Category Archives: investment

George ‘Greed is Good’ Soros is at it again.

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Writing in the Guardian, currency speculator George Soros has said sterling would “decline precipitously” if the Leave camp won Thursday’s referendum vote. Once again, he is talking as if sterling will be throwing itself over a cliff. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In effect what he is doing is putting the United Kingdom  on notice.

Currencies such as sterling  do not fluctuate by themselves. They fluctuate because people such as Soros and their armies of Forex screen monkeys bet against the currency in the pursuit of profit.

Nothing in the UK will have changed by midnight on Thursday – except Soros and his ilk kicking off a worldwide currency trading orgy : “Let the sell-off begin!”

We voters should understand that everything bad that Cameron and the Remain camp have been prophesying in the event of Brexit will have its roots in the future behaviour of the banking community. It is they and heads of companies who owe them money who are calling the shots – not the politicians. Just think back at the ‘suits’ who have been squealing the loudest for a Remain outcome!

Soros has warned of “serious consequences” for British jobs and finances if the country leaves the EU.

It is time we all called the bankers’ and the financiers’ bluff. They could quite easily have said that in the event of either a Remain vote OR Brexit, they would offer full support to our economy.

Even the Governor of the Bank of England has failed to confirm that he and his bank will do everything that they can to support the British economy irrespective of the referendum outcome.

They have failed us yet again.

Tax Return? Don’t Make me laugh!

THIS is a Tax Return:

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THIS is NOT a Tax Return:

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I will say this only once!

Cameron, Osborne and Johnson have NOT produced what are being referred-to as “Tax Returns”.

They have produced what look like simplistic spreadsheets which do not even look as if they’ve seen an accountant, never mind HMRC.

I wonder who is going to be the first to notice and ask for their audited accounts as well as PROPER Tax Returns.

Boris Johnson is taxed as both an employed as well as a self-employed person. He should be showing TWO sets of figures – but even he has been allowed to produce a schoolboy Excel spreadsheet.

Only the unfortunate Jeremy Corbyn has produced a Tax Return!

As usual, the British public had its opportunity and blew it!

Cameron & Gideon….don’t forget the wives!

In order to see number which give a true reflection of Cameron’s and Osborne’s incomes, their spouses tax returns should also be made public. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget having bestowed large amounts of cash on a loved one.

I am not suggesting for one moment that there may have been deliberate movement of assets or cash designed to defraud HMRC but these things can happen for totally innocent reasons…..so while we’re at it, perhaps it would be best to get it all over with in one go!

In addition, I would suspect that at least one of them is part-Schedule E and part Schedule D. That means that apart from PAYE deductions, there may be accounts!

The Shady in Waiting.

Now that Cameron has released a note of his tax affairs back to 2009 (yet another mistake), it won’t be long before  his income prior to that date will be demanded for scrutiny by an increasingly ferocious press.

His priority now should be to sack his ‘advisers’. They have advised him very badly in the past but on this occasion, have excelled themselves. Their talent this week appears to have consisted of no more than pouring increasing volumes of petrol onto the fire.

Yes, Dave, you were quite right, there are things which are a ‘Private Matter’. For instance: “I love my dad. I miss him every day. He was a wonderful father and I’m very proud of everything he did.’ is most certainly private in an awkwardly ‘icky’ sort of way! The tax affairs of a Prime Minister who, for several years, has been engaged in a ‘faux’ quixotic battle against tax avoiders with his sidekick Sancho Osborne are not.

Wrong again!

Of course, technically, Cameron and his family have done nothing wrong. What has been done for them with their tax (always blame the accountants!) is no more than ‘naughtiness with intent’, rather than downright badness – the sort of thing we would all do if we had an estate in excess of £325,000.

The next ‘We’re in this together’ clown who should be audited (although I prefer ‘dissected’) is the Shady-in-Waiting, George Osborne. Mind you, with that pedigree, his family is probably much better equipped for papering over the offshore cracks than Dave’s lot.

 

 

 

Painting Cameron into a corner!

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

What about the £300K that your old man left you, Dave? Do and your family not plan to spend it in the future? Have you already spent it? Where did it come from? A Nationwide Super-Saver account? A Halifax Deposit Account? BVI?

What about the residue of your old man’s estate? When your mother’s estate is finally assessed, are you agreeing that you will have no interest in that money either? Where exactly is the offshore stash which your father left? You know the one…the one that you and your immediate family have announced that you will not benefit from in the future.

(We have noticed that Cameron Snr’s Will is ONLY about UK assets.)

 

Note to self: We really should go easy on DC. The next thing we’ll see is him resigning and Osborne ordering a Pickford’s van to move his gear into No 10…… Too horrible to contemplate!

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!

Ill Gotten Gains, Dave?

Let’s not beat around the bush……London is the money-laundering capital of the world. In addition to that, it is Britain which has all those ex-colonial islands and protectorates scattered all over the world. They have become the tax-free-no-questions-asked home to all the world’s drug and crime proceeds as well as the repository for a sizeable chunk of the aid money the West continues to dish out to the Third World …..in the full knowledge that much of it will eventually land in a Swiss numbered account while it waits to be properly buried in some obscure Caribbean offshore trust.

