”Twisting the Lion’s Tail”

Seeing how far the “Britishers” will bear provocation. “To give the lion’s tail another twist” is to tax British forbearance a little further. No doubt the Kingdom is averse to war with civilized nations, and will put up with a deal rather than apply the arbitration of arms. Even victory may be bought dearly. Such provocation may provoke a growl, but there the matter will end.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer 1894

This, of course, dates back to a time when Great Britain was the world’s only super power, and “Britannia ruled the waves”. Now we have the Edward Snowdon affair with unknown damage to national security and an uncertain outcome. Never-the-less, assorted lesser actors on the world’s stage seem to be unable to resist an opportunity to “tweak the eagle’s beak”.

Investors should recognize that, while the damage to national security may prove to be material, and the eventual outcome for Mr. Snowdon is unknown, this does not look like a story that will have any meaningful affect on the markets. Markets should continue to reflect expectations for future earnings and interest rates. Investors should continue to focus on changes in Federal Reserve policy, corporate news and the machinations of Washington. In other words, business as usual for investing.

The media circus appears to be temporarily moderating as Mr. Snowdon seems to be unavailable in the transit area of a Moscow airport. But once he surfaces, 24/7 news coverage is likely to return, at least for a while.

All comments or suggestions are welcome.

Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA