May 06, 2016
Sir, Adam Kucharski writes: “When math students at MIT discovered a lottery loophole in 2005, they formed a company — By the time the lottery was discontinued, they had… brought in a pre-tax profit of $3.5m.” “Investment and betting require similar skills — and luck” May 6.
The expected payout for every bet in roulette is exactly the same, and that’s why roulette has not been discontinued. So how long would Kucharski expect roulette to last if some regulators decided to multiply by some factor the winnings on the low paying “safe” bets, so that player could play for a longer time? Not long eh?
But that is exactly what bank regulators did when they allowed banks to leverage their equity more with what was perceived, decreed or concocted as safe, like when playing a color, than with what was viewed as risky, like when playing a number.
And so when Kucharski writes: “The boundaries between luck and skill, and gambling and investment, are not defined by industry or activity, but rather by the person playing, and who they are playing against”, we need to add, “and by the regulators”… especially if the regulators think they can distort for the better.
Unfortunately the bets of the banks are much more important than the bets in a casino. A bank, when it does not play a “risky” number, is in effect not giving loans to risky SMEs and entrepreneurs, those who might find the way of helping to move forward the economy, so as not to stall and fall. And the banks, when they play too much the safe bets, AAA ratings, housing finance and sovereigns like Greece, then they will dangerously overpopulate safe havens, and cause crisis like the 2007-08 crash.
PS. Sports? What would be of golf if the handicap commission awarded the great players more strokes than what the lousy ones like me got?
PS. Sports? What would be of horseracing if the handicap commission reduced the weight the fast running horses had to carry, as a reward, and increased that of the slower horses, in punishment.
May 05, 2016
The timidity of bankers is selective, and the result of the very dumb selective timidity of the regulators
Sir, Giles Wilkes writes: “Finance has become … more timid since 2009” “Short View” May 5.
Why since 2009? And “timid” is also only applicable to staying away from what is perceived as risky, because the wanting to leverage as much as possible with what is perceived, decreed or concocted as safe, is still very well alive and kicking.
The banks were instructed to be selectively timid, ever since the risk weighted capital requirements for banks were introduced. With those regulators allowed banks to earn higher risk adjusted returns on equity when financing what was deemed safe” than when financing the “risky”. And so therefore banks were given new incentives to timidly stay away even more than usual of what they already stayed away much from.
Basel II of June 2004 set the risk weight for an AAA rated asset at 20%, and for a below BB- asset at 150%. That in essence was like a nanny telling the kids to stay away from ugly and foul smelling individuals, and embrace much more those nice looking gentlemen who offer them candy.
Yes Sir, that is the kind of bank regulators we have. Holy moly!
And Sir, seemingly, you don’t mind them. Holy moly!
Sir, Tim Harford with his recommendations of how to give a Ted talk of May 5, reminded me of the following letter I sent my Executive Directors at the World bank colleagues' in December 2003.
Thou shall not PowerPoint
• Dear Colleagues,
• When we were small, our fathers taught us never to FingerPoint anyone, and today we also need to teach kids not to PowerPoint one another.
• Yes, I have seen some splendid use of PowerPoint presentations, but, in general terms, the world is not a better place for it.
• PowerPoint has empowered so many people with so little to say with a deep belief that the world is waiting for them to predicate, for hours.
• PowerPoint is little by little replacing all decent readable issue papers with thick bundles of copies of PowerPoint sheets, each one containing less than 15 words, in beautifully irrelevant colors, except when replaced by thin bundles containing miniature unreadable copies of aforementioned sheets.
• PowerPoint is forcing the world to structure its whole thinking process in terms of bulletpoints.
• NO, thou shall not PowerPoint me and I promise not to PowerPoint you … too much.
• Happy Holidays
• December, 2003
Extracted from “Voice and Noise”
May 04, 2016
Perceived credit risk is all about expected losses, while bank capital should be a buffer against unexpected losses.
Sir, John Kay writes that Warren Buffet, “In a revealing moment, when asked about the absence of conventional due diligence in his acquisition process; acknowledged that Berkshire had made bad acquisitions, but never one that could have been avoided by the kind of information that due diligence might have revealed.” “The Buffett model is widely worshipped but little copied” May 4.
Translate the above into bank regulations and it would mean: Banks could always lose but not because of the information a credit analysis might have revealed… much more dangerous than the expected, is the unexpected.
