Market Thinking

making sense of the narrative

Living in a Kakistocracy

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Kakistocracy *

noun[ C or U ]UK  /ˌkæk.ɪˈstɒk.rə.si/ US  /ˌkæk.ɪˈstɑː.krə.si/

a government that is ruled by the least suitable, able, or experienced people in a state or country:

*Cambridge English Dictionary. From the Greek kakistos meaning worst.

Applying logic to the behaviour of governments and particularly recently over Covid appears to run into the Knaves or Fools? argument. Either they know the facts that are being presented and are deliberately ignoring them (knaves) or they don’t know what they are doing (fools). Neither is good and raises the issue that we live in a Kakistocracy, where the ‘people in charge’ are not only the least able or experienced, but also the least suitable.

The word itself can be traced to earlier times, deriving from the greek, meaning rule by the worst (although its perceived opposite of rule by the most qualified being aristocracy might also be questioned) and was revived with the Trump Presidency where it was taken to mean rule by idiots. The reality is that the concept of ‘suitable’ takes many forms and regardless of the opinion of the reader on Trump, the truth is that modern governments are largely run from behind the scenes, mainly via lobbyists and propagandists.

The real concern is that kakistocracy embraces a creeping Oligarchy, Plutocracy and kleptocracy

As such Rana Faroohar in the FT yesterday gets it completely backwards with a piece suggesting that Big Business regrets backing Trump and now wants to back Biden. The fact is that Big Business – as represented by the all important lobby groups that essentially control both sides of the US political aisle – backed Biden. Just as they backed Hilary before him, Obama before that and Bush before that. They are the kakistocracy, the unsuitable people in real power. Trump was the ‘glitch’ in the Matrix and the aim now is to take the Blue Pill and pretend that none of it ever happened.

We make no apology for our frequent references to the 1999 movie the Matrix, not least because it touches on long-standing philosophical concepts such as Plato’s cave and in market terms serves to remind us that effectively we do in fact live in a computer simulation of the world; one where our agreed perceptions – that Tesla is ‘worth’ more than all the other car manufacturers in the world for example – become reality. At least for a time. As an aside, I first saw the movie on a BA flight to Tokyo, just over 20 years ago and it has aged incredibly well. Indeed, even though it was a sleeper hit, (literally in my case, I watched it, fell asleep and then watched it again) and took time to become the cult classic it has now become, its influence across multiple subsequent movies and film makers is very evident even now. The fact that the BA 747 I flew on and the tiny 5 inch fold down screen I watched it on feel far more dated than the movie are also interesting points. As of course are the market twists that occurred to me – the fact that the cellphones they use are Nokia, which at the turn of the century was seen as THE dominant handset maker and the fact that on that trip to Tokyo the Nikkei was approximately the same level as it is now 20 years later being perhaps the most pertinent.

In terms of making sense of the narrative we are always looking for shifts (see the 5Cs note) but also trying to put together our own, more complete narrative of what is actually going on inside our ‘agreed perception’ of the world. Sometimes it helps with investment, sometimes it is just part of the puzzle. So it is with Covid.

The danger is that because we tend to believe that there must be a logical argument and ergo there must be some ‘plan’ behind it, we see it as one master plan, with Dr Evil and Mr Bigglesworth running the show. The much more likely explanation is that there are multiple agendas and that the reality we end up in is a blend of those, just in the same way that the reality of the markets is a blend of the agendas of traders, asset allocators and long term investors.

So applying this sort of market thinking to Covid and in particular the announcement by Boris Johnson that the UK is to exit lockdown but return to Tiers of further restrictions we would advance the following ‘theory’.

Covid was a shock in the spring and governments in the west reacted by abandoning all previous protocols and isolating the healthy as well as the sick. This was partly encouraged by clinicians, whose only focus is on preventing mortality but also by politicians themselves desperate to avoid being accused of ‘killing’ people by inaction. By the summer, the virus had all but gone and a series of anonymous graphs of infections and deaths would have proved indistinguishable from each other in terms of whether lockdowns had been applied or not. The only difference in patterns was Northern Hemisphere versus tropical (the US is complicated by having both).

This is where the first agenda comes in. Big Pharma has long followed the principle that treatment/prevention is better than cure as the former is far more profitable than the latter. As any good pharma analyst or investor knows, it’s all about recurring revenues. Having spent months at the heart of government offering a vaccine solution, they, frankly, needed Covid to still be a threat by the year end, when they expected their products to be ready. Ministers meanwhile needed a CYA strategy to justify their previous actions and shift the narrative away from “Why did you shut down the economy for a non deadly virus?” to “Why didn’t you shut down earlier and harder the first time?” Thus they too needed a ‘second wave’ to last until they could ‘save’ us all with the vaccine strategy.

As such the illusion of a second wave was created through mass testing and the replacement of positive test results with the terminology of ‘cases’ and ‘infections’. The more we tested the ‘worse’ the second wave became and the ‘tougher’ governments got in order to protect us. This model was followed across the west, with one outlier, the US Federal government. Donald Trump wasn’t playing ball. He was pushing for a vaccine, but not trying to push lockdown. The Democrat cities and States were fully on board with lockdown of course as a struggling economy also suited their political ends. The Democrats accordingly also took up the virtue signal of wearing the mask – because you are a communitarian who cares about others, while they are selfish. It was no coincidence, we feel, that the WHO suddenly declared wearing masks to be a good thing back in the summer (with no new evidence) and that the UK and European politicians moved as one to adopt it. The Democrats then further weaponised Covid as their main line of attack on Trump into the Election season, while British opposition leader Sir Kier Starmer (also an important globalist and member of the tri-lateral commission) saw a similar opportunity to undermine the UK economy for domestic political gain by pushing for even more lockdowns. As did the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales.

It is this third agenda that we feel explains the latest moves in the UK. Boris Johnson has acquired a reputation for U turns because he states a policy only to have it over-turned by the real powers that be – the globalists and multi-nationals. He clearly hoped that his Tier system would delay things until the arrival of ‘the cavalry’ as he put it with the vaccines, but, unfortunately for him and the people of the UK, that risked the agenda to remove Trump. Macron and Merkel did their bit by announcing ‘crises’ just before the Election in order to get Covid onto the front pages as an Election ‘issue’ and Boris was bounced into following suit by a leak and more dodgy statistics. A week later of course and the vaccine cavalry have arrived, too late to save Trump or the small businesses of the UK perhaps, but suitable for a Great Reset to commence.

Thus the UK returns to the staus quo ante of the Tier system, one that allows the new Brahmin class to work from their second homes in the country and still visit local shops pubs, churches and restaurants while the pesky untouchables and populists remain locked up in their cities and northern towns. Approved mass protests by BLM or XR are nodded through, but woe betide anyone who protests against the government. Then the UK will give Hong Kong a run for its money. Then in the spring, the idea is that the munificent politicians can present themselves as saviors and honest brokers, while Big Pharma get the annuity business they crave and Big Business can resume business as usual. Meanwhile the transfer of wealth from middle class small business owners to private equity oligarchs and anyone with access to cheap central bank capital proceeds apace. That, as Morpheus would say, is to see the world as it truly is.

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