Category Archives: Finance

Today’s #EU Summit – IMPORTANT!

jean-claude-juncker

 

Apparently, the #EU Summit is opened by President of the European Council , Donald Tusk who always begins the meeting with a prayer, then asks for the lights to be dimmed as he invites the spirits to join the circle. He then asks everyone present to join hands and close their eyes and recite selections from the Maastricht Treaty.

The group then attempts to contact those on the ‘Other Side’ – for instance the United Kingdom and others who have ‘crossed over’. This is followed by pre-prepared questions about all sorts of important-sounding stuff.

Then it’s lunch.

After lunch the meeting continues (This is known as the ‘Graveyard Session’). Those still sober enough to vote for something which was agreed at the previous meeting, raise their hands – or have their hands lifted for them by a flunkey.

Meanwhile, The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker staggers around the table, kissing every delegate, telling them that he REALLY loves them and that they are his best friend.

Then a group photo is taken and Mr Tusk presides over the Ceremony of the Communique (written last month) as he reads out the traditional Holy Positive Words about the future of the European Union.

Then they all fly home.

 

Another BREXIT myth?

cash

Always beware of any sentence uttered by a politician which contains the word “percentage” – especially if that politician is Chancellor Gideon.

The latest bit of statistical fantasy saw Osborne suggesting that if we leave the #EU, “house prices COULD fall by Up TO 18 %.” (!)

Obviously, he has a plan!

Does he intend to stop dodgy Russian oligarchs, newly-minted Chinese billionaires, corrupt African despots and tyrannical Middle Eastern potentates and politicians from driving-up UK house prices by buying up London properties and paying silly money for the United Kingdom’s historic country houses and estates?

Mind you, it’s all a great distraction from the NHS, the tanking economy and our unmeasured, out-of-control immigration.

The Ugly Spectre of EU Self-interest……

burning euro

A recent survey has indicated that most companies based in the eurozone believe a British decision to leave the European Union would hurt the region as it struggles with a sluggish economy and a migration crisis.

79%  of firms based in the eurozone said a Brexit would be bad for the area, with less than 4% saying it would have a positive impact, according to the report from accountants Grant Thornton.

“What’s abundantly clear from our research is that European business leaders overwhelmingly view a Brexit as a negative development for the EU,” Francesca Lagerberg, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said.

She said business confidence was strong considering the various potential threats the region faced from low growth, high unemployment, migration and a potential Brexit.

“Any one of these flaring up over the next few months could see that optimism wobble if the economic shocks undermine business leaders’ ability to plan and invest,” she added.

The survey was based on interviews with more than 2,500 senior executives conducted in January and February.

The result is in keeping with the view of senior business leaders in Britain who are largely in favour of Britain staying in the EU. Most economists expect an exit would deal a blow to Britain’s economy in both the short- and longer-term.

The Grant Thornton report showed 68 percent of British-based firms believe Brexit would have a negative impact on Europe.

Parts of the eurozone have struggled with a debt crisis in recent years which, on the heels of the global financial crisis, has stifled growth and left many unemployed. Unfortunately, quite a high percentage of Europe’s unemployed appear to be headed for the UK.

In addition, many recent migrants to the EU stated their first choice of refuge as the UK. Many of those will be arriving here in a few years….when Germany and other states hand them EU citizenship.

The region as a whole remains at odds over how to contain the continuing flow of migrants to the region.

It is regrettable that neither the UK political leadership, nor the Brussels Commissars have any idea about Managing Change on a macro scale because the sociological change within the #EU is probably they biggest issue that will need to be addressed within the next five to ten years.

Both sides are doing their best to frighten the electorate into voting for their point of view. There has also been an attempt at what can only be described as The Blackmail of a Nation – especially by the IN camp and the leadership’s foreign banking and political friends..

The fact is that BOTH sides have valid arguments but instead of helping the average UK citizen to make a reasonable choice whilst at the same time preparing for change, BOTH sides prefer to persuade through the medium of fantasy rhetoric, insinuation and slur.

Meanwhile, mainland Europe, surrounded by the Ring of Chaos, which encompasses Ukraine, then east to Turkey and south to North Africa,  sits and waits for more handouts and UK opportunities for its unemployed.

 

Brexit – Summary , so far……

Cameron’s ‘in crowd’ has expanded offshore to include the foreign senior banking community. Here in the UK, the ‘IN’ conspiracy has now recruited some senior corporate ‘suits’.

Meanwhile, Boris is looking increasingly shambolic and isolated plus, he does not appear to be appealing to the great unwashed.

The two main messages are either “Watch out for hordes of migrants and we could do it alone if we wanted to” or, more worryingly:  “The UK is effectively imprisoned within the #EU with no way out without damaging EVERYTHING!”

Both messages are negative – especially now that it would appear that the Cameron camp has admitted that even if we wanted to leave – we can’t. We’re trapped!

Today it was the turn of Spain’s 800,000 permatanned British residents to have the fear of God put into them…..as if the Spanish economy would even think about risking the loss of such a vast slice of revenue!

The one aspect of the debate I cannot agree with and that is the perceived danger from millions of low-level migrants. Once the UK economy collapses, no-one will want to come here.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the ECB’s Mario Draghi to pontificate.

 

Cameron’s crap Spreadsheet

Has ANYONE noticed that David Cameron has NOT yet produced his Tax Return?

In their excitement, the media appear to have accepted a very dodgy-looking and simplistic spreadsheet – the sort we could all knock-out on our PCs. The sort of spreadsheet which would be totally unacceptable to HMRC or even to an unqualified book-keeper.

Wake up!

We should see Cameron’s and his wife’s Tax Returns plus any non-PAYE accounts.

Point of View

Remember that whatever your opinion, whether it’s the #EU hokey-kokey debate or Mr Cameron and his deep and  (so genuine!) offshore love for his father, it all depends on where you’re standing …your POV……………… For instance:

Dog: ” I love the way I’ve trained that nice Dr Pavlov to smile, make notes and give me a treat every time I drool”

Cameron ignorance.

Ah…….that heady aroma of a media-generated mélange of schadenfreude and disinformation!

Ian Cameron’s FUND, Blairmore Holdings was never a “Trust”. It was a Hedge Fund which invested in no more than the sort of equities etc that one finds in any other fund.

Cameron Junior and his unfortunate wife, Sam may well have invested in the old man’s business – probably because the fund was generating very high returns.

One of the factors to be taken into consideration when investing is the tax regime. Here in the UK, for instance, the Exchequer helps itself to Stamp Duty when you invest …………and then, if you are domiciled in the UK, it helps itself to some more by way of Capital Gains Tax .

THAT is why is is often preferable to invest where you do not get screwed at both ends of a transaction.

Very often, an investment choice is driven by prudence rather than naughtiness.

I DO wish that some journos would do their f******  homework! Especially the No 10 Press Office.

On the other hand, one can forgive the ignorance of MPs – because that is what they do!

For instance, did you hear Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, Anna Soubry on PMQs last night? Talk about being promoted to above your level of incompetence!

Cameron must be so proud!

Cameron’s offshore shenanigans

Apparently, David Cameron was probably the only rich kid for whom a Trust Fund was never set up. A startling omission by his father because it would have been the most efficient way to put cash or any other type of asset away with junior as the beneficiary. A Trust has ‘trustees’ who usually exercise their discretion in how much is paid to the beneficiary and when it is paid. Trusts are not only useful for passing down assets to the next generation but also keep assets out of a settlor’s estate, thus reducing any Inheritance Tax liabilityIt is therefore VERY surprising that Cameron Snr did not think of that!

However, it is nevertheless always a good idea to listen very carefully to the words written for any Cameron statement. For instance, the latest denial issued by Downing Street contains the following sentence:

“There are no offshore trusts or funds that the Prime Minister or his immediate family would benefit from in future

One can only assume that the trustees have exercised their discretion very recently as well as very suddenly…….unless of course Cameron Snr indeed did not follow his own advice!

Panama Papers

PutinCameron

The Panama Papers reminded me of something that I have been thinking about for many years. What makes senior, specifically LEADER politicians so rich? Very often, all they have had is a career in politics, which as we all know, does not pay very well and yet they suddenly appear at the top of the pile with both the A-list film-star lifestyle as well as the mega-bloated bank account plus the services of sleazy bankers and agents for offshore tax havens.

As far as I can see, the only advantage they have over normal mortals is not ability, diligence, a business sense or even an entrepreneurial spirit. The only thing they do have is proximity to tax payer cash. For instance, the salary of a KGB colonel is not all that great and neither is the salary of a President-Prime Minister-President measured in millions. How then is that individual managing to measure his wealth in BILLIONS? It’s a conundrum.

There has been some criticism of UK Prime Minister David Cameron because his father was in the offshore tax-optimisation game. Of course, it is manifestly unfair to blame DC because, even though his school fees may have been paid out of an offshore Trust Fund ‘run’ by Nominee Directors of a Brass Plaque ‘Company’ located somewhere in a Central American Banana Republic , he cannot be held responsible for his father’s actions – anymore than the son of a bank robber can be held responsible for being clothed and fed on the proceeds of a bank heist………although bank robbers are often stripped of assets and their offspring allowed to go hungry. But hey….!

Cameron’s letter to Santa.

gdp

David Cameron is about to send his Christmas EU wish-list letter to Brussels.

As he licks the stamp, he should perhaps reflect on the fact that this is the third renegotiation since Britain joined in 1973 and our second referendum on membership.

