Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 4th June

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The first set of predictions surround the full moon on 4th June.  Apparently this is a powerful and lively alignment and raises significant questions regarding freedom and the balance between rights and responsibilities.  The actual details are thus:

  • Education will be the priority and there will be initiatives to encourage sport in schools.
  • There will also be concern about violence in schools and precautions should be taken to guard against a high risk of a high-profile stabbing or shooting.
  • West African states seem intent on damaging their own best interests.

Let us see how that panned out:

  • Education will be the priority and there will be initiatives to encourage sport in schools – Not only is the news dominated by the Jubilee but it is a Bank Holiday and half term so political statements about education (about anything really) are muted to non-existent.
  • There will also be concern about violence in schools and precautions should be taken to guard against a high risk of a high-profile stabbing or shooting – Again, as mentioned above, it is half-term so children are on a break from school. There has been no high profile stabbing or shooting at a school or elsewhere.
  • West African states seem intent on damaging their own best interests Again, nothing of note except the tragic accident in Lagos, Nigeria where a MacDonnell-Douglas MD-83 aircraft crashed into a crowded residential area killing all aboard.  However this accident can not be deemed an answer to the stated prediction for there is nothing but sympathy for Nigeria and the Nigerian people regarding this terrible event.

To be honest from a UK perspective nothing was happening in the world except the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  All the media was dominated by it and for once politics was taking very much a back seat, so perhaps the seeds of some of these stories were beginning to grow but were blocked from the light but the dominant news story of the last week.

Interestingly there was a transit of Venus (across the Sun) 5th/6th June 2012 the last one for 105 years and so (unless I break the current longevity record) will be the last one that I will see.

But once again, if you think that I have misrepresented the news and/or been unfair to Old Moore feel free to comment.

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Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 20th May

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Apologies but due to personal commitments I am writing this up 2 weeks after the event so therefore please excuse anything I miss out.

This set of predictions revolve around the new moon on the 20th May (which just happened to be an eclipse).  Let us see what was predicted:

  • There are strong indications of buoyancy in the property market for the third month in a row.
  • The government will bring in fresh education reforms with new encouragement for independent schools and home-schooling.
  • The United States economy is entering a difficult period and it will experience foreign-policy reverses as it is forced to compromise in the Middle East and central Asia.
  • Egypt is experiencing deep instability and a threat from Islamic fundamentalists.
  • Severe weather conditions could predominate in the Southern Hemisphere.

Let us see how these predictions panned out:

  • There are strong indications of buoyancy in the property market for the third month in a row – Across all housing market indices there are no signs of buoyancy.  At best one could say they are stable but in most regions of the UK they are declining with only the London market bucking the trend and skewing the overall average.
  • The government will bring in fresh education reforms with new encouragement for independent schools and home-schooling – There doesn’t seem to be anything of great significance in the news except for a speech by the opposition leader Ed Miliband bemoaning vocational qualifications but no governmental reforms.
  • The United States economy is entering a difficult period and it will experience foreign-policy reverses as it is forced to compromise in the Middle East and central Asia – The US economy (as is the whole world) is definitely looking precarious, with poor jobs and output figure it certainly looks like the US will go for QE3 to attempt to stabilise the dollar in the maelstrom that is the current marco-economic climate.
  • Egypt is experiencing deep instability and a threat from Islamic fundamentalists – Egypt is still struggling to come to terms with the fallout from the Arab Spring and the overturning of Mubarack (who as I write this has just been sentenced to life imprisonment) on its steps to democracy.  Egypt is looking at its first free presidential elections in 30 years but the choice is not necessarily what one could hope for. The two leading candidates are Ahmed Shafiq who is tied to the Mubarak era regime and Mohammed Mursi leader of the Muslim brotherhood.  However Egypt is currently experiencing severe unrest and there has been accusations of voting irregularities so there may be a delay to the official announcement of candidates for the 16th June elections.
  • Severe weather conditions could predominate in the Southern Hemisphere – There does not seem to be anything in the news.

As I always say if there is anything you think I have missed or have been unfair in my representation of the news then feel free to comment.

Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 6th May

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The first set of predictions for the month of May centre around the full moon on 6th May.  Let us have a look at those predictions:

  • Optimistic trends continue and bold action is called for.
  • Security levels should be on maximum alert for attacks on the British government.
  • There is also a high rish of oil spills, especially in the western Atlantic or western Pacific.
  • Saudi Arabia enters a cycle of uncertainity which lasts until the end of the year and brings the country into conflict with Iran.
  • There could be cyber-attacks around the world and a serious interruption in traffic on the web.