And that Sir is one of the many reasons why I believe current regulators are worse than fools. They defined the capital banks should be required to have, in order to confront unexpected losses, based on expected perceived credit risks.
Please don’t tell me you think that is smart. In fact, the safer something is perceived, the greater is its potential to deliver huge unexpected losses. In fact, from this perspective, the safer something is perceived, the larger should the capital requirements for a bank be.
By the way let me make it clear that I am arguing this only to make a point, and I am not now suggesting we should distort the allocation of bank credit to the real economy in the other direction, favoring the risky.
Sir, if we are to distort, let us at least, as a minimum minimorum, do so with a purpose. For instance make the capital requirements for banks based on job creation and earth sustainability ratings.
PS. Here are plenty of reasons for why I believe the bank regulators in the Basel Committee are complete idiots… or something worse
FT, why do you keep mum on the greatest austerity of all; the bank regulation ordered credit-risk-taking austerity?
Sir, you write: “Given huge disparities in the bloc, this is no time for more austerity” “A tentative upturn in the Eurozone economy” May 4.
And yet you keep mum about the most serious austerity of all; the risk-taking austerity imposed on banks by regulators and who have these not financing more the riskier future but mostly refinancing the for the rime being safer past.
And truly idiotic it is. Basel II assigned a risk weight of 20% to AAA rated assets and 150% to that rated below BB-. That is like a nanny telling the children to beware of the ugly and foul smelling and embrace more the nice looking gentlemen who offer them candy.
When you have seen how much stimulus has been thrown at the economy without it responding with any seemingly sustainable strength don’t you get curious about why? Or is it that you believe that as long as ECB’s Mario Draghi manages to hit an inflation target everything is going to be fine and dandy?
May 03, 2016
Yes! McKinsey, among others, because of the robotization of our economies, we do need "decent and worthy unemployments"
Sir, Martin Ford of writes that the impact of robotization “portends a social, economic and political disruption for which we are completely unprepared. Widespread unemployment (or even underemployment) has clear potential to tear society apart. It also carries substantial economic risks: in a world with far too few jobs, “who will have the income and confidence to purchase the products and services produced by the economy?” Where will demand come from?” “We are completely unprepared for the robot revolution” May 3.
That is precisely why in 2012 in an Op-Ed I wrote: “We need decent and worthy unemployments”. Sir, I have written several letters on you to this subject but, since you decided to censor me as effectively as the Maduro government of Venezuela has censored me, you ignored these.
And Ford also asks: “who will have the income and confidence to purchase the products and services produced by the economy?” Where will demand come from?”
On this I have also written several letters to you indicating that a Universal Basic Income, might be one way to resolve this, efficiently, while keeping the redistribution profiteers at bay.
The Basel Committee’s and FSB’s bank regulators, seems to fit well the description of a Japanese “salaryman”.
Sir, Leo Lewis writes “in 2016, the [Japanese] salaryman — unassertive, allergic to risk and with a growing list of corporate debacles to his name — has switched from asset to liability. To economists who see labour market reform as Japan’s only hope, it ranks among the country’s most insidious threats”, “Curse of the salaryman” May 3
And Koichy Nakano at the Sophia University in Tokio holds that men working in offices tied to group think and respect for authority, “is the very opposite of the creativity and original behaviour that the economy needs at this point”
So what are the key words here? Risk aversion and groupthink.
Sir that is precisely two of the most usual key words I use when commenting on the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision’s and the Financial Stability Board’s work on regulations.
And on "debacles"... what about the 2007-08 crash, which resulted directly from regulators allowing banks to earn much higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity on assets perceived, decreed or concocted as safe than on assets perceived as risky.
Could it be that Mario Draghi, Stefan Ingves, Mark Carney and other BCBS’s FSB’s experts are “salaryman”? Well, if not, they are at least clearly not assets but liabilities.
Sovereign debt risk weightings system, which assigns a zero risk weight, needs more than overhauling. Throw it out!
Sir, soon 30 years after regulators decided with Basel I in 1988 that the risk weights for the “infallible” sovereigns were to be zero percent, Patrick Jenkins now writes: “finding a way to overhaul the absurd assumption that all government debt carries zero risk, is pretty fundamental for the future health of European finance” “Sovereign debt risk weightings system needs overhauling” May 3.
