Tag Archives: Peter Mandelson

What?! Mandelson for the IMF?

(Yes, yes! We ALL thought that it was a nose-bleed)

The Chinese have asked if Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson would be interested in THE  job at the International Monetary Fund!

Does a Pope crap in the woods?  Is the bear a Catholic?

It is difficult to understand the qualities that the Chinese admire in Western politicians. If you recall, they were great fans of President Richard Nixon, even after the Watergate bust. They’re obviously seeing something that is invisible to the Westerner.

As well as having been EU Trade Commissioner, Mandelson is our former Business Secretary and he is known as an excellent manager, administrator and shrewd political operator. So he does have (with apologies to Dominique Strauss-Kahn) previous form.

If the oleaginous Mandelson were to be handed the job ahead of sexy Christine Lagarde or bumbling  Gordon Brown, many, including our own Prime Minister would be reasonably happy – after all, Mandelson, in spite of his many foibles is a very smooth international wheeler-dealer.

Mind you, ‘ la cerise sur le gâteau’ would be that not-only the French but more importantly, Gordon Brown would throw all of their toys out of the pram.

French President Sarkozy is still developing his neo-Napoleonic image by having elbowed his way to the front of the NATO queue in order to enhance his recently acquired ‘decisive international statesman’ image by bombing Gaddafi. For balance, he and his wife are expecting a child. He has literally worked his nuts off in order to create a new shiny voter-friendly image for the forthcoming 2012 French presidential election. Make no mistake, the alleged DSK-rape affair is a massive bonus to his campaign.

Now he has the opportunity to install his “protégé” Christine Lagarde at the IMF. That will be yet another feather in his ‘chapeau’ plus Christine will be out of the way, charming bankers and politicians, thus removing herself from the local (French) political scene. Currently, Christine Lagarde is so popular in France  that if she decided to run for the French presidency, she would doubtless win.

Gordon Brown needs a job and when interviewed, he didn’t rule himself out – after all it’s £320,000 tax-free – he just tried to sound serious and statesmanlike. He’s definitely making a low-key play for the job. For instance, he had wasted no time in flying out to  South Africa, where he was launching a new High Level Panel on Education. Today’s interview had a backdrop of a classroom full of nicely polished black kids. That always goes down well with the media.

When asked about his candidature for the IMF job, he replied in his usual sparkly way “Any candidate to head the IMF needs to be appointed on merit”. When he said that, he probably didn’t realise that in that single sentence, he’d ruled himself out.

David Cameron would probably settle for anyone, as long as it wasn’t Gordon Brown – and for valid reasons. There is little doubt that Brown the Bully would try and ‘lord it’ over our  Coalition Government. After all, it is barely a year since he suffered his very public humiliation. Plus he does not possess the urbanity or chic of any of the other candidates. Management by Shouting does not go down well in the IMF environment and Brown has proved more than once that he is a natural backroom boy and not a figurehead.

Nowadays, the Chinese tend to get what they want. After all, even the mighty United States is in hock to them.

Right now, the Chinese want Mandy.

This is going to be a very interesting summer.

(While we’re waiting, Greece will just have to sign a few more IOUs.)


Blood Diamond.

“WTF?”

I am not a great fan of the banking industry but the reaction of the terminally ignorant to the appointment of the extremely talented Bob Diamond as Chief Executive of Barclays is  well…….annoying.

If an executive has been branded as the “unacceptable face of banking” by Peter “unacceptable face of politics” Mandelson, we should embrace, hug and welcome him.

Bob Diamond has just been appointed chief executive of the retail arm of Barclays Bank. Even our old favourite, Vince Cable – who himself has morphed from our favourite Opposition spokesman to Homer Simpson’s grumpy father has expressed unease at Bob’s appointment.

Since the phrase “Casino Banking” was coined, it seems that management, administrative and motivational skills have taken a back seat to name-calling,  politicians’ prejudices and sloganism.

Let’s get one thing straight – Barclays Bank belongs to its shareholders – (Bob Diamond has £65 millions’-worth of Barclay’s shares) and it is up to the shareholders to decide who runs the business on their behalf. Not a has-been grubby politician such as Mandelson who has spent his entire political life aspiring to be all the things that Diamond is and he isn’t.

