Thursday, 31 January 2013

OFT & fuel pricing

A report published yesterday by the OFT has said that they have found no evidence that fuel price rigging is in place, they do not agree with motorists who have complained about fuel prices and they also say that the evidence does show that when crude oil comes down in price the market follows suit.

I must admit that this is not what I would have expected, however it is very clear from their report. Does this mean that the media are yet again going to be blamed for stirring up trouble in this market or are motorists just not prepared to pair fair prices for fuel?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Tony Blair award

Poland has given Tony Blair an award for getting a huge chunk of their population into Britain and into work. Amazing!

A lot of people use the Polish immigration as an excuse to moan about the benefit system, but apparently according to records publicly available, the percentage of Poles claiming benefit is miniscule.

Tony Blair didn't collect the award personally, presumably he was at home writing a thank you letter...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


The next phase of the major high speed rail link has been announced and there is more tribulation now than ever before.

We have been asking for infrastructure projects and now we have one, we complain. It is unbelievable.

However, who are these people who are complaining?

The politicians are not complaining, business leaders are not complaining, Union leaders are not complaining, it is rumoured that 100,000 new jobs will be created.

So when the media says we are up in arms, who are they talking about?

Monday, 28 January 2013

A new broom

Shortly there will be a new governor at the Bank of England and he is reportedly looking at how we measure inflation.

Economists often discuss whether the CPI measures inflation accurately.  But how can that discussion mean anything when economists have never even explained what the term ‘inflation’ means in an economy where product quality changes rapidly, and where new products are constantly introduced.  Is it the amount of extra income one needs to maintain constant utility?  If so, then we need to define utility.

If you have an adverse supply shock, then inflation should rise.  If inflation falls despite an adverse supply shock, then you have both an adverse supply shock and an adverse demand shock.  Both would be contributing to higher unemployment. But they keep telling us unemployment is falling, really? What happens when all those temporary, part time Olympic posts end, there is going to be a shock to the system.

The country with the least inflation is Japan, a country still in the throes of deflation, I wonder how they would measure inflation now?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Border Agency = Fail

A box of records has been found in Sheffield sent from Croydon with the specific purpose of being lost. It didn't work as the Inspectors found it.

The Minister in charge says it is a disgrace, but we are getting to grips with the situation. We heard this last year and the year before. How long does it take for a government department to get a grip? It appears that it takes 10 years for people to appeal, perhaps he thinks it is permissible to wait 10 years before getting into action!

The whole department needs to be changed root and branch and that means everyone...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Germany imports

It appears that Germany, the powerhouse of Europe, is now importing 'more' goods & services from Britain than ever before.

If you look at both exports and imports, the Euro zone economies do more business with the UK than any other country, including the US. On average, we accounted for nearly 14% of Euro zone exports between 2007 and 2011 and just over one-tenth of its imports.

The latest figures show that only 37% of German imports and exports in the first three-quarters of 2012 were with other Euro member states, down from more than 45% when the Euro started in 1999.

I have always been pro Europe, geographically we are part of Europe, economically we are part of Europe as well as being part of the global economy, we are just not part of the Euro which will need strong political union, it is only politically we are not part of Europe, which is something that should be addressed.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Euro hypothetical

The Prime Minister, David Cameron has just given "that" speech.

It is very difficult to sum up in a few words but it is clear to me that he was trying to get the message across that he wanted Europe to change not just for Britain but for everyone in Europe.

It had been suggested that this was going to be a platform for announcing the referendum and it was. It has been said that "if" the conservatives win the 2015 election, there will be an 'in / out' referendum in 2018, and he has now stated that.

However, what he has stressed this morning is that he hopes Europe will wake up to the change that is needed so that when the referendum arrives, we the people will be able to vote yes.

I expect that when critics start to debate this subject and they are asked by the media will you vote ‘out’ if there are no changes, very few political type people will openly say.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Diver out, no funding

Peter Waterfield was identified as one of these athletes based on potential for success at the Rio Olympics, however, his funding has been cut by the swimming governing body.