Boy is he lost! The question is not whether “all” governments should carry a zero risk, but whether any government should carry a higher risk weight than those citizens that represent whatever strength the sovereign has, and that now are risk weighted at 100 percent.
Anyone who thinks that banks should be able to leverage more their equity when lending to sovereigns than when lending to citizens, must believe government bureaucrats know better what to do with other peoples’ money, than SMEs and entrepreneurs with their own money and with what they owe, and so they must therefore be statists.
Sir, I am amazed how many statists there seems to be at the Financial Times.
If Draghi were a nanny at a sandbox, he would tell the kids to beware of the ugly, and trust much the nice looking
Sir, I refer to Claire Jones’s “Draghi rejects criticism of ECB rate drop” May 3.
Mario Draghi is the former chair of the Financial Stability Board and the current chair of the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision.
As such, he has been and is a full supporter of the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, those supposed to make banks safer; those that for instance in Basel II assigned a risk weight of 20% to those rated AAA, and one of 150% to those rated below BB-.
I am sorry, anyone who believes borrowers rated below BB- pose a greater risk for the banking system than those rated AAA, has never ever walked on Main Street and has no idea of life and risks.
Therefore Sir, I would never ever contract Mario Draghi to watch over my grandchildren at a sandbox, much less to be president of the ECB.
If Draghi now wants to convince us that negative interests are good, let him, I still don’t trust him.
Draghi puts, like so many others, like your Martin Wolf, a lot of the blame on a savings glut. That completely ignores the fact that so many SMEs and entrepreneurs are kept from using that saving glut to try to have a go at their dreams, only because of credit risk adverse bank regulators.
To even think you need negative interests to get an economy going is, how can I put it mildly, totally absurd.
By the way his squabbles with Germany are, in this context, completely irrelevant to me.
PS. Could Draghi by any chance just be another Chauncey Gardiner?
May 02, 2016
As a Venezuelan, it is hard to see too much difference between the Basel Committee’s statism and that of Hugo Chavez’.
Sir, Shahin Vallée, from what I read a fanatic central planning convert (so presumably a communist) writes: “if central banks are trying to expand the monetary base permanently, their natural ally is fiscal policy, which can direct spending to where it would have the most powerful effect”, “Fiscal and monetary policy can be uneasy bedfellows” May 2.
The Basel Committee, for the purpose of defining the capital requirements for banks, set the risk weights for the "Infallible Sovereign" at zero percent, while defining the risk weights for citizens, SMEs and entrepreneurs as being 100%. That is the kind of mindset of those who believe that technocrats can direct other people’s money better, than other people their own. It is amazing how this mindset still survives.
Vallée now suggests a debate on how central banks and governments can cooperate better. Holy Moly! I want a debate on how we citizens can fight the cooperation between central banks, the governments and some of their cozy friends, like some too big to fail banks and members of the AAArisktocracy, all so that we can save our economies for our children.
And of course, if I have misread Shahin Vallée, I have no problems retracting my opinions. On the contrary, I would be very happy to do so.
PS. If you need an aide memoire about how idiotic that regulation concocted by the Basel Committee here is one:
The real beasts in banking are the regulators who believe they can manage bank risks from their desks in Basel
Sir, Brooke Masters reviews Tony Norfield’s “The City: London and Global Power of Finance” “Banking as seen from the belly of the beast”.
Masters writes that Norfield “seeks to document just how the UK and the US extract their pound of flesh from the rest of the world by dominating the financial flows that make international trade possible”.
And again I must ask: Who dominates more the financial flows in the world, the banks or those regulators who tell banks to lend to the infallible sovereign, the AAArisktocracy and housing but not to the risky SMEs and entrepreneurs. Because that is what bank regulators do with their credit-risk-weighted-portfolio-invariant capital requirements for banks.
Masters writes that Norfield “Mostly reserves his scorn for politicians who seek to distinguish between worthy industrial capitalists and bad bankers.”
I have not read the book yet, so I am not absolutely sure of its meaning, but one thing I am sure off: I reserve my deepest scorn to those regulators who, with such hubris, feel themselves capable of discerning and managing the bank credit risks for the world.
They are so incredibly dumb. Imagine, in order to make the banking system safer, with Basel II they placed a risk weight of only 20% on AAA rated assets and one of 150% for below BB- rated assets. As if below BB- rated assets could generate such excessive exposures so as to be a threat to any banking system.
They are so incredibly dumb they do not even define the purpose of the banks before regulating these.