As I have said many times before, banking used to be a business populated by uneducated functionaries with the imagination of  retarded isopod.  The revolution came in the mid-80s when a new breed of executive landed on Planet Bank. The MBA generation. They were (and still are) men and women who know their way around a balance sheet and are trained to run a business which makes money. They are what are called “Drivers”. They drive a business forward but in doing so, they do not take prisoners and they most definitely shoot the wounded.

By definition, they would make lousy Social Workers and rarely or never go into politics because they are far too clever. Good business executives rarely enter politics because they are too bright. Even Asda’s Archie Norman only lasted a few years at Westminster before realising that he was out of everyone’s league.

It is too late to whinge because the revolution has already taken place. Deal with it.  Starting in the 80s, the pipe-smoking old duffers with double-barrelled surnames who ran the banks quickly became an endangered species. Now (thankfully) they are almost extinct.

The so-called “old school” banker is dead.

Eddy Weatherhill, the former shopfitter and well known “bank victim” who is chairman of the self-established Banking Advisory Group has said  (referring to Bob Diamond’s appointment) that “the lunatics are taking over the asylum.” Mind you, he is always ready with a pre-prepared quote since he tried (and failed) to sue Lloyds Bank for £1million.

Vince Cable, the (Business Secretary) has dutifully been trotting out tired and worn-out phrases from his lexicon of banker insults as have many other politicians who themselves could not run a sweet shop.

So who is Bob Diamond? He has many attributes which we Brits do not appreciate but which many envy. He is American, he’s clever (Connecticut MBA), he has had an exceptionally successful career in the finance industry, he is rich (£100 million in the bank) and he has a very happy family life and most important of all, he is an excellent golfer (8 handicap).

Bitter  British politicians have presented Bob Diamond as some sort of dodgy American snake-oil salesman and not the cerebral corporate entrepreneur that he undoubtedly is.

He has a reputation as a great manager and motivator of Barclays most important asset – its people.

I have spent much of my professional life in banking and have met several Diamond-types. They are the management equivalent of a roller-coaster. Sometimes terrifying but ALWAYS exhilarating and if you do your job, they are the most generous bosses that you could ever work for.

Twenty-odd years ago, when I was  Citibanker, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Selander. He had been assigned to a small area within Citibank – EMEA – Europe , Middle East and Africa.  He was responsible for retail banking , Diners Club and insurance.

What did he know about British insurance? Nothing. What did he know about another Citibank acquisition, Scrimgeour Vickers which was a tired old stockbroking company operating out of a condemned building in the City. Nothing. There were many other aspects of his job that he had no experience of – and that is the whole point!

Firstly NO-ONE is ever really ready for that next promotion and secondly, if you are a good manager and leader, the actual product that your business is distributing is irrelevant. Whether it is pink teddy  bears or retail banking, the management skills that you need are   identical. Don’t let any ex-councillor, ex-barrister, ex-lecturer or ex-shopfitter Member of Parliament tell you otherwise.

Bob Diamond will do well. He’s a member of a very small and exclusive club of corporate leaders that SHOULD be running  a modern  bank. (We’ve had cheap British imitations of this rare breed but where are they now? All that  they have left is an exceedingly large pension and a knighthood).

Clarkson on Mandelson

 

The following article by Jeremy Clarkson was to be  published in the  Sunday Times but was  ‘pulled’ – probably by the subject of the article, Mandelson. 

But poor old  Darth Mandelson fails to appreciate how the blogsphere works and in no time  at all, the article is going viral all around the world.  Thanks to him, the article will now be read by several million people instead of just the  forty-three people who normally read the Sunday Times.

    
 
   Jeremy Clarkson Sunday Times 15/11/09:

   I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought all week, and I’m afraid I’ve
 
   decided that it’s no good putting Peter Mandelson in a prison. I’m afraid he
 
   will have to be tied to the front of a van and driven round the country
 
   until he isn’t alive any more. He announced last week that middle-class
 
   children will simply not be allowed into the country’s top universities even
 
   if they have 4,000 A-levels, because all the places will be taken by
 
   Albanians and guillemots and whatever other stupid bandwagon the conniving
 
   idiot has leapt on.
 
    
 
   I hate Peter Mandelson. I hate his fondness for extremely pale blue jeans
 
   and I hate that preposterous moustache he used to sport in the days when he
 
   didn’t bother trying to cover up his left-wing fanaticism. I hate the way he
 
   quite literally lords it over us even though he’s resigned in disgrace
 
   twice, and now holds an important decision-making job for which he was not
 
   elected. Mostly, though, I hate him because his one-man war on the bright
 
   and the witty and the successful means that half my friends now seem to be
 
   taking leave of their senses.
 
    
 
   There’s talk of emigration in the air. It’s everywhere I go. Parties. Work.
 
   In the supermarket. My daughter is working herself half to death to get good
 
   grades at GSCE and can’t see the point because she won’t be going to
 
   university, because she doesn’t have a beak or flippers or a qualification
 
   in washing windscreens at the lights. She wonders, often, why we don’t live
 
   in America ..
 
    
 
   Then you have the chaps and chapesses who can’t stand the constant raids on
 
   their wallets and their privacy. They can’t understand why they are taxed at
 
   50% on their income and then taxed again for driving into the nation’s
 
   capital. They can’t understand what happened to the hunt for the weapons of
 
   mass destruction. They can’t understand anything. They see the Highway
 
   Wombles in those brand new 4x4s that they paid for, and they see the M4 bus
 
   lane and they see the speed cameras and the community support officers and
 
   they see the Albanians stealing their wheelbarrows and nothing can be done
 
   because it’s racist.
 
    
 
   And they see Alistair Darling handing over £4,350 of their money to not sort
 
   out the banking crisis that he doesn’t understand because he’s a small-town
 
   solicitor, and they see the stupid war on drugs and the war on drink and the
 
   war on smoking and the war on hunting and the war on fun and the war on
 
   scientists and the obsession with the climate and the price of train fares
 
   soaring past £1,000 and the Guardian power-brokers getting uppity about one
 
   shot baboon and not uppity at all about all the dead soldiers in
 
   Afghanistan, and how they got rid of Blair only to find the lying twerp is
 
   now going to come back even more powerful than ever, and they think, “I’ve
 
   had enough of this. I’m off.”
 
    
 
   It’s a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained,
 
   Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral,
 
   trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual,
 
   mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set
 
   up shop somewhere else. But where?
 
    
 
   You can’t go to France because you need to complete 17 forms in triplicate
 
   every time you want to build a greenhouse, and you can’t go to Switzerland
 
   because you will be reported to your neighbours by the police and
 
   subsequently shot in the head if you don’t sweep your lawn properly, and you
 
   can’t go to Italy because you’ll soon tire of waking up in the morning to
 
   find a horse’s head in your bed because you forgot to give a man called Don
 
   a bundle of used notes for “organising” a plumber.
 
    
 
   You can’t go to Australia because it’s full of things that will eat you, you
 
   can’t go to New Zealand because they don’t accept anyone who is more than 40
 
   and you can’t go to Monte Carlo because they don’t accept anyone who has
 
   less than 40 mill. And you can’t go to Spain because you’re not called Del
 
   and you weren’t involved in the Walthamstow blag. And you can’t go to
 
    Germany … because you just can’t.
 
    
 
   The Caribbean sounds tempting, but there is no work, which means that one
 
   day, whether you like it or not, you’ll end up like all the other expats,
 
   with a nose like a burst beetroot, wondering if it’s okay to have a small
 
   sharpener at 10 in the morning. And, as I keep explaining to my daughter, we
 
   can’t go to America because if you catch a cold over there, the health
 
   system is designed in such a way that you end up without a house. Or dead.
 
    
 
   Canada’s full of people pretending to be French, South Africa’s too risky,
 
   Russia’s worse and everywhere else is too full of snow, too full of flies or
 
   too full of people who want to cut your head off on the internet. So you can
 
   dream all you like about upping sticks and moving to a country that doesn’t
 
   help itself to half of everything you earn and then spend the money it gets
 
   on bus lanes and advertisements about the dangers of salt. But wherever you
 
   go you’ll wind up an alcoholic or dead or bored or in a cellar, in an orange
 
   jumpsuit, gently wetting yourself on the web. All of these things are worse
 
   than being persecuted for eating a sandwich at the wheel.
 
    
 
   I see no reason to be miserable. Yes, Britain now is worse than it’s been
 
   for decades, but the lunatics who’ve made it so ghastly are on their way
 
   out. Soon, they will be back in Hackney with their South African
 
   nuclear-free peace polenta. And instead the show will be run by a bloke
 
   whose dad has a wallpaper shop and possibly, terrifyingly, a twerp in
 
   Belgium whose fruitless game of hunt-the-WMD has netted him £15m on the
 
   lecture circuit.
 
