Monthly Archives: October 2014

Big Moustache, Bigger Shoes

The death of Total’s boss Christophe de Margerie in a plane crash in Moscow late Monday night  has shocked everybody not only in France but in the global oil industry as well.  As the tributes poured in for the man many nicknamed Big Moustache – a term he seemed almost proud of – I read the same adjectives several times: charismatic, unique, larger-than-life, outspoken, funny, original, independent.  When people write of famous powerful men they often exaggerate, especially if writing […]

Deal or No Deal?

I’m a fan of the British TV program Dragons’ Den, a show which features budding entrepreneurs seeking investment from a panel of self-made millionnaires by pitching their ideas to them on camera.  One of the things the show does is reveal gaping deficits in many of the entrepreneurs’ business skills, which the panel – or the dragons, as the show calls them – are quick to pick up on.  A common error made by those hoping to secure investment is […]

После него

Streetwise Professor has written a good post on the personality cult built up around Vladimir Putin: But perhaps the most telling indicator is the increasingly bizarre cult of personality being constructed around Putin. Putin’s apotheosis is occurring on his 62nd birthday. … A society that does this is not healthy. A society that does this is deeply insecure. A society that does this is desperate to believe that it is the hands of a savior because the alternative is too […]

Dirty Rifle, Dead Soldier

Many years ago when I did my military service, one of the many nasty surprises we got during our initial weeks of basic training was the ludicrous level of pendantry that was applied to personal appearance and cleanliness of the self, kit, and barracks. Each morning we were required to stand beside our beds with every item of issued equipmment laid out in a prescribed manner on top of a bed block – blankets and sheets folded in a certain […]

Safer betting on a horse

Recently I was asked to attend an investors’ forum put on by a major oil company on behalf of a friend who works for an investment fund. He asked me to go because he knew I had the inside track on the workings of the oil industry, and thought it might be fun. It was. The representative of the oil company showed a slide of a collapsing Return on Capital Expenditure which was inversely proportional to the oil price, and […]