September 26th, 2012By Charles Wyndham. The English cricket team have gone from being champs to chumps in one game. To say that England were defeated by India in their 20:20 match would be a very polite way of saying that they were totally annihilated. Things go wrong sometimes and when playing a foreshortened version of the game when things go wrong they tend to go terribly wrong. So in effect, we are back to the old adage of regression to the mean, or England were certainly not as good as everyone was puffing them up to be and probably are not nearly as bad as everyone is accusing them of being. It was in this context that I read an article forwarded to me from Rapaport entitled, ‘De Beers Maintains Low Diamond Supply’. Reading the headline was enough to make me chuckle and only confirm the adage about regression to the mean. The implication of the title is that it is a question of choice for De Beers to keep sales low, which must be one of the more delightful Jacques Tati allusions made in recent times. I have never thought of the French as a people that have the best sense of humour, but any race that produced Jacques Tati cannot be all bad, indeed I think he might have been English, or wanted to be English or.... To continue a delightful (for me) digression, one of the funniest films I have ever seen was ‘Pardon mon Affaire’. The Americans remade the film and completely lost it, and if by chance you ever have the opportunity to see the French film, subtitles and all, do watch it, I would be surprised if you were not in stitches of laughter, unless you are a member of the Taliban, Creationists or Jesuits. Annoyingly, the French really do make some bloody good films, humorous and serious. Monsieur Mellier, MD of De Beers, does not look like Jacques Tati and the resemblance is even weaker in that Monsieur Mellier actually talks, a mistake that Tati carefully avoided. I am never quite sure if Monsieur Mellier is trying to be either serious or humorous. If humorous, I must be being too English because the jokes just pass me by, if serious, I simply cannot believe that he thinks that anyone can take him seriously, that is apart from Chaim Even Zohar. If per chance you have not read the article in Rapaport I cannot recommend it more strongly, well, almost as much as going and finding ‘Pardon mon Affaire’. To be kind, I took the line that this was a deliberate stab at humour by Monsieur Mellier. It is not every day that someone can say, “‘We will have shortfalls for the rest of the intention to offer period.... (but)... our production forecasts are still intact, but our supply depends more on the type of goods that we can present, which may not match sightholders requests.”’ I am sure that sightholders are used to getting everything except what they were or thought they were intended to get, but I thought that the whole of this ridiculous intention to offer (ITO) was based on clients’ requests being matched to production forecasts so that clients were committing to purchase, but at the same time were being given an unprecedented certainty as to what they were going to receive. Clearly, that is all out of the window, but fascinatingly the production figures, we are told are not wrong. Heavens above, it is not as if De Beers any longer has that many different mines to have to model the forecasts to produce their buckets of diamonds to dish out. To be getting things so wrong must imply that there are many more problems on the production side than Monsieur Mellier is letting on about. The terrifying thing is that Mellier, sorry Monsieur Mellier, is making Gary Ralfe and Gareth Penny look positive geniuses. The article goes onto report that, “Mellier (you see, I am much more polite, as I always call him Monsieur Mellier), acknowledged that DTC’s rough sales would be affected by the shortfall in supply, but added that the impact would have been far worse if the market was in an uptrend.”’ Is this real? What is the court jester trying to say? If I had the goods I would do everything to sell them? We all know that is true. Maybe he was trying to apologise to sightholders recognising that if it was a rising market and they were being under supplied they were losing out on juicy premiums. ‘Maybe’ he simply doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about. But then neither do I.