Snapshots for 6 December, 2013
11:55 am "One of the most difficult things is not to change society -- but to change yourself." (Nelson Mandela.) http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/05/opinion/battersby-nelson-mandela/
Snapshots for 1 December, 2013
2:59 pm 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.
2:59 pm 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.
2:59 pm 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.
2:59 pm 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
2:59 pm 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.....
Snapshots for 30 November, 2013
12:32 pm 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.
11:58 am 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.
11:43 am 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.
Snapshots for 15 November, 2013
2:22 pm 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".
Snapshots for 13 November, 2013
5:21 pm #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.
Snapshots for 2 November, 2013
2:22 pm 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?
2:14 pm 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.com/richard-ruzyllo/the-mess-we-were-left-yawn
Snapshots for 28 October, 2013
2:15 pm 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.
Snapshots for 25 October, 2013
1:44 pm 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...."
Snapshots for 14 October, 2013
9:06 am THIS is from China's state news agency Xinhua: "As US politicians of both political parties (fail to find a) viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world. Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing. Instead of honouring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas." .............Xinhua added: "Regional tensions amid territorial disputes, fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies....."
Snapshots for 10 October, 2013
11:21 am Foreign Secretary William Hague this morning: "I condemn the abduction of the Libyan Prime Minister...."....... It's NO WONDER the bad guys have released Prime Minister Ali Zeidan so soon! You don't mess with the Haguemeister! When he condemns you - you stay condemned!! Al-Qaeda terrorists are quaking in their sandals!
10:41 am When most people see Malala Youzafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban, they see a heroine. I see a sad, unfortunate girl, impelled and steered by a father's grasping opportunism. Sorry.
Snapshots for 3 October, 2013
7:10 am United Kingdom economic growth is weak and will remain weak. That means that unemployment will stay high.(It is the same today as it was before the 2010 General Election). No amount of statistical engineering, designed to tart up the government's performance will alter that basic fact. The latest announcement by the Prime Minister of NOT maintaining the right of the 16-25 group to claim benefits means that young graduates will now be starting their adult lives in debt with little or no help from the State which put them in debt. Reminder to the Coalition government: AMBITION is driven by SELF-ESTEEM. What the government is doing is showing that all the talk of encouraging entrepreneurship in young people is nonsense because they are destroying the very mind-set which they need to nurture.
6:54 am Currrently, American politicians do NOT appear to be fulfilling their electoral mandate and instead, are concentrating on a Washington power struggle. Perhaps they too should have their salaries suspended. It might help them to concentrate.
Snapshots for 28 September, 2013
8:01 am Post-war German leaders have long argued German interests coincided with the greater European interests. Angela Merkel's singular achievement, vindicated by her latest election victory, is to have kept Germany in the heart of Europe even as terrifying sovereign debt crises exposed the fissures and conflicting interests between states within the euro zone. There is no doubt that the German economy benefited enormously from the euro-driven economic union. But when the crisis broke out, German taxpayers, understandably, did not want to bail out foreign governments and financial institutions caught in the upheaval. Merkel's strategy was to protect the interests of her taxpayers while convincing them that the euro must be kept alive; otherwise the whole European project, the basis of the continent's peace and prosperity, could collapse. To this end, she imposed much-criticised austerity on the hard-hit peripheral states in southern Europe while pledging support to them by committing the equivalent of Germany's annual federal budget to various rescue funds. Merkel preferred the step-by-step approach rather than any grand reform schemes. Euro-zone bonds to lower sovereign borrowing costs? No way. An even tighter banking union than currently planned? Forget it. She perceived that in all these big and ambitious schemes, Germany would be the one that ended up paying the most to support them, thereby putting German taxpayers on the hook. Because of the delicate balancing act she had to pursue, she has been criticised, with reason, for dragging out the crisis rather than resolving it once and for all with a bold plan. But it's highly doubtful that without her cautious approach, German citizens would have gone along in helping the crisis-hit states. And without German backing, no rescue plan could work. Now, finally, the euro-zone economies are showing signs of life. Most likely, they still have a long way to muddle through. Merkel may not have saved Europe. But she deserves credit for preventing a euro-zone break-up. (SCMP)
Snapshots for 27 September, 2013
9:36 am 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.