Let us see how accurate those were:

  • Optimistic trends continue and bold action is called for – What does this even mean?  This is a statement not a prediction and a rather non-descript, un-quantifiable statement.  And to be frank I would say that the contrary is true.  With France eleccting her first Socialist government in thirty years, the Greek government on the point of collapse and general rejection of the austerity measures that are being put in place by various European governments there is a real sense of standing on the edge of a financial abyss.
  • Security levels should be on maximum alert for attacks on the British government. – The only attack on the British government has been from the British voters.  Despite (or perhaps because of) the low turnout at the polls the encumbent coalition parties took a real battering in the local elections.  Security levels probably are high (we are hosting the Olympics later this year) but nothing that has made the news.  However, again I think that this is Old Moore is looking at history to predict the future.  On the 11th May 1812 John Bellingham, a bankrupt mechant assassinated Spencer Perceval in the House of Commons.  The first, and only time a British Prime Minister (although strictly speaking the title Prime Minister was not in use for the Leader of the British government at the time) has been assassinated.  Spencer Perceval was shot through the heart and died within a few minutes; while Bellingham was executed one week later on the 18th May.  Interestingly one of John Bellingham’s decendants: Henry Bellingham is currently a Foreign Office minister and MP for North West Norfolk.
  • There is also a high rish of oil spills, especially in the western Atlantic or western Pacific. – Nothing that has made the news.
  • Saudi Arabia enters a cycle of uncertainity which lasts until the end of the year and brings the country into conflict with Iran. – I will wait and see on this.  The only major newsworthy story concerning Saudi Arabia was the revelation that the Al Qa’ida operative that the CIA have intercepted with the latest version of the underpants bomb was in fact a Saudi double agent that had been placed by the Saudi intelligence agency in a Yemeni cell.
  • There could be cyber-attacks around the world and a serious interruption in traffic on the web. – Not really cyber-attacks around the world but Virgin Media was forced to take its website office for an hour during a hack attack by the Anonymous Collective.  The Anonymous Collective targetted Virgin Media as Virgin Media became the first ISP in the UK to block users from accessing The Pirate Bay’s file sharing website.  The UK High Court has ordered the UK’s ISPs to prevent their users from accessing the Swedish website which hosts (among other files) pirated music and video infringing copyright of large media organisations.  Four other ISPs: Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk and O2 have also been ordered to prevent their customers accessing The Pirate Bay by this Friday while BT has requested ‘a few more weeks’ to consider its position. 

Once again if there was something I missed or you feel I have unfairly represented the news, please feel free to comment.

Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 21st April

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Apologies to all readers as I have been busy and missed this write up but better late than never!

The new moon on the 21st April yields the following predictions:

  • There will be violent arguments in the Commons with backbench revolts and a high chance of part splits.
  • The economy remains positive with continuing buoyancy at the cheaper end of the housing market.
  • There is rising tension in Southeast Asia with chances of a military coup in Thailand or a short-lived border conflict with Burma and between Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • The civil war in Somalia threatens to cause much wider regional war.

Let’s see what happened:

  • There will be violent arguments in the Commons with backbench revolts and a high chance of part splits. – This seems a little wide of the mark.  There are always arguments in parliament but nothing of the magnitude that this seems to predict.
  • The economy remains positive with continuing buoyancy at the cheaper end of the housing market– This is almost the opposite of the facts.  The economy is struggling and we have hit a double dip recession, that is we poked our head into positive growth before the economy contracted again.  A cynical man mght say that we never left recession but the hundreds of billions of pounds worth of quantative easing that the Bank of England/ government ‘released’ into the economy artifically massaged the figures but the underlying issues never went away and that we are heading for a protracted downturn that is going to hurt the average family in the street.
  • There is rising tension in Southeast Asia with chances of a military coup in Thailand or a short-lived border conflict with Burma and between Vietnam and Cambodia – this again is a miss.  If there has been such a conflict or tension then is is bubbling under the surface for it has not made any of the major news organisations.
  • The civil war in Somalia threatens to cause much wider regional war – again I see no evidence of this.  Obviously Somalia is a failed or at the very least failing country and it does have an affect on its neighbours and especially the sea routed off its coast where Somali pirates are terrorizing passing ships but there is nothing to suggest that anything much has changed recently.

This is a very poor showing for Old Moore.  I will no dwell on the above but if anyone disagrees with what I have written please feel free to comment.

Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 22nd March

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The second of the set of predictions for the month of March centre around the New Moon of the 22nd March.  Four events are suggested for the time period:

  • The government will embark on a major economic reform, intent on a radical break with the past
  • Buoyant financial figures, including a rise in private sector employment, encourage increased spending on technology and green initiatives.
  • International tension focuses on the Persian Gulf and we may see conflict between Iran and the Arab States
  • Argentina may test British defences of the Falkland Islands, although there is little danger of war this year.

Let us see how these predictions panned out:

  • The government will embark on a major economic reform, intent on a radical break with the past – Interestingly there was a UK Budget on the day before (21st March) but there was nothing in it that was a radical break from the past, in fact is more of the same with a (primarily) Conservative government giving tax breaks to the rich and bleeding the remainder.  The top rate of income tax (for those earning over £150,000/year – including if figures are to be believed the Chancellor himself) will be lowered from 50p to 45p in the pound.  Corporation tax to fall; fuel duty to rise 3p/litre; tobacco duty to rise to 5% above inflation (equivalent to 37p on a packet of cigarettes) and child benefit to be cut.  The tax threshold will be raised which is good for those on very low incomes.  The fail out on this budget is huge leaving the UK’s 4.4 million pensioners worse off and pie and pasty fans up in arms as you will now have to pay VAT (currently 20%) on hot pies and pasties (although not cold pies and pasties – and the definition is a little wooly as hot doesn’t mean heated it just means hotter than the ambient temperature.  So, on a warm day a pie at 25°C would not incur VAT but on a cold Winter’s day it would.
  • Buoyant financial figures, including a rise in private sector employment, encourage increased spending on technology and green initiatives – Not really.  The UK’s borrowing is above expectations although growth figures have jumped from 0.7% to a whopping 0.8% which is going to help with our dewbt mountain of £1 trillion!  That is about £40,000 per household or 500% of GDP.
  • International tension focuses on the Persian Gulf and we may see conflict between Iran and the Arab States – There is always international tension in the Persian Gulf and although Iran are usually in the thick or it (so to speak), I would say that it is Syria and its treatment of its civilains that the World’s attention is focused, including condemnation from other Arab States.
  • Argentina may test British defences of the Falkland Islands, although there is little danger of war this year – Cynically, one could say that this would be relatively easy to’ predict’.  The Falklands War started on Friday 2nd April 1982 so the 30th anniversary ties in nicely with this timeframe.  But let us give Old Moore a little credit because it has been making the news nearly every week with a lot of posturing from Argentina and what could be intrepretted as a provocative action by the UK with the Duke of Cambridge (second in line to the Throne) being posted to the Falkland Islands for a seven week stint.  Interesting timing with the entire story though was the fact that the Duke of Cambridge came back to the UK after completing his stint on 21st March, which stoked further interest in the situation.

To be honest, I am a little cynical with both the first story (the UK always tend to have a budget around the end of March) and the last story (the anniversary of a major war where one party still feel aggrieved) are not impossible to predict for those with a bit of wit about themselves, but maybe I am allowing my prejudice to influence the results.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday 15th March 2012

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Welcome to the first Ides of the year that is not on the 13th of the month.  The Ides of March is undoubtedly the most famous of the Ides being the date in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated.  According to Plutarch, Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of conspirators (over 60 in number) lead by Marcus Junius Brutus (Et tu, Brute!) in the Roman Senate.  Also, according to Plutarch a seer had foretold that Caesar would be harmed no later than the Ides of March.  On his way to his death, Caesar met that seer and mocked ‘The Ides of March have come’ (only in Latin not English), to which the seer replied ‘Ay, Caesar; but not gone.’  This is immortalised in William Shakespear’s play Julius Caesar by the phrase ‘beware the Ides of March’.

So what happened on the Ides of March?  Well personally it wasn’t a great day.  I arrived home the night before and after putting the kids to bed starting feeling really woozy.  I took myself off to bed at just after eight pm feeling nauseous.  It wasn’t long before the feeling came to fruition.  So for me the Ides of March was a complete wash out.  It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I managed to get out of bed and then only to collapse on the sofa.  So I didn’t manage to take the customary photos nor really pay any attention to the news so the following is lifted retrospectively from the internet.