It’s not even as if the United Kingdom is negotiating from a position of strength. The rather flaky economic recovery which Osborne thinks he’s sold not only to a gullible British public but also to the EU, is looking shakier by the day.

The much-promulgated “We’ve managed to get the deficit down to 5% of GDP!” may sound good in isolation but the much-maligned Eurozone has a Deficit-to-GDP ratio of only 2.1% ! (The UK figure is actually well over 5.0%). The only three coutries with a higher Deficit-GDP ratio are Croatia, Spain and Cyprus.

If you listen very carefully to Cameron’s referendum rhetoric, you may notice that he has moved from being pro-EU to very neutral. You will also notice that he’s chosen four very flabby areas on which to “negotiate”:

  • Integration: Allowing the UK to opt-out of any EU Superstate nonsense
  • Benefits: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants.
  • Sovereignty: Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation.
  • Eurozone vs the rest: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union.

He has totally ignored our two biggest gripes: The £6-20 BILLION (depending on who you talk to ) net annual contribution to the EU and that obscenely inflated money-pit that is the Brussels bureaucracy. THAT is where the changes ought to be!

However, we can take comfort from the certain knowledge that WHATEVER our Prime Minister “negotiates” will be proven statistically to be a great (statistical) victory for the UK taxpayer.

 

 

UK Credit Card Debt.

cards

In the United Kingdom, total Credit Card debt now stands at about £61,000,000,000.  Approximately 2,000,000 people are in arrears or have defaulted and another 2,000,000 are struggling to repay their debt…..The Financial Services Authority says: “Our study suggests that the market is working reasonably well for most consumers, with a range of cards on offer. However, for a significant minority who are in persistent levels of debt, the market could potentially work better.”  (Not sure what that means.)

Euro zone corporate lending growth slows to near zero in September

 

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Growth in lending to eurozone corporations slowed almost to a halt in September while a broader measure of money circulating in the euro zone was unchanged, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday.

Lending growth to non-financial corporations slowed to an annualised 0.1 percent in September from 0.4 percent a month before, while lending growth to households picked up to 1.1 percent in September from 1.0 percent in August.

Sparse lending to companies has dogged the struggling euro zone economy although the picture improved slightly over the summer months before September’s dip.

The ECB last week raised the prospect of providing more monetary stimulus to the euro zone economy, possibly as soon as December, to boost inflation and growth.

The M3 measure of money circulating in the euro zone, which is often an early indicator of future economic activity, grew by 4.9 percent in September, unchanged from August and missing forecasts for 5.0 percent. (Reuters)

The Nouveaux Pauvres.

Socialism was not invented by the working classes. Neither is it a natural state. It is a construct.

It was developed by intellectuals (who incidentally, now appear to be reclaiming it as their own) for the benefit of the poorer members of society. Originally, the theorists who invented it were concerned with social discrimination.

We no longer consider discrimination of the poor by the rich as prejudice but this type of intolerance is just as insidious as discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or disability.

Economic and Social Apartheid developed over hundreds of years and eventually caused societies to polarise. It is only in the last 100 years-or-so that the expansion of the middle-classes served to gradually dilute the Rich-Poor divide and give it “fuzzy edges”.

Some countries took a shortcut through the medium of revolution. The French did it in the 18th century and the Russians in the 20th.

Society will always “tend” towards a rich-poor split and without proper economic, organisational and social control, the trend accelerates.

Unfortunately (and to everyone’s surprise), in the United Kingdom,  there appears to have been a sudden resurgence!

Huge economic changes, which are being accelerated by destructive remedial measures are driving an accelerated programme of social engineering, creating a clearly-defined society of  “Haves” and “New Have-nots”……………. The Nouveaux Pauvres.

As the stock of “Have-nots” grows, so will discontent. That always leads to social unrest….with Greece being the latest and most visible.

Several governments, notably that of the UK and the Eurozone should think and remember that Government by Balance Sheet is NOT Government for the benefit of ALL of the People – otherwise the consequences will be catastrophic.


The Bank Bonus Saga……..

In September 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that there SHOULD be a “clawback” system for bankers’ pay.

In February 2013, the EU was POISED to cap banker bonuses.

In January 2014,  Prime Minister David Cameron said that a bonus COULD be clawed back but not basic pay.

In November 2014, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England said that bankers’ pay MAY need to be clawed back.

It would seem that life on the two planets which exclusively orbit only each other….Planet Bank  and Planet Westminster….life moves slowly and is mostly populated by Modal Verbs….a sort of Mañana in suits!

Meanwhile, Investment Bankers continue to gorge themselves…..and all we can do is ….well…..nothing.

The primary reason for the outrageously high payments to the designer-labelled barrow-boy City slickers is the over-simple reward system. The City rewards the “ups” but does not penalise the “downs”. That encourages short-term risk-taking. A trader can make a large bonus from the profit on a deal but when that deal collapses or the share price falls, there are no sanctions.

In the good old days when life was simple, every day was sunny and back doors were left unlocked, a Life-Assurance salesman (remember those?!) would be paid what was known as “indemnity commission” on any contracts that he sold…… (Incidentally, all the large Pensions and Life salesforces were trashed because of mis-selling! The job was then handed to the banks)

If the salesman sold a £100-per-month policy to a client , he earned say £1,000 in “up-front” commission. Over the next twelve months, the client paid his £100 per month and at the end of the year, the salesman’s commission had been paid for. However, if the policy lapsed in the meantime, the commission was “clawed back” pro rata. That simple system discouraged selling policies to high-risk clients who were likely to lapse their policies.

That method of advance payment was called Indemnity Commission…..a sort of loan against future earnings.

With the sophisticated systems that all financial services companies now operate, it would be simple to create a payment system which took into account the often negative consequences of trading. Bonuses could be paid but with a “clawback” period during which the deals which had been made would be monitored.

It is now time for those nice people at the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority’s latest incarnation to bare their teeth and take control.

The argument of having to pay obscene bonuses in order to hire “the best” has been used before. “The best” used to mean the most aggressive and most ambitious and the most likely to take shortcuts.

We now have the opportunity to enter an era where “the best” means the best-qualified, the most knowledgeable and the most professional. NOT the most crooked.

Mind you, the opportunity has already been around for a few years…… Perhaps tomorrow……

Government to shoot-up Pfizer?

Select Committee members can do a bit of grandstanding, Prime Ministers deliver a bit of macho jive talk – but the fact is that politicians can do jack-s*** about the Pfizer/Astra Zeneca  deal . They CANNOT influence board or even management decisions.

Read carefully what DC said this week: “

Our entire approach is based on TRYING to secure the best possible deal in terms of jobs, investment and science. And that is why I believe it was absolutely right to ask the cabinet secretary to ENGAGE with Pfizer, just as we’re engaging with AstraZeneca, and I do find it extraordinary that we’ve been criticised for this.”

Meaningless twaddle.

The Enterprise Act only allows government to intervene in the case of mergers affecting NATIONAL SECURITY or MEDIA OWNERSHIP.

After the Kraft takeover of Cadbury’s and subsequent events, the Takeover Code was amended in 2011 so that nowadays, the bidding company has to publish INFORMATION as to the anticipated effects of the takeover and employees are able to give their VIEWS.  All irrrelevant window-dressing which does NOT affect future management decisions.

Let’s PLEASE stop all the pretence.

#Ukraine. The Blitzkreig-like advance of ethnic-Russian militia in the eastern provinces is working so efficiently and meeting with so little resistance that one could be forgiven for suspecting that there is a plan and that there always has been a plan! In fact the capitulation by local authorities and officials suggests either complicity or possibly French military advisers!  🙂

The Little Englander v The Europhile

Whilst cocky Nigel Farage is looking increasingly like a pink Kermit the Frog, EU-enthusiast Nick Clegg retains the boyish charm and earnestness which won him so many plaudits after the 2010 “I agree with Nick” pre-election debates with Cameron and Brown.

Nowadays, Farage’s studied arrogance and increasing belief in his own publicity is beginning to water-down both his image and the argument. I say THE argument because he is also coming across as a one-trick pony and thus in danger of being perceived as the head of a right-wing pressure group rather than the Leader of a bona fide Political Party. I am not saying that he’s not a good bloke  but had he debated Britain’s Defence system or the changes in Education, he would have gained more credibility. Instead, we had yet more déjà vu!

He is probably regretting the fact than post-January 1st 2014 we are NOT being overrun by screaming hairy hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians heading over the hill from Newhaven to the nearest Benefits Office. David Cameron has been very quick to respond to Nigel’s xenophobic hysterics and has an ongoing charm-offensive in place, aimed at the “at-risk” Nutty Right Wing of the Conservative Party. DC and Nigel both know that come the General Election, the many who have dallied with UKIP will retake their rightful place and step back into the Conservative thin blue line.

Nigel’s task of criticising the EU gravy train whilst simultaneously immersing himself in the gravy makes some of his arguments appear both hypocritical and increasingly valueless. He was obviously VERY uncomfortable when being asked about paying his wife a salary and lapsed into his usual defence of turning an attractive shade of fuschia accompanied by bluster and large numbers.

Nick Clegg, on the other hand, was a tad patronising and appeared to lack conviction – although he is doubtless a committed Son of Brussels. He too made the usual points and counterpoints and one could argue that he cheapened himself by even appearing on the same platform as the UKIP Commandant.

The upcoming MEP elections will demonstrate quite clearly that as far as Europe is concerned, the British public fits neatly into the “don’t care” camp….

