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Welcome to Lord Copper

Opinions about lots of things - mostly related to the worlds' metal markets

Unintended Consequences

21 February 2018

Ah, those pesky unintended consequences. Always lurking, just out of sight, ready to jump out and surprise the unwitting. When Franz Ferdinand’s driver turned down a side street in Sarajevo, it wasn’t his intention to deliver his master into the path of Princip’s bullet and the world into mayhem, and I’m sure when Marx wrote Das Kapital in 1867 he didn’t intend the slave labour camps and tens of millions of deaths around the world that were it’s consequence.

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Oh, John McDonnell!

14 February 2018

Dear Mr McDonnell, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny! It’s not that long ago that I wrote to you and your friend Jez outlining some basic misunderstanding that you appeared to have when it comes to tax and international investment. You may recall that I said then that I was ready to help you if you encountered any other areas of economic thought that you had difficulty in grasping; yet here you go again, following a thought that doesn’t actually work, in the real world.

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Epistemology

07 February 2018

More than fifty years ago, during the Cold War and shortly after the dawn of the space race between the Americans and the Soviet Union, I was a young post-graduate student at a prominent US college of mineral industries. As such, on one occasion I was invited to attend a meeting of a professional society of metals and minerals experts. Among the featured lectures was a presentation on copper by a leading Wall Street analyst. He delivered a Jeremiad on the fate of the copper industry.

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Long Ago and Far Away

31 January 2018

I’ve recently developed the habit, when explaining some element of my lack of modern computer/internet literacy, of pointing out that I’m a child of the first third of the last century. And in the same vein, my mind has recently been going back to how things were at Metal Bulletin when I joined in 1953.

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Mountains of Waste

24 January 2018

Recycling is one of the topics of the moment right now, particularly as a result of the Chinese decision no longer to take shipments of partially sorted waste from the UK for processing. I have to confess to the ignoble thought - held for some time - that I have my doubts about the amount of processing of those shipments that went on, versus the amount of product that simply found its way into oceans or landfill all those thousands of miles away, but maybe I am being too cynical. Perhaps there really are gangs of labourers picking over mountains of refuse, just like those in the nineteenth century London of Dickens’ 'Our Mutual Friend'. Who knows?

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2018 - Brighter Skies?

17 January 2018

2017 wasn’t a bad year for the LME business. Prices - while not roaring - advanced generally healthily through the year, and, wonder of wonders, volumes actually rose. Admittedly, it was only by a half of a percent or so, but after a series of disturbing declines, I would imagine the Exchange management and ownership were mightily relieved to see that depressing drift downwards halted.

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"Tax? As Flat as yer 'at."

10 January 2018

Comparing the amoeba to the human shows how evolution develops ever more complex life forms. The same is true of the tax system, which has levels of complexity unknown to Darwin when he did his tax return. Evolution incorporates efficiency and elegance into its structures that are in politico-corporate speak ‘fit for purpose’. The same is not true of the tax system, which owes more to Heath Robinson than to Darwin. Time for change.

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