Thursday, 28 February 2013

Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS have just announced a 5 billion loss for last year and are going to pay out 607 million in bonuses.

They Must Be Joking!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Eastleigh by election

I was not going to write about this because frankly it is nonsense, however, the public seem to have caught the "bash the Liberals" bug.

I do not disbelieve the women who have complaints and I do not disbelieve that the higher ups in the party ignored them, however, this chapter has come about because the Tories are leaning on certain media bosses so that they can have a free run in Eastleigh.

What amazes me is the locals bite so hard.

Watching on the news channel, it was like a soap opera. Place the Lib Dem candidate in the street and queue the public. Candidate explains about health, education, defence etc, and the public ask "so did Nick Clegg know then?"

Obviously several investigations are in progress, but it does look at face value that there are serious issues at Lib Dem HQ, Nick Clegg says he knows nothing, Tim Fallon saying that they [the Lib Dems] have screwed up, his words, it is not going to end well for the Liberals.

Let us not forget the reason why there is a by election, one of the Lib Dems might be going to prison!

It could have been written for the west end...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Italian political chaos

Yesterday the people spoke in the Italian elections, the first since Mario Monty and his technocrats were installed to deal with the Italian economic crisis [European economic crisis], and did they enjoy themselves.

The techno did worse than the monster raving looney party, however, it is worse than that.

There are two houses in Italian politics, the upper & lower, and the upper has a lees than 1% lead to the right, the lower has a less than 1% lead to the left, so a hung parliament has arisen. It is even worse than that though, because a comedian Beppe Grillo has taken 25% of the votes in what the media is calling a protest vote. I do not believe 1 in 4 of the populace in a turnout reported as good can be considered a protest.

So my interest is the economy and how it will be affected. The markets will not be happy because the stability of Mario Monty’s technocrats has been shattered. The Euro will be affected as has shown through the night in the Asian markets that have been open since the election results, and there is already talk of Sterling being a safe haven. So most of the sellers yesterday will return to the market today as buyers and the pound will strengthen.

Status Quo.

Monday, 25 February 2013

AAA status

Last Friday Moody's lowered the UK rating from AAA.

Normally this would have a devastating effect on the country, however, it appears this weekend not to have had the impact expected. Several reasons for this.

Firstly the markets did not over react on Friday and one reason is that they have been expecting this for about a year, so it was not a surprise.

Secondly other countries like Germany, France & even the USA have all had their triple A status revoked last year and yet they are not suffering from huge interest rates on borrowing, so the UK is not expecting high rates either.

However, there is bad news for the currency, which has been falling badly recently, this move could kill it stone dead. One result from this could be parity with the Euro. Now that would be weird.

Friday, 22 February 2013

4gee flop

The 4G auction has raised 1 billion less than expected, so where will the Treasury get that shortfall now?

More importantly, 3G raised over 20 billion 12 years ago, so why has the new service been sold so low?

The answer from OFCOM is money wasn't the driving focus they wanted more competition, but that hasn't happened, however, it is clear that the partners involved were not prepared to spend that type of money required to support these services. This of course has a knock on effect down the pipe.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

BoE shock

It is now public knowledge that Sir Mervyn King was over ruled during the last quarter of 2012 when he voted for more QE [quantitative easing].

The pound fell sharply as the markets reacted in shock to minutes from this month’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, which revealed that three members voted to increase QE by £25bn to £400bn – including Sir Mervyn King. Last month, only David Miles wanted to restart the printing presses.

Sir Mervyn King has said in the past that the bank would tolerate inflation riding above the previous 2% agreed limit since the 2008 economic explosion, however markets expected QE to continue.

The pound has been suffering lately anyway and this is going to be bad news for arbitration.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tunis in turmoil

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali was going to form a new administration of non-political technocrats, however, yesterday he resigned.

Hamadi Jebali had proposed a cabinet of apolitical technocrats to quell the turmoil caused by the assassination on 6 February of the secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid. The shooting dead of Belaïd, a left-leaning lawyer and outspoken critic of the government, shocked Tunisia and left the government reeling. It prompted mass protests aimed in part at the ruling moderate Islamist party Ennahda, to which Hamadi Jebali belongs.

Announcing his resignation on Tuesday Hamadi Jebali said he would not lead another government without assurances about the timing of fresh elections and a new constitution.

