David Cameron has wheeled out the increased threat of a European war should the UK leave the EU in his campaign to Remain.
First of all let's address the assumptive use of 'could'. 'Could' covers every probability between won't and will, namely everything between 0 and 100%. We live our lives by juggling risks and without a valid input other than 'could' the term should be dismissed.
Even if we get to 'will' increase the risk of war, once again from what risk to what risk. This is a trick always employed by newspapers and politicians to shock their audience into reaction. Increasing a risk of cancer from 0.00000001% to 0.000001% is increasing the risk a thousand times. Panic horror! But in the real world, matters not a jot. So Mr Cameron, can we have some actual probability numbers to work on here?
Up until now we have been told that we have to listen to economists over the Brexit debate, which assumes that -
a) The whole debate should rest upon whether the UK is better off financially per household in or out. If this is the sole consideration we could sell our lawmaking process to, say, China. They may pay more than the EU.
b) Economists are right. Economists are rarely ever right. They are constantly changing their forecast of the future (never ever being brave enough to predict market prices). They can't even predict the now, with figures having to be revised later, and as for the past, well there is constant academic debate as to whether the past was good or bad anyway. Where economists are completely useless is in forecasting politics. They may be able to forecast a post Brexit world using today's inputs but the political inputs will change and you can bet that their 'revised reality' will be nothing like that currently predicted.
But we are on to Cameron warning us all of the possibility of war if a Brexit were to occur. One would have thought that if war is the alternative to agreeing a nice trade deal and a few strap-on extras with the UK, then perhaps the trade deal would be less onerous than mutual annihilation. But, hey ho, the EU is a funny beast.
Whilst Cameron may believe that leaving the EU would raise the risks of war, a survey carried out in January had the British people believing there was a greater risk of war should the UK stay IN the EU
With the threat of war upon us it must make fantastic financial news headline fodder and I have been trawling through market pricing today to see just how terrified the world is of Cameron's up coming war.
I have checked iron prices as we know that in times of war all the park railings are torn up and turned into tanks (or would be if they were the right type of iron) but Iron prices are down 7% over the weekend. I can only assume this is scrap metal traders flooding the market with their stock before national governments requisition it all.
Let's look at GBP as we face up to the prospect of WW3. Hmm its up a bit vs EUR. It's obvious why. Algorithmic trading models which dominate the market are mining historical data and are buying GBP on past outcomes of European wars.
Stock markets. Does war mean that the stock markets should take a drubbing? Nope, they are hanging on in there because though war may mean a chance of mutually assured destruction, that is only a chance. Whereas central banks maintaining an accommodative monetary policy is a sure fire thing during war so BUY.
Gas masks. Well, to check this out I popped in to the village shop and there were absolutely no gas masks to be had. I can only assume they must have sold out in the rush, the proprietor said there weren't going to be getting any in any time soon either. This must indicate a huge national shortage due to a demand spike.
Food shortages. Stock piling is in evidence at Waitrose where I couldn't find any Appenzeller Swiss cheese at £24/kilo. They had some last month.
Anderson Shelters. My local Wyevale garden centre had garden furniture and barbecues, potting plants and plastic ponds. But completely out of Anderson air raid shelter kits. The same at the B+Q DIY store. Worrying if they can't keep up with demand for the most basic of family wartime protection devices.
Gold - Everyone knows that war means gold's value goes through the roof as we all buy it to barter eggs and to sew it into the seams of our our clothes as we escape across European borders. But, ahh, it's down. Gold is down on this incredibly real threat of war because .. err.. I m struggling now, because.. err..the producers have ramped up supply in anticipation of gold demand going up because of the obvious, guaranteed, certain outcome of war should the UK vote to leave the EU.
There, proved it. Cameron must be right. The economics say so.
Finally, Cameron has proved Godwin's Law.