PS. I once heard a very important regulator, with respect to some bankers objecting part of the regulations with scorn express: “If they do not want to be bankers, let them be shoe shiners instead”
Odious debt is often mentioned, but its origin is most often those odious credits and odious borrowings that abound
Sir, Benedict Mander, with respect to Argentina issuing debt writes: “These yields don’t exist anywhere else in the world in countries with such low levels of debt,” said [enthusiastically] Facundo Gómez Minujín, managing director at JPMorgan’s Argentina unit. “Argentina targets $30bn debt issuance” May 2.
Is that not a sign that Argentina, if it took on debt, should demand to pay less or just leave it like that?
And by the way, what has the fact that Argentina has low level of debts to do with anything? Is not debt to be contracted only if you have something really worthy to do with it, something that will allow you to repay the debt and leave some decent returns?
I do not know much about Argentina, and I do not intend any similitude, but I do know that I profoundly dislike all those who knowing how bad it was run, and how little with its huge oil revenues it should need credit, still financed the disastrous XXI Century Socialism Venezuela, only because risk premiums seemed good. Had they not done so, Venezuela could perhaps already have been able to rid itself of The Tragedy. Had they not done so, Venezuela would not, on top of all its other current mindboggling difficulties, need to add the service of totally unproductive contracted debt.
For me good governments are those who stay out of debt even if conditions seem fair, only on account that debt basically represents advance fiscal revenues, to be paid later by the next generation.
We do need a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism (SDRM) but, if it is going to produce reasonable results for the citizens, then it has to begin by defining very clearly what is odious credit and what are odious borrowings. I have sometimes argued that any public borrowing that offers to pay more than a specified number of basis points over what the best debtor is paying, could be considered as odious.
I know it is way too extreme, and has absolutely nothing to do with Argentina or Venezuela, but the question needs to be asked, so that the point I am making becomes utterly clear: Would bonds issued for the construction of the crematoria ovens in Auschwitz be included in any debt restructuring… or should these just be thrown out… or should the financiers also be judged?
April 30, 2016
Risk adverse bank regulation, anathema to a “Home of the Brave”, has imposed a curse of slow growth on the US economy
Sir, you write: “With every month that passes, the decision of the Fed’s open market committee (FOMC) to raise interest rates in December looks more like a mistake. The US economy clearly decelerated around the turn of the year” “The curse of slow growth afflicts the US economy” April 30.
That increase you refer to is was from 0.25% to 0.5%. Frankly, no matter what it could have signaled to the markets, to believe such minimum minimorum rate increase plays any major role in the difficulties the US has reigniting its economy without huge fiscal or monetary stimulus, seems, excuse me, quite dumb to me.
Much more importance play the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, which have introduced, in the Home of the Brave, a credit risk aversion that seriously distorts the allocation of bank credit to the real economy.
If you need an aide memoire about how idiotic that regulation concocted by the Basel Committee here is one
What a government spends is a lousy proxy for what the citizens receive; it ignores redistribution costs and profits
Sir, Tim Harford writes that the idea of a universal basic income “appeals to three types of people: those who are comfortable with a dramatic increase in the size of the state, those who are willing to see needy people lose large sums relative to the status quo, and those who can’t add up.” “Could an income for all provide the ultimate safety net?’ April 30.
And while doing so he uses figures for UK’s social security spending of £217bn, and on health and education spending of £240bn.
Over the last 15 years the poor in Venezuela have most surely received less than 15 percent of what they would have received, had only the oil revenues been shared out equally among all citizens as a universal basic income. In such a case, supporting a net oil revenue funded universal basic income could be done by someone like me, someone who wants the state to become much smaller, who wants poor people to obtain more, and who can add quite well.
The basic mistake the undercover economist makes in this case, is that he equates all social support received by the needed with what is spent on them. That ignores the redistribution cost and profits. A universal basic income, that would put aside in different account much of the redistribution, would help bring more transparency to what the real cost of real government’s functions are. In these Panama Paper days, when so much concern is expressed on the issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance, there is little mentioning of the possibility that pure tax revenue waste could add up to much more.
Many wealthy non-leftists do harbor serious concerns about the growing income inequality, not only because of a sense of justice, but also because they know it could come back to haunt them. And so for them, a universal basic income distribution of a pro-equality tax, and which would not have to cost more than 2 percent in administration fees, might seem as a quite reasonable way to go.