It does not bode well.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Eurozone growth

Germanys national output shrank by 0.5% in the last quarter of 2012.

The data released last Thursday shows that the 17 core countries in the eurozone have not expanded as a group since 2009 and the recent meetings of European governments has yet to leave their mark on the real economy.

Sir Mervyn King warned last week that financial markets might be getting a little ahead of themselves - and you got the sense he was putting it mildly. Stock markets did indeed fall that day, in response to the news on GDP. But, investors are supposed to look forward, not back.

Is the exuberance of recent months media hype, political hype or just erroneous record collecting?

Monday, 18 February 2013

NHS [mis-]trusts

The health secretary has written to all NHS trusts with a separate letter to the Lincolnshire trust pointing out that gagging orders must cease.

Lincolnshire has written back saying that is not what was intended, however, they are suing Gary Walker [a whistleblower] as he spoke on the radio last week. Liars!

Lincolnshire are trying to back away from a situation they are in because they have been 'caught', not because they feel that public opinion is turning towards more openness. Their corruption is absolute and every measure must be taken to root it out.

Sir David Nicholson must go and all his CEO's too...

Friday, 15 February 2013

Arab spring

The police in Bahrain have just shot a 14 year old boy, his crime, celebrating the second anniversary of the beginning of the democracy debate in his country, or should I say the failed uprising.

In February 2011 the people of Bahrain protested that they wanted democracy introduced into their country, the protest was quashed violently. On 14 February 2011, peaceful protesters took over an iconic Bahraini monument, Pearl Roundabout. Three days later security forces cleared the site using tear gas, batons and birdshot. It was this 'birdshot' that was allegedly used to kill the 14 year old.

Mr Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been a leader of the pro-democracy protests which have rocked the kingdom since February 2011. The 48-year-old is also one of the most well-known activists in the Arab world, with a huge following on Twitter.

Mr Rajab has told Amnesty researchers he was warned by prison authorities not to speak in English. He is quoted as saying "The punishment for disobeying would be solitary confinement. I was also threatened for … talking about human rights".

The Arab states have a long way to go before they can be recognised as civil...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Horsemeat scandal

This is deeper politically than at first realised.

While the man & woman on the street is appalled at what has been happening, a report released today [14-Feb-2013] shows that ministers knew last year [2012] that this was about to happen. Heads will roll.

However, as to the problem and what is happening, it really looks as though government is not moving quite as quickly as first thought.

Europe on the other hand has demanded a three month check on all products where the label says beef, our government should have done this by now.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Tunis political upheaval

Tunis was not one of the countries I mentioned earlier,

however, geographically it is right at the start of this chain. Tunisia is wedged between Algeria & Libya.

Why did I leave it out, at the time I considered it to be stable, an error on my part obviously.

One incident has occurred, the death of an opposition politician and now there are rumours of a general strike, well to me that seems to be a bit over the top. It would appear that for the last two years since the beginning of the Arab spring, not everything in the garden smells of roses after all.

After an explosion of public outrage over the murder, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is from the Ennahda party, said in a televised address that he would form a new administration of non-political technocrats.

But Ennahda’s parliamentary leader Sahbi Atig said the following day that his bloc of MPs had rejected the plans, laying bare deep divisions within the Islamist party and furthering a confused political situation.

There is now a fear of violence on the streets as democracy is very young in the area.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

China is moving away

North Korea has detonated it's third nuclear explosion underground and has been monitored.

The experts say that the device is smaller than before, causes a greater explosion than before and uses uranium instead of plutonium. Why is this significant? Plutonium has to be harvested and is in short supply, uranium is manufactured and technically has limitless supplies.

While this is worrying news for the international community, what interests me more is China's reaction. The west has always portrayed China as North Koreas big brother, but we have also said that they are losing their grip on North Korea, which to the old school must chaff at the edges, so China is slowly but surely moving away from their North Korean neighbours...

Monday, 11 February 2013

Eastleigh by-election

An interesting situation to test the coalition, more interesting to test the government, as the old wives tale goes, it is nearly impossible for a mid term government to win a by-election. As we have a coalition, the government cannot win anyway, it is down to single parties.

Even more interesting is what is the opposition going to do?

Labour has not yet published details of it's candidate, although the other two parties have. The pollsters say Labour are running third no matter what, but they have an open platform, they can work on all the actions the government have made and oppose them, but where are they.

