Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Rightly or wrongly

Written by Katie Stanton, associate partner
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
21 September 2020

Good morning,

American mathematician, Katherine Johnson, said famously: “in math, you’re either right or you’re wrong.”
 
Now, I decided for myself from a young age that maths wasn’t for me. Whether I was born that way or persuaded of it by our cultural disposition to engender science and maths as “more for the boys, darling”, is another question. But to me, maths just seemed too definitive: you either know the answer or you don’t.
 
I was always more comfortable making stuff up in the grey area, where there’s room for manoeuvre and expression and where, even if you’re broadly wrong, you can make your argument with enough finesse to actually be right, or at least ratchet up some points on the scorecard.
 
That’s not to say the satisfying simplicity of maths isn’t appealing, of course. But it is fundamentally impossible to square that binary rightness with subjects I studied, like English and politics, and the reality of human nature, relationship, identity, culture.
 
Although, boy do we try.
 
Enter: the culture war. Over the last six months, in the milieu of banana bread baking and perpetual Zoom meetings, culture wars have popped up in rashes across the globe.
 
Should white people apologise for their privilege and for the systemic persecution of black people? Is JK Rowling a trans exclusionary radical feminist? Should we cut meat entirely from our diets to save the planet? Should Americans have the right to bear arms?
 
Crucially, the answers to these questions are complex, blurred by history, opinion, position and context. They are also very important; the future of our societies depends on them. And yet too many people give themselves just 280 characters – the character limit of a tweet – to answer them.
 
It’s no wonder then that political culture is polarised; you either sit on the right side of the gaping schism or you don’t. Debate is reduced and refined to yes-no questions to suit our ever-shorter attention spans until it becomes a concentrated lacquer, the room for dissent and discussion all squeezed out.
 
I am telling you this because of the horrible sinking feeling I had last Friday when I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, aged 87.
 
Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice, liberal icon, champion of equal rights and inspiration to many, had asked as her final wish that her seat on the court be held open until a new president is installed in January.
 
But, less than 24 hours after her death was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would move to fill Ginsburg’s seat “without delay”. If he is successful, the Republicans will appoint another conservative, heavily swaying the political balance of the court and creating a liberal deficit that could, ultimately, define a generation.
 
Swathes of key liberal statutes will be called into question including, most notably, 1973’s Roe v Wade ruling legalising abortion federally.
 
Even in the highest court in the US, the room for debate on key issues could grow smaller, the walls crushing in on opposition and critical thinking. All of that intense struggle and turmoil, the complex political angst and emotion wrapped up in our evolving culture wars is reduced to simple choices, yes or no; immovable choices that were already made, decades before.

News

Rishi Sunak is to extend the Treasury’s UK-wide programme of business support loans as ministers race to cushion the economy from what England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, will later today call “a very challenging winter”. The chancellor is this week expected to unveil plans to extend four loan schemes to avert widespread business collapses and mass job losses during a second wave of Covid-19. (£)
 
Meanwhile, shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is to accuse the government of mismanaging billions of pounds spent in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at the virtual Labour party conference, Dodds will accuse ministers of a “cavalier” approach to public spending during the crisis, while calling for extra support for struggling sectors.
 
Succession, Schitt’s Creek and Watchmen all dominated this year’s Emmy Awards, which were held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. Schitt’s Creek won nine prizes – breaking the Emmys record for most wins in a single season for a comedy.

Business and economy

Sales of green cars have jumped above dieselsfor the first time, boosting claims that traditional fossil-fuel vehicles are in terminal decline. Official figures show that 33,000 pure electric and hybrid cars were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesels. (£)
 
HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, allowed for the transfer of millions of dollars around the world by scammers, despite being warned by regulators, leaked secret files show. The bank moved money through its US business to HSBC accounts in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014. Its role in the $80m (£62m) fraud is detailed the leaked “FinCEN files” which were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its partners last night.
 
UK firms have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough scheme payments they did not need or took in error. According to HMRC figures, some 80,433 employers have returned cash they were given to help cover workers’ salaries. Still, the money returned is just a fraction of the £3.5bn officials believe may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters under the scheme.

Columns of note

According to Philip Georgiadis and Claire Bushey, the world’s biggest airlines are missing the sweet sound of jet engines roaring over the north Atlantic. Writing in the Financial Times, they expose how one of the busiest and most lucrative routes in the world has been effectively closed since March, when lockdown came into force. And, while transatlantic routes are worth an estimated $9bn in revenue to US and UK carriers, the grim reality is that a full revival in aviation is not expected until the middle of the decade. (£)
 
In this morning’s City AM, John Hulsman contemplates Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga. Unlike his outgoing mentor, former premier Shinzo Abe, Suga has no factional support behind him. In fact, Suga is more a placeholder to carry on with Abe’s policies for the next couple of years before Japan looks at a generational transition.

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

The week ahead

The week begins amidst news that more Covid-19 restrictions could be on the way, and soon. One-fifth of the UK is already living under tighter local controls, with health secretary Matt Hancock warning over the weekend that the country is at a “tipping point”.
 
Meanwhile, the Labour Party conference begins virtually this week, with the opposition likely to face the question of why they still trail the Conservatives in the polls, despite growing dissatisfaction with Boris Johnson’s leadership.
 
The main economic data point of the week will be flash purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) from the eurozone and UK, which will offer some insight into the speed of the economic recovery.
 
World leaders will gather online for the 75thsession of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss coronavirus responses, and EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss external relations with Turkey, Belarus and China.
 
Elon Musk is scheduled to showcase Tesla’s new technology at the company’s Battery Day on Tuesday. Analysts have been told to expect significant improvements on the cost, range and duration of batteries. The public event will follow the electric car maker’s annual shareholder meeting the same day.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Superdry

Interims
Augean
Maxcyte (Di)
Pennant International

AGMs
Finncap Group, Henderson, Smaller Companies Trust, Hidong Est., Design Group, Induction Heal., Knights Group, Vertu Capital

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Around one in 20 children in England are not attending school due to issues linked with the pandemic and lockdown, according to the Children’s Commissioner. (Source: BBC)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Defence (including topical questions)
 
Legislation
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill: consideration in committee (day three)
 
Adjournment
Foreign acquisition of Cambridge-based technology company ARM – Daniel Zeichner

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, ‘Nigeria: unfolding genocide?’ – Baroness Cox
 
Financial support to retail businesses categorised as ‘undertakings in difficulty’ under EU State Aid rules and therefore unable to access support under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – Lord Allen of Kensington
 
Government guidance to health care providers about giving appropriate treatment to different patient age groups – Lord Balfe
 
How many probation staff will be needed to implement the Probation Workforce Strategy – Lord Ramsbotham
 
Statement
Sentencing White Paper – Baroness Scott of Bybrook
 
Covid-19 Update – Lord Bethell
 
Legislation
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill – Second reading – Baroness Williams of Trafford

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled 

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