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House of Cards

An unpleasant consequence of a Scottish ‘YES’ vote will be David Cameron’s current stabbing pains between the shoulder blades becoming fatal.

He, as Prime Minister has a DUTY to maintain the Union, so if Smuggins Salmond finally gets his way, DC will have to go. His footnote in history will be as the PM who saw the Union collapse.

Traditionally, the Conservative Party doesn’t leap on its leader until he or she looks fatally wounded. Once that happens, the surgery will be very swift!

Currently, the Conservative Party does not have the advantage of being spoilt for choice of potential leader……DC is by far the best they have – by MILES. That means that there is a very real danger of yet another lame-duck Tory leader having greatness thrust upon him (or Theresa). (Forget Boris for the moment…he is still praising DC….presumably, the burying will come later).

Let us hope that the Tories don’t screw the Union further by not-only losing Scotland but losing a leader, leaving us with the spectre of Prime Minister Miliband Minor, aided and abetted by Nick Clegg, with no EU referendum in 2017.

There’s more at stake that we realise!

Certain ARAB states sitting back?

Iraq’s neighbours are Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.  Together, they have over 300,000 active military personnel with another MILLION available for combat.

The fighting and disputes in the Middle East tend to be factional and centre around disagreeing flavours of Islam. The present ISIL expansion is no exception.

Instead of giving a very good impression of sitting back and allowing the West to worry about the genocide and destruction in Iraq and elsewhere, perhaps the Arab States would consider taking the initiative.

After all, they buy arms from the West. Perhaps they should consider getting some of them dirty.

They have the firepower….but do they have the will?

Sean 1?

Anyone else hearing the rumours that Sean Connery is preparing to stand for President of Scotland?

And can anyone think of a better reason for voting ‘NO’ ?

King Sean and Little Helper

Threats and Meetings just DO NOT do it!

It began with Saddam: “Killing his own people, “Outrage”, “We condemn”, “We will take action”, COBRA meeting, Statement: “Blah Blah…unacceptable”, “we will do out utmost…….” with the same dreary and predictable consequences. Then we had EXACTLY the same rhetoric for Gaddafi, then Assad and now ISIL.

There is just ONE practical step which David Cameron should think about : SHUT UP!

Threatening Islamic fanatics whilst hiding behind America’s skirts achieves absolutely nothing and only serves to aggravate the ISIL nutters and embolden them even more.

They KNOW that the odds of them being caught are very slim.

Prime Ministers ALWAYS say that “there will be justice…” or “they will be hunted down” but these are all empty threats because since Ken Bigley was beheaded , the promises made by Blair, Brown and now Cameron have not been delivered. The anger is there, the intent is there but not a single terrorist has been brought to justice for murdering hostages. We don’t have the “reach” or the resources.

Today, foreign ministers are meeting in order to decide a joint plan…..again. There will be another communique, more outrage and more threats…..and life (and death) will move on.

Snapshots for 13 September, 2014

12:23 pm  In the last fortnight, there has been an appreciable increase in articles and analysis of the Eurozone economy. Couple that to the ECB becoming involved in a semantic argument as to what does and what doesn't constitute Quantitative Easing, one can almost sense nascent rumblings of the economic Richter Scale. Hopefully, it's a false alarm and the seismograph stops twitching soon.....(Eurozone UNEMPLOYMENT steady at 11.5%)

Snapshots for 12 September, 2014

9:45 am Nigel MacFarage has what can only be described as a bit of a Dalai Lama. Today, he's off to Scotland to create a bit of Euro mischief with the very valid argument that Scotland may be giving up one form of political slavery for another. A YES vote will mean that they will be able to throw off the chafing shackles of Westminster Imperialist rule....but if Benito Salmond then pushes for Scotland's EU membership, the new masters will be those Brussels bureaucrats, which Nigel fears more than a dose of Ebola. On the other hand, has he forgotten that once a YES vote has been delivered, the Woad applied and Salmond has shouted himself hoarse (or preferably SILENT!) with rabid cries of  "Freeeeedommmmm!!!", Scotland will be OUT of the EU....which surely, is a GOOD thing? We sense yet another referendum  or two.


