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L’esprit de l’escalier

loan ranger

The question of when interest rates are finally going to rise and by how much is one that preys on the minds of all bankers, least not of course loans officials. A sure-fire indication that we are moving to a rising interest rate environment would do wonders for those looking to increase their allocation to floating rate instruments.

Well it came to Loan Ranger’s mind that those working near the Bank of England may have an advantage in this regard, having happened to pass Mark Carney on the street in the local environs. On consulting with GlobalCapital, this is quite a common event so it must be tempting for those with a penchant for such things to stop him and just, y’know, put him on the spot.  

That he’d slip you the answer though or even blink seems highly unlikely, given his public poker face on the issue. Moreover, the ex-Goldman Sachs managing director exudes calm demeanour in his gait that looks hard to ruffle – well, at least while he’s popping out for a coffee.

Contrast that with the aspect of Mervyn King, who seemed a bit more flappable during the financial crisis and – if anything – more ex-Dad’s Army.

On this occasion, Loan Ranger was in no position to turn up the heat on Carney in any case. Carney was chatting amiably with a colleague and Loan Ranger was on the phone, at the tipping point of an involving debate with his missus (Moan Danger) about what to have for dinner.

Chance blown. But somewhat after the event, the possibilities of this encounter came back to Loan Ranger when he attended a sumptuous evening of drinks and food hosted by Ernst & Young. The entertainment included a very talented magician, Jamie Raven, who bamboozled Loan Ranger and E&Y corporate finance partner Christopher Lowe with numbers and finance trickery beyond even the ken of a senior accountant.

One such marvel included turning old Iraqi money – emblazoned with the face of Saddam Hussein – into bundles of useable modern sterling before our very eyes. But an even more useful feat was reading Loan Ranger’s mind to guess the number he had concealed in his hands on the upturned face of a die, simply by asking a non-specific question or getting him to count down from six.

Such mind-manipulations are somewhat disconcerting. But they raise a charming prospect: What if one could position such conjurers around the vicinity of the Bank of England and weave some magic on Carney next time he saunters out for a latte? They might be able to weasel the interest rate plan out of him just by saying a few dates and percentages.

Or failing that at least make off with his wallet, in which they would no doubt find the answer scrawled on the back of an everyday playing card.

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