Also many of us concerned with climate change but who also do feel quite uncomfortable with all the climate change profiteers who surround most initiatives, could find a huge gas/carbon tax paid out by means of a universal basic income scheme much better. For a starter it would beautifully align the fights against climate change and inequality.
And please, whenever I mention “redistribution profiteers’, I do not only refer to those who get cold cash and favors, but also to those so much worse, those populist and demagogues who take out their share in political power.
By the way here is a question for the Undercover Economist: Would our economies be better or worse had the QEs been redistributed in equal shares to the citizens?
PS. The problem with governments is not they are monopolies. It is they are operated and exploited by too many monopolists.
April 29, 2016
Sir, Dennis M Kelleher, President and CEO, Better Markets, Washington, DC, US writes “that sustainable market-based finance and economic growth require robust regulation that protects investors and markets while preventing catastrophic crashes like that of 2008” “False choice between growth and regulation” April 29.
Boy is he off the tracks! The pillar of banks regulations, the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, hindered robust growth by making it harder for the risky SMEs and entrepreneurs to access bank credit, and caused the crisis by pushing banks to create dangerous and excessive exposures to what was perceived, decreed or concocted as safe… like mortgages, AAA rated securities and sovereigns like Greece.
And the continued use of the credit-risk aversion imbedded in risk weighted capital requirements guarantees that the economy will stall and fall… only setting us up to the next catastrophe, when the next safe-haven becomes overpopulated.
Quite the contrary to what Mr Kelleher believes, making sure that banks and bad investment fail, as fast and expedient as possible, helps the economy to grow and at the same time prevents the build up of too much dangerous combustible material.
The regulations that can produce “non-bubble, non-financial sustainable growth in the real economy that produces employment and rising living standards” are those allowing the markets to work better, like antitrust legislation, not substituting with robust regulations the actions of the markets.
Sir, Tobias Buck quotes Marcel Jansen, a professor of economy at Madrid’s Autónoma university with “More than a quarter of unemployed workers in Spain have been out of a job for more than four years. Their chances of getting back into the labour market are very dire” “Spain’s first quarter job losses less severe than usual” April 29.
It relates directly to an Op-Ed I wrote in Venezuela (before I was censored there) titled “We need worthy and decent unemployments”. I quote the following from it:
“What politician does not speak up for the need to create decent and well paid jobs for young people? But, if that's not possible, and the economy is not able to deliver that on its own ... What on earth do we do?
Society must of course do its utmost seeking to solve the problem of youth unemployment ... including taking leisure to levels never thought of… six months vacations! But it also needs to prepare itself to handle a growing number of unemployed, not cyclical but structural, that is, those who never ever in their life will have a chance to get an economically productive job.
The power of a nation, and the productivity of its economy, which so far has depended primarily on the quality of its employees may, in the future, also depend on the quality of its unemployed, at least in the sense of these not interrupting those working.”
And recently I have reflected on that a Universal Basic Income, as that is not-having-a-job-or-not related social contribution, could be a significant part of the efforts needed.
If regulators artificially favor the access to bank credit of “the safe” “the safe” will turn risky, more sooner than later.
Sir, Gillian Tett writes “post-crisis regulatory reforms have forced financial institutions to load up with “safe” assets, too, to be used as collateral for deals… The net result is a dire squeeze on safe assets” “What pawnbrokers can teach central banks” April 29.
That is correct but, what about pre-crisis regulations? These allowed banks to leverage much more their equity with “safe” assets; and thereby earn much higher expected risk adjusted returns on equity with “safe” assets than with “risky” assets; and which therefore caused banks to lend too load up on “safe” assets, something that can be very risky.
So if you do not allow markets to allocate credit unencumbered by regulations, but favor the banks to lend to the safe, “the safe” havens are doomed to turned into dangerously overpopulated havens, sooner or later. And from what Ms Tett writes it seems that the “sooner” applies.
April 27, 2016
I always read with much interest articles that discuss the employment of the young, such as Sarah O’Connor’s “Stepping inside the workplace simulator at a London school” April 27. And I do so because of two reasons:
The first is because I am convinced of that, by means of the risk weighted capital requirements for banks, concocted by the Basel Committee, we are making it very difficult for banks to finance what in the long run creates new jobs, because that takes a lot of risk-taking.
