OpenLearn Live sorts through the world of online learning and research, and brings you some of the best discoveries. This page will be updated across the day.
- Vale 2016: Jeremy Morse
- A smattering of Japanese for the Twitter age
- Italy in crisis
- Sherlock's brain
We started today with a mention of Inspector Morse. Let's wind down with Sherlock...
— New Scientist (@newscientist) December 5, 2016
The referendum vote in Italy has thrown the country into a political crisis - and as the third largest Euro economy, that's worrying for the continent as a whole. What's going on?
The political uncertainty that results from the referendum result is not going to help the fragile Italian economy.
The banking system in particular requires some immediate attention. A number of large banks are overloaded with bad loans and need some form of re-capitalisation or even bailout. The government crisis will likely reduce the financial and political space for this type of intervention.
At the same time, Italy remains vulnerable to changes in the yield on sovereign debt. With a stock of net debt that is now close to 114% of GDP [External link] Italy’s ability to serve this debt could be compromised by an increase in the yield, driven by this uncertainty. The repercussion of this financial turbulence would then be felt across the eurozone.
The nation may have taken a leap into an uncertain future, but as one Twitter user observes, they did it with style:
Can we just take a moment to reflect on the aesthetics of Italy's ballot paper. Whatever you do, do it in style pic.twitter.com/9bz8uQPu5u
— Gabriel Gatehouse (@ggatehouse) December 5, 2016
People will try and tell you that Twitter isn't educational. People could be wrong - here's @akokitamura sharing some handy 21st Century Japanese:
Slang Japanese for #Twitter
呟く (tsubuyaku) to tweet
リムる (rimuru) to unfollow *remove
鍵アカ (kagi aka) locked account
リプ (ripu) reply
— Ako (@AkoKitamura) December 5, 2016
We're reaching the end of 2016, and this week we're starting off each day with a short profile of just some of those who will not be joining us on the journey into the new year - five figures who died during the last 12 months. We're starting with Sir Jeremy Morse.
He spent his career in banking - at a time when bankers were trusted. He started at the soon-to-be revivied William And Glyns before joining Lloyds, where he would eventually become chairman. His tenure at the bank is now seen as something of a golden period. Morse was cautious in matters of corporate activity, and in personal finance - once saying:
“I think rather like [Margaret Thatcher] the prime minister whom I believe thinks that it’s wrong for individuals to borrow.”
His attempts to create a larger bank by taking over Midland (now HSBC) failed; as did an even more audacious plan to acquire Standard Chartered. But neither setback knocked his reputation as a safe, trustworthy head of a financial instituion.
Morse's reputation was further burnished during his period as first chair of the International Monetary Fund's Commitee of 20, doing some of the work that would lead to standardisation of banking regulation around the globe.
Jeremy Morse was also a chancellor of the University of Bristol. But for all these achievements, his biggest impact may have been sideways.
In his spare time, Morse was a crossword enthusiast - he compiled puzzles for The Listener, the Observer and many others. But before he set them, he solved crossword puzzles. And he solved them with a noteable degree of success. Someone certainly noted. The writer Colin Dexter, as recalled by The Independent:
"As I scanned the list of winners I noticed there were a couple of names that used to appear regularly, CJ Morse and Mrs B Lewis," Dexter recalled. One day in the early 1960s Morse appeared over the top of Dexter's hedge and said, "Your name has been appearing in the list of Ximenes winners almost as regularly as mine, so I thought we'd better get acquainted."
The two became good friends, and the banker made an impact on the author. So much so, when casting about a name for a detective he was writing, Dexter borrowed the name of the "cleverest man I know". Banker Morse begat Inspector Morse.
“I don’t prize those kinds of things. It is a certain skill but it is a limited skill. Wonderful to have but it doesn’t entitle you to think you are good in other spheres. There’s a big distinction between achieving things that take considered effort over a long period and achieving things in 10 minutes out of the sheer joy of your mind. What I really prize are the long-run things.”
In a meeting with the Telegraph in 2015, he was asked for his views on the banking crisis, and his response perhaps serves as a epitaph:
The knack in banking, as in life, he suggests, is being able to decide what matters and what doesn’t. “That’s what you call judgement.”