As to who “won” the debate…If you measured it on well-known points and statistics repeated yet again…it was a draw.

Gideon’s Pensioner, Bingo & Beer Budget 2014

Above is the official “Budget Diagram” just issued by H.M.  Treasury. Presumably we have to provide the crayons.

The most remarkable thing about this Budget was how small the numbers were – and I remember when ONE BILLION was a lot of money!

The ubiquitous “Scheme” was in there. This one was £3 billion to boost exports. As UK exports only represent a tiny percentage of GDP and because it is only “a scheme”…no harm done there!

UK potholes cost motorists about £730 million per year and cover  a surface area of about 300 square miles. Therefore £200 million “made available for Local Authorities to bid for” seems a bit parsimonious…but nowhere near as mean as only £140 million for repairs and maintenance to flood defences. We not only need to patch up the damage but we need NEW flood defences. Presumably, the government’s resolve dissipated soon after the last COBRA meeting and when the last retina was reattached…..

The first “headline grabber” was scrapping VAT on air ambulance services and inshore rescue boats as well as scrapping Inheritance Tax for members of emergency services. As the current IHT threshold is £325,000 , THAT won’t bother too many firemen and ambulance drivers’ descendants and neither will the reform of air passenger duty!

We already knew about Ebbsfleet Garden City  and PLANS for 200,000 new homes. Handy for the Ebbsfleet International Railway Station so that presumably, once HS2 has been completed,those pesky immigrants can be shunted-off to the North without even having to stop-off for a Starbucks.

Company-bought homes, valued in excess of £500,000 will now enjoy Stamp Duty of 15%. No doubt that can be recouped at the “sell” end of the process, which makes this a purely cosmetic gesture by Chancellor Gideon and a transparent attempt to create some egalitarian credentials ready for May 2015.

The Libdem-inspired tax threshold increase to £10,500 is a nice touch  as is the freezing of Petrol Duty.

We have become used to the “let’s patronise the poor” section in which we have the cut in Bingo Tax, the freezing of whisky and cider duty and yet another PENNY cut in the price of a pint of beer!! ..which was negated (and worse) by the increase in cigarette prices. However, as all toffs know, the working classes smoke roll-ups so they will be unaffected!

By far the most important set of measures has all the electoral subtlety of a house brick through a crystal chandelier. It was for THE PENSIONERS (Gawd love ’em!).

When they retire, they will be able to get their liver-spotted hands on all of their Pension Pot and will NOT have to purchase an annuity. That sounds fantastic!! However, if a pensioner takes his pot of pension and blows it all on a Porsche 911….who is going to pick up the tab when there is no pension at the end of the money? Annuities are there for a reason.

In addition, when a pensioner cashes-in his or her pension, where can they keep the money? Why….a BANK, of course! Ideal! So it looks as if the banking system is due yet another windfall…but this one will be from the over 65s!

THAT is why there will be a PENSIONER BOND! The banks will be able to lock-in the money and pay 2.8% for a year’s use of the cash and only 4% for three years’. Win-Win!

The Premium Bond ceiling will be raised from £30,000 to £40,000! So, if you like your investment to REALLY be in the shape of  interest-free eroding capital, then cash in your pension and give it to National Savings which, incidentally, is State-owned. Another Win-Win!

We won’t bother with the announced increase in tax threshold of a few hundred pounds for “middle income” earners because it is worth PENNIES.

The superficial generosity to the pensioners WITHOUT actually giving them anything is there for a reason!

Guess which section of the population has the highest percentage of voters?

Cynical?

He started it!

My father’s family is from Lubaczow, which is as near to the Polish-Ukranian border as you can get…so I recognise and understand the collective Ukranian psyche. They are a bloody-minded people who will NOT take any shit from Russia. There is TOO much history. Imagine the relationship between a cat and a dog and you may begin to understand. AT BEST, they only tolerate each other……….

#UKRAINE: Usually, before a country moves from Despotism to becoming a fully-fledged Republic, there is ALWAYS a brief brush with Anarchy. In Ukranie’s case, it has temporarily moved from home-grown Despotism to the threat of an alternative flavour of Despotism, but on this occasion, delivered by a foreign power. This will soon pass and the country will be able to  get on with the Anarchy before finally settling down to being a mature republic. However, as Egypt is currently showing, the cycle may have to be repeated several times before the appearance of those mythical sunny uplands of political stability.

FALLING INFLATION with Rising Prices?

When you are told that inflation is falling, you would naturally expect  prices to be falling . That ain’t necessarily so!

Many years ago, when I worked for a very large bank, I sent a team of people into town in order to find out whether the average British adult understood percentages. The answer was a resounding “No!”

MOST of the people we interviewed had NO IDEA about percentages!

Banks, supermarkets and even the government know very well that most people are either thick or at best borderline thick as far as simple arithmetic is concerned and they take full advantage.

Supermarkets “mix and match” their prices, so that you need to have the brain of a Stephen Hawking to decide whether it would be cheaper to buy three bags of crisps for the price of two or perhaps two at a different price with  one free  or maybe six bags with 10% extra. By the time you’ve made several purchases like this, you can leave a supermarket mentally exhausted.

Banks will be paying you interest at anything from 0 .01% p.a to  3.00% with maybe an introductory offer of three months with an additional 1.5%. Interest on credits is calculated from the day AFETR your deposit but debit interest on withdrawals is applied on the day of the debit. When a bank returns a wrongly applied charge, will it also re-credit the debit interest? If it does – then at what rate? You don’t know? You’re not alone.

The Government will throw statistics at you through the medium of television, delivered by double-first Oxbridge Economics  graduates who have absolutely NO idea how to explain economics concepts – except to other economists. Percentage increases in GDP, percentages out of work, percentage decreases in the annual inflation rate. Percentage, percentages and even more percentages!

Which is better? a 10% discount and then VAT added or would you prefer the VAT to be added first and THEN take the 10% discount? If your energy bill tells you that the discount on your Gas is 5% and the discount on the Electricity is 5%,  how many percent savings will you me making in total?  What is 12% of £60?

Today, we have been told that annual inflation is on the decrease BUT we all know that prices are on the increase. How is this possible?

I am going to try and explain but in very simple terms.

Assume you bought a radio in January 2013 and you paid £95.70.  If you then went to the same shop in January 2014  (a year later) and the price of the same radio had increased to £100, the price would have increased or INFLATED by £4.30. which is an increase of 4.5%.  

Let’s now go back to February 2013 when the price of the same radio was £100  and assume one year later, in February 2014, the price  increased yet again, this time to £104. That means that the radio would have increased in price or INFLATED by £4, which is  4.o%.

So, coming back to this year, between January and February 2014 (in one month), the radio’s price has INCREASED by £4 but at the same time, inflation has DECREASED from 4.5% to 4.0%!

Therefore, we have a rising price but simultaneously, we see falling inflation.

The media are already mumbling something about “falling food prices etc” having caused the present fall in inflation.

It is nothing of the sort : Yes, falling prices do contribute but the way that the calculations are made can be the major contributor to the figure because it is calculated  in discontinuous annual slices. Today’s inflation figure depends on what the inflation figure was a year ago.

Having said all that, on this occasion, the CPI has actually decreased in one month

Mind you, as usual,  whatever the basis of the inflation calculation, it will still not stop the politicians from claiming all the credit.

(Unless, of course, the inflation rate goes up too drastically, which is when those pesky “external factors out of our control” come into play!

When a CEO or Prime Minister has to handle a crisis personally, that suggests just one thing: He has a poor management structure under him or he doesn’t trust the people HE  hired to complete the job effectively…….. Either way, HE appointed them and is now doing THEIR job.

Another day, another meeting for David Cameron! This time it’s with insurance industry leaders! Just to help DC with the nuances of insurance: INSURANCE is betting on something which MIGHT happen. ASSURANCE is betting on something which definitely WILL happen. Hence Life Assurance (you will DEFINITELY die) & nowadays, thanks to years of mismanagement and under- investment, we EFFECTIVELY have Flood ASSURANCE. Local Authorities and Central Government have placed the insurance industry in an impossible position. Insurance industry leaders will be “asked” not to increase premiums by too much by a government which is partly responsible for insurance claims which are already estimated to be well in excess of £1 BILLION.

The debate about the Scots using the Pound Sterling after  “Independence Day” is all very interesting but pointless because they are quite at liberty to use whichever currency they like.  However, there would be a problem  for instance, if interest rates moved and the variation didn’t suit their spluttering (yes!) economy, King Sean and his jester Sal Mond would have to  rethink their Ruritanian/Wallace dreams and go back to the Withdrawing Board! BTW, there will be no independence because in the final analysis, the Scots are a VERY pragmatic race and  WILL “do the right thing” (sorry!) and remain where they belong – a much-cherished and loved part of the UNITED Kingdom. THAT is why today’s macho posturing by an “irrelevant” such as Chancellor Gideon is….er……irrelevant.

The #flooding has amplified a major misjudgement by politicians of every political party. They continue to imagine that the spouting of platitudes and looking sympathetic in front of cameras is somehow “reassuring” to the public. Here’s a “heads-up”:  Voters certainly used to be reassured by politicians’ Royal visits…….but unfortunately that was when politicians were respected. That started to dip after 1945 and was finally buried when MPs were caught thieving from the taxpayer in 2009.  They should do something useful: STAY AWAY.

