Researchers have discovered that Britons like to give a nickname to their TV remote controls.
Or have they?
An internet firm called Netvouchercodes commissioned a survey of 1,000 people to discover the most popular nicknames and the Daily Mail has written up the results.
It reports that ‘a top 50 list was compiled from the answers given’.
Given the rich variety of names beginning with K that Brits invent for their offspring nowadays, it is perhaps not surprising that some people call their remote The Blibber, The Clacker or, at number 50, simply Trevor.
But the statistics are pretty dodgy: With no shared positions on the list, The Didge at number 34, for example, must have scored at least one more vote than The Buttons at number 35.
Assuming Trevor needed more than a single vote to make it onto the list at all and that each nickname above it received, in succession, at least one additional vote, a minimum of 1,325 votes must have been cast. All from a survey sample of 1,000.
As they say, 51.7% of statistics are made up on the spot.
FOMC Keeps Stimulus at $85bn/Month
And at least that proportion of investors must have misinterpreted the intention of the Federal Open Market Committee with regard to the wind-down of its quantitative easing programme.
America’s full-fat version of Britain’s Monetary Policy Committee (it has 12 members instead of 9 and twice as many hangers-on attend each meeting) announced its latest decision yesterday evening.
‘Officially’, no change was expected to the monthly purchase of $85bn government and mortgage bonds.
And indeed that was the decision; the Fed will continue to pump out $85bn a month until further notice.
But from the reaction of financial markets, a considerable body of investors must have been expecting a reduction in the scale of the stimulus.
Stocks, Commodity-Currencies and Gold Rally
When the no-change verdict came out they reacted vigorously, buying equities, gold and commodity-related currencies, at the same time selling the US dollar and, to a lesser extent, its mini-me, the Canadian dollar.
It should not have happened like that.
Although the Fed chairman mentioned several months ago that the stimulus would not continue forever he never, then or subsequently, suggested that the wind-down would begin in September.
The whole point of the ‘guidance’ espoused by Ben Bernanke and, more recently Mark Carney, is to avoid such surprises but their guidance cannot work if investors misinterpret it, adding two and two to make five.
That’s what they did ahead of yesterday’s FOMC decision and they are still doing it with their refusal to take Mr Carney’s pledge of a low Bank Rate for years to come at face value.
USD Tumbles on QE Decision
The net result for currencies is that the US dollar starts today two and a quarter cents down from Wednesday’s opening level.
The Canadian dollar is a cent and a half lower and the Japanese currency has fallen by nearly one yen.
The biggest winner is the South African rand, which got the double-whammy of a general boost for commodity currencies and a specific one from the $60 jump in the price of gold.
The Australian dollar is slightly firmer whilst the New Zealand has strengthened by more than a cent, helped by faster-than-expected 0.2% NZ economic growth in the second quarter of the year.
Sterling and the euro both strengthened against the dollar but are unchanged against one another on the day.
The pound will be put to the test this morning when the retail sales figures for August come out at half past nine.
After July’s storming 1.1% monthly increase, today’s number is forecast be 0.4%.
If investors are in a generous mood they will see such a number for what it is; a twelfth of an entirely respectable 5% annual increase in sales.
If they are feeling stroppy though, and if yesterday’s lesson has persuaded them to pay more attention to the Governor’s guidance, they might see 0.4%, or anything lower, as a reason to take some profit on their long-sterling positions.
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