27th November 2019

Written by Katie Stanton, Senior Associate

Edited by David Gaffney, Partner



Good morning,

Flashback to Saturday morning, I wake up with a fiendish hangover and resign myself to my bed for the day. Between browsing Instagram and wasting my life away, I catch a glimpse of myself in my black phone screen, chins lapping at my sallow face. “What does better look like?” I search my reflection for answers, only to find mascara and foundation clumped in a line like dirty snow on a central reservation, a greasy tide across my profile, the other half still plastered on my pillow. “That’s it”, I decide, “a total overhaul is the only thing for it”. And so commences a series of wild self-declarations. I’ll train for a marathon. Gargle on kombucha. Pound some serious kale. Hot yoga. Salt bath. Total regeneration of body and mind. I’m seeking little fixes to turn this sorry state of affairs around. And we all are – not just in hangover, but in life. The transformation economy is booming. Consumers are losing interest in commodities; they don’t want goods, or even services. Neither do they want a mere experience. In the age of constant gratification, they’ll settle for nothing less than the life-changing, the mind-altering, the soul-defying (insert additional clichés to taste). Take the humble coffee bean. As a commodity, it fetches a uniform price on the market. When processed via roasting, grinding and packaging, it becomes a good and is, understandably, worth more. A miserable mocha from a petrol station machine will be pricier still, but that is a service, you understand. Your favourite coffee shop is an experience, not just an address. But for the truly metamorphic, you’ll need to grab a bulletproof coffee (basically butter and espresso) – a transformative experience with a price tag to match. For other examples, see also hot yoga, Peloton in-home biking workouts and the Esalen Institute for countercultural thought and exploration. Yes, really. So, why are we so obsessed with transcending our daily routines? Aside from the depresso realisation that we might be collectively filling a happiness void with Arabica’s finest, I pose one key reason: for the ‘Gram. In its simplest terms, Instagram and other platforms like it drive us to showcase the best version of ourselves, whether it’s 100% authentic, completely fake, or, most typically, at some point on the vast spectrum in between. The stifling, inescapable connectedness of our modern world is a hot, dank incubator for falsehoods and Transformation Tuesdays. So, it’s only natural that businesses that exploit my desire to reinvent myself as a superior Katie 2.0 are thriving. The terrifying grip of obsessive narcissism and relentless comparison is no longer confined to distant feeds; it’s now an economy of its own. Just compare your hungover visage with the impossible babes of Instagram. Before you know it, you too will be direct debiting Nepalese gurus and ordering a 1970s thigh master on Prime in between sips of Kefir.


News

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to accuse prime minister Boris Johnson of being “dangerous and unfit for office” as she launches the SNP’s election manifesto. The SNP leader will argue that a vote for her party on 12 December is a chance to “escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”. In addition, she will pledge a big increase in funding for the NHS across the UK. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has refused to apologise over claims of antisemitism in the Labour party, after the country’s chief rabbi claimed he had “let poison take root”. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, the Labour leader declined four opportunities to apologise directly to Jews on behalf of his party for its approach to dealing with antisemitism, which has led to a string of resignations and an investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Democrats in the US Congress are showing signs of cold feet in the impeachment process as new polling reveals a month of public hearings has failed to increase support for the ousting of President Trump. Still, senior Democrats have vowed to press on with impeachment preparations after two weeks of testimony in which witnesses described attempts led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to coerce Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential rival for the White House. Congress has invited Trump to its first impeachment hearing on 4 December. (£)


Business and economy

Indian ride-sharing firm Ola has begun signing-up London drivers ahead of plans to launch services in “the coming weeks”. The news comes days after Uber was denied a new licence to operate in the capital after repeated safety failures. Ola was granted a licence from Transport for London earlier this year and has said it held “constructive conversations” with local authorities. Manchester City’s owner has agreed to sell a $500 million stake to US private equity firm Silver Lake in a deal that breaks a record in sports valuations and will further fuel the Premier League champions’ attempts to win an elusive European Champions League title. City qualified for the last 16 of that competition yesterday, with one group game to spare. (£) The printer of Britain’s banknotes warned yesterday that it is facing complete collapse as it scrapped dividend payments and revealed a litany of issues. De La Rue, one of the country’s oldest companies, reported a slump in first-half figures and spiralling debts which could result in it breaking banking covenants. (£)


Markets

What happened yesterday?


After several weeks of steady growth, the mid-cap FTSE 250 closed at a 16-month high, with the Shaftesbury real estate firm the only big faller after it was forced to write down the value of its portfolio amid a high street downturn. Meanwhile the blue-chip FTSE 100 edged up 161.8 points, or 0.1%, to end at 7,403.1 – its highest level since late September. On the currency markets, the pound was down against the dollar and euro after sharp rises on Monday as polls pointed to an 80-seat majority for the Conservative party in the upcoming general election. But the latest surveys, showing a shrinking lead for Boris Johnson, have caused the pound to go into reverse. It has shed 0.33% against the dollar at $1.29. Against the euro it is 0.39% lower at €1.17.


What's happening today?

Finals

Ab Dynamics Britvic Grainger plc Marstons On The Beach


Interims

Iomart LondonMetric Sosander


Q3 Results

Afi Development Acron Regs


Trading Announcements

British American Tobacco Irish Cont.


AGMs

Alien Metals ASOS Celtic Croma Security

Crown Place Filtronic Genedrive Oilex Orosur Mining Scs Group


UK Economic Announcements

(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index

Int. Economic Announcements

(07:00) Import Price Index (GER) (12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (13:30) Personal Income (US) (13:30) Durable Goods Orders (US) (13:30) Continuing Claims (US) (13:30) BDP (Preliminary) (US) (13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US) (13:30) Personal Spending (US) (13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US) (15:00) Pending Homes Sales (US) (15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

Columns of note

Jeremy Warner congratulates the Conservatives on their policy-light manifesto in this morning’s Telegraph. The document released over the weekend shows a distinct lack of ambition: no agenda for transforming the economy, no vision of any significance. This, argues Warner, is smart and deliberate. Many voters see through Labour’s “outlandish radicalism” and pine for stability as we approach our third general election in four years. So, Boris Johnson’s pared-back strategy may work this time round. But according to Warner,  sooner or later they will have to grasp the social spending nettle. (£)

Will Evans exposes Amazon’s ruthless quota system in The Atlantic. This Christmas, Amazon will move millions of packages as part of its relentless focus on the customer. But at what cost? The short answer: worker safety. Failure to meet demanding quotas in the Amazon warehouse puts employees jobs at risk. The only solution, posits Evans, is to forfeit bathroom breaks, ride through the pain of a bad back or swollen feet, and ultimately trigger illnesses or conditions that leave staff unable to work in the longer term.  

Cartoon source: The Evening Standard

Did you know?

Globally, roughly one in every 12 airline passengers is British.


Parliamentary highlights

TODAY House of Commons The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019. House of Lords The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019. Scottish Parliament Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Debate Mental Health Members’ Business 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence – Rona Mackay TOMORROW Scottish Parliament General questions First Minister’s questions Portfolio questions Finance, Economy and Fair Work Ministerial statement Final report of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce Stage one debate Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill