Business and finance 28 March 2018

We have seen the future and it twerks

CYNTHIA NIXON is the latest celebrity to run for office in America; the “Sex and the City” star is trying to be governor of New York. If she succeeds, she will follow in a long line of celebrities-turned-politicians including Sonny Bono, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and most notably, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.This may not be a uniquely American phenomenon. Beppe Grillo, a comedian, launched the Five Star movement, now Italy's biggest party. Silvio Berlusconi cultivated the celebrity style. George Weah, a footballer, has just been elected president of Liberia. Joseph Estrada, a movie star, was president of the Philippines.Even conventional politicians are expected to show a bit of star quality. Al Gore failed in his run for president in part because his public demeanour was seen as wooden and dull (it was said he reminded women of their first husbands). The attempts in last year’s election campaign to create...Continue reading

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More market volatility seems likely

“FASTEN your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Those famous lines of Bette Davis in “All About Eve” may turn out to be the motto for the markets in 2018. After the “volatility vortex” in February, sparked by concerns about inflation, markets have thrown a “tariff tantrum” after President Donald Trump sparked fears of a trade war with China.In February stocks sank on heavy hints of American levies on imported steel and aluminium. The prospect of trade measures against China, signalled on March 22nd, again hit shares. Then reports that China and America were making progress in trade talks caused the S&P 500 index to rise by 2.7% on March 26th, its best day since August 2015. It promptly fell again by 1.7% the next day (see chart).Further volatility seems likely, not least after the appointment of John Bolton, an ultra-hawk on foreign policy, as Mr Trump’s national security adviser. That raises the possibility of increased tension with North Korea, despite the...Continue reading

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