9:33 am Officially there have been NO Russian soldiers in Ukraine. However, the bodies of dead Russian soldiers have been repatriated and injured Russian soldiers are being treated both in Rostov and in Moscow. There must be a secret conflict in which Russia is participating as the paperwork accompanying the dead soldiers does not indicate their place of death.

Snapshots for 18 August, 2014

11:49 am A concept which Western negotiators would do well to get to grips with is "MASKIROVKA"...something Russia is very good at! http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/maskirovka ........... Humanitarian Aid ? OK...if you say so! That scamp Putin is still running circles around everyone. Sanctions? I still remember years ago,  the USA quietly asking Russia to please stop printing dollars. For the moment, the contest between Russia and the West appears very uneven. A good starting point would be for the West to LIFT all sanctions and force Putin to make his move :)

The Mess.

During the last four years or so, there has been a lot of political talk about “the mess THEY left behind”. Here it is:

Snapshots for 15 August, 2014

11:44 am  Ebola, Famine and fighting in Africa.......... Rape, murder, racism, religious oppression and high explosives in the Middle East..... On the brink of war in Ukraine........HE certainly DOES move in mysterious ways!

Snapshots for 30 June, 2014

12:50 pm Cameron's ex-media chief Coulson to face payments re-trial http://reut.rs/1nXFLNv via @reuters

GLASTONBURY and its Winnebagos, air-conditioned yurts, Chardonnay and designer hippies…….. reminds me of more innocent days:

Snapshots for 27 June, 2014

9:53 am  We have learned (again) that David Cameron is not a tactician but a merely a talker and purveyor of quioxotic promises, who has been unable to come anywhere near blocking the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as EU Commission President. We have a quote which crystallises the futility of Cameron's stance. It is from Belgium's former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt - himself blackballed by Britain for the EU job a decade ago: "Arguing that the commission president should not be a federalist is like saying that the next pope should not be a Catholic."


9:39 am #EU If David Cameron cannot even block an "old guard" federalist as commission chief, what chance does he stand of clawing back significant powers from Brussels? After the P.M's massive "FAIL",  look out for face-saving EU consolation prizes, such as EU leaders allowing the UK a few business-friendly policies and a maybe a key commission post to oversee reforms such as the internal market portfolio. No doubt, DC's spinmeisters are already hovering over their keyboards, ready to rewrite this latest EU cock-up as a great tactical victory.


8:06 am  Prime Minister David Cameron should have negotiated quietly with other European leaders and built an anti-Juncker alliance by arguing his case through reason and gentle persuasion. Unfortunately, as usual, he could not resist the temptation to gob-off and get everyone's back up by giving his customary impression of a petulant schoolboy. The argument is now lost and Jean-Claude Juncker WILL become head of the EU executive.

Snapshots for 26 June, 2014

4:10 pm  Did the BBC man REALLY just say "THREE BITES AND YOU'RE OUT!" ??????


4:06 pm Tweeting blind from spygun.com. Hope Tweets are coming through!!   :)


Suarez2:55 pm  "I ate his shoulder with some Ñoquis and a nice Tannat Libero"


1:03 pm There are two groups of the odious Savile's victims who will never hear politicians' apologies for his vile assaults: Those who have died and those who were dead at the time of the assault.


11:32 am Errol Damelin who resigned from WONGA this month, just before the solids hit the air conditioning, owns 16.8 MILLION  Wonga shares through Castle Bridge Ventures which is based in the British Virgin Islands......PROPER British Capitalism!


11:24 am Presumably after its deception of impersonating a Solicitor, Wonga will be calculating the compensation to its victims at a rate of five YEARS at 5852% ....and what excuses will the OFT and  FCA be offering for not throwing the book at the company?


7:36 am #UKIP What does Nigel Farage do between elections? Have you noticed that he only appears when there are seats to be fought?  I like to think that he's in an earth-filled coffin in a castle somewhere near Salzburg.....


7:27 am Good to hear that, rather than those sugar-laden fruit juices, schools are going back to providing pupils with WATER........which I believe is some sort of mixer... :)


7:19 am Prime Minister David Cameron used to work in Public Relations? Not much evidence of that this week...#Coulson #Juncker  However, he is very lucky that it is only Miliband who faces him across the Dispatch Box.

Cameron in the “you know what”…..Again!

The judge in the British phone-hacking trial criticised Prime Minister David Cameron  for not waiting until all verdicts were in before commenting on Andy Coulson, his former media chief who is facing jail.