9:22 am 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.
9:09 am IPCC Report on GLOBAL WARMING: We should always question and be suspicious of ANY belief system which is over-reliant on consensus rather than evidence. Consensus-building is a socio-political and not a scientific process. The alarmist global-warning "faith" is a fine example of the phenomenon. Having said that, the so-called "scientific evidence" can also be flawed. You may not realise it but even the "peer review" process of scientific papers is subject to consensus. It too is subjective and on many occasions...selective. In the same way that consensus is built on selectivity, there are still occasions when scientific results which do not follow the "mainstream" can be ignored and buried. (DISCLAIMER: Other consensus-driven belief systems and faiths are available!)
Snapshots for 19 September, 2013
10:04 am 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.
Snapshots for 17 September, 2013
1:12 pm LIBDEM conference: Yesterday, our professional (and perpetual) political bridesmaid, the Liberal Democratic Party rejected calls from party members to relax fiscal discipline and spend more. Instead, the Party pledged broad support for the government's austerity-focussed economic strategy. The Party is assuming that by May 2015, those elusive green shoots will have finally emerged and that they will once again ride into Westminster hanging onto Chancellor Gideon's (straw) coat tails...............(AUSTERITY? It's a well-known fact that if you want to make a horse to run faster, you don't encourage it through a combination of hay and ass-kicking....you pull back on the reins as hard as possible....don't you?)
12:03 pm The last time we heard a UK inflation figure, it was 2.8% per year. Today it has been announced that August inflation "fell" to 2.7%. However, the Consumer Price Index has INCREASED from 125.8 (July) to 126.4 (August). That is an increase of 0.6 in ONE MONTH, which when annualised, gives a price inflation figure of 5.7% per year! This is a situation which we've been amused by for quite a long time now: Inflation falling while prices increase. The magic of numbers! Here is the latest ONS bulletin. The numbers are on page 4: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_323760.pdf
"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 [...]
Snapshots for 5 September, 2013
4:10 pm #SYRIA: Does the increasingly isolated Obama, with his barking-mad, cigar-chomping generals, not realise that an attack on Syria will cause markets to tumble, wipe BILLIONS off share prices, accelerate the failure of the "propped-up-by-the Fed" American economy, damage the BRICS countries' economies, raise oil prices, accelerate the collapse of the Eurozone and probably cause the deaths of thousands more innocent people? There are times when principle has to give way to pragmatism. #Callmehysterical!
3:33 pm SYRIA: The Pope, spotting an obvious bandwagon, has urged world leaders to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution". He has also invited 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and people of other faiths to join him in a day of prayer and fasting on Saturday "to end the civil war". He obviously does not realise that to the millions of displaced victims of Syria's violence, prayer and (especially) fasting, come quite naturally!
Snapshots for 4 September, 2013
3:31 pm Official figures have revealed that MPs, peers and staff at the Houses of Parliament have tried to access ‘adult’ websites using their work computers 309,316 times over the past year. About 850 attempts to click on pornographic websites were blocked each day. A popular site was “Out of Town Affairs”, a dating site for those wanting to engage in extra-marital affairs. Note a new proposed Westminster logo. It has a vaguely nautical theme. Mind you...with those numbers, they must be swimming in it!! :)
9:44 am 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.
8:14 am #SYRIA: I hate to pee on America's parade and spoil the day for all those self-important politicians and generals sitting around over-sized mahogany tables... but here's a warning: Bashar al-Assad will shoot back. Big time.
8:09 am The Reports are telling us. The Statistics look good. The graphs appear to have turned a corner. Today's good news is that August's UK construction PMI has hit its highest level since September 2007! ALL fantastic news! However, we all look forward to the day when the population-at-large is given the means to participate in the Coalition's "New Atlantis" because, in spite of the statistics and flim-flam, too many Brits continue to struggle. The As and Bs "have it"! Great Britain is now a proper two-nation state.
