It’s time for the third award of this year’s Irrationals but
first I need to highlight there are too many contenders for Headline of the
Year to mention here so I will merely highlight one or two. I have deliberately
chosen to ignore headlines around the two major events of the year, the UK
referendum (I still don’t like the ‘B’ word) and the US presidential election.
The obvious winner is something I saw on the ABC (Australia)
website and heard on radio – that elephants are scared of honey bees.
Yes, you did read that right, elephants are scared of honey
bees and Kenyan farmers are breeding honey bees to stop elephants trampling
their fences and crops – and succeeding.
If this column brought you nothing else this year, surely
this is value for your subscription? It’s the sort of headline that needs to be backed by a fanfare of trumpets and other large and loud brass instruments, with a flashing “Attention” sign on top!
Away from the public information service that headline represents,
in the true spirit of sarcasm I did actually consider Japanese government
minister Taro Aso, who is easily the worst offender for “not commenting on forex
levels” before doing exactly that. He is, incidentally, also the most regular
provider of “watching forex moves carefully” quotes – and during the US
election he even added the word “urgently” – which of course led to absolutely
no action at all.
I was also seriously impressed by something I saw earlier
this year the stand first for which (that’s the line underneath the headline)
stated, “Everyone likes a good credit derivatives story”. Err, no they don’t
and you sir (it was a male writer) need to get out more!
I also want to pay special tribute to a headline, which came
late in the year in a regional Asia paper of which, and please forgive this
oversight, I lost the title of, which reported, without any apparent sign of
irony, that “APEC members to refrain from currency manipulation”.
Just me? I sincerely hope not.
But the winner comes from earlier in the year, which
adequately describes how the year panned out in foreign exchange markets and it
comes – in spite of all the money newspapers pay their headline writers – from
an unusual source.
On February 4, one of my favourite FX strategy teams – at Societe
Generale – put out a research piece with the simple, but descriptive, headline.
“FX – As Mad as a Bunch of Ferrets”.
The genius in headline writing is getting peoples’ attention
and making it funny helps…and this was pure genius.