Part 1: British Prime Minister David Cameron is doing his Sunny Jim thing, as I write. The PM is naturally youthful looking but when set against his party he looks like a teen-ager and speaks with the fervent optimism of a 16 year old spending a weekend with the old folks. He is giving the closing speech of his party's annual conference now and telling them the future is rosy and Britain will grow and grow.
It is bold of him to speak to his party like that since by nature Britain's Conservatives always think the past was a better place - the future is too uncertain for them.
It is also a little detached from reality. Earlier today Britain's Office of National Statistics revised its estimate of second quarter GDP growth downward a tick to 0.1 percent. Looking back over the last three quarters growth is exactly 0 ... that is about as flat as a flatline can get. The PM's talk of stimulating growth rings particularly hollow when set against that grim reality.
It also rings hollow given the kerfuffle over the original version of his script. The PM's spin doctors initially briefed reporters Cameron was going to tell people to do their bit to fight their nation's debt crisis and pay down their credit card bills. (Believe me I've been doing that). Then someone pointed out that in a time of no growth people need to go shopping to do their bit to stimulate the economy. But since consumption in Britain has been mostly based on credit cards Cameron's message was the wrong one. Anyway, he dropped it from his speech. But the damage was done.
One other statistical note: The ONS also revised its numbers on the scale of economic contraction in the recession between autumn 2008 and spring 2009. The original estimate was 6.4 percent contraction. That was revised today to 7.1 percent. The only previous downturn with a contraction in the 7 percent range was the Great Depression.
Part 2: Leaving Britain aside, and forgetting about the latest massive strike in Greece aside, there actually is something rosy in the future - maybe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly ready to re-capitalise the German banking sector and is willing to discuss a Europe-wide plan to do the same, as this report in the FT says.
This made financial markets happy.
Part 3: Scottish folk singer Bert Jansch died today after a battle with cancer. He was 68. My guess is that many people who find their way to this posting won't know who the hell I'm talking about ... too young, not into folk music. But before popular music became segmented into markets so that it was easier for business to make money, categories like folk and rock weren't that different. Jansch was a cross over hero in the folk rock moment in the 60's. Jansch was one of the supreme acoustic guitarists of the last half-century and thanks to the miracle of youtube you can check out his insturmental brilliance here. He also sang with an authenticity that has been sanded out of music today.