President. Election campaigns usually involve fights. But not civil wars.

The disintegration of the Labour Party is almost embarrassing to watch. Yesterday’s leaked manifesto reveals widely criticised policies which have been publicly rejected by many Labour MPs. Claims to eliminate the budget deficit in 5 years’ sound like Diane Abbott has been on the calculator. (Sorry – cheap gag but too easy.)

As an example, the manifesto proposes to stop the planned pension age rise to 67 from 2026, and to 68 from 2044. Former pension minister Steve Webb reckons this will cost us a collective £300 billion! Ouch. That number’s arguably a bit excessive but take his estimated 13 million (ish) impacted people getting 2 extra years of the full State Pension at about £8,000 a year – and that’s £208 billion. (I checked that sum a lot after my Diane crack!) It does all feel a bit thin and there has to be a better plan than simply taxing all those nasty bankers and Tories more.

Leaving the thrilling and edifying UK election debate behind us and looking globally, there is a spooky mismatch between politics and markets in the US. This week the President sacked the head of the FBI. That’s the sort of line that booming voice-over man in the movies should read out in the latest blockbuster trailer. But despite this, all the noise about North Korea, Russia, European populism and Trump, US markets remain almost spookily high and stable. Casually sauntering up.

We don’t do graph overload at Boring Money but look at the one above – the main 500 shares in the States and how they’ve done over the last year. It looks like we’re in a modern day golden Renaissance era with a wise, steady economist grandma in charge! It’s like looking at a picture of a straight brown cardigan wearing librarian and then finding out his name is Freakazoid Zeppelin! It doesn’t stack up!! We’re either in a world where the freaky has become normal, or maybe the markets just have a more rational faith in the administration behind the tweet-happy Trump?

Curiouser and curiouser!!