Now I know what a sober lot the readers of this nascent blog are. The luminaries at IOWArocks would expect nothing less. After all, this fintech stuff is a serious business. So I apologise in advance if the contents of this week’s guff offends the sensibilities of any delicate souls.
I want to talk about hangovers. And there are no doubts that down the years I have had some shockers. There were the obligatory teen horror stories, the most notable of which occurred at 15 years old one Friday night on a diet of rum and the Paul Hogan show. Needless to say I have never touched rum again, although Paul Hogan remains quite amusing. There were also numerous evenings at the cricket club, including when I got smuggled in the back of a pub to indulge in a jug of Trophy bitter at the age of 13.
Most of the worst hangovers, though, occurred during a 30 year career in the City. It all started off consuming copious pints of the Lady of Artois in the New Moon in Leadenhall Market, followed by an extremely dodgy curry in the Dil Chad on what became known as Monday night madness. Every Tuesday for a few months one woke up feeling like death, but the first rule of the City in the 1980’s was that if it is self-inflicted you get into the office. I don’t need to tell you, though, that the toilets were best avoided for several hours on those Tuesday mornings.
I calmed down a bit when my daughter was born in August of 1992, and must have been a bit out of practice – and more than a little sleep deprived – when the Paribas Christmas Party took place at the Natural History Museum in Kensington. When I awoke in my bed being admonished by my wife I simply had no recollection past the starter course. I mentioned this lack of memory to a few mates, which was a schoolboy error if ever there was one given my set of ne’er-do-wells. Nevertheless, I was horrified to receive a letter on Natural History Museum headed paper a few days later, stating that I had been caught on CCTV defacing the Diplodocus in the Main Hall. I was absolutely terrified, given that I had only been at the bank eight months. I didn’t show the letter to anybody for a week. But I finally decided that I had to tell my wife, who it turned out was in on the prank. She burst out laughing and pointed to the signature. It was signed Dr Terrence D’Actyl.
You would have thought that would be enough to give up the demon drink for good. But no. There was the infamous six by six club in the mid-90’. This consisted of a group of traders and bookies meeting at a bar at 5 o’clock and consuming six drinks before six o’clock, which was more than enough to give me a hangover the next day.
Then there was a broker of mine – let’s call him David Splosh – who would invite me to Gow’s in Old Broad Street every night, where he would consume two bottles of wine akin to battery acid and a vodka, lime and soda before getting on the drain to Waterloo at 5.45pm.
But not all hangovers have been horrendous. The day after my 40th birthday party in a box at Lords was me back at that famous ground partaking of plenty of hair-of-dog. The day after that, though, was horrendous.
And the hangover that occurred on November 23, 2003 was also horrendous but brilliant. The previous day’s consumption had begun with Black Velvets – equal measures of Guinness and Champagne – at 8am and had finished with a few glasses of the Italian liqueur Strega shortly after midnight, which was purely for indigestion prevention, I can assure you. The cause of this Oliver Reed-like binge? The brilliance of Johnny the God and the rest of the England Rugby Union team who had lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in Sydney. And there was a very similar hangover on July 15 last year after Eoin Morgan had lifted the cricket World Cup. At just two months old, however, even I was too young to celebrate England winning the football World Cup.
Another regular hangover occurred on what is now known as Black Friday. That is because the Thanksgiving Holiday in the US allowed traders and brokers to indulge in a favourite pastime – the Leo. Leo is short for Leo Sayer – or all-dayer in trader slang. This basically involved meeting ones broker at 12 noon for a couple of pints before heading to a restaurant – normally the George and Vulture or Simpsons just of Cornhill – for some steak and kidney pudding and lashings of red. All of which were followed down by a few “stickies” – or liqueurs – before pouring yourself on the train at around 5pm.