    
 
   So actually I do see a reason to be miserable. Which is why I think it’s a
 
   good idea to tie Peter Mandelson to a van. Such an act would be cruel and
 
   barbaric and inhuman. But it would at least cheer everyone up a bit.

Out of the Frying Pan

THE VERY UNDERSTATED GM HEAD OFFICE

The General Motors announcement that the deal to sell the company to Canadian spare parts manufacturer Magna went down very well with the unions yesterday morning. That is because Magna had previously announced that after the sale they would be cutting as many as 10,500. The unions’ and workers’ euphoria was very short-lived because GM has now announced that it will be cutting 10,000 jobs.

In addition, the German government is demanding from GM a repayment of a £1.3 billion bridging loan. The Germans had been happy with the proposed sale to Magna because there had been guarantees in place that none of the four German GM-owned Opel factories would be closed. Now it looks as if two of them will be shut down  and both the German unions as well as the workers and government are extremely unhappy with the new turn of events.

The German government knows that in order to preserve German jobs, it will have to hand over vast subsidies to GM. Opel employs 54,000 people in the European Union. 25,000 of them are in Germany. That could mean billions in subsidies being paid to GM not-only by the Germans but by five other European governments: Sweden, Russia, Poland, Belgium and Spain.

Inevitably, and in keeping with the current trend for government being involved in every aspect of commerce, Lord Mandelson is seeking an early meeting with GM in order to discuss the preservation of Vauxhall jobs here in the United Kingdom. The agreement with Magna had been to limit UK job losses to approximately 600. Most of these would be through natural wastage. The current Vauxhall workforce is 5500.

There are those who may be excused in thinking that this 11th hour decision by the GM board not to continue with the Magna deal was a surprise to everyone except the GM board. This could well have been a part of their strategy from Day 1. They now have five European governments in the palm of their hand because they know full well that any government’s primary concern these days will be to preserve jobs.  GM have not-only been handed a massive loan by the Germans but they subsequently saw the full extent of the help that would have been given to Magna when the purchase had been completed.

GM will  now be handed billions by out-manoeuvred governments. It all  looks like yet another example of the private sector out-guessing and out-thinking the politicians and a fine demonstration of the “too big to fail” principle.

 

Quantitative Easing

More money is to be injected into the banking system. £25 billion more  “quantitative easing” will be bunged into the banking system because apparently, the banking gods are not yet confident enough to lend money to commerce in any great quantity – except to large businesses.  In the previous three months, the Bank of England has spent £50 billion on QE and it will spend £25 billion over the next three months. This is being portrayed as some sort of success ” That rate at which we are pumping-in money has slowed”.

So far £200 billion has been “quantitatively eased” into the banks.

The total amount of QE which will be needed is a “guesstimate”. The Bank of England has never indicated when it will stop printing money which is surprising because banking has always been so exact in its computations. Nowadays, it is acting in order to “boost confidence” within the banking sector. Unfortunately, there is no measure for CONFIDENCE so they are most likely to  keep printing money  in the hope that at some indeterminate time in the future, the banking system will feel satiated enough to start doing its job.

Mervyn King is still talking in the sorts of generalities  which would put a Pier-end astrologer to shame. This is today’s attempt in Mr King’s letter to the Chancellor:

“Households have reduced their spending substantially and business investment has fallen especially sharply. A number of indicators of spending and confidence, however, suggest that a pickup in economic activity may soon be evident.”

The phrase “May soon be evident”  says it all. They don’t know.

QUANTITATIVE EASING: The Bank of England creates new money then it uses the new money  to buy bonds from banks and other companies (it GIVES them cash in exchange for IOUs).

Then the Bank of England hopes  (!) that the extra money will enter the economy via the banks in the shape of loans to both business and private consumers.  The lending to private individuals is to encourage them to spend and the lending to businesses is to encourage them to produce goods and services which the consumers will spend their money on.

Spending and NOT saving is what drives an economy . However, unless the confidence which the BoE is trying to instill in the banks is also felt by the spending public, NOTHING is going to happen and the stagnation will continue for the foreseeable future.

Currently, there is absolutely no evidence to show that Quantitative Easing is having any effect on the real economy. The nightmare scenario will be  an extremely healthy banking system but  a commercial and personal wasteland  in place of what used to be an economy.