I feel if they do not make a strong stand here, they will continue to be weak in 2015, and without a strong opposition our government becomes irrelevant.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Examination reform

Michael Gove is about to perform a tweak on his plan to scrap GCSEs - an exam he has repeatedly described as discredited and lacking credibility with employers. He will scrap his plan to replace them with a brand new exam which were to be known formally as the EBC but by everyone else as EBaccs.

However, the education secretary will insist that his overall approach lives on ie "more rigorous" end-of-year exams will replace continuous modular assessment, and school league tables will depend in future on how pupils do in 8 core subjects not, on how many children passed the re-sit of their macrame module. Since the civil service always called this collection of GCSEs in core subjects the EBacc, Michael Gove can claim the EBacc approach survives.

When the exam regulator Ofqual and the education select committee examined this reform of the entire exam system they said that it was a recipe for chaos since too much change was being planned in too short a time. A rather rash and over the top statement which the opposition has leapt on.

People may end up wondering what all the fuss was about, and as I have said before in supporting Michael Gove, I agree with his stance on education today.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

HS2 -- part 2

I still have not found the answer to the last question, but if I say it is mostly Conservative MPs, I am sure you will understand.

Today however, I would like to point out that the first estimate of HS2 is 30-40 billion pounds. It is going to take 20-30 years to complete. Do you really believe that it is only going to cost £30-40 billion, you must be living in another world.

I estimate that the cost will exceed 100 billion pounds...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

NHS Staffs report

Pretty condemning stuff, however will it be worked on? I doubt it.

This morning on the Today programme Mike Farrar CEO of the NHS Confederation was question by John Humphries and it was completely obvious that nothing will be done.

The problem is targets, too many unnecessary targets and when this point was made to Mr Farrar directly he said, no the problem isn't targets, it's getting the people at the bottom of the chain to be more caring. What a twat!

The targets should go, the people who monitor the targets should go, the executives should go, and the money saved should be spent on medical resource...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The market

Nowadays we appear to be lead by markets. Are they right in their current optimism or do they just want to rise for the sake of profits?

The two reasons I can see for optimism are the fundamental drivers of the UK economy look much stronger than at any time since 2007. Housing construction, which has been the biggest obstacle to economic recovery since 2009, is finally rebounding. House prices are falling however. Employment is slowly but steadily increasing at the same time more people are signing-on, this contradiction needs to be addressed. Credit conditions are gradually returning to normal, and cutbacks in government employment, the most powerful element in economic recovery after housing, are ending as state and local government revenues stabilise.

A second reason for optimism is the improvement in global economic and political conditions, especially the lifting of uncertainties about a break up of the Euro zone and the leadership transition in China. These fears weighed heavily on financial and business confidence for most of last year, however China is growing strongly and is politically stable, at least for the next few years. In Europe, the currency crisis may not have been resolved, but it has been frozen, at least until after Germany’s election in September. As a result, the fears of political shocks that until recently obsessed financial markets have diminished dramatically.

So is it fair that the markets are starting to rise?

Monday, 4 February 2013


A report by a select committee has shown a lack of confidence in the IPCC by the public in recent years and states it is woefully under resourced.

However, the IPCC has also been criticised about it's culture in the way in which cases are being investigated. The figures are staggering. 8,035 cases during 2012 against the police of which 21 where investigated by the IPCC. That is outrageous.

The head of the IPCC Dame Anne Owers says they are not able to work any harder due to lack of resources, and yet this reason has only become public when they were challenged about the lack of effort being made, there is no record of extra resources being applied for.

There appears to be a lot of disgruntled opinion towards the IPCC and I wonder if a new body should be created to wipe out the lacklustre attitude of the current members.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Israel attacks!

No not Iran, but Syria.

I first found the news item stunning and immediately thought it was a mistake, but as the story broke I realised what was happening.

Israel intelligence had information about a convoy heading for Palestine with 'advanced' armaments, which was obviously a honey pot for Israel. The fact that they decided to attack it while it was in Syria isn't really a surprise as it was probably assumed that it might get lost in the general confusion of what is happening in Syria at the moment.

However, as the dust settles it now looks like it is a much more serious step in the "Middle East" situation and frankly can only get worse.

Some of the responsibility must be held by the security council and the International community for the lack of action in the last two years of the Syrian conflict where over 50,000 people have died and over 1,000,000 people have been displaced.