Less than two hours after yesterday’s verdict, Cameron issued what he called a “full and frank” apology, saying he had taken Coulson’s assurances of innocence at the time at face value, something he now realised was a mistake.

The jury was however still deliberating on two further charges on Coulson.

“I asked for an explanation from the Prime Minister as to why he had issued his statement while the jury were still considering verdicts” the judge, John Saunders, said in court.

“My sole concern is to ensure that justice is done. Politicians have other imperatives and I understand that. Whether the political imperative was such that statements could not await all the verdicts, I leave to others to judge.”

In addition, the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, referred to Coulson as “a Criminal” !

The jury was discharged today after failing to reach agreement on whether Coulson was guilty of authorising illegal payments and it would now seem that Coulson will NOT be tried on the two remaining charges against him because of the premature outbursts by clueless politicians.

In spite of Cameron’s very dramatic waving-about of the Leveson report during PMQs, like some executive Teddy Bear or talisman designed to protect him from any suggestion of wrongdoing in hiring Coulson….he still doesn’t get it!

The Root Cause of this mess is not “I am innocent of negligence because I was given ASSURANCES ” but in the amateurish recruitment procedures on Planet Politics.

“I hear that he’s a good bloke”……….” I knew his father”………… We were at the same school”…….”I shagged his sister”….etc…. STILL take precedence over ability.

Coulson was “recommended”…..and of course, the Conservatives needed to please their benefactor Rupert Murdoch.

( It was Chancellor Osborne who did the recommending…….. What’s his game?)

Government to shoot-up Pfizer?

Select Committee members can do a bit of grandstanding, Prime Ministers deliver a bit of macho jive talk – but the fact is that politicians can do jack-s*** about the Pfizer/Astra Zeneca  deal . They CANNOT influence board or even management decisions.

Read carefully what DC said this week: “

Our entire approach is based on TRYING to secure the best possible deal in terms of jobs, investment and science. And that is why I believe it was absolutely right to ask the cabinet secretary to ENGAGE with Pfizer, just as we’re engaging with AstraZeneca, and I do find it extraordinary that we’ve been criticised for this.”

Meaningless twaddle.

The Enterprise Act only allows government to intervene in the case of mergers affecting NATIONAL SECURITY or MEDIA OWNERSHIP.

After the Kraft takeover of Cadbury’s and subsequent events, the Takeover Code was amended in 2011 so that nowadays, the bidding company has to publish INFORMATION as to the anticipated effects of the takeover and employees are able to give their VIEWS.  All irrrelevant window-dressing which does NOT affect future management decisions.

Let’s PLEASE stop all the pretence.

Snapshots for 1 May, 2014

2:27 pm  #Ukraine. The Blitzkreig-like advance of ethnic-Russian militia in the eastern provinces is working so efficiently and meeting with so little resistance that one could be forgiven for suspecting that there is a plan and that there always has been a plan! In fact the capitulation by local authorities and officials suggests either complicity or possibly French military advisers!  :)


10:41 am  The IMF's austerity conditions for #Ukraine, in return for cash handouts will prepare the country for membership of the EU's "Indentured Servitude Club".....alongside near-neighbours such as Greece....... The short to mid-term future looks very bleak for members of the ISC........Nowadays, the population-at-large paying for the crimes of its politicians and bankers appears to be the generally accepted norm!

In Praise of Motivation.

A lot of pretentious nonsense is talked and written about “motivation” and there are many  motivational speakers who travel the world, giving strung-out executives a quick fix of “feelgood” which then dissipates just in time for a subsequent seminar and the next fix….and so on. It has become a huge industry but related more to entertainment than to personal development.

Whenever I train executives, the motivational advice which I give them is disarmingly simple but devastatingly effective. So for a moment let’s forget Maslow, Hertzberg and the rest of the showbiz that is  ”The Motivation Industry”.

I learned this many years ago from an American called Tom Haggai. We met during one of his many motivational gigs and I do believe that he is still travelling and motivating…….and he is very good at it.

The advice is PRAISE YOUR STAFF.

Even when they screw up.

Tom said that he learned that simple lesson when his son came home from school with the MOST appalling grades on his report. In common with the vast majority of parents, Tom berated his son and told him that he was very disappointed in  him.