With everything in 2020, though, Thanksgiving in the City – which occurs on Thursday – will be a very different and infinitely more sober affair. Neither The G&V or Simpsons will be open for lunch, and that fine establishment Gow’s – which was the final resting place for many a Leo – closed last year to become a trendy burger bar. An outrage.
Another reason for “getting on it” at Thanksgiving was that the final Thursday of November pretty much marked the end of the trading year, with more Leo’s to look forward to in the run-up to the festive period. The new issue market begun to slow down, liquidity began to fall and there was a much more relaxed feel to the City.
As with everything, though, those halcyon days are gone and we are just as likely to see plenty of new issues and volatility over the course of the final month of the year. There are no Leo’s and it will not be until the week before Christmas Day that people start to relax. But will that still be the case this year, or will everybody just sit on their hands and wait to see what 2021 will bring us after a year that has been more than enough to turn even the most temperate to the demon drink?
Well it depends on your point of view. It is widely anticipated that most traders in the larger investment banks have had a good year. Indeed, a good friend of mine who is a salesman at a major European bank was bemoaning that the salespeople were not going to get paid much of a bonus because all the money was going to the traders. As an ex-trader I found it difficult to sympathise with this cove. Just never mention sales credits to me!
From that perspective, one suspects that both traders and funds who have had a decent year will be firmly sitting on their hands. After all why take the risk to your P/L in markets that are still fractious despite many equity indices hitting record highs this week on the back of the vaccine VaVaVoom. Similarly, in bond markets if you have been playing the take it off the debt management office and flogging it to the central bank game there is no need to change that strategy. And in credit, the buy the dip strategy has been highly effective.
So where does that leave us from a directional perspective into year end? Well as we mentioned last week, December is usually a positive month for equity and credit markets, and we frequently end the year at or close to record highs. And with the news on Covid vaccines getting more positive on an almost daily basis that could be the case again this year, much as it pains me to say it.
Expect the stocks – such as the airlines – that have suffered so badly on the lockdowns to continue to recover, while the NASDAQ should lag the Dow and the S&P. Will bond yields rise? Possibly, but not exponentially given that one suspects that there will be no reversal of the stimulus packages from the central banks anytime soon.
It’s all enough to turn you to drink!
Right. Onto this week’s recipe and I’m going to combine the nefarious pleasures of the Dil Chad and Thanksgiving. Yes it’s a turkey curry.
In a large pan heat some vegetable oil and crackle some mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add fennel seeds, ground cumin, coriander, fenugreek, ginger and turmeric and allow the spices to cook out for a couple of minutes. Add finely diced onion, crushed garlic, a chopped chilli – seeds in – per person and some julienned – fine strips – of ginger. Cook until softened. If using raw turkey breast, add and fry until coloured at this stage. Add a tin of tomatoes, a few dashes of Worcester sauce, a couple of teaspoons of tamarind paste and some good, home-made chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer slowly for a couple of hours. After an hour add some puy lentils. If using cooked turkey, add to the mixture thirty minutes before serving. Finish with plenty of chopped coriander, some slices of red chilli and the juice of a couple of limes.
Serve with boiled basmati rice, homemade naan and some cooling cucumber raita.
On the Agenda this week:
- Monday: Mfg and svcs PMIs.
- Tuesday: Richmond Fed.
- Wednesday: Initial Jobless Claims; Q3 GDP; Durable Goods; Wholesale Inventories.
- Monday: French, German, Area Wide PMIs.
- Tuesday: German Q3 GDP; IFO; French Business Confidence.
- Wednesday: Spanish PPI.
- Thursday: German GfK Consumer Confidence.
- Friday: French CPI; PPI; Italian Consumer Confidence; PPI; Area Wide Economic Confidence.
- Monday: PMIs
- Wednesday: FOMC minutes.
- Tuesday: Lagarde at “Rebirthing the global economy to deliver sustainable development”.
- Wednesday: Publication of ECB Financial Stability Review.
- Thursday: ECB meeting minutes.
- Monday: TSC on November MPC Report.