What Governor Mark Carney was saying yesterday (in the nicest possible way) was than a few quarters of insipid above-zero growth does not immediately and definitely signify an economic recovery. Unlike politicians, who will extrapolate from a single quarter……but ONLY if if it is positive. Mr Carney is rapidly showing that he is his own man who tells it how it is. A very refreshing change.

BBC News Editors need to up their game as far as reportage of the #flooding is concerned. They write of “Records”, they give us meaningless Statistics, with their newsreaders almost delighting in the scale of the tragedy. This sensationalist and voyeuristic style of delivery with reporters standing by blown-over trees, collapsed walls and wind-blown beaches serve absolutely no useful purpose. Asking victims with ruined lives the “How do you FEEL?” question is lazy and adds absolutely nothing to the debate…….and incidentally,  just because the Thames Valley is now flooding, is NO excuse to totally ignore the hell that West Country victims continue to experience.

First Eric and now Patrick! DC really IS getting the BIG BOYS in! Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick Mc Loughlin says that when David Cameron said “Whatever it takes” to help UK flood victims, he did NOT mean “blank cheque”. That is because what DC said was untrue…..and we ALL knew it! ….“Whatever it takes” does NOT necessarily mean Whatever it takes.” That’s because there ARE occasions when badly-prepared political statements are no more than macho nonsense designed ONLY for newspaper headlines. #COBRA451

There was a classic “No shit, Sherlock?!” moment from “an expert” on the radio this morning: “With all the rain, wind and flooding, certain people will become depressed.” It good to see that a Psychology degree is not always a waste of time.

I have a funny feeling that the Draghi-like “Whatever it takes” promise by David Cameron to United Kingdom flood victims will come back to haunt him. It was a VERY ill-advised thing he said, merely  in order to placate the press. Once quotas, amounts, conditions and timescales start being published by his government, he will end up looking as if he’d broken another promise and performed yet another U-turn. For the moment though, let’s sit back and count the COBRA meetings.

Chancellor Gideon has said the rest of Britain might be unwilling to let an independent Scotland keep the pound! The SNP has responded by suggesting that Scotland might in return refuse to take on its share of Britain’s 1.2 TRILLION pounds of government debt. Can Alex Salmond actually see beyond the over-romanticised notions of  “FREEDOM!”…..  driven by blind idealism and Sean Connery?

EUROZONE: The ECB has cut interest rates to a record low, pumped extra liquidity into the banking system and announced a fresh government bond purchase programme…. but the measures have so far not managed to unclog lending to the real economy. Watch for another slowdown….in spite of everyone attempting to talk it all UP!

There was an unseemly exhibition of grandstanding  by Tim Yeo MP at this morning’s Energy and Climate Change Select Committee meeting as  he told  #energy bosses “you are exploiting your privileged monopoly position” and neglecting customers!

The Electricity Supplier CEOs were lined up like fairground ducks in front of the committee and all came across as reasonable guys who knew that in spite of the fact that they had done their level best, it had been impossible to reconnect every customer over the Christmas period.

Yet more evidence that Members of Parliament are NOT fit to even be involved in such an inquiry and as for the Committee’s Chairman, Tim Yeo….anyone would think that he either had other things on his mind or that he was trying too hard to impress!

Euro Christmas Wishes

My best wishes for an environmentally friendly, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender non-specific celebration of the Winter Solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a   fiscally successful, personally fulfilling  recognition of the onset of the generally accepted Gregorian calendar year 2014. This of course does not imply any disrespect to other calendars which, in certain cases, are accepted to predate the generally accepted measurement method and are not considered to be any less valid.

If you live within the Eurozone, we shall of course meet in one month’s time to discuss the above wishes and possibly renegotiate them as they are always subject to clarification or withdrawal. Moreover they can be withdrawn should one member not be in full agreement or should they personally not perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings, the above-mentioned fiscal success and ongoing cooperation from the Holy banking system.

The Wisher also accepts without reservation that especially within the political sphere, there may be, because of election, death or resignation, changes of Wishee. In such cases, the above is fully transferable in perpetuity, to subsequent Wishees but only subject to ongoing membership and cooperation.

2014 Predictions – PART DEUX!

The first episode of my 2014 predictions has already been published and can be found HERE.

Below are my final predictions for the year and contain some extrapolations based on the government’s current air-brained and totally unrealistic attitude which is largely based on surveys and statistical “facts” – usually NOT based on a statistically significant time-span.

However, one has to admit that there are other predictions which are based in hope rather than fact!! See if you can spot the ones which are totally ridiculous!

And PLEASE don’t accuse me of being silly! They started it!

1. Chancellor Gideon Osborne will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

2. President Bashar al-Assad will win the Nobel peace Prize, in tandem with Tony Blair….for services to Syria and Iraq respectively.

3. The British Economy will recover and outgrow China.

4. British banks will lend money to SMEs WITHOUT blackmailing (for themselves) large chunks of equity participation.

5. There will be NO tax give-aways in the lead-up to the next General Election.

6. The French economy will recover and outstrip that of Germany.

7. Angela Merkel will become engaged to Sylvio Berlusconi.

8. Compulsory Bulgarian and Romanian will be taught in English schools.

9. Education Secretary, Michael Gove will stop interfering in the United Kingdom’s education system.

10. David Cameron will fire a Cabinet Minister for being a useless prat.

11. Banks will have completed the “Rebuilding of Balance Sheets”.

12. A thick person from the lower orders will win the X-factor.

13. Pope Benedict will ask for his old job back.

14. Economics journalists will start to write articles in easily-understood English so that EVERYONE understands what they are talking about – even those without an Oxbridge PPE degree!

15. More 65-plus Media and Arts perverts will be brought to book.

16. Manchester United will win the Premier League.

17. Heather Mills wins 2014 Sports personality of the Year.

18. The FTSE 100 will cross 7500. Or 4500! (It all depends on money-printing policy)

19. Yvette Copper will become Labour Leader and Theresa May will lead the Conservative Party into the next General Election.

20. David Attenborough will locate and identify The Big Society (and its bank).

21. Coalition Politicians will stop saying “The Mess THEY left behind” and “Difficult Decisions”.

22. David Cameron will keep talking about renegotiating the UK’s membership of the EU.

23. Richard Dawkins will prove conclusively, the existence of Godociety – with the former being the most likely!.

24. The Coalition Government will stop using the word “percentage” or “percent” in every other sentence.

25. Chancellor Gideon will get rid of his Caligula haircut.

26. Ed Miliband will say something intelligent and produce some economic policies

27. Dennis Rodman will be appointed Chief of Staff of  the North Korean Army.

28. A well-known former PR man and art collector will have an arse transplant – but it will reject him.

29. President Obama will DO something and Boris Johnson will stop talking bollocks.

30. The HS2 toy train project will become a very long runway.

31. There will be no further bank mis-selling scandals – and I certainly won’t tell that interest on your bank CREDITS is calculated from the day AFTER the deposit, whereas the interest on Withdrawals is debited immediately.

32. UK property prices will continue to increase For Ever! Capital Gain without end!

33. There will be no further Westminster expenses scandals.

34. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage will be quiet, dignified, restrained and statesmanlike after the UKIP gains in European Elections.

35. Iain Duncan-Smith will say “Sorry!”to all the innocent people he has wronged. Hopefully, just before he collects his P45.

(I am NOT a Global Warming mullah but the image above shows all the world’s water and air to scale.)

What sort of twat sees a fireman outside Waitrose with tinsel on his high-viz jacket & drops a pound coin into his Latte?

Is the Home Office ABSOLUTELY sure that the United Kingdom can attract Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to this land of Elitism, Noncery, Government Racism, Xenophobia, crooked Lords and SHOCKING Educational standards?

RIP Ronnie Biggs. Mind you, the Great Train Robbery (including the cost of the investigation) pales into insignificance alongside HS2.

Chancellor Gideon has claimed that “the taxpayer” has made a profit on the sale of Lloyds Bank shares. That is NOT true. It is yet another example of the half-truths and selective statistics which have come to characterize this government. The money to buy Lloyds shares in the first place, was BORROWED. That had an attendant cost. Therefore, if fees and costs are deducted from the share sale, “the taxpayer” made a LOSS. Gideon is becoming Brownesque in his ability to dispose of national assets.

Our Education System is catching up with the NHS!!  1.56 MILLION people work for the NHS. Meanwhile, 1.49 MILLION are employed in Education. Approximately 450,000 of them are teachers.

The Inequality and Iniquity of Growth.

This Christmas there will be millions of puzzled and sometimes hungry people staring at their televisions. Their hunger is easily explained – they are poor but what will confuse them will be the newsflashes showing smiling people shopping and talking about ‘Tablets’ at £500 each, Champagne, and a million other expensive items and yes…even Christmas turkeys!

Then they will see celebrity chefs cooking Brussels sprouts with pancetta, more champagne, the perennial debate about goose fat versus oil on roasties and how we’ll ALL be ‘over-indulging’ and falling asleep on the sofa! An alien world which some will have tasted but sadly, too many – especially children, will never inhabit.

This (to them) is a ‘make-believe’ world of plenty. They know it exists somewhere near them but it is like the parallel universe of science fiction….there but impossible to access.

They see shiny, smug politicians saying words about ‘the recession being over’….something the poor haven’t been too acutely aware of because what the politician calls ‘recession’ and ‘austerity’, they call “LIFE”.

‘The economy’ appears to be doing very well! …………..By the way….what is that?

