And so my travels take me to the OMX in Stockholm where I had been invited to give a few lectures (fear and greed, blackjack and vol arb). The other two speakers were Joe Corona and Marc Faber, both of whom were foretelling the imminent collapse of global stockmarkets. It seems that at the moment we all want to hear that the end is nigh. Certainly, it makes for an entertaining speech, and nothing brings people together better than knowing that everyone is going to suffer, and not just you. ‘Hope’ is the trouble, as John Cleese says in Clockwise “I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” My own view is equally pessimistic, but rather than blaming house prices and climate change, I tend to favour the ‘global village’ villain, i.e. thanks to easy long-distance travel and technology/telecoms we can no longer rely on Darwin to get us out of a mess. Survival of the fittest is not going to work when we all live or die as a single organism. (Mind you, this won’t be an argument that will worry Americans, since only 50% of them believe in evolution. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.)
The moderator for some of the lectures was Jon Briggs, famous as the voice of The Weakest Link. A true professional, he was totally unperturbed by the audience’s refusal to laugh at his jokes. Don’t get me wrong, they were a keen and bright audience (for example, no snoring even after a particularly heavy session the night before), but they were very shy and would not ask questions about the lecture nor would they laugh unless a joke contained a reference to suicide or sex.