On Brexit – My takeaways (Part 1)

This post pretty much allows me to vent my frustration on this tragicomic epispode of British politics. The discussion in this post is divided into 5 very short sections:

  • What I think will happen after the referendum
  • About that Campaign and the Leave – Leavers, Trump, Opportunists, the status Quo and the Establishment
  • Is Cameron’s job at risk? – It should be
  • The possible need for an early general election
  • Conclusion – Don’t call referenda

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Who in the UK wants to leave the EU

There are 4 groups of people that I can identify as supporting Brexit. The first group, which I would argue makes the most part, is made up of normal people who are fed up with the status quo. Nationally,  Brexit is predominant an English demand, not a Scottish, Irish or Welsh demand. The next two groups are separated by social status and income (what the Brits so self-flagellatingly refer to as “class”). The third group is described in occupational/professional terms.

This post is divided in 4 sections:

  • A general look at the voter intentions
  • The misinformed and frustrated with the status Quo
  • Across the Regions of the UK
  • Income Groups

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Brexit: Opinions of its effects from Leavers and Remain

As the title of this post would suggest, I’m solely interested in listing and summarising the views of the different sides of the public debate. This post is divided in 5 sections:

  • What Remain says will happen if there’s a Brexit
  • What Leave thinks about all these views
  • The View from those who foresaw the Financial Crisis of 2007/8
  • What Leave says will happen if there’s a Brexit
  • What Leave says will happen if there’s no Brexit

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4 Upcoming Posts on Brexit: The Referendum Day Review

It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. Despite my best wishes, I keep getting busy with real work, so my quarterly, monthly and weekly post best hopes have all been in vain. Hopefully there’s still the topical opportunity to write about interesting events. The British Referendum taking place today is one such event.

Unsurprisingly, I am in favour of the UK staying in the EU as you’d know if you had the misfortune of having me as your friend on Facebook, where I would have bombarded you with posts about the campaign during the last weeks. But if you’ve had a look around this website, you might have come across a complain or two about Cameron or someone else from the British establishment saying something I found astonishingly dumb. The fact that I am now on the same argument as Cameron leaves me somewhat confused. I don’t know whether to be happy that he’s gone to the Remain side or whether to be irritated that it took him so long and in that in the process he made so much damage.Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what I want to write because I can’t spend a lot of time on this, so I’ve decided I want to write 4 posts:

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Causes for the Fall of the Western Roman Empire: Dismissed Hypotheses and Some Conjectures

Much as with all the other posts in this series, this post does not claim to be an authoritative or even formal work about the fall of the Roman Empire. Instead, based on what small and insignificant information I gathered  about the events that led to the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire during the 5th century it rather quickly and incompletely discusses some hypothesis that hope to explain this development. This is done in a relatively informal manner for the simple purpose of explaining it to myself. The degree of complexity is completely arbitrary and set to satisfy my heterogenous and idiosyncratic criteria.

While this is also not a work of of history, geography, economics, politics or any other mix thereof, I am aware that all of these disciplines do inform the idiosynchratic and informal judgements I make to reach my conclusions. If nothing else, I have recourse to these tools as a buffer between what strikes me as relevant and that which does not.

The post is divided into 6 sections:

  1. Section 1 considers a number of hypothesis that can be dismissed. Again this is idiosyncratic: Some of these hypothesis will be more popular than others. Some of them are so vile, so prejudiced and even internally contradicting that they barely warrant any consideration. However, because they were so relevant in the past, it seems to me that not acknowledging and debunking them would be irresponsible. Others are less repugnant, much more sophisticated and therefore slightly more arduous to dismiss.
  2. The next section provides a brief summary of some of the (other) arguments I’ve come across in relation to why empires (in general) fall, which sounds as a good starting point for a discussion.
  3. The following section adds some brief considerations that I have not really found anywhere else but which appear to be relevant. The focus is on social networks, dynastic rules, succession and internal political stability considers
  4. The 4th section considers the arguments of section 2 and 3 in the specific context of the Western Roman Empire’s time, economy and political system.
  5. Having considered these potential causes, it seemed to me it would be appropriate to look at 3 counterfactuals that can be described in chronological order as:
    1. Why did the Western Roman Empire fall in the fifth century rather than during the crisis of the 3rd century?
    2. Why did the Western Roman Empire fall but the Eastern Roman Empire did not?
    3. Why was it impossible for any of the political units that replaced the Roman Empire to re-unify the entire territory that was once under its jurisdiction?
  6. The last section concludes.