Several months later, his son came back with even worse grades and of course, Tom went through the same routine and really expressed his displeasure at the boy’s continued under-performance.

One day, Tom was talking to a friend about the problems he was having with his son’s terrible grades and how there didn’t seem to be a way to make him work. His friend listened carefully and said: ” You fly around the world motivating top executives and yet you can’t motivate your son? You just criticise him? You can’t motivate your OWN son!?”

Tom thought about this and the next time his son produced his report rather nervously, Tom looked at the grades which by this time were really shocking.

He smiled and said “ Well done, son. You have obviously tried your best. Well done! I’m very pleased and so should you be!”

The boy smiled and hugged his father.

It was not that reaction which surprised the father, but what his son said next: “Thanks, Dad…but I think I can do better.”

From then on, the boy knuckled down and never looked back. It was a miraculous turnaround! He believed that he could do better and he did do better!

If you’re a parent and your young child brings you a piece of paper dripping with paint and there’s water, paint and mess on the kitchen floor, on the table and on the child’s clothes, what do you say?

You look at the coloured chaos on the paper, you smile and you say “Wow…that’s fantastic. Well done! What is it? “

The child tells you that it’s a picture of you…………..but it’s what happens next that is interesting.

In ten minutes, there’s another dripping piece of paper in your hand. This time it’s a car or the cat…… and so on….and so on…….

Soon, you have enough pictures to paper the entire room – and they’re all the result of the child enjoying your praise and attention…..and wanting more.

So, if you want “your people” to over-perform, tell them that they’re GREAT…..and they will be!

There’s yet another related phenomenon which, when used properly and sincerely, is very powerful. The humble COMPLIMENT!

I bet that everyone reading this remembers most if not ALL of the compliments they’ve ever received – even the ones from childhood and I bet that occasionally, you “replay” them in your mind. Why? For TWO reasons. Firstly, we don’t compliment each other enough, so there’s a certain rarity value and secondly, it is the MOST intense psychological experience!

THAT is why you still remember the person who told you that your dress was nice when you were six!

Never forget the power of saying positive things to people.

Nationalism – the Root Cause of Everything!

“Nationalism carries with it contradictionswas the view of Ernest Gellner, the British-Czech philosopher and social anthropologist. It is these contradictions which fuel the pockets of political and social instability which the world constantly experiences.

In the good old days of huge empires, from  Rome to the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian, there existed a sort of (imposed) stability but when these empires collapsed, the concept of Nationalism took hold.

Nationalism, in its most primitive form, is based on common language, nationality and territory. It is politics in its most primitive form and something which disaffected minorities always turn to in times of real or imagined political strife.

Nowadays, nationalism is still what society attempts to overlay on its territory, imagining that it continues to be the glue which binds those of a common language….and indeed that is just still the case but we are approaching a time when possibly, a new concept of nationalism needs to be assembled.

The Americans have certainly been the most successful so far at instilling the idea of nationalism to its people (“First and foremost, I’m an AMERICAN!”) but then again, they started late and have had the opportunities offered by a blank sheet of paper. They do not have the deeply-rooted ethnic issues which the rest of the world has to deal with. Any American ethnic issues have been of their own making and mostly badly dealt with.

Yes, it is ethnicity and tribalism which is firing discontent….from Israel to Ukraine……from Spain to Scotland..as well as anywhere in Africa!

A state cannot be divided like a cake in order to accommodate every ethnic group sitting on its own little slice.

Integration does not work because ethnic groups aren’t particularly bothered by it. They want to be left alone with their ethnicity. The only group bothered is the ruling class – the politicians……and THAT is the great tragedy of the modern nation state. Politicians bang-on about “Integration”, possibly not understanding that “the ethnics” don’t want it and never did.

There is no solution to the issue of ethnicity – there can only be a strategy. Politicians need to stop treating ethnicity as a problem which needs solutions.

The strategies for dealing with ethnicity can be anything from recognising differences and encouraging them (good) to actively ensuring equal opportunities for all (very good). Yet another strategy may be doing what Russia has recently done in a part of Ukraine: Invade and Take (bad).

Separatist movements such as the Scottish Nationalists should be actively discouraged - as early as possible, otherwise and in spite of referendums, a disaffected minority will become even more disaffected. They are the dissidents and terrorists of the future.