So what happened in the world (and forgive any omissions):

  • Argentina has begun intensifying its campaign to block oil development in the Falkland Islands.  This is the latest in the increasing war of words over the ownership of the Falkland Islands as the approaching 30th anniversary of the Falkland’s war looms.  This is bound to rumble on over the coming year and it will be interesting what  both sides will attempt to get out of the conflict.  I can’t see it ending in war but you never know.
  • This week David Cameron (the UK Prime Minister) has been on a State visit to the US.  The visit has been given favourable coverage in both countries but Dana Milbank one of the most senior and influential writers at the Washington Post has given David Cameron the moniker Obama’s Guard Dog.  I think it is a term that Downing street will quickly want to quash but I suppose it is better than George W Bush’s poodle that Tony Blair was haunted by.  However I think the fact that Obama is in the early stages of an election race and that he invited the Prime Minister to a basketball match in the swing state of Ohio they may be a grain of truth in the title.  Although it is slightly worrying that the President of the US needs David Cameron to be his Guard Dog.  The English readers of this blog will find that amusing.
  • Finally (and no coincidence intended), Yoda, the reigning world’s ugliest dog has passed away.  The 15 year old Chinese crested/ Chihuahua mix breed died in her sleep last Saturday but her death was only announced on the 15th.  She was 0.8kgs had short tuffs of hair, a protruding tongue and short skinny legs and her owner Terry Schumacher mistook her for a rat when she first saw her.  She will be missed.

Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 8th March

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March’s full moon occurs on Thursday 8th and the astronomical indications, according to Old Moore, point to a mood of prosperity, specifically:

  • The property market is showing signs of sustained recovery
  • Shrewd investors should consider the art market
  • Retailers will target the young and child market.
  • There will be concerns over the amount spent on pornography and attempts to curb its availability
  • The Russian government will be in a strong position but maybe the subject of violent protests in the streets of Moscow and other major cities

So, as usual, let us analyse these in depth.

  • The property market is showing signs of sustained recovery – There is a lot of disinformation regarding the housing market, which is understandable as the boom that the housing market has seen over the last 15 years or so has contributed to the perceived wealth of the country.  Therefore anything that either undermines this perception or indeed causes the asset to drop significantly would be detrimental to the economy of the country.  The Halifax (the biggest mortgage lender in the UK) reported a monthly decline of 0.5% in February which is a year on year decline of 1.9% and nearly 20% below Halifax’s average house price at the height of the market in August 2007.  Interestingly this is in slight contrast to Nationwide’s report for the same period which indicated a price rise of 0.6% and an annual rise of 0.9%.  However both agree on a similar value for the average house (£160,118 – Halifax £162,712 – Nationwide) and when inflation of 4-5% is taken into account the ‘real’ value of housing has fallen.  Regardless of actual ‘versus’ ‘real’ or 1.9% decline of 0.9% rise the overall graph is looking relatively static but that might change with news that although the Bank of England have recently kept interest rates at their historic low of 0.5% (for the 36th straight month) many of the leading lenders have raised their SVR by at least 0.5% and coupled with inflation and rising unemployment, my personal view is that the housing market is balanced on a knife edge and although there may not be a huge crash this year I would be less surprised than a sustained recovery.  This for me is a fail.
  • Shrewd investors should consider the art market – Is this a prediction?  Effectively whenever there is uncertainty in the economic world investors migrate to alternatives to invest their hard earned cash.  Gold is one of those safe havens as is art.  This is the way of the world and something that has always happened and always will happen.  I am not going to waste any more time on this statement.
  • Retailers will target the young and child market – I see no more of this than usual, although I am a father of two so I am inundated with child focused advertising on a daily basis.
  • There will be concerns over the amount spent on pornography and attempts to curb its availability – Again no major stories regarding this, however there was a story in the Daily Mail (so it must be true) regarding the soft porn channels Babestation and SmileTV that are available on Freeview (the UK digital terrestial network) and thus accessible by children.  The fact that these channels only broadcast from 10pm to 5am and so children shouldn’t be watching tv and many freeview receivers have the ability to hide channels or password protect some channels is completely ignored by ‘outraged from suburbia’.
  • The Russian government will be in a strong position and maybe the subject of violent protests in the streets of Moscow and other major cities – This is actually a hit.  Sunday’s presidential election saw Vladimir Putin return victorious in what has been described by many within Russia as an insult to the Russian people.  Russian’s election commission confirm that Putin received 64% of the vote and will return as Russian President (for a six year term) starting in May.  Election officials have dismissed any questions about voting irregularities, stating that the matter is now closed, although international observers have stated that there was voting irregularities in at least a third of polling stations.  Putin has been Prime Minister of Russian since relinquishing the Presidency in 2008.  There have been protests in many of Russia’s cities with protesters chanting ‘Russia without Putin’ and ‘Power to the millions, not the police’.  We will see how this develops.

Again, I invite any of my readers to challenge any of the above, and we will wait for the next installment.

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