Snapshots for 3 September, 2013
11:34 am SYRIA: On April 14th 1986, Ronald Reagan ordered a series of bombings directed against Libya under “Operation El Dorado Canyon”. This was in reprisal for the "Libyan" bombing of a Berlin nightclub. It is now generally accepted that the "evidence" against Libya had been fabricated. Reagan subsequently gave the CIA "Regime Change" orders for Libya. THAT goal took 20 years to achieve. Both Clinton and George W Bush openly talked about regime change in Iraq. One may be forgiven for wondering whether the CIA have ever been given similar orders in respect of Egypt and Syria.
9:17 am #SYRIA: The embers of discontent have been glowing ever since the previous owner of the family business that is Syria, President Hafez al-Assad, quelled a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in 1982. Thousands were killed with little reaction from the West......Then in 2011, in the southern city of Daraa , his son and heir, Bashar al-Hassad had 15 children arrested for painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of their school. Small, seemingly insignificant events such as this can often change the course of history. The present killing, propaganda and destruction are just another example. The rest of the world has turned a blind-eye to Syria for too long and much irreversible damage has been done not only to its people but to the country's infrastructure and culture. There is little doubt that the West wants to see a regime change... but the means to achieve that - whether right or wrong, are not to be found in the navigation system of a Cruise missile, the trigger-finger of a jet pilot or a politician's vanity. There's still time to talk.
Snapshots for 2 September, 2013
6:39 pm I've often written about the impact of Chaos Theory on modern economics. Usually, it is an unforeseen catastrophe or surprise which impacts negatively on the numbers. Today's Vodaphone announcement is yet another unplanned-for event...but one which will have a very POSITIVE impact on the UK economy. The pound has already moved positively against the Dollar. Once the institutional shareholders get their hands on their dividends, they will use that cash to reinvest!! For once, it's ALL good news! Chancellor Gideon can put down those Rosary beads!!
5:56 pm FOR PARENTS: Last year a survey of 19 year-olds indicated that that 285,000 of them had left school at age 16 without a Grade C or higher in both English and Maths and only 21 % of those who had not gained a good grade at age 16 in English continued studying it, along with 23 per cent of those who had not got a C or better in Maths. QUESTION: How many did not continue English and how many studied Maths? That question is very simple arithmetic. However, as a nation, we don't "do" sums. When I was at Citibank, I organised a voxpops-type street survey in which we asked passers-by to calculate something like "What is 60% of 50?" LESS than HALF of the participants (all adults) were able to give the correct answer......... Today's much-maligned kids are just as good at arithmetic as their parents.....and by the way....THAT is why most political and economic statistics are presented in percentages rather than in REAL terms! Most of us have NO IDEA what they mean! #NationOFthickos
1:01 pm Children are to keep taking and retaking their Maths and English GCSE exams until they have passed with at least a Grade C. Why single-out English? Did you know that these days, children are passing Language GCSEs such as French, without being able to speak it? Why should English be any different? Things is really went from badder to worsest.
11:52 am Chancellor Gideon says: "In the housing market outside the centre of London ... there is not some kind of housing boom or some dramatic increases in house prices."........The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says: "We are experiencing the fastest growth in house prices since 2006, with homes in London increasing in value by more than 8 percent compared with a year ago."..........You choose.
11:38 am #Syrian U.N. envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari says that U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry Kerry has "adopted old stories fabricated by terrorists based on fake photos from the Internet." .....and based on Uncle Sam's past record of relying on fabricated "evidence", who is brave enough to argue with him? The Ambassador has also written to U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, asking them to "to shoulder their responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria" .....Now that both Obama and Cameron have bared their teeth and convinced everyone that they still belong to the "Peace through Bombing" style of international politics, they should now do the right thing: Sit down with the Russians and Syrians and talk.
