The Monday Morning Quote #447

“When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing – quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.” 

Michael Harris


Walter Becker RIP

I somehow managed to miss out on tickets for the forthcoming Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers gigs, they were on my musical bucket list and will have to remain there.

It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Walter Becker. The tributes will flow from those who are far more entitled to comment on the technical elements of the music that Steely Dan made. I just know their first four albums as the soundtrack of the years 1972-78 and that Reelin’ in the Years still makes me smile and want to dance. I remember the excitement that I felt when I managed to buy an import copy of the single at a wooden record shack in the Haymarket in Newcastle. I know I had it on the album but it was a great single, so when it played out it was finished, it didn’t merge into the next track – some of you will understand the feeling.

Had I realised that they were a “jazz” group it is doubtful I would have shown such interest or had such enjoyment. Thank goodness my ears were my only arbiters.

Richard Williams blog.

London Jazz News.

The Guardian

Once more:

The Monday Morning Quote #446

“All things are ready – if our minds be so.”

Henry V –  William Shakespeare

Only for the sake of it here’s Kenneth Branagh giving the St Crispin’s Day speech from the film version in 1989.

Ten years after the financial crisis..

Good series of articles in the Weekend FT magazine marking 10 years since the start of the financial crisis.

The commencement is recorded as the day the chairman of Northern Rock, Lord Ridley, went to the Bank of England to beg for money from the Governor, Mervyn King. Ridley (5th Viscount Ridley & Baron Wensleydale) resigned later that year but was rewarded with a life peerage in 2013. He is a keen Brexit supporter and climate change sceptic…

Adam Applegarth was chief executive of Northern Rock also quit in 2007. He received a £785,000 “golden handshake” and a pension of £2.6m…

Northern Rock had distributed £235.8 million to charitable causes in the North East through its foundation – mostly funded from its profits. The new owners Virgin Money stopped making donations so the foundation closed…

Sub-prime mortgages which contributed to the crash worldwide are alive and well and are now called “nonprime”.  There is pressure from investors who want yield, skewed incentives on Wall Street and the Trump government who want to relax the restraints introduced by President Obama.

No one has been held accountable for the crash.

My favourite story is from Alistair Darling who was Chancellor of the Exchequer. A CEO of a UK bank tied to reassure him and said, “From now on we’ll only take risks we understand.” So what was he doing before that?

A reminder – the most dangerous words anybody in finance can say are, “this time it’s different”.

The Monday Morning Quote #445

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

via Peter Thomson

More people producing less..

From the RBS Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing.

As far as the jobs market is concerned, we’ve rarely (if ever) had it so good. Yet the link between jobs and pay remains severed. This is unlikely to reunite until productivity improves. And with that, there are few quick fixes.  

Rude health. The last time the British labour market was in such good shape Tammy Wynette was standing by her man. In the three months to June employment was up by 340,000y/y taking the employment rate to a record 75.1%. Unemployment was down by 160,000y/y and the rate fell to 4.4%, its lowest level since 1975. The number of job vacancies slipped a little but there have never been fewer people chasing each job since these records began in 2001. We’ve rarely had it so good.

Tough love The only good thing to say about the UK’s productivity performance between April and June (down 0.1%) is that it was worse between January and March (down 0.5%). Without wishing to be Jeremiah-ish, while full employment provides short term support for the economy, long term prosperity relies on productive advancement. Without it, the economic cake might continue to grow but individual slices may not. The data tell a hard truth. We produce no more per hour of work than in 2008 and only slightly more than we did in 2003. Perhaps stagnant real pay growth is not so unjustified.


The Monday Morning Quote #444

“Our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.”

H.F.Amiel – The private journal of Henry Frederic Amiel (1899)

(quoted in Strangers to Ourselves by T.D.Wilson)

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