Political and social strategies are comparatively easy to implement but should certainly NOT include  placatory measures such as allowing separatist groups their own “parliament”. That, as is currently being demonstrated in the United Kingdom (and Crimea) is a recipe for disaster.

Terrorism is another manifestation of the Nationalist-Separatist mindset. Unfortunately, there is only one way to deal with terrorism – through the medium of violence! However, a strategy (and policy) may be NOT to become involved in others’ ethnic or governmental issues and by doing so, kicking over a terrorist hornet’s nest. (Blair/Bush/Iraq)

The real solution is NOT in integration but in coexistence. THAT means, recognising the minority groups, nurturing them and providing fair opportunities to all as well as ensuring that social, legal, cultural and economic aspects of their lives are all accounted for and dealt with fairly.

FAIRNESS is the key word.

However, historical reality has shown that the achievement of such a balance is very difficult. But until the question of ethnicity is dealt with properly, nationalism will remain a zero-sum game.

Let’s have a quick look at Ukraine because it is the most recent example of the dark side of  nationalism bubbling to the political surface and creating rifts at both local and global level.

Russia has made a huge mistake through the vanity of one man – Vladimir Putin. There is little doubt that he is sincere but misguided in his actions of sending Russian troops to humiliate their Crimean/Ukranian counterparts. Putin and Russia have failed because they are now on a collision course with the West and we are most likely to be plunged into another Cold War.

There will be those in the West as well as in Ukraine who will be thinking about re-conquering Crimea. It is only their over-reliance on Russian energy which is stopping them.

In reality, what Ukraine ought to be doing now is working hard to become a successful European State by strengthening its ties with the EU and showing ethnic Crimeans that they may NOT QUITE have made the right decision by voting to get back into bed with Uncle Vlad.

Ukraine should join the EU and NATO and concentrate on nothing else but strengthening its economy, security and politics.

Nationalism borne of ethnicity, if properly managed can not only be the cause of conflict but a great catalyst for peace.

Cinderella Law? Bend Over!

It has been confirmed that the government is considering whether to introduce a new offence of Emotional Cruelty to Children. It is aimed at parents “who deny their children affection”  and is the result of a campaign for a “Cinderella Law” from ACTION FOR CHILDREN.

The British Empire became what it was through the actions of the emotionally damaged, as have successive British governments. It is the emotionally damaged who make the world go round!

We live in a country where it is not unusual for a child to be packed off to Boarding School at the age of SIX. Surely, THAT is the ultimate example of parent-child emotional deprivation…with the added frisson of the possibility of sexual and physical abuse!

There aren’t enough Social Workers to deal with THAT !

The average foreigner’s caricature of an English gent is that of an emotionally-crippled, uncaring and unfeeling toff….. and bearing in mind that worldwide, we’re mainly represented by members of the Government, who can blame them?

A Cinderella Law, properly implemented is in danger of not-only putting hundreds of well-to-do parents in the Dock but ripping apart the fabric of British Society.

The Little Englander v The Europhile

Whilst cocky Nigel Farage is looking increasingly like a pink Kermit the Frog, EU-enthusiast Nick Clegg retains the boyish charm and earnestness which won him so many plaudits after the 2010 “I agree with Nick” pre-election debates with Cameron and Brown.

Nowadays, Farage’s studied arrogance and increasing belief in his own publicity is beginning to water-down both his image and the argument. I say THE argument because he is also coming across as a one-trick pony and thus in danger of being perceived as the head of a right-wing pressure group rather than the Leader of a bona fide Political Party. I am not saying that he’s not a good bloke  but had he debated Britain’s Defence system or the changes in Education, he would have gained more credibility. Instead, we had yet more déjà vu!

He is probably regretting the fact than post-January 1st 2014 we are NOT being overrun by screaming hairy hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians heading over the hill from Newhaven to the nearest Benefits Office. David Cameron has been very quick to respond to Nigel’s xenophobic hysterics and has an ongoing charm-offensive in place, aimed at the “at-risk” Nutty Right Wing of the Conservative Party. DC and Nigel both know that come the General Election, the many who have dallied with UKIP will retake their rightful place and step back into the Conservative thin blue line.