And second, because I am equally convinced of that no matter what we do, we will end up with many persons who will never ever have had a job, and it is a true and vital societal challenge to think about what to do with them.
PS. And of course, the question in the title of this letter, is just a bit too valid for my taste.
Martin Wolf, the 11th reason against Brexit, is Britain should not want be blamed for causing EU's final divorce
Sir, Martin Wolf gives very convincing arguments against a Brexit, as they say he almost had me at hello! “Myths and fantasies in the case for Brexit” April 27.
The question then is, why does Brexit pose such an attraction to so many… and is there any chance that attraction will diminish over time?
And I guess the best answer to that is a question: Martin Wolf would you like to call Europe home?
If Wolf's answer is no, then even he must admits there is a fundamental failing with EU that will most likely, thanks to successful populists and demagogues, become worse and worse with time.
But then again, if so, that would signify the 11th and perhaps most important reason for why to vote against Brexit now, namely that Britain could become blamed for the final divorce of EU.
Let other countries play that treacherous role… I think there will be, or already exist, many candidates for an exit… like a Grexit perhaps?
And, of course, always remember to thank your lucky star you did not get involved with the Euro.
PS. That does not signify, of course, that I do not think it appropriate for the UK to withdraw, immediately, from some quasi European concoctions, such as crazy bank regulations coming out of the Basel Committee.
PS. I just read Tony Barber's "A turn in the political tide buoys Austria’s far right" So hold your horses on Brexit, and then you could blame the Austrians J
The Basel risk-weight for grand government projects is 0%; for an SME’s incremental development 100%
Sir, John Kay writes “A high proportion of the mooted benefits of grand projects could be obtained by incremental development at a fraction of the estimated cost of the world-beating schemes” “Grand projects are worthless if they do not work” April 27.
Yes but the Basel Committee, in order to make banks safer, decided to use risk weighted capita requirements. And when determining these they set the risk weight for “grand projects” carried out by government to zero percent, while that of any “incremental development” carried out by an SME was set to be 100 percent. So guess who has easier access to bank credit?
Considering FT’s total silence on this subject most, or perhaps all in FT, seem to think this is a smart way of making banks safer. I don’t. Since it impedes the best allocation of bank credit to the real economy, I think it is utterly stupid and unsafe, even for the banks.
April 26, 2016
Why should profits made with IPR protection, patents, be taxed the same as profits made in the nude?
Sir, I refer to Andrew Ward’s “FT’s Big Read on Drug Prices: Tweaking the formula” April 26.
First of all I did not know of Nice and I must admit I am impressed that some formal rulings exist on whether to fund the use or not of some medicines. That certainly must help to put a lid on some bureaucrats’ “flexibility”.
That said, the article reminds me of a question I have posed many times before, including in Op-Eds in my country Venezuela, and in letters to you.
Why on earth should profits derived from operations under the protection of an Intellectual Property Right (IPR), patents, be taxed at the same rate than profits obtained fighting it out in the markets, naked, with no protection at all?
Surely the revenues of a special IPR/Patent profit tax could be ploughed back into some type of insurance scheme that could help cover some medicine costs the society can in general not afford to cover.
Sir, Gideon Rachman writes: “any Brits who feel nostalgic for the Anglosphere, and a little resentful about Mr Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ comments, might reflect how much they still benefit from the cultural power of the US. The traditional Anglo-sphere may be in disrepair. But a different sort of Anglosphere has emerged in Brussels, with English now the common language of the EU institutions”, “Obama and the end of the Anglosphere” April 26. Here some varied comments.
It is surprising to hear an Englishman hold that the importance of English is a result of “the cultural power of the US”. Will Rachman get clobbered or is this a generally held view?
With respect to English let me ask, when does a language become so important that it does not belong to anyone more? Scary eh?
So, if Brexit happens, should EU have the right to keep English? And if the answer to that is no, or EU having been rejected does not want it, what language would win? A German-French War? Could EU survive that?
And in regard to Obama’s “back of the queue’, and though I am not a Brit, I was surprised no one asked him: “Are you telling us it is easier for the US to negotiate with Germans and French than with Englishmen?”
Finally Sir, let me repeat two related questions that I made in a recent letter
America is home for Americans. Is not Brexit just a symptom of Europe not aspiring to be home of Europeans?
How many at FT wish one day for Englishmen to call Europe home, as Americans call America home?
PS. Or could one of you even be dreaming of calling Asia home? L