Peter Waterfield says there are too many people at the top earning over the top and not making decisions to earn the huge rewards.

The response was "We will do everything we can to support Peter who is a fantastic ambassador for the sport. But we have to keep our focus on Rio as instructed by UK Sport."

Pigs in the trough syndrome...

Monday, 21 January 2013

British involvement in aggression

Does Mali raise the question of will we send in the troops, again?

There is going to be two sides from a general debate, yes & no. However, I think we need to look at the bigger picture of the world today, in connection with terrorism.

Mali borders Algeria, where the gas station hostages were taken, Algeria borders Libya which has a power vacuum, Libya borders Egypt which appears to be having a second revolution, Egypt borders Israel which is threatening Iran and borders Iraq & Syria, and Syria borders Turkey, welcome to Europe.

That is only nine countries out of more than 200 in the world and it appears to me that we are now, as a people, more aggressive than we have ever been in the past.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Lagarde List

There is an explosive tax scandal in Greece at the moment - it follows from the so-called Lagarde List - a dossier of suspected tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts, it was passed by the then French finance minister, Christine Lagarde to her Greek counterpart George Papaconstantinou in 2010.

It seems that three of his relatives were on that list, but at some stage were removed from it. It puts Papaconstantinou at the centre of this scandal.

Papaconstantinou's "attempts to cover up what he did was almost comical" a local Athenian said, but added "now the political system has found the perfect scapegoat".
It is another world...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Far away...

There are rumours that Argentina are going to plant a flag on the Falklands in a stunt. How will Britain react to that?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dodgy bankers

Goldman Sachs has abandoned a plan which would have allowed bankers to benefit from a cut in the top rate of income tax by delaying UK bonus payments until after the new UK tax year.

The idea – first reported by the Financial Times on Sunday – would have seen the payment of the deferred portion of Goldman’s UK bonuses from the last three years delayed from February until early April, potentially saving bankers tens of millions of pounds in tax.

Maybe we are now starting to topple the big guys, or is it just a phase?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Europe -- in or out?

The Prime Minister is going to make a speech about whether we are going to stay in Europe or not on the 22nd January, this Friday 18th.

I think this is a bad idea.

The British Empire no longer exists, we [as an Island race] are a very small part of this globe, we no longer have a manufacturing base, Britain can be classed as a service industry, so where would we be if we were not part of Europe?

Out in the cold...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Civil Service is out of control

It appears that downing street hears about policy decisions after the civil service has made them and usually by the media. This has come to light in a speech made by Steve Hilton [Dave Cameron's ex-policy advisor] in America to a group of students last week.

Policy should be made by the people we vote for which are politicians not by civil servants. You would think that in the 21st century we would be past this sort of nonsense...

Friday, 11 January 2013

BBC revamp

The BBC spent close to a £6 million of licence-fee payers’ money on the ill-fated rebuild. The £5.765 million finishing touches figure includes £3.2 million forked out for furniture and some £26,000 on “graphics”, presumably those aesthetically-pleasing billboards Lord Patten proudly did his TV pieces in front of at the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

The BBC are refusing to reveal how much they spent on individual decorative items, citing the feeble excuse that disclosure would weaken their “commercial bargaining position”.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Banks & cash - Part two

Perhaps the most striking characteristics of the agreement - which amends a draft first published in 2010 - is that banks will be allowed to include corporate bonds, some shares and high-quality residential mortgage backed securities in their permitted stocks of liquid assets.

This goes against the grain of central banking and regulatory orthodoxy. In particular, the inclusion of mortgage-backed securities will be seen by some as odd, since these proved to be wholly illiquid and unsellable in the summer of 2007.

If you believe that quantitative easing and the unprecedented creation of new money in much of the West - including the UK and US - risks debasing these assets over the long term, or if you believe that the credit worthiness of most Western governments is not what it was, then you would argue that banks are being encouraged to hold excessive stocks of assets that could end up becoming seriously and dangerously loss-making for them.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Banks & cash

Financial regulators and central bank governors from the world's biggest economies have made history by agreeing rules on the minimum quantities of cash and liquid or sellable assets that all banks must hold. It is an attempt to make banks less vulnerable to the kind of runs that shattered Northern Rock and Lehman Bros.