Nigel’s task of criticising the EU gravy train whilst simultaneously immersing himself in the gravy makes some of his arguments appear both hypocritical and increasingly valueless. He was obviously VERY uncomfortable when being asked about paying his wife a salary and lapsed into his usual defence of turning an attractive shade of fuschia accompanied by bluster and large numbers.

Nick Clegg, on the other hand, was a tad patronising and appeared to lack conviction – although he is doubtless a committed Son of Brussels. He too made the usual points and counterpoints and one could argue that he cheapened himself by even appearing on the same platform as the UKIP Commandant.

The upcoming MEP elections will demonstrate quite clearly that as far as Europe is concerned, the British public fits neatly into the “don’t care” camp….

As to who “won” the debate…If you measured it on well-known points and statistics repeated yet again…it was a draw.

#MH370 : What if…..

The red mark on the map is the location of the American Military Base on Diego Garcia, which is is a coral atoll and part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The disappearance of the flight has been the subject of many conspiracy theories……ranging from alien abduction to an on-board bomb.

A couple of days ago, INMARSAT, a British company completed some very subtle calculations and announced the most likely resting place of flight MH370….somewhere near the bottom of the above map, to the west of Australia.

We have all taken Inmarsat’s calculations at face value but the discovery that a recent addition to this company’s Board was General C. Robert Kehler, United States Air Force (Retired), puts a slight “spin” on the facts.

Until November, General Kehler was  Commander, US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

So, we have a heavily-protected US base which has nuclear rockets pointed a several targets on the Asian mainland.

We have a (possibly) deranged pilot who is rumoured to have Diego Garcia programmed into his home-built aircraft simulator.

What if the pilot had decided to crash Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 into the Diego Garcia Base? Remember that he didn’t disappear from radar by accident. He disappeared at the point  where he knew that the plane would be “invisible” to radar.

There was absolutely NO reason to fly South and crash into the ocean.

Last question: WHAT would the USA Military do if they became conscious of what looked like a rogue plane with communications switched off heading towards them at a height of a few thousand feet?

They would blow it out of the sky.

The only issue remaining would be to lay a false trail in order to put the “crash site” as far away as possible from where it was “killed”.

One cannot blame the passengers’ families for being sceptical.

We’re SO lucky !!

TONITE, while me and  ’er indoors  go to the Bingo & then to the boozer, I’ll tell the kids to go to the railway to see if there’s any discarded coal. Then, as a special treat, they can stand outside the pub with crisps, lemonade and maybe share a Woodbine!

We’re celebrating because I heard on the bus that Chancellor wassisname says we’re going to get £15 grand and we can have it all at once! It’s all because of the dificit or something.  The bloke said it was a percentage (whatever THAT is ??!) of GHQ or it could have been ATM!

Then , because we’re quite strict  with the young ‘uns (ha! ha!) it’s in bed by midnight for them! After all, they’re only six and eight. We give them ten minutes start because once we get going, me and the missus can get quite noisy!  One day we hope they can have their own room and we’ve been looking at bed sheets in that Argos Book!

Busy day tomorrow – it’s the Friday family trip to Tesco for a bit of light shoplifting and then off  to the food bank.

#GodblessyerChancellor

Gideon’s Pensioner, Bingo & Beer Budget 2014

Above is the official “Budget Diagram” just issued by H.M.  Treasury. Presumably we have to provide the crayons.

The most remarkable thing about this Budget was how small the numbers were – and I remember when ONE BILLION was a lot of money!

The ubiquitous “Scheme” was in there. This one was £3 billion to boost exports. As UK exports only represent a tiny percentage of GDP and because it is only “a scheme”…no harm done there!

UK potholes cost motorists about £730 million per year and cover  a surface area of about 300 square miles. Therefore £200 million “made available for Local Authorities to bid for” seems a bit parsimonious…but nowhere near as mean as only £140 million for repairs and maintenance to flood defences. We not only need to patch up the damage but we need NEW flood defences. Presumably, the government’s resolve dissipated soon after the last COBRA meeting and when the last retina was reattached…..

The first “headline grabber” was scrapping VAT on air ambulance services and inshore rescue boats as well as scrapping Inheritance Tax for members of emergency services. As the current IHT threshold is £325,000 , THAT won’t bother too many firemen and ambulance drivers’ descendants and neither will the reform of air passenger duty!

