19th September 2019
Written by Katie Stanton (Senior Associate)
Katie Stanton's bored of hyperbole this morning. If it's not Donald Trump declaring war at every opportunity, it's virtue signalling celebs raising hell in the name of any and all good causes.
The rise of the hyperbole has been meteoric. (Excuse me the irony).
If it’s not “insidious” or “catastrophic”, then it’s hanging by a thread or perched on a cliff edge. Whatever the subject, region or viewpoint, we seem to be teetering, willing ourselves into oblivion at any opportunity.
Such is the world we now live in. We’re on the brink of ruin and, frankly, it’s overwhelming.
Or – and this is my view – is it just that information has become so ubiquitous and abundant that we’re now embroiled in a linguistic arms race? We’re all looking to shout the loudest, raise our hand the highest, to get attention and validation and, ultimately, power. And we’re using negative hyperbole to do it.
In actuality, I’m sure there is an equal if not greater quantity of positive, life-affirming content that never reaches our anxious eyeballs (see innovation at its finest, for example). What’s more, by painting all of the news with the same dreadful brush, we’re devaluing the genuine crises which deserve emotive language and a legitimate call to action.
And at the end of the day, what effect does all this endless calamitous caterwauling have on the way we behave? Very little, it seems.
Let’s take Donald Trump as a case study. He primarily exaggerates impending doom through the medium of Twitter. But, if we look specifically at his recent bickering with Iran, it becomes clear that he’s all bark and no bite.
Recent attacks on Saudi oil fields have been claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels; Iran has denied any involvement. But that did little to stop the president from climbing aboard the SS Over-React, signalling to the Twittersphere that US forces were “locked and loaded” and ready to act on Iran as and when Saudi Arabia confirms the culprit.
They then did: the Saudi defence ministry displayed what it says is wreckage of drones and cruise missiles proving Iranian involvement in the attacks. Cue some backtracking and half-hearted sanctioning from Trump.
Moral of the story: if you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
The same applies to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The pair have repeatedly shoved their plant-based virtue down our throats and warned that “the end is nigh”, before jetting off to Ibiza on a guilt-free carbon binge. If they can’t change their own behaviour with their relentless, shouty integrity, what hope do they have of changing mine?
I wish we could just call a spanner a spanner and signal an end to the OTT lingo. No more should violent descriptors be an everyday occurrence, shocking us poor readers into spending our hard-earned attention units on sweet eff-all.
It might be boring, but, increasingly, so are crises.
Former prime minister David Cameron has revealed that he sought help from the Queen amid increasing concern that Scotland would vote for independence in 2014. What was discussed, according to Cameron, was not “anything that would be in any way improper…but just a raising of the eyebrow”. The Queen later urged Scottish voters to “think very carefully about the future”. Time magazine has uncovered photos of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau wearing brown face makeup to an Arabian Nights-themed gala in 2001. Trudeau has since admitted that the actions captured in the photo, taken at a private school where he was teaching, was racist and said he recognised he “shouldn’t have done it”. The prime minister is battling for re-election on 21 October. The Labour party has promised to look again at clause IV of its constitution, which sets out its aims and the values. The move has led to speculation that the party could revert to its pre-Blair commitment to socialism. Labour’s ruling body has said it will set up a working group to look at updating the language, but only if a constituency Labour party motion on the matter, which has been tabled for the party’s conference in Brighton on Saturday, is withdrawn.
Business & Economy
According to the British Retail Consortium, consumers spent more money on credit cards with UK retailers last year than they did in cash. Debit cards were the most popular, but falling cash use has pushed notes and coins down to third place. Cash accounted for just over £1 in every £5 spent with UK shops. Burger King has announced plans to ban plastic toys from its children’s meals, putting pressure on other fast food outlets to follow suit. The move is set to reduce its plastic output by 320 tonnes annually. McDonald’s already announced it would be making a similar move, allowing parents to “swap out” Happy Meal toys for a bag of fruit in selected stores. (£) The US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates for only the second time since the financial crisis, indicating growing consensus for a further reduction later in the year. But divisions between officials over the appropriate monetary policy were deeper than ever, with five officials arguing that rates should be higher, and President Trump calling for further cuts and quantitative easing. (£)
What happened yesterday?
Global stocks were mixed yesterday, as investors anticipated the update from the US Federal Reserve. Ultimately, policymakers acted as expected, cutting interest rates by 25 basis points, to a range of 1.75 to two per cent. Wall Street’s S&P 500 added to losses immediately after the announcement, but managed to claw them back by the end of the day, finishing less than 0.1% higher. The Nasdaq Composite ended 0.1% down and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1%. At home, stocks were flat. The FTSE 100 shed 0.1%, with Kingfisher one of the biggest fallers following disappointing results. Meanwhile, shares in Cobham fell around one per cent after Andrea Leadsom’s intervention in the planned £4 billion takeover by Advent International. Oil stocks moved lower globally as Saudi officials sought to calm the market after an attack on the kingdom’s infrastructure sent prices higher. In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said that half of the lost production had been restored, and it would be back to normal by the end of September. On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.26% against the dollar at $1.24 and up 0.15% against the euro at €1.13.
Whats happening today?
Bluefield Solar Clinigen Wilmington
Allied Minds Cambridge Cog Distrib. Fin. Hvivo Next City Pub Group Xeros Tech
Auto Trader Begbies Cambium Global Diageo Dish Tv India
Eco Animal Empyrean Foresight Solar Gateley Hldgs Gresham House Strategic Induction Heal. Peel Hotels Twentyfour Inc Veltyco Grp
UK Economic Announcements
(12:00) BoE Interest Rate Decision
Int. Economic Announcements
(09:00) Current Account (EU) (13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US) (13:30) Current Account (US) (13:30) Continuing Claims (US) (15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)
Columns of Note
Anna Nicolaou and Fan Fei turn their attention to an increasingly vulnerable Netflix in the Financial Times Big Read. This year, the company lost subscribers for the first time since 2011, wiping $17 billion off its stock overnight. The stock market has become addicted to measuring subscriber growth, but the company spends 70% of revenue on content, $3.5 billion more than it will make in 2019. What’s more, Netflix now faces an onslaught of competition in the market it created. Is it time to reframe the story? (£)
In this week’s Spectator, Isabel Hardman argues that Jo Swinson is the only party leader enjoying herself right now. She is regularly welcoming MPs from other parties into the Liberal Democrats, announcing that “there is no limit” to her ambition for the party and that she “can’t be the only one losing count of our many newly-elected officials”. But, in lieu of a stringent vetting process, are the new representatives really Lib Dems or are they simply masquerading as them in order to survive the next general election? (£)
Did you know?
If you type the word ‘askew’ into Google, the page will tilt.
House of Commons
No business due to prorogation. Will next sit on Monday 14 October.
House of Lords
No business due to prorogation. Will next sit on Monday 14 October.
Scottish Parliament General Questions First Minister’s Questions Portfolio Questions Communities and Local Government Ministerial Statement Getting it right for every child – Practice Development Panel’s report Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee Debtate Bill Proposal on pre-release access to statistics TOMORROW Scottish Parliament No business scheduled.