The disparity between the most affluent Brits and the rest is hurting the economy. This chasm between rich and poor appears to have become an unacknowledged issue, primarily as the result of too many of the Cabinet belonging to ‘the Affs’. It is apparent that few understand that everyone (up to middle class) has seen their income stagnate, whilst wealthy households have really thrived.

Note: I propose to dispense with euphemisms such as “the well-off” and “society’s disadvantaged”. Let’s stick to rich and poor.

Bonuses, higher salaries, higher profits and exceptional stock market gains are flowing almost exclusively to the already-rich. Proportionately, however, the affluent household ‘spend’ represents much less of their money than that of  low and middle-income consumers.

One of the priorities of this government should be to engineer a much broader spending base – one which encompasses the poor……allowing them to actually participate in the economy.

Currently, there is a very distorted  picture of consumer spending because it is driven by the rich. The poor and the poorer are doing their best to keep up but inevitably need to borrow in order to spend – thus making themselves even poorer. Meanwhile, many rich are gaining profits from  bank or lending company shares which are fueled by the poors’ accelerating poverty….but the rich have something else which the poor have never had: OPTIONS or CHOICE!

One very profitable option this year has been the stock market – but once the markets have calmed down (which they will!) and gains are no longer eye-wateringly high, the affluent (As and Bs) will stop spending or at least, cut back dramatically.

THAT will have an immediate and devastating effect on this virtual economic recovery. SO, it is in the government’s interest to sustain the recovery illusion by keeping interest rates low and Quantitative Easing flowing to the banks so that , from an investment point of view, the equity markets (stocks and shares) remain the only game in town, so that the rich retain their mega spending power for as long as possible – at least until May 2015!

That is a very dangerous game for any government to play.

This is the phenomenon which has created and is sustaining the ever more bitter ‘CLASS’ debate and is in danger of feeding Populism and ultimately, major unrest.

Income Inequality and not airports or trains should be the government’s priority.

There is now little doubt that in spite of government policy, the United Kingdom’s economic growth is picking up….as it is everywhere else (Global Economy!)

NOW, while the mini-recovery lasts, would be a good time for the government to tackle the INEQUALITY OF GROWTH which is not an iniquity but the iniquity of modern times.

2014 Predictions – PART ONE

Predicting the future has always been a mug’s game. For instance, I continue to believe that the markets are all in the wrong place and overpriced and I predicted the FTSE at about 4500 – but then again, I could not have predicted the collective madness of Quantitative Easing and the real fear that politicians have of the banks. I used to understand investment…but not any more. Cheap virtual cash continues to fund the markets and to keep them artificially high.

The politicians feel that they have to please the banks first and only then the voter. Governments are no longer in control of events. Nowadays, finance drives politics and politicians have become the bankers’ lackeys.

For as long as banks and governments continue to mutually gorge themselves on virtual cash and governments do not have the courage to increase interest rates and taxes in order to join us in the real world, there is a very real possibility that the current economic situation will become the status quo.

These predictions are in no particular order.

1. The disconnect between economic data and the quality of life is fueling populism. It is also fueling right-wing extremism and anti-government sentiment. I fully expect the equivalent of the Arab Spring sometime during 2014 , in the UK and some other European states.

2. South Sudan will provide the next African bloodbath.

3. The Scots will vote “No” to independence.

4. The recently-adopted self-congratulatory air will desert both UK and European politicians as it is realised that the “virtual” economic recovery is unsustainable.

5. There will be a substantial increase in China’s birth rate (the new “one child plus” policy), contrubuting TWO MILLION children to the 2014 economy, boosting consumer motivation.

6. China will continue to build and accelerate its natural resource monopoly in Africa. (One million Chinese already live there).

7. As the West cuts its military budgets, China will continue to do exactly the opposite.

8. David Cameron will continue to tell us what MUST and SHOULD be done, one a whole range of issues.

9.  Anaemic growth in the advanced economies will see government debt continue to climb.

10. The US $ will continue its decline. Instead of Quantitative Easing Infinity accelerating economic growth, its effect will be to shrink the $’s buying power.

11. The sudden (and unexpected) pick-up in UK growth, followed by the indication of a reversal in the final quarter of 2013 suggests that businesses were adding to their inventories rather than selling their goods. Expect the reversal to continue in 2014.

12. Germany currently represents approximately 30% of the Eurozone economy and will continue to enjoy the fruits of a weak euro and ramp-up exports.Germany has the world’s highest current account balance as a percentage of GDP. During 2014, Germany’s economic success will continue to accelerate and will represent over ONE THIRD of the Eurozone’s output.

13. Japan will continue to prosper. Its economic output is not 75% of China’s. although it is 4% of China’s size with 9% of China’s population. “Abenomics” has provided the “jump-leads” which Japan needed.

14. The USA will enter another recession in 2014. Currently it is still on “below-2%” growth.

15. A Populist movement will become increasingly vocal here in the UK (and in certain Eurozone countries), with sudden impetus being generated AFTER the European Parliamentary Elections when the main traditional parties will be decimated by the Left and Right.

16. In spite of the Eurozone’s economic “recovery”, unemployment will remain at current record heights (Over 12%).

17. Deflation will accelerate within the Eurozone and economic forecasts will once again be downgraded.

18. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) will publish the 2013 EU accounts and once again, confirm that the continuing “errors” in all of the EU’s spending  areas have finally crossed 5%(!) of expenditure.

19. The UK government will do well to prepare for the possibility of social unrest which is driven by the rapid growth of the “have nots”. The financial hangover caused by  Christmas 2013 will be far more extreme than in previous years.

20. The Federal Reserve will announce and implement the end of its  massive bond-buying programme. This will have a substantial effect on the markets.

21. The full-extent of the banking industry’s Pension and Life Assurance mis-selling will become apparent.

22. There will by an explosion in Teacher Militancy as the government continues to fiddle with our childrens’ education.

23. The price of Crude Oil will fall to about $75 per barrel. The decrease will be primarily caused  by oversupply as a result of new production methods.

24. The European Union will fail to deal with its members’ collective debts. Again.

25. The Global Recovery will falter.

26. On January1st, Greece will take over the Presidency of the EU – at a cost to itself of €50 MILLION. This exemplifies the madness of the European Union when a de facto bankrupt state with zero clout is allowed to be burdened such a “spend”. Prediction: Greece will make a “pig’s ear” of its Presidency. Hopefully Subway and MacDonald’s are bidding for the catering contract.

27. Twitter, Amazon etc will be recognised as part of yet another totally unsustainable bubble.

28. In the UK, there will be yet more calls for House of Lords reform. Hopefully, as more and more of their Lordships’ financial “indiscretions” come to light, the debate will snowball, eventually leading to an elected Upper House. Turkeys may well HAVE to vote for Christmas.

29. Once South Africa has recovered from Mandela’s death, there is a real danger of  a return to what I can only describe as “Reverse Apartheid”. Violence.

30. Syria will continue to generate substantial profits for the world’s Arms producers as it has become increasingly apparent that there is NOT the political will to even attempt to end this butchery.

(I am NOT a Global Warming mullah but the image above shows all the world’s water and air to scale.)

Chancellor Gideon – Fact or Fiction?

One of the greatest pleasures in life used to be for someone to read a great work of fiction to you out loud. You would sink back, close your eyes and let it wash over you ……and all that you had to do is to compose the pictures! Unfortunately, reading out-loud is a dying art and now a pleasure only enjoyed by young children and the infirm.

So imagine the frisson of  anticipation ahead of listening to Chancellor Gideon reading The Autumn Statement – (I have always been a great fan of realistic fiction!)  I closed my eyes, kicked back…but…the pictures just wouldn’t come. All I could visualise was a smug fat boy with a Caligula haircut and eyes with all the charm of two bullet holes,  reading with all the conviction of a posh grocer reading a Fortnum’s shopping list.

GDP..blah blah….Growth…blah blah….Deficit…blah….and so on.

Then, after the “de rigeur” and customary:  “Hard-working people” , “Mess they left behind” and “Tough decisions” plus the recently conceived “It will be less that it WOULD have been”….all from the Coalition Book of Platitudes, came something about the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) moving ever closer to life expectancy!

I felt myself slowly emerging from the Treasury-induced coma.

Whether the NRA is 69, 70 or 102, it will never affect those on a private pension or those with enough money to be able to make choices.

The ability to make choices is what individual freedom is all about. One of the overriding features of this government is that too many people perceive that their choices have been compromised. Control has been wrested away from those who are relying on the State to feed and provide their shelter in old age.

Meanwhile, the “well-off” will continue to be able to stop working whenever they want to.

It is only those clapped out individuals who see retirement age as The Finishing Line who will be affected. They are the ones who used to retire at 65 and die at 67.

Soon, they will retire at 70… not quite dead but maybe wishing they were, knowing that some of their better-off acquaintances will have already been retired for 20 years.

(BTW, unemployment at the time of the 2010 General Election was 2.47 million. It is STILL 2.47 million. ……NO statistical sleight-of-hand will ever change that fact!)

Chancellor Gideon’s Autumn Statement will be no more than the Conservative Party jumping out of the General Election starting blocks, as the “Giveaway Season” begins. It will be just like the Christmas Sales but you get your own money back! By definition, it is money that is currently being wasted elsewhere.

One very important question: Given the recent spate of scandals (which appear to be ongoing), has the Coalition government done enough to reform the banking industry? Er……No. In fact, they appear to have done bugger all.

I know that it’s not fashionable…but I have great admiration for Cherie Blair…and feel very sorry for her as she has to sit quietly as the current S**t Storm centred on her hubby and the wife of a media crumbly gathers pace.

Cannot think WHY Chancellor Gideon  has had the Treasury refitted. Is it worth it? After all, according to the latest numbers, his tenure appears to be VERY finite! MILLIONS have been spent….and I bet that IKEA didn’t even get a look-in!!   🙂   #inthistogether #10MILLION

#blair ….I bet that I can name at least ONE former P.M who would NEVER be accused of suspected “knobbage”  🙂

BOOKTRUST is a charity with a fab Mission Statement: To Promote Reading…What could POSSIBLY screw that up? Only political meddling which looks like “naughtiness with intent” and an embarrassment to Nick Clegg, his wife as well as the Cabinet Office. Statement please. No spin…..

There are those who say that the Liberal Democrats have lost their Mojo. Remember the good old days (WAS it only three years ago?) when Norman Baker and Vince Cable would get stuck into the government and create hell for the then Prime Minister – the one whose name will not be mentioned?……..In May 2010, when the small question of Coalition arose, the Tories weren’t taking any chances and did exactly the right thing  – they muzzled both of these outspoken old radicals (or, should I say, what passes for “radical” among Libdems). The pair of them suffered the political equivalent of castration. Now look at them….OK, their suits are a bit more expensive and people call them “Minister”….but what real use are they? Their strength  used to be in their independence….they WERE the Libdem Mojo. Unfortunately, come May 2015…it will be too late for a sudden change of suit and style because their electoral credibility will have gone with the Ministerial limo…….Both Norman and Vince will find it nigh on impossible to fit into those old grey suits and tweed jackets worn by the common people they once were.

The United Kingdom’s Bankers and top City people don’t REALLY appreciate austerity. Why? Because last year, the average banker salary increased by ONE THIRD and the income for the top 2,700 was in the region of £1.6 million EACH. Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Cable have clearly demonstrated themselves to be no more than helpless bystanders. There was the usual macho rhetoric, both pre and post the 2010 General Election but, as usual, it was nothing more than empty words. “In this together”? DON’T make me laugh.


The late Margaret Thatcher is being criticised for holding some of her assets in offshore trusts. Well, through the magic of PFI, The Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, as well as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs ALL pay rent to companies whose tax bills are “optimised” because they’re registered offshore.

Here’s something that has been highlighted in Neon since May 2010:  Despite many years of a mythical populist “democracy”, after innumerable elections where the “will of the people” supposedly prevailed, despite all the comedy Socialist rhetoric, despite  millions of tons of environment-endangering  hot air about inclusive growth, despite promises of meritocracy and being “in this together”, the United Kingdom remains a strong and stable plutocracy. Our politicians haven’t let us down, with even poor MPs being caught attempting to acquire plutocratic mannerisms, even if that meant being forced to steal from the taxpayer. Needless to say, there are side-effects, such as poverty, debt, homelessness and misery for the masses, but that’s the price they have to pay for growth and “reducing the deficit”.

#NHS Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is probably a very impressive chap – especially to politicians who are impressed by letters both BEFORE and AFTER one’s name. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this eminently qualified DOCTOR is now viewed as the Mutt’s Nuts on NHS ORGANISATION & MANAGEMENT! (It is called the “Halo Effect” which simply means that if someone exhibits expertise in one area, it is naturally assumed that they can tackle ANYTHING. In this case, it is  a doctor as a management expert!) Sir Brucie on O&M is the equivalent of me attempting a hip replacement or open heart surgery….and I’ve watched HOUSE! ……………..I  used to serve on the NHS MHRA  committee – me and loads of eminent medics. I can tell you that from an organisational point of view, the ones I spoke to did not know their bottom from a hole in the ground….and they didn’t want to! Another screw-up by the No 10 Senior Common Room? Or (hopefully) this will be YET another report which they ignore.

Meanwhile, Miliband Minor jumped off the creaking Energy Bandwagon and landed on the next one to come along: The Water Companies. He said: “The water industry needs to be scrutinised to ensure that it is not ripping-off customers.“……… SCRUTINISED?!! Well, I’ve just completed the exercise and can confirm that yes….we are being ripped off. (It took 5 minutes!)………. Now what?

There’s yet another example of the exhortary but meaningless language used by the Prime Minister and favoured by senior Coalition politicians. It is designed to give the impression of imminent action but in fact, is meaningless. This is the PM’s spokesman on the subject of senior NHS staff who are made redundant, handed hundreds of thousands of pounds in severance pay and then re-hired by the NHS on similar packages: “The PM is very clear that we need to show more restraint in senior managers’ pay and if these people are returning, we should be claiming back some of the money.”….You may recall similarly fine words of “restraint” and “clawing back” in respect of bankers’ bonuses……………. How’s that going, Dave? Politico-twaddle………. http://www.spygun.uk/richard-ruzyllo/the-mess-we-were-left-yawn

WHAT has the British government done to help small businesses which it can definitely say has helped? Apart from a couple of “schemes”………. NOTHING.  Yesterday, the Chinese government announced that it would streamline its corporate registration system to ease market access and encourage social investment. Minimum registered capital requirements for limited liability companies, one-person limited liability companies, as well as joint-stock companies with limited liability will be scrapped. According to National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese SMEs provide more than 80% of jobs in Chinese cities. The number of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises represent 99.7 % of the total in China. Here in  the UK, we prefer our earnings to be generated by “intangibles” such as banking and insurance. THAT makes our economy VERY vulnerable to the vagaries of the global economy.

A rather long “No shit, Sherlock?!” moment – but then again, it is from a EU policymaker: “We basically arrived at a point where transferring more power to the European Commission and ‘Brussels’ in general to dictate national policies is no longer something that people are ready to agree with….”

Heads I win, Tails I….er…win?

The American Dollar is on its way up because everyone has woken up and is rushing towards it as fast as they can. Why this sudden (but expected) reaction? Because no matter what happens in the USA as a result of the battle between the Republicans and Obama, the dollar is the one world currency which will always trade and will always bounce back.

Never mind that hundreds of thousands of poorly-paid American employees aren’t being paid, never mind that America is quite likely to default on its debts as a result of Congress possibly blocking the raising of the $17 trillion debt ceiling. Those things just DO NOT matter. Why? Because of the numbers.

To every other country on Earth a debt ceiling of $17 trillion seems beyond huge! It appears to be beyond management…but you have to remember that the USA’s  annual economy is worth approximately the same amount! In addition,  the worldwide trade in the American dollar is about $4 trillion PER DAY  and even though much of the trade is by algo-trading, such vast volumes mean that there is little chance of business suddenly drying up!

The dollar trading volume  every FOUR DAYS is roughly equivalent to America’s entire debt! So, even if the USA defaults on its debt, the worldwide dollar trade will continue.

A very high percentage of these trades will be in derivatives and high-speed meta trading. Whatever the views are on this modern equivalent of the three-card trick (blink and you’ll miss it), as the owner of the world’s reserve currency, America can get away with economic choices and techniques open only to it.

Whatever happens in the States, the global economy, especially within the Eurozone, will remain fragile.

The American economy has given a very good impression of having been in recovery for several quarters but the maximum collateral damage that the current Washington crisis can cause, will be to make the ersatz recovery look even more unconvincing. That’s unlikely to give the Fed, Obama or even the Republicans too much of a headache.

The whole affair will not be dealt with by means of finesse or any subtle change in policy. It will be the equivalent of a fiscal sledgehammer! Uncle Sam’s customary solution to any issue!

We live in a  “meta-money” driven financial system which sits above (and below) the “real” economy. It manages to both influence and to be driven-by the real economy which gave birth to it (that’s the old-school economy which is based on profits derived from either manufacturing or providing a service).

Stockmarkets, whose original purpose was to raise capital to fund business are now no more than piles of gambling chips to be plundered (mainly) through the medium of high-frequency trading – a mutation of “simple” capitalism.

The goings-on in America will generate billions – no matter what the outcome, because bets are currently being placed on all scenarios and outcomes. In the main, it will be Republicans or, strictly-speaking Republican-supporting business placing the bets.

That’s because Washington’s political agenda is being driven by right-wing business because it is they who are funding the Republican right-wing and ultimately, their agenda is very straightforward. They want Obama out. The Republican left-wing has to go along for the ride.

The outcome will be similar to that which has developed in the United Kingdom over the last few years – big business (specifically Banking) and not the electorate will drive the political agenda.

They have the chips AND the cash.

(The IMF’s Christine Lagarde has just made the customary panic announcement that the Americans should sort themselves out. “Vite! Allez!!” ….Calm down, love…let them finish the game.)

Science used to be the triumph of humanity over superstition but we appear to have forgotten how powerful superstition is.

Science is now hostage of the Global Warming superstition. The interesting twist is that we (the human race) have been taught that we are an eternal being. That has given us a certain degree of arrogance which in turn has made us believe that 150 years of human industrial activity has affected the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth to such an extent that there will be irreversible changes.

CLIMATE CHANGE: The Human Race will probably continue to burn Fossil Fuels for another hundred years. Therefore, unless, the scientists can PROVE that any “damage” done to the Earth will be irreversible, then set against the 4.5 BILLION year age of the planet, it is an irrelevance.