We already knew about Ebbsfleet Garden City  and PLANS for 200,000 new homes. Handy for the Ebbsfleet International Railway Station so that presumably, once HS2 has been completed,those pesky immigrants can be shunted-off to the North without even having to stop-off for a Starbucks.

Company-bought homes, valued in excess of £500,000 will now enjoy Stamp Duty of 15%. No doubt that can be recouped at the “sell” end of the process, which makes this a purely cosmetic gesture by Chancellor Gideon and a transparent attempt to create some egalitarian credentials ready for May 2015.

The Libdem-inspired tax threshold increase to £10,500 is a nice touch  as is the freezing of Petrol Duty.

We have become used to the “let’s patronise the poor” section in which we have the cut in Bingo Tax, the freezing of whisky and cider duty and yet another PENNY cut in the price of a pint of beer!! ..which was negated (and worse) by the increase in cigarette prices. However, as all toffs know, the working classes smoke roll-ups so they will be unaffected!

By far the most important set of measures has all the electoral subtlety of a house brick through a crystal chandelier. It was for THE PENSIONERS (Gawd love ‘em!).

When they retire, they will be able to get their liver-spotted hands on all of their Pension Pot and will NOT have to purchase an annuity. That sounds fantastic!! However, if a pensioner takes his pot of pension and blows it all on a Porsche 911….who is going to pick up the tab when there is no pension at the end of the money? Annuities are there for a reason.

In addition, when a pensioner cashes-in his or her pension, where can they keep the money? Why….a BANK, of course! Ideal! So it looks as if the banking system is due yet another windfall…but this one will be from the over 65s!

THAT is why there will be a PENSIONER BOND! The banks will be able to lock-in the money and pay 2.8% for a year’s use of the cash and only 4% for three years’. Win-Win!

The Premium Bond ceiling will be raised from £30,000 to £40,000! So, if you like your investment to REALLY be in the shape of  interest-free eroding capital, then cash in your pension and give it to National Savings which, incidentally, is State-owned. Another Win-Win!

We won’t bother with the announced increase in tax threshold of a few hundred pounds for “middle income” earners because it is worth PENNIES.

The superficial generosity to the pensioners WITHOUT actually giving them anything is there for a reason!

Guess which section of the population has the highest percentage of voters?

Cynical?

He started it!

Snapshots for 4 March, 2014

10:02 am  My father's family is from Lubaczow, which is as near to the Polish-Ukranian border as you can get...so I recognise and understand the collective Ukranian psyche. They are a bloody-minded people who will NOT take any shit from Russia. There is TOO much history. Imagine the relationship between a cat and a dog and you may begin to understand. AT BEST, they only tolerate each other..........


9:48 am  #UKRAINE: Usually, before a country moves from Despotism to becoming a fully-fledged Republic, there is ALWAYS a brief brush with Anarchy. In Ukranie's case, it has temporarily moved from home-grown Despotism to the threat of an alternative flavour of Despotism, but on this occasion, delivered by a foreign power. This will soon pass and the country will be able to  get on with the Anarchy before finally settling down to being a mature republic. However, as Egypt is currently showing, the cycle may have to be repeated several times before the appearance of those mythical sunny uplands of political stability.

FALLING INFLATION with Rising Prices?

When you are told that inflation is falling, you would naturally expect  prices to be falling . That ain’t necessarily so!

Many years ago, when I worked for a very large bank, I sent a team of people into town in order to find out whether the average British adult understood percentages. The answer was a resounding “No!”

MOST of the people we interviewed had NO IDEA about percentages!

Banks, supermarkets and even the government know very well that most people are either thick or at best borderline thick as far as simple arithmetic is concerned and they take full advantage.

Supermarkets “mix and match” their prices, so that you need to have the brain of a Stephen Hawking to decide whether it would be cheaper to buy three bags of crisps for the price of two or perhaps two at a different price with  one free  or maybe six bags with 10% extra. By the time you’ve made several purchases like this, you can leave a supermarket mentally exhausted.

Banks will be paying you interest at anything from 0 .01% p.a to  3.00% with maybe an introductory offer of three months with an additional 1.5%. Interest on credits is calculated from the day AFETR your deposit but debit interest on withdrawals is applied on the day of the debit. When a bank returns a wrongly applied charge, will it also re-credit the debit interest? If it does – then at what rate? You don’t know? You’re not alone.

