Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Sitting on my hands again

Last week was a fat week, this week will be a thin one. Not much happening, I've pulled out of the market. Hence very little to say.

It is interesting to see that the S&P, a broadly based index which follows 500 of the larger stocks on the US market, is outperforming the DJI, has spent the last six trading days outperforming the DOW and has now caught up at a point comfortably above its previous all time high. That high occurred in October 2007 just before the crash of 2008.

The chart shows, not that recent catch up, but the fact that the DJI has outperformed the S&P throughout the recovery period  which began in March 2009. This underlines the analysis made in the last post which showed that the driving force of the market rise was the differential between dividend returns and interest rates. Stock buyers were seeking good returns and security.

The performance of the FTSE demonstrates how hard it is to decide what to do for the best. The market is showing some strength but not enough to stiffen the backbone of one who has already lost in this tricky market.

We may have a little clue in the volume spike which occurred a couple of days ago. I have marked how previous volume spikes have signaled a change in direction. It is hard to know whether the recent spike will mark a change and if it does which direction the market will choose. I would feel more confident about its significance if there were spikes in the US. We have to wait and see.


We are lucky to have Bath’s Theatre Royal so close by. Easy to park and an excellent selection of plays to choose from.

Proof byDavid Auburn is the latest offering. The play won a Pulitzer prize in 2000. This production by Polly Findlay began life at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Reviews were tepid but I strongly disagree. I thought all aspects of the production sparkled.

The play covers the same ground as A Beautiful Mind: the relationship between creativity and mental illness, specifically in the brains of mathematicians. But it concentrates on the daughter of the mathematical genius, who may or may not be afflicted with the same malady as her father.

There are just four characters: Robert, the dead or dying genius, past the peak of his creative powers; Catherine, his younger daughter, who has devoted her self to caring for him; Hal, Robert’s acolyte, who is
searching through his later papers in an effort to find nuggets of genius among the mad ramblings; and Claire, the elder daughter, who has distanced herself from her family but provides financial underpinning.
There are two star performers: Mariah Gale as Catherine conveys the pain of coping with a mad father beautifully, and Jamie Parker as Hal effortlessly portrays an intelligent but rather gauche young man, struggling to stay afloat in a sea of turbulent emotions.

There are no villains in this quartet of characters. They are so different from each other: Robert wishing he could rekindle his former genius but trapped in his own mad world; Claire wanting the best for her father and sister, but willing to give them the space to choose not to do what she thinks is best; Catherine devoting her life to her father while nursing a genius of her own; and Hal, an honest and honourable outsider who in his own awkward way is a catalyst who offers solutions to the family’s problems.

The four actors play off each other like table tennis champions returning the trickiest of serves. 

Emma Cunniffe and Matthew Marsh as Claire and Robert also produce strong performances and the Chicago accents of the whole cast never falter.

The play, the production, and above all the performances provided a spectacular evening’s entertainment.

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