HOUSING BENEFIT: So far ONE-THIRD of households affected by the Coalition Government’s reduced Housing Benefit are said to be in arrears with their rent. Eventually, Local Authorities will HAVE to step in – in spite of the fact that many have a non-eviction policy. Then, the Local Authority will have to ask the Government for more cash to balance its books and to provide alternative housing. The circle will have been squared. This government is ONLY looking at its own balance sheet when making what are life-changing decisions on behalf of the people affected. Luckily for them, the Socio-Economic groups which are suffering are unlikely to be Conservative voters so in effect, they don’t matter because they won’t affect the Tory vote. Meanwhile, the Tories’ self-styled social conscience, the Libdem Party, can do nothing but stand on the sidelines and wring its hands whilst dispensing warm words. Fiscal decisions are all well and good but what about the social aspects of say a small family which has had the same neighbours for years, gone t0 the same pub, the same playgroup and a which has a support structure within an area it knows, being booted out to be rehoused elsewhere?  Just so that an arrogant Works and Pensions Secretary can score a few Brownie Points and a desperate Chancellor can squirrel away a few more quid into empty Treasury coffers. The so-called Bedroom Tax will do for David Cameron what the Poll Tax did for Margaret Thatcher. A scrapping of this nonsense-attempt at Social Engineering would be one U-turn which would be very, very welcome.

UK Economy: I told you so!! But would you listen?!

“WTF?!”

A single  swallow doesn’t make a summer! Now is the time to calm down and  inject a bit of realism into the equation!

(Reuters) – British industrial output was flat in July and there was a marked deterioration in the trade balance, official data showed on Friday, taking some of the shine off recent strong economic data.

Output in the industrial sector – which makes up about one sixth of Britain’s economy – had been expected to edge up by 0.1 percent according to a Reuters poll.

The narrower category of manufacturing rose by 0.2 percent, just short of forecasts for a 0.3 percent rise, although June’s figure was revised up, the Office for National Statistics said.

Signs of a surprisingly strong recovery in Britain’s economy have come thick and fast in the past few months. Growth of 0.7 percent in the second quarter could be trumped by an even stronger reading in the third.

The Bank of England pledged last month to keep interest rates on hold until unemployment falls to 7 percent, something it does not envisage happening for another three years, but the strength of recent data has encouraged traders to bet rates might rise as soon as next year.

Separate figures showed Britain’s goods trade deficit widened to 9.85 billion pounds in July after narrowing sharply in June. Economists had forecast a gap of 8.153 billion pounds.

Including services, in which Britain traditionally runs a surplus, the trade deficit widened to 3.085 billion pounds. That was more than double its level in June and the worst reading since October 2012.

Exports to non-European Union countries plunged by nearly 16 percent, the biggest monthly fall since January 2009.

Monthly trade figures are volatile but July’s figures may dampen hopes that Britain’s economic recovery is broadening and moving onto a more sustainable footing.

(Reporting by Christina Fincher and William Schomberg)

In the last seven days, President Obama has greatly diminished the American Presidency and it will need a lot of work to regain the level of awe and veneration which the Presidency enjoyed under such “greats” as Roosevelt, JFK  and even Clinton.  The President has gone from “Hail to the Chief” to “Hello Committee member”. Meanwhile, Obama the orchestra conductor sits in the comparative safety (and anonymity) of  the Whitehouse Wind section….awaiting events.

THIS WEEK’S BANK RIP-OFF: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it had reached a deal with insurer CPP and 13 high street banks and credit card issuers to pay customers compensation of up to 1.3 billion pounds for mis-sold credit card insurance.

It is the latest mis-selling scandal to hit Britain’s banks, which have been forced to increase their capital buffers partly because of huge compensation payments.

“Seven million customers, who between them bought and renewed about 23 million policies, will soon receive a letter from CPP giving more information on the process,” the FCA said in a statement .

“The involvement of the banks and credit card issuers reflects the fact that they introduced customers to CPP’s products and so must share responsibility for putting things right.”

Banks are still paying out compensation for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI), which so far has totalled well over 10 billion pounds.

The Financial Services Authority, which was replaced by the FCA in April, fined CPP 10.5 million pounds in November for mis-selling. Card protection insurance costs about 30 pounds a year, with identity protection about 80 pounds annually.

The FCA said customers were given misleading and unclear information about the policies and ended up buying protection they did not need.

The banks, credit card issuers and CPP have agreed to a “scheme of arrangement” which seeks to make processing claims simpler and easier, subject to High Court approval.

The banks and credit card issuers are Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Canada Square Operations, Capital One, Clydesdale Bank, Home Retail Group Insurance Services, HSBC, MBNA, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, Santander, RBS and Tesco Personal Finance.

The FCA said the first payments were not due until spring 2014.

The West continues to believe that Democracy means “one man one vote”. Unfortunately, unless several other factors are in place BEFORE the pointless rush to the ballot box, Democracy will NOT work. Democracy works for us because we already have the sub-structure in place. That is to say: 1. A free Press  2. A independent judiciary 3. A reasonable and largely corruption-free civil service 4. A taxation system in which the majority of the population participates and finally 5. Some sort of predictable freely-given support system for society’s weakest. The answer is NOT a large tin box with a slot. Mugabe continues to prove that point as do the most recent catastrophies of Iraq, Libya and Egypt. Here in the UK, the perception is that the Coalition government has begun to dismantle at least TWO of the five pillars of Democracy. It does so at its peril.

The Ministry of Defence spent £70 million on making over 2000 people redundant. It is now rehiring about half of them at a projected cost of £40 million! Obviously part of the government’s job-creation scheme! Perhaps the government should re-prioritise. For instance, the government spends £500 million per year on press, marketing and campaigning with an additional £500 million on “Communications” (spin) . At £60 million, the biggest Comms spender is the NHS. In total, government departments have about 3,300 spin doctors.

Economic “Growth”?

Politicians are currently gadding about, scattering statistics like confetti and pointing everyone at figures which are not preceded by a minus sign!

It’s time we paused, drew breath and took a closer look at the figures. Before we do, let’s have a go at putting some general perspective on the numbers. In Europe, it is being reported that the E17 (Eurozone) and the E27 (EU) have “grown” by 0.3% and that the figures signal a recovery!! A few points about what 0.3% actually means.

3% means THREE parts in a HUNDRED, so 0.3% means Three parts in a THOUSAND……but there’s more! The percentage change being quoted is the change in nothing more than the PREVIOUS QUARTER (see the top of the table above). That means that even if the figure was -100 and it changed to -99.7, THAT would be a POSITIVE growth of o.3%.

However, if you look at the PERCENTAGE CHANGE COMPARED TO THE SAME QUARTER LAST YEAR (the right-hand column above), the figures remain negative ( -o.7% and -o.2%).

France returned to growth in the second quarter of 2013, boosted by stronger domestic demand, after two straight quarters of decline. However, France’s reported increase in consumer spending is largely as a result of increases in energy prices. It was not an “en-masse” dash to the shops!

Meanwhile, Germany’s economy grew 0.7% in the second quarter (compared to the previous quarter), and when annualised, it was the fastest growth of all the world’s advanced economies.

The Netherlands, whose government has been a strong supporter of austerity, reported a a second-quarter contraction of 0.2%, confirming its fourth straight quarter of negative growth. It remains in recession.

Portugal reported a quarterly growth of 1.1%,  Spain -0.1% and Italy -0.2%.

Compared with the same quarter of 2012, the United Kingdom is showing a growth of 1.4%, the same as the United States.

These figures are NOT a sign of the end of the Financial Crisis. That crisis remains firmly in place, with many of the figures indicating little more than the continued recovery from a particularly bad  and exceptionally long winter……………… a weather-related catch-up.

The second phase of the government’s Help to Buy scheme – which offers state-backed mortgage guarantees – will come into force from January. Despite criticism from the IMF,  the government has insisted the scheme will last for three years. Data released yesterday showed the first phase of the scheme, which offers interest-free loans on new-build purchases, was proving popular with buyers.  However, the associated rapid increase in property prices does suggest that they government may have created a housing “bubble”. The Governor of the Bank of England has played down growing concerns about rising house prices….. but continuing signs that the market is overheating could force the Bank of England to raise interest rates from their current 0.5 percent earlier than planned.

EUROZONE: In spite of record unemployment, its corporate profitability under intense pressure and fiscal policy being tightened further in 2014, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has welcomed France’s second-quarter data (GROWTH of 0.5%), as a sign that the French economy had exited recession. A TYPICAL Politician’s extrapolation of ANY positive figure.

HOUSE PRICES are on their way up again, driven by “easy money” being handed to the banks. There is now a strong air of déjà vu, as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) once again FOLLOWS the market and fails to value properties realistically and allows its members to merely confirm asking prices. This ALWAYS happens when lenders want a high Loan-to-Value ratio. The current market is “Lender-driven” with a compliant RICS back in its role of “bank-lackey”. Man-up boys! Learn to say “No!”

The UK economy may well be recovering on paper but it will take YEARS for the benefits to filter through to be felt by the man in the street, in the form of a raised standard of living. The latest craze for zero-hours contracts continues, coupled to little career progression and the acceptance of lower and lower pay, merely to create corporate recovery will NOT lead to a real economic recovery. Corporate profits are NOT an  economic recovery. The government appears to be managing the wrong end of the process.

I have a request of all #UKIP supporters and members. When someone accuses your Party of not having any views  or policies beyond Europe, do NOT simply direct them to the website without having read it yourself. You too should take the time to study the policies on Education, Pensions, Energy, Transport etc. This of course does NOT apply to bald members with tattoos and “the attitude”, who follow any faint aroma of racism or xenophobia. We don’t expect you to confuse yourself….but if you can find someone who can read the website out loud to you………………you may be surprised.

