The FTSE-100 index of leading stocks is over 20 per cent up since Britain went into lockdown — ‘bull market’ territory. The government borrowed £55 billion in May, nine times more than the same month last year — yet borrowing costs are down, with some investors now paying to lend to an increasingly indebted nation.
Who cares if the UK economy will shrink some 10 per cent this year, as our national debt rockets above 100 per cent of GDP? Stocks are up, bond prices are up and the laws of economics have been suspended.
Over the past few weeks, my sense of the surreal has been increasing. At a time when rational interpretation of the Covid data indicates that we should be getting back to normal, we instead see an elaboration of arbitrary responses. These are invariably explained as being ‘guided by science’. In fact, they are doing something rather different: being guided by models, bad data and subjective opinion. Some of those claiming to be ‘following the science’ seem not to understand the meaning of the word.
The fate of Hong Kong should make us worried about Taiwan. China’s introduction of a new security law for Hong Kong — which hollowed out the spirit of the ‘one country, two systems’ notion — is a powerful reminder of the importance of sovereignty for the Chinese Communist party. We should ask whether Taiwan is next on the list.
In the past few months, as the world battled to control the Covid-19 pandemic, Beijing indulged in increased military activity across the Taiwan Strait.
Ahead of Independence Day last week, CNN went live to its correspondent Leyla Santiago. Here is how she described the upcoming celebrations: ‘Kicking off the Independence Day weekend, President Trump will be at Mount Rushmore, where he’ll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans.’ She went on to report that the President was expected to focus on efforts to ‘tear down our country’s history’.
My first Independence Day in the US for many years. Usually I’d be in Paris avoiding Texas heat. My wife and I are self-isolating with much more square feet and wildlife to enjoy. Our garden is lush and green, full of flowers, owls, hawks, possums, squirrels, skunks, armadillos and snakes. Recent wild fires drove more animals into town. Joyously athletic with the recklessness of youth, squirrels and redbirds chase each other through our oaks and pecans and it’s pretty good to sit on the front porch with a cooling drink and the rich scent of magnolias in the evening air.
The Prime Minister recently blamed the delay in the resumption of amateur cricket on the ball itself, calling it ‘a vector of disease’. Happily, tests have disproved this. Balls contaminated with Covid-19 showed no trace of it 30 seconds later — and recreational cricketers will be allowed to return to the field from this weekend.
Much of the complexity of cricket comes from the interplay between wood, turf and the leather of the ball.