27 October


Good morning,

It is a mystery that has gripped conspiracy theorists for more than 50 years, taking in Soviet plots, crazed killers and secret government cover-ups that reach the highest echelons of the American presidency.
But today’s release of the remaining 12 per cent of classified documents relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963is unlikely to put paid to a half-century of intrigue and unanswered questions. How many stones are left unturned matters little when assessing the enduring myth and general suspicion in which Americans view their government and security services.
Nonetheless the revelations make for fascinating reading.
For starters, it is now known that the FBI had identified Kennedy’s eventual killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, long before the event took place. Authorities even warned local police in Dallas of an imminent death threat during the president’s visit following a tip-off which named Oswald.
The findings also demonstrate how little trust those at the top of government placed in the investigation. Soviet leaders, fearing a reckless regime change might spark a nuclear war after Kennedy’s death, are cited as believing that a rightwing coup had killed Kennedy, organised by a group including his successor as president, Lyndon Johnson.
Perhaps the most curious report though for a reader this side of the pond was a memo to the director of the FBI suggesting a British local newspaper, Cambridge News, received an anonymous phone call 25 minutes before the assassination even took place. The caller simply directed journalists to ‘big news’ coming out of the American Embassy before hanging up.
So as we pour over the findings with our morning coffee, it is worth asking what ‘conclusions’ may be taken from today’s report. Given the decision by current President Donald Trump to block the release of an unknown number of documents for national security concerns, something tells me Americans – along with the world – will be engaging in a healthy dose of conspiracy theories for a while yet.


The Australian High Court has ruled the country’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, alongside four senators as ineligible to sit in parliament due to holding dual citizenship. The court’s unanimous decision to uphold a strict reading of the constitutional disqualification of foreign citizens will trigger a series of by elections, but for now has stripped the Liberal government of its single-seat majority.
The Spanish Senate is set to approve Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s plan to invoke Article 155 of the county’s constitution today, imposing direct rule in Catalonia. Despite intense speculation that fresh polls could be used to defuse the situation, Catalonia’s regional president Carles Puigdemont yesterday ruled out a snap election reasoning that his government could not proceed without guarantees of autonomy from Madrid.
Two alleged members of banned far-right group National Action have been charged in connection with a plot to murder Labour MP for West Lancashire, Rosie Cooper. The men, who are 31 and 22-years-old, have been charged with the intention of committing acts of terrorism and threats to kill, Greater Manchester policy said.


Business & Economy

The European Central Bank (ECB) will halve the rate at which it purchases bonds to €30billion a month from January in a majority policy shift at the central bank. ECB president, Mario Draghi, signalled the quantative easing programme could continue beyond September 2018 after the initial nine-month cooldown if inflation in the Eurozone remained below the Bank’s target of 2 per cent.
Retail sales in the UK have seen their sharpest fall since the recession, according to figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The poll reading of -36 for the year to October was a significant drop from a two-year high of +42 in September prompting warnings that the Bank of England’s expected interest rate rise could hamper growth.
The UK population is projected to grow at a slower rate than previously thought due to lower migration and fertility, reaching 73 million by 2041 – two million less than figures released in 2015. Migration accounts for more than three quarters of the predicted growth, driven by direct immigration and a higher fertility rate among migrants.


What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 finished up 0.53% to 7,486.5 points at the end of Thursday’s trading, despite lackluster results from Barclays weighing down rises.
Barclays was the biggest loser yesterday, closing down 7.4% as a weak performance in its investment banking division led to lower-than-expected third-quarter profits. However, strong gains in mining stocks and 3.3% rise for Unilever in particular making up the shortfall.
On currency markets, the pound was down 0.69% against the dollar at $1.32 reacting to figures from the Confederation of British Industry showing the lowest year-on-year sales performance this month since 2009. As continental markets hedged their bets on a more cautious announcement than expected from the ECB, the pound finished up 0.3% on the euro at €1.13.

Trading Announcements
Computacenter, Elements, Hastings Group Holdings, Laird
K3 Capital Group
Air China Ltd., Bank Audi S.A.L. GDR

UK Economic Announcements
07.00) Nationwide House Price Index

Int. Economic Announcements
(12.30) GDP (Preliminary) (US)
(15.00) U. of Michigan Confidence (US)


Columns of Note

Looking to next month’s Budget, Jeremy Warner comments in The Telegraphthat rumours of the Tories’ apparent pivot towards Keynesian tax-and-spend policies fly in the face of harsher economic realities post-Brexit. The return of ‘compassionate conservatism’, evident in greater investment in public sector pay, infrastructure, health and welfare in order to outflank Jeremy Corbyn, will not work in the long term for the Conservatives, Warner argues, if the economy is wrecked as a result.
Writing in The Times, Ed Conway comments that the campaign for a universal basic income is just the latest iteration of attempts to provide overly-simplistic, quick-fix answers to complex economic questions where poorer households will only lose out. He suggests that whilst policies such as the UBI may work in countries with less-developed welfare states, adopting it wholesale in the UK would upend the system’s existing redistributive elements to no overall gain.

Did you know?

Whilst serving as the commander of a patrol boat in World War II, President Kennedy was marooned on an island after his boat sank, writing an SOS message on a coconut. As a reminder of the incident, Kennedy had the coconut encased in wood and plastic and used it as a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
No business scheduled.
House of Lords
Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill [HL] – 2nd reading – Lord Empey
Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) Bill [HL] – 2nd reading – Lord Holmes of Richmond
Democratic Political Activity (Funding and Expenditure) Bill [HL] – 2nd reading – Lord Tyler
Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled.