On this week’s episode, we ask whether there’s such thing as a good financial crash. We also look at the reality of the housing crisis and the ethics of dwarfs in the entertainment industry.
First, with the Dow Jones taking a tumble at the end of last week, market watchers were on high alert for signs of another financial crash. In this week's magazine, Liam Halligan looks at the state of the stock market and asks: could a coming crisis could spell the end of the easy-money era? He joined the podcast to look at the behaviour of global markets at a volatile moment, along with economist and author, George Magnus. As Liam writes:
"This was not really a crash: markets worldwide are still far higher than they were two months ago. The dip on Tuesday was as nothing compared with Black Monday in 1987, when the Dow lost a quarter of its value in a few days. And the market is not a barometer of the economy. There was no banking collapse, no terrorist-driven panic, no geopolitical disaster. This was a good old-fashioned market–driven change in valuations, after a bull run. In fact, it may well be that the world economy is finally moving on from the 2008 crisis, escaping the doldrums of its long aftermath."
Next, there has been much discussion since the 2017 election of whether a fix to Britain's housing crisis might help the Conservatives stem the tide of Corbynism. We may have a housing crisis, says Matthew Parris in his column this week, but we don't have a housing shortage. He joined podcast to discuss the fixes required to the system, along with our political editor, James Forsyth. As Matthew writes:
"I’m no economist. My understanding of the dismal science is rudimentary. I may be shot down in flames as an ignoramus. But here goes. Residential property has become a kind of currency, prized more for value than utility; and its role as a financial asset is messing with its ability to perform the function of actually housing people. Straining to increase the supply of housing will no more restrain price than straining to increase gold production would make much difference to the price of gold. Supply being constrained, and appetite sharpened not by need but by acquisitiveness, even the most strenuous attempts to boost production will not bring prices within the reach of an increasingly large part of the population."
And finally, have you ever been to a party with hired help serving champagne and wafting vol-au-vent under your nose? Why then do we feel a frisson of discomfort when these waiters have dwarfism? Having heard of a gathering staffed by dwarf butlers in the buff, Polly Morgan set out to try and navigate the ethical quagmire surrounding dwarfs in the entertainment industry, and she joined the podcast along with our commissioning editor, Mary Wakefield. As Polly writes:
"The term dwarfism covers a number of syndromes, the most common being achondroplasia, a genetic condition resulting in shortened arms and legs. Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SEDc) tends to result in more proportionate limbs. If you consider that two people with dwarfism starting a family together have a one in four chance of their baby inheriting the gene from both parents and dying within days of birth, it’s not unreasonable to feel that bodies that characterise this condition aren’t all that funny."