Last April , the United Kingdom’s Beloved Leader Cameron said that he expected immigrants to learn English because there were still many who could neither speak nor read English. So….what was the point of sending vans out in London with messages in ENGLISH. Was it just for the benefit of the media and the electorate (and Conservatives who had emigrated to planet UKIP)? By his own admission, most of the “intended” audience would not have been able to read the messages anyway, no matter how big the lettering!  شكرا

A “No shit, Sherlock?!” moment from Greece’s Finance Minister Stournaras:  “The Eurozone needs an economic policy which combines fiscal consolidation and growth.” He obviously felt that he was on a roll because he followed up that insight with: “I have set two conditions for Greece to access the bond markets. The first is a primary surplus and the second one is a return to growth.”

Self-styled spokesman for the gay community and royal butt-kisser, Stephen Fry is encouraging  United Kingdom athletes  to boycott the next Winter Olympics and the IOC to ban the games because he’s unhappy at the Russian attitude to gays.   He’s written to both David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee and compared 2014 Sochi winter games with the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the Russian persecution of gays to the Nazi persecution of Jews. Fry himself should get the ball rolling by not attending the next Chekhov play, cutting down on the Beluga, Blini  and Stoli and certainly wiping all the Russian classics from his iPad. As the years march on, St Stephen is beginning to behave more and more like a dotty old interfering maiden aunt with too many unused pads of  Basildon Bond in her bureau………. Stick to being patronising and smug, Stevo!!  (The official Russian attitude towards gays IS medieval and quite abhorrent but what about countries such as Saudi Arabia and many others? A hissy fit and a Fryflounce are NOT the way forward.)

Mark Carney, the new BoE Governor is to be congratulated for his forthright and unequivocal (and short) announcement today. Compare that to the sort of nonsense which the former Governor used to serve up: ‘We are navigating through turbulent waters, with the risk of a storm heading our way from the continent….We don’t know when the storm clouds will move away…. The eurozone is tearing itself apart’…… Carney looks as if he is going to be a bit heavier on facts and figures than Merv. That is just what we need and hopefully, our government, especially Chancellor Gideon will learn the lesson. Here is one of his own painful attempts: ” But while Britain has left intensive care, we still need to secure the recovery – and make sure we continue to treat the ailments that brought us low in the first place.”  **Cringe**

The United Kingdom’s Bank Base Rate is to remain where it is (at 0.5%) until the unemployment rate is below 7%  

 TWO QUESTIONS: 1. Can we believe government statistics?  2. Where are the extra 750,000 jobs coming from? THAT is what is needed for unemployment to fall below 7%……….. So far this government has had NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER on the overall unemployment figure which was  2.5 million when they came to power in May 2010 and is STILL 2.5 million.

UK Pension Funds invest in Gilts. Quantitative Easing by the Bank of England has depressed the yield on Gilts so pension fund managers are forced to look for higher-yielding investments which, by definition, are higher-risk. Currently, pension scheme deficits for companies in the UK’s FTSE 100 companies are at about £43.9 BILLION, with not enough fund assets to cover Pension Scheme obligations. What is euphemistically called the Pension Funding Gap. That means that company pension funds have neither the assets nor the cash to pay their current projected pension liabilities. A good start (apart from making an example of a few Actuaries!) would be for future governments to stop the constant legislative and regulatory changes which have blighted the pensions industry for the last thirty years.

Here’s a quote on the United Kingdom’s apparent economic recovery from Jens Larsen, a former Bank of England economist who now works at the Royal Bank of Canada. “The absence of those strong headwinds and the presence of some tail winds from accommodative policy is what is driving this growth.” ….I thought I’d share that with you. Answers on a postcard, please! However, much as I hate to disagree with an economist (because we remember ALL of their  their wonderful predictions): This transient and “virtual” recovery, like so many others IS FUELLED BY DEBT (expensive money) on the consumer side (you and me) and Quantitative Easing (cheap money) on the Banking and Investment side…..Déjà vu anyone?

The last time the Labour Party voted for a new leader, one of the unions sent ballot papers to its members inside an envelope bearing Ed Miliband’s photo, with this message from the union’s General Secretary: “I believe that Ed Miliband is the person best placed to deliver for GMB members. That is why GMB is asking you to put him as your top preference on the enclosed ballot paper.” No wonder that David Miliband appeared a little miffed. The unions made the Labour Party and now they’re breaking it ………..and I haven’t even mentioned Falkirk! Oops!

In 2012, 75%  (yes!!) of properties sold in Inner London were sold to foreign nationals – mostly from the Far East. Many new-builds are being sold off-plan. This causes TWO things: It compounds our housing shortage and inflates property prices. The government’s housing policy of providing cheap homes is a myth.

More than three quarters (77%) of British businesses support a referendum on EU membership, compared with 14% against and 9% unsure. This is among the key findings of the latest EU Business Barometer report from the British Chambers of Commerce, which gathered responses from nearly 4,000 businesses across the UK.

A new CBI Report entitled TOMORROW’S GROWTH concludes that relying solely on traditional university courses will not meet the growing demand for proper degree-level technical skills. Consequently, the UK will fail to close its chronic skills gaps without urgent action to boost advanced learn-as-you-earn training and more business-designed degrees. The CBI also warns that businesses need to tackle the perception that A-levels followed by a three-year residential course is the only route to a good career. We in the United Kingdom  have created a very high population of “average” prospective British employees, with not enough at either the skilled white-collar level, or the skilled blue-collar end. All you have to do is look at the ethnic origin of surgeons and doctors within the NHS  and the nationalities of those doing what we in the UK call the “menial” jobs. Indian and Chinese at one end, with Polish and other European at the other… with a sprinkling of other “ethnics”. Where are the Brits? They are middle-management! Our biggest problem is our own self-perception and that well-known national superiority complex.

The total number of job vacancies on EURES, the European job mobility portal, is currently 1,488,898, with 800,000 of the job vacancies in the United Kingdom. Therefore UK jobs up for grabs total more than all those in other EU states put together!  Isn’t it lucky that our Coalition government has created “over ONE MILLION new jobs”(Chancellor Gideon this week)…………… http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/417783/Come-and-take-our-jobs-Britain-tells-EU-workers

The new Deputy Governor of the Bank of England is to be JOHN CUNLIFFE. Currently, he’s the British Permanent Representative to the EU. As Head of the European and Global Issues Secretariat from 2007, he used to be  Gordon Brown’s Advisor on International Economic Affairs and on the EU. He remained in the post until 2012 when he moved to Brussels.

Greece: it’s never as simple as you think!

Greece has one more condition to meet to get the next 2.5 billion euro (2.15 billion pounds) sub-tranche of bailout money from the temporary euro zone bailout fund EFSF on July 29, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Wednesday.

“Greece has satisfactorily implemented the prior actions required for the release of the next disbursement under the financial assistance programme, except for one action whose adoption by the Greek Parliament needs to be completed by Thursday, 25 July,” Dijsselbloem said in the statement.

“Subject to confirmation of compliance with the last outstanding prior action, national procedures may thereafter be finalised and are expected to be completed by 29 July,” the statement said.

“Once this process has been satisfactorily concluded, the EFSF will be authorised to release the first sub-tranche of the next instalment, amounting to 2.5 billion euros,” it said. (R)

After yesterday’s Royal nonsense  – as the world’s media showed us what seemed like an endless broadcast of some nicely varnished double swing doors (lovely brass plates!) at St Mary’s Hospital, is anyone considering pitching a reality programme entitled “Door Watch”? Presented, of course by the matchless Queen of Tedium, Kay Burley. Meanwhile, congratulations to Wills and Kate on a job well done!

LIBOR BANDITS: Yesterday in the USA, Sacramento County filed a major lawsuit against some of the world’s largest banks, accusing them of manipulating LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate) in order to gain profits at the county’s expense. The lawsuit accuses the  Bank of America, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase and a several others of manipulating the interest rate. Sacramento County is the 15th US Government agency to file suit over LIBOR. Meanwhile, over here in the UK, because politicians and (dare one say it) lawyers don’t understand LIBOR and because we never prosecute anyone in financial services unless they are foreign, both the British Bankers Association which used to set LIBOR or the hurriedly dismantled Financial Services Authority will get away with it, while those formerly in charge move to the safe high-ground of other overpaid executive jobs and/or directorships…with the odd knighthood or gong thrown in.

EUROPE: The relentless flow of pre-holiday good news continues as France returns to growth, as a survey suggests that “optimism” among industrial firms has risen to its highest level for over a year. This time it’s France’s Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici who has declared that “the recession is over”. Spain sees its slump easing, with the good news that in Q2, its economy shrank by only 0.1%! Ireland’s residential property prices have posted their first annual rise since 2008. Tomorrow the United Kingdom’s GDP figure will, no doubt be “higher than expected”……….Those elusive (and sometimes imaginary) green shoots of recovery are springing up everywhere! When we’re all back from our hols, the politicians’ only worry is to keep the economic pot simmering until Christmas. Then we can start again.

It is NOT the done thing to ever bring senior politicians back into government, especially if they’ve served under more able leaders. Ken Clarke was very much the exception – but then again, he is an experienced Bilderberger and sometimes it is better to follow orders. However, David Cameron should consider breaking with tradition – for no particular reason, other than the fact that the current crop of oiks is showing signs of terminal incompetence.