Global Symmetry

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Tiger by William Blake

An idealised snapshot of the world economy sees all countries jogging along in unison achieving trend growth. Such symmetry could deliver predictable and consistent investment, jobs, incomes and trade.

It could be characterised by, “No more boom and bust”. It could be the antitheses of the winner-takes-all objective of the mercantilists’ strategy of asymmetry that ensured their country accumulated wealth at the expense of rivals.

The Day the Symmetry Died…or Did it?

The dream of equilibrium in financial markets seemed so close in 2005 – China was booming with commodity economies riding high on its coattails. The US housing market was flying, fuelled by sub-prime mortgages that investment banks were securitising and flogging to buttress investors’ “risk-free” portfolios.

But sweet symmetry was too good to last: the symmetrical global boom turned into a global bust.

Symmetry didn’t die. When everyone confronts falling equity, bond and real estate prices, reversing the gains of the credit boom years; when rising unemployment, deleveraging and contraction are universal, there is Déjà vu all over again with markets finding a new, but malign symmetry.

William Blake asked of the tiger, “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? As 2008 proved, financial markets could and proved that, like the tiger’s symmetry, market symmetry is a fearful prospect.

Fearful Asymmetry...

So is asymmetry is the answer?

Growth in the United States is teasing the world about the prospect of an interest rate rise; China’s has slowed; Japan is in recession; Europe limps along and Russia remains a basket case.

As the US replaces China to become the locomotive of global growth can world financial markets delink asymmetrically so we don’t all boom or bust at once?

Is it possible, or desirable, that economic leadership is engineered to pass the baton from country to the next to sustain such an asymmetrical pattern?

There goes the Punchbowl again

Corporate annual reports and reviews comprise input from many, diverse parts of a company. Understandably contributions from finance, marketing and production are likely to be asymmetrical in detail, quality, quantity and style.

Contributors’ jobs are in finance, marketing and production: not writing, editing and presentation of information for a readership of, mainly professional fund managers and other investors.

To achieve readable consistency and to present information accessibly requires oversight: financial writing and editing that ensures branding and verbal branding are sustained, uniformly throughout the documents.

Without inflating its own importance FinanceWriter’s role perhaps similar, to that of the central banker who, as the economic party warms up, is the one who has to take away the punchbowl. While a central banker wants to see his or her economy to grow, be innovative and rewarding, seeking to achieve those goals within certain constraints.

Central bankers are relied on to take into account the symmetry and the asymmetry of sectors, industries and trading partners before raising or lowering interest rates.

Similarly, FinanceWriter seeks to bring authority and balance to the interests of the stakeholders in annual reports and to create symmetry among the sections of the report as well as accompanying documents including annual reviews and sustainability reports.

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