London is the crossroads of such a high percentage of the ill-gotten gains of corrupt politicians and criminals, that if our government genuinely had the stomach to legislate in order to clean-up all this cash-trafficking, it would put such a large hole in our Gross Domestic Product that our economy would collapse.

Our manufacturing represents only 15% of our GDP. The rest relies far too heavily on virtual as well as  illegal money….but unfortunately, after so many years, the economy has become totally addicted to it. All that our senior politicians can offer is the traditional mixture of fine words, promises and inaction.

Cameron’s family is the personification of the moral-free, double-standard, innocence-feigning disgrace that Britain has become.

….and the consequences? The odds are that once again, nothing will change. The media will have lots of fun, the Panama Papers will be milked until we all become bored, the politicians will find something else to distract us with.

Anyone for blini?

Tax? That’s only for poor people!

Blairmore Holdings Inc, the offshore fund which the Prime Minister’s father, Ian Cameron helped to set up  has never paid any UK tax on its profits…..and that’s over a period of 30 years. Many of the fund’s clients are Brits.

(“Blairmore” is the name of the Cameron ancestral home in Aberdeenshire. It is now a Christian Healing Centre which Cameron Jnr may well need very soon……)

BURIED Steel News.

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This is what is happening while #Cameron dispenses platitudes:

German newspaper Rheinische Post has reported that Tata Steel is in advanced talks to buy a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s Steel Europe, sending shares in Thyssenkrupp 5.2 percent higher to the top of Germany’s DAX index …………Thyssenkrupp declined to comment, as did a European spokesman for Tata Steel.

Tata Steel wants to dump Port Talbot and get into bed with our German friends.

So much for DC’s negotiating skills.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-tata-steel-thyssenkrupp-idUKKCN0WY4E5

 

WEALTH WARNING!

Chancellor #Gideon is considering scrapping tax relief on Pension Contributions but then allowing tax-free access to savings upon retirement. This should be resisted by everyone. Not only is it a bad idea, borne of Treasury short-termism and a Chancellor with a singular lack of imagination but it is also a con…..He obviously has not learned the Tax Credits lesson and is obviously in a hurry – before the UK economy ‘tanks’ again.

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.

The IMF’s austerity conditions for #Ukraine, in return for cash handouts will prepare the country for membership of the EU’sIndentured Servitude Club”.….alongside near-neighbours such as Greece……. The short to mid-term future looks very bleak for members of the ISC……..Nowadays, the population-at-large paying for the crimes of its politicians and bankers appears to be the generally accepted norm!

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!

OOPS!!! China’s brokerages will come under government scrutiny after Everbright Securities mistakenly made 23.4 billion yuan($3.82 billion) of “buy” orders, collectively the biggest erroneous trade in Chinese stock market history. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) decided to widen its investigation of stock trading systems to all brokerages following its probe into a small Shanghai-based company that made the high-frequency trading software used by Everbright

GOLD BULLION is being surreptitiously moved out of London. It is being pulled out of London’s Exchange Traded Funds. It then goes to Switzerland where it is melted down and converted into small bars and coins. In the last eight months, about 800 TONS (!) have headed East. First to Switzerland and then Asia. As I said the other day – NOW is a good time to think about buying! Mind you, many gold MINERS are also looking very interesting at the moment.

What’s happened to PROPER Investment Banking?

As recently as 2009, banks’  investment fees were higher in Europe than in the United States. Nowadays, Europe is delivering only about a quarter of total investment activity, with the corresponding collapse in fee income.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) used to be the investment banker’s bread and butter but nowadays, European bankers appear to be either dozing at the wheel or they’ve left the building! Or perhaps they’ve forgotten how to do it!

In the last year American acquisitions were up by about a third whereas in Europe, they appeared to be too busy sitting on their cash, playing the markets and endlessly “rebuilding balance sheets”.

Before the 2007 crisis, the European dealmaking level was about three times as high as today. In the last year, only about $750 billion in deals was announced. Six years ago, it was over 2 TRILLION!

Europe’s global share of M&A activity is now less than one third – the lowest in 10 years. In fact NINE OUT OF TEN of the largest deals in the last 12 months have been executed by US teams.

Equity Capital Markets are showing the same trend.

In EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa), issuance (offering securities in order to raise funds) over the last 12 months has been about $145 billion. That is well down on last year. Compare that to an increase of nearly 50% in the USA!

Even Asia has overtaken EMEA which is now delivering only about 20% of global issuance. As recently as five years ago, it was nearly 40%.

The conclusion? European Corporates are waiting (they do have cash) and the banks have become lazy and preoccupied with their political debt games.

So what are the politicians doing to make the banks on this side of the Atlantic more profitable? Very little.

Unsurprisingly, subsidiarisation (breaking up or threatening to break up banks), “ringfencing”, bonus caps and financial transaction taxes are all serving to make Europe a structurally much less profitable region.

You see, the banks too are being made to suffer their own kind of austerity by the politicians.

Add to all that the 2013 craze of blatantly robbing bank depositors and the  outlook continues to feel depressingly negative.