Leave the Writing of History to Others

Asset manager and Bloomberg commentator Mark Fisher probably should avoid historical analogies in future commentary. In a recent column he begins portentously:  “Historians cite the late second century as the turning point of the Roman Empire, when the once- proud, feared society began its descent into infamy.”

He continues: “As the ruling class was undermined by civil wars and attacks by outsiders, the Romans’ respect for law and social institutions began to erode.”

And then: “The U.S. today is a mirror image of the Roman Empire as it tipped into chaos.”

Come again. A mirror image? I had noticed that American political divisons are sharp and rhetoric high but I had not noticed that civil war had actually broken out, let alone civil wars. The U.S. was attacked horrendously on 9/11 but the barbarians are hardly at the gates.

But not deterred, Fisher forges on: “The Roman economy grew fat from the plunder of conquered territories and the added productivity offered by new lands. The waning of expansionism didn’t bode well for the empire.”

Actually, American overseas adventure recently hasn’t involved getting “fat from the plunder”, in fact quite the reverse with waste of treasure and lives.  A mirror image indeed. Asset managers should stick to asset management and leave history to others. Sadly, RealClearPolitics chose to feature the Fisher column in its markets section.

Absolutely Silly

Just because actress Joanna Lumley was superb campaigning on behalf of Gurkha veterans doesn’t mean she should be given a pass for the nonsense of arguing that knife crime has grown in Britain because of the decline of Empire. How does the loss of Empire explain teenage Brit girls wielding knives these days? Other European countries have lost empires and not suffered an epidemic of knife crime. “Broken Britain” – a collapse of morals and discipline – would seem a more likely explanation.