I’ve spent the last few weeks out of touch with the world in a yacht race. An entertaining time, and I can confirm that the Atlantic Ocean is indeed a very wide, very deep stretch of water. So instead of pretending I’m right up to date with the stories of November and December I thought it might be entertaining to think a bit about what metal traders may want Father Christmas to to stack in his sleigh up in Lapland to deliver to their stockings.
First on the list, I guess, mercenaries that we all are, would be a nice fat bonus. Well, I’d be surprised if Santa was gearing up to drop that down too many chimneys. The market has been slowly steadying and then improving through the year, but there’s no way we’re back to the boom times. Still, perhaps there is a chink here, even if it’s highly dubious. Apparently, UK banks - at least - are lobbying hard to be able to call a halt to their mis-selling liabilities and trying to persuade the Government to draw a line under the issue and thus release the provisions back to the P&L account. No prizes for guessing what they would then want to do with the money they had thus “earned”. I’m no subscriber to the “pampered elite versus left behind dispossessed” theory of current society, but if the banks get away with that one, a lot of people are going to have their beliefs reinforced.
Stable markets would probably be up there near the top of the wish list, as well. Of course, we all know it’s true that traders make their living out of the movement of markets, but the problem with movement is that it is unpredictable. A stable market is in many ways healthier and supports real trade as opposed to opportunistic speculation. Well, right now, all roads to stability have to pass the earthquake-ridden world of politics. It’s difficult to know where to begin there. Some inklings of what the position of the UK versus the EU - and therefore some kind of direction for the currencies - might be welcomed by most traders. It doesn’t really matter now what your referendum preference was, but some idea of what the relationship will look like in the future would be a nice present for a trader. And I fear I may be grasping at straws here, but second-guessing the direction of the incoming US administration’s trade policy is kind of difficult. Still, it would have been unpredictable - for other reasons - no matter who had won that election.
So, sadly, I’m not sure Santa can do much for stability.
Closer to home, then, what might we like? Well, security of trades would loom large. A world where suppliers are always prompt and correct in their supply would be a boon, and, on the other side, customers who paid their bills on time and in full would be good, too. Both of those things would be like winning the lottery for most, I would suggest. So, Santa, here’s one to sharpen your pencil for: security of contract, please, so we can fairly assume that once a trade is made, it will stick. Mmm.
Anyway, enough of all this living in a fantasy world of riches, stability and contractual certainty. It doesn’t exist, however pleading we may be in our letters to Father Christmas. However hard he tries, it’s not going to happen. So probably best to fall back on the tried and tested recipe for Christmas satisfaction - a few bottles of Krug, a turkey or a goose to taste (and I’ve never come across too many vegan metal traders, though I’m sure they exist) and a chance to see all the people we really like. That should be within the bounds of reasonable expectation.
A Merry Christmas to all who read this site - and many thanks for doing so.