Snapshots for 31 August, 2013
9:47 am For the last 70 or 80 years, in spite of their oil billions and flash skyscrapers, most Arab States have clearly demonstrated that sociologically and politically they are firmly anchored in the Dark Ages. On many occasions, they have also demonstrated that all despotic dictators have a limited shelf-life which invariably ends in violence. For a long time, we have been trying so hard to tell them all about Democracy and its advantages. and in recent years, we have even tried to install it for them. This week, the vote in United Kingdom Parliament which prevented us from bombing Syria, has done more to demonstrate real democracy than any action of the last 50 years - and we should be proud. We do not go to war on the whim of a single individual. We debate...then whatever the outcome, we respect the Democratic Process. Half of us may be "pro" a military strike and half of us may be "anti" but in the final analysis, we respect each others views, accept them and move on. From now on, we can go to a politically primitive state such as Syria with our heads held high...NOT because we decided against adding to their pile of dead.. but because we have finally shown the world (in a very public way) that we Brits practice what we preach. It isn't the romanticised French version of "Liberté" or the still largely theoretical American notion of "Freedom": It is in the astonishingly mature demonstration that it is possible to disagree - but with acceptance and mutual understanding. That's the real lesson for the bad guys.
Snapshots for 27 August, 2013
11:58 am #SYRIA: Looking forward to William 'Rambo' Hague and maybe DC read out the Churchillian stuff currently being written for them.......as yet another North African state prepares to be molested......... Methinks that we may need to reappraise our self-image. We have been binning ships, armaments and soldiers but, just because we won the World Cup in 1066 and WW2, we think that, along with Uncle Sam, we're still the world's policeman and everyone's conscience!
11:01 am #Syria All those years that we were shooting Irish people and the IRA were bombing in Northern Ireland as well as the mainland....I don't recall Assad's old man (Assad Snr.) either condemning the United Kingdom for "killing its own people" or threatening to invade or bomb us. Mind you, the USA was raising funds for the IRA (remember NORAID?), so nothing really changes. http://noraid.homestead.com/
Snapshots for 22 August, 2013
8:09 am 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.
8:02 am 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
Snapshots for 21 August, 2013
5:45 pm 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.
5:18 pm SYRIA Nerve Gas Attack: Foreign Secretary William Hague: "The perpetrators of this atrocity will he held accountable.".....Frank Gardner (BBC) "It's doubtful whether those responsible will ever be found." #AgentContagentHague
Snapshots for 19 August, 2013
11:04 am 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.
10:09 am 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.
Snapshots for 14 August, 2013
8:42 am 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.
7:51 am 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.
Snapshots for 12 August, 2013
8:09 am 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!"
7:59 am 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.
7:40 am Yet ANOTHER survey is published during this exceptionally busy Survey Season: "British employers PLAN to hire new staff at the fastest rate since early 2008, adding to SIGNS that the economy is continuing to strengthen.......These results suggest we SHOULD see further jobs growth over the summer and autumn," The important words are in BOLD! http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/08/11/uk-britain-employment-idUKBRE97A0F720130811
Snapshots for 9 August, 2013
4:25 pm 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.
3:44 pm 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
3:25 pm 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."
1:09 pm 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.)
Snapshots for 7 August, 2013
11:12 am 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**
10:00 am 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.
Snapshots for 6 August, 2013
12:40 pm 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.
11:13 am 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?
Snapshots for 5 August, 2013
7:26 am 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!
Snapshots for 3 August, 2013
7:48 am The Conservatives have hired Obama's very slick election guru, Jim Messina to help them to an overall majority in the 2015 General Election. Labour, on the other hand, has recently LOST its own election strategist, Tom Watson. His recent media performances suggest that his strategy would have been to bore people into voting Labour.
7:20 am AFGHANISTAN: Another political case of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Over 10 years ago, the Americans exported hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat to Afghanistan in order to feed the poor and hungry. That resulted in the local price of wheat to collapse to about 20% of what it had been. Afghan farmers were forced to plough-in their worthless wheat crops and move to a more profitable crop: Opium Poppies. Was it all worth it? That once again begs the question - do politicians EVER carry out any sort of Risk Analysis when they take decisions?