In writing this I am most acutely aware of my own amateurism and of the compliments paid to Goldsworthy and the criticisms of Gibbon’s treatment. A quest for the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire (or any empire for that sake) is a mirage that has haunted generations of scholars. It is that unattainable conclusion that can only resolve itself when the researcher’s confidence of the truth of her “findings” becomes supported by the sort of confirmation bias that only repetition and time commitment can subconsciously instil.

What I hope to have done instead, once I do away with the explanations that do indeed fit this inappropriate description, is to consider a range of fault-lines in the nature of empires that I contextualise in the case of Roman Empire. I do not seek a single explanation of the fall of the Roman empire or a single moment when such an event took place. There was unfortunately no cohesive campaign, deposition or defeat available. For that purpose, it would have been much more convenient if the Roman Empire had fallen with the death of Decius in 251, of Valerian in 260, of Julian in 363, Valens in 374 or Majorian in 461. It is a testament to our human need for specific explanations, moments and (un)charismatic leaders that the standard date of the fall of the Roman Empire is the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476, when in fact the last legitimate Western Roman Emperor was Julius Nepos who died in 480 and was the man this child’s father was usurping.

Instead I propose a framework for considering all the problems that plague empires and how they can conspire over time to bring them to their knees. Clearly I believe in the validity of my findings and I endeavour to falsify them. In doing so I may perhaps accept such a wide range set of influences as to make the entire effort pointless. However, I would suggest that the really difficult trick lays not in finding the right set of conditions, events or crises that cause the fall of empires but rather when their progression reaches beyond the level where sustainability is possible and a phase transition becomes inevitable. In the case of the Western Roman Empire I would argue that the two most important steps were the fall of Stilicho in 408 and the defeat suffered at the battle of Cape Bon in 468. Personally, the fact that I find most striking about this conclusion, is the realisation that no one ever mentioned this to me in school.

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The Origins Goths: Migration, Diffusion and Gothic Banality

In a previous post, I spent some time discussing the fall of the Roman Empire. Although, it is inevitable to mention the Goths in such a discussion, the complexity of the issue is such that even the most superficial discussion would be distracting. To avoid that problem, and serve as a reference to myself, and possibly others, this post offers a very brief discussion of the facts I was able to gather them.

The post is part of a 2-part series on the Goths. The first part, contained in this post, is a discussion of the origin of the Goths. There are two main theories about the origins of the Goths: the migration theory and the diffusion theory. The main difference between the two is about how the process of social, economic and political development and increased complexity takes place. Migration theory suggests new stages require new peoples’ whereas diffusion theory suggests that internal dynamics and proximity to and interaction with more developed neighbours is sufficient for this progress to take place. After considering the two hypothesis is some (limited) detail, the post argues that diffusion theory seems more likely than migration, particularly in relation to the three confederations of peoples that marked the fall of the Roman Empire of the West. However, some effort is made to avoid purist views so that even though diffusion theory is preferred to migration, the conclusion of this post is that, more likely than not, the dynamics of diffusion took place over a background of continuous migration flows and miscegenation that culminated in the ethnogenesis of the people we came to know as the Goths. While it is possible that the dominant class narrated its own origins back to Scandinavia, what we know as the Goths most certainly also included peoples of Iranian descent (e.g.: Scythians), Dacian descendents of the survivors of Trajan’s conquests as well as other Germanic peoples (e.g.: Heruli).

The second part of the discussion of the history of the Goths is an upcoming discussion in 12 parts describing the history of the Goths since the beginning of their interactions with the Roman Empire until their demise at the hands of the muslim invasions of the Iberian peninsula 400 years later..

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ECB Decisions: Deposit Facility rate, APP, Unequal Supply Growth & Oil

The first week of December will probably be remembered as “that time the ECB thought rates weren’t negative enough and decided to drop them by another 15 bps “. However,  the central bank did more than just lower the rates:

  • QE was extended until such time as the ECB sees fit
  • A lot of confusion seems to have been generated about the ANSA.
  • some details were provided about Greek coverage by QE, and
  • Geopolitical risks were acknowledged.

The decisions were not unanimous but there was an overwhelming majority in support. This post reviews what I (arbitrarily) consider the most important points.

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