The Government will throw statistics at you through the medium of television, delivered by double-first Oxbridge Economics  graduates who have absolutely NO idea how to explain economics concepts – except to other economists. Percentage increases in GDP, percentages out of work, percentage decreases in the annual inflation rate. Percentage, percentages and even more percentages!

Which is better? a 10% discount and then VAT added or would you prefer the VAT to be added first and THEN take the 10% discount? If your energy bill tells you that the discount on your Gas is 5% and the discount on the Electricity is 5%,  how many percent savings will you me making in total?  What is 12% of £60?

Today, we have been told that annual inflation is on the decrease BUT we all know that prices are on the increase. How is this possible?

I am going to try and explain but in very simple terms.

Assume you bought a radio in January 2013 and you paid £95.70.  If you then went to the same shop in January 2014  (a year later) and the price of the same radio had increased to £100, the price would have increased or INFLATED by £4.30. which is an increase of 4.5%.  

Let’s now go back to February 2013 when the price of the same radio was £100  and assume one year later, in February 2014, the price  increased yet again, this time to £104. That means that the radio would have increased in price or INFLATED by £4, which is  4.o%.

So, coming back to this year, between January and February 2014 (in one month), the radio’s price has INCREASED by £4 but at the same time, inflation has DECREASED from 4.5% to 4.0%!

Therefore, we have a rising price but simultaneously, we see falling inflation.

The media are already mumbling something about “falling food prices etc” having caused the present fall in inflation.

It is nothing of the sort : Yes, falling prices do contribute but the way that the calculations are made can be the major contributor to the figure because it is calculated  in discontinuous annual slices. Today’s inflation figure depends on what the inflation figure was a year ago.

Having said all that, on this occasion, the CPI has actually decreased in one month

Mind you, as usual,  whatever the basis of the inflation calculation, it will still not stop the politicians from claiming all the credit.

(Unless, of course, the inflation rate goes up too drastically, which is when those pesky “external factors out of our control” come into play!

Snapshots for 18 February, 2014

9:13 am After insurance industry leaders have had today's meeting with the Prime Minister, they're having a meeting with Miliband Minor. It's going to be a LONG day.


9:10 am When a CEO or Prime Minister has to handle a crisis personally, that suggests just one thing: He has a poor management structure under him or he doesn't trust the people HE  hired to complete the job effectively........ Either way, HE appointed them and is now doing THEIR job.


9:02 am  Another day, another meeting for David Cameron! This time it's with insurance industry leaders! Just to help DC with the nuances of insurance: INSURANCE is betting on something which MIGHT happen. ASSURANCE is betting on something which definitely WILL happen. Hence Life Assurance (you will DEFINITELY die) & nowadays, thanks to years of mismanagement and under- investment, we EFFECTIVELY have Flood ASSURANCE. Local Authorities and Central Government have placed the insurance industry in an impossible position. Insurance industry leaders will be "asked" not to increase premiums by too much by a government which is partly responsible for insurance claims which are already estimated to be well in excess of £1 BILLION.

Snapshots for 14 February, 2014

9:25 am  Roger Lloys Pack's funeral took place yesterday. He , of course was best-known as "Trigger" from Only Fools and Horses. According to his daughter Emily, Roger's final words to his family were "I'm fine"....... R.I.P


9:10 am  The odds are that a chunk of YOUR pension fund is invested by a Fund Manager (on your behalf) in Bank Shares. Over the years, lower dividends, as a result of those comedy bank bonuses will have an appreciable effect on your retirement fund. Who cares? You should. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/13/lloyds-bank-ceo-antonio-horta-osorio-bonus-profit

Snapshots for 13 February, 2014

5:04 pm  The debate about the Scots using the Pound Sterling after  "Independence Day" is all very interesting but pointless because they are quite at liberty to use whichever currency they like.  However, there would be a problem  for instance, if interest rates moved and the variation didn't suit their spluttering (yes!) economy, King Sean and his jester Sal Mond would have to  rethink their Ruritanian/Wallace dreams and go back to the Withdrawing Board! BTW, there will be no independence because in the final analysis, the Scots are a VERY pragmatic race and  WILL "do the right thing" (sorry!) and remain where they belong - a much-cherished and loved part of the UNITED Kingdom. THAT is why today's macho