I still feel that Northern Rock should never have been saved, but that is another story.

There is an oddity at the heart of today's historic agreement by the oversight body of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which for the first time will impose new minimum requirements for the amount of cash and liquid assets that banks all over the world will have to hold.

The oddity is that most banks already hold considerably more than the new minimum requirement - but the reason they already pass this threshold is because we continue to live in strange and perilous times, with many Western economies parlously weak and the financial system still stressed.

As pointed out by Sir Mervyn King - the governor of the Bank of England who chairs the oversight body of the Basel Committee, which is known as the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS) - the fundamental cause of the crises at these banks and others was that they had too little capital to absorb losses.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Larry Ellison confused about the Cloud

Larry Ellison was on stage at Oracle OpenWorld [about 3 years ago] telling us that the Cloud was a meaningless fad. Fast forward to OOW 2012 and it would be easy to believe that Oracle invented the cloud. At OOW 2012 he openly stated Oracle started to write Fusion Apps for the cloud 7 before. Dude! That is not true. You initiated a program to rewrite Fusion Apps to be a browser-based replacement for EBS, which then happily coincided with the whole cloud thing at a later date.

This is not a criticism of Oracle’s current cloud offerings. If the post had just been one discussing the current and future cloud offerings that would be fine. It’s the mocking tone, suggesting we are all idiots for believing that Oracle were never anything but at the forefront of the cloud scene. Trying to spin Larry as a godfather of the cloud with statements like, “an industry segment he helped to create and in which he’s been immersed for 14 years”, is extremely disappointing.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Cross jobs again...

Employees from arms dealers and defence firms that have recently signed huge government contracts are currently working at the MoD. BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, who have been awarded billions of pounds worth of MoD contracts over the last few months, have five employees inside the department.

The MoD is also employing staff from Babcock, who were awarded a £65 million contract in December. It is worth noting that Babcock had a contract for the Government's "work programme" which I had to attend, but they lost it.

The full list of MoD employees on secondment from private firms that have recently signed multi-million pound contracts with the department:

3 BAE Systems employees- £1.2 billion contract signed in December
2 Rolls Royce employees – £1 billion contract signed in June
1 Babcock employee – £65 million contract in December
1 Carillion employee – £45 million deal last year
1 Lend Lease employee – £17 million deal in June
1 GVA employee- appointed to identify contractors for Deepcut relocation in July

Friday, 4 January 2013

Jobs for the boys

Tim Smith former head of the FSA [Foods Standard Agency] has moved from the committee to group technical director in Tesco.

Tesco has always resisted the need for traffic light labelling, a move that the FSA has been trying to get everyone involved in, now we know where the sticking point was...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

National Rifleman's Association

I've just found out that on Friday 14th December, 2012 on the NRA website, the following message appeared:-

"It's Friday, and this is your NRA news update. In Michigan gun owners with extra training will be allowed to carry concealed firearms in places such as schools and churches where they were previously off-limits. A bill that cleared both the House and Senate is now on its way to the Governor's desk for his signature."

Remember this is the very day of the shooting at the Sandy Hook school - coincidence?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Auld Lang Syne

I don’t do predictions, but it is popular with bloggers generally.

I suppose this means I think Chinese growth will keep plugging along at 8% plus, as that number seems to be embedded in market forecasts.  So if the markets are wrong then I will have also been wrong.  Ditto for any previous errors made by the market consensus.

This is also a time for New Year’s resolutions, but I am not in a position to be able to make one.

As I look back over the past 4 years of unemployment I see a steady deterioration in this country, they say that at the beginning of this centaury America took over from Britain as the great power, I do not think we will have to wait one hundred years for China to overtake America, especially after the new years debacle connected to the fiscal cliff.

I wonder what the average American thinks of their politicians which they have voted in to make policy and seem to be unable to make decisions...