7:14 am 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.
Snapshots for 1 August, 2013
10:55 am European unemployment figures are being reported with just the tiniest amount of "spin". This is the whole story: In June 2013, Unemployment continued at record highs in the 17-nation Eurozone but there was some hope of an improvement as the numbers of those out of work fell slightly. The official Eurostat data was published yesterday. The overall Eurozone jobless rate came in at 12.1 per cent, unchanged from May. The jobless numbers, however, fell by 24,000 to 19.26 million. BTW, Europe's population has increased by about 5 MILLION since the crisis began - perhaps THAT'S what is confusing the statistitians.
8:35 am Four-year-old Daniel Pelka died of starvation, beating and incomprehensible neglect. The details are in the press. Currently, Social Services executives (as usual) are running for cover and tidying up files as the blame game begins . Meanwhile, we will all be subjected to the customary cries of "Lessons MUST be learned" , "We MUST ensure that this never happens again", "He was failed by all of us" ,"We have new procedures in place", followed by the traditional British method of dealing with all Public Service problems - The Inquiry.........The real fact is that today, there are many Daniels being beaten and abused and some of them will be known to the Social Services. One or two will die. All I will say to any Social Worker working with children is this: You are taking too much time off work and you attend too many meetings. How do I know that? I'm afraid I cannot tell you but the days that you take off through "stress" are nothing to the stress experienced by a starving unloved child who understands nothing but extreme pain and fear.
Snapshots for 31 July, 2013
3:24 pm 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.
3:10 pm 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.
Snapshots for 27 July, 2013
8:18 am 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
Snapshots for 26 July, 2013
3:04 pm USA: THE DEMOCRATS ARE COMING: New York Mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner is in more trouble as explicit messages which he sent to an unnamed young lady are published. The messages include pictures of his penis. Mr Weiner's wife is standing by him. As she is an aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she is very familiar with the trials and tribulations of American politics . In spite of the scandal, Weiner is still running neck and neck with his primary opponent, Christine Quinn, who was the early front-runner. If Ms Quinn is elected, she will be the city's first lesbian mayor. God bless America!
1:57 pm 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.
Snapshots for 24 July, 2013
3:09 pm 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)
8:06 am 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!
7:21 am 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.
7:07 am 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.
New polling shows the public back Gove, not the NUT, over strikes and paying teachers by performance http://t.co/9MxaccLujN— ConservativeHome [...]
SKY's Kay Burley to expert: "A VERY modern royal. The bump is visible! WHY is that?" Expert: "Because her uterus is still enlarged" #strewth — [...]
Below is the transcript of Andrew Marr's conversation with Prime Minister David Cameron, on the subject of Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party's [...]
Snapshots for 16 July, 2013
12:57 pm 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.
12:50 pm There's a government reshuffle coming up. Rumour has it that a primary candidate for the cull will be one of the Conservative Party's most gifted and brightest Ministers, David Willetts, currently Minister of State for Universities and Science. On this occasion, it will not be a simple case of "The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long". Willetts has the "DC Double-Whammy" against him: He supported David Davies in his bid for the Party leadership and he is not an Old Etonian. It's not WHAT you know but WHO you went to school with. (The other very sad fact which doesn't help Willetts' cause is that in this superficial media age , Willetts is a bit of a spud.)
Snapshots for 9 July, 2013
3:34 pm NYSE Euronext is to take over the setting of LIBOR benchmark interest rates. Presumably, what we haven't handed to Europe, we're going to hand to the USA. The British Bankers' Association which used to be in charge has been paid the princely sum of £1 in return for handing over LIBOR. However, LIBOR will continue to be regulated by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority. Let's hope that they're not caught dozing at the wheel again. Meanwhile, we're all still wondering WHO is going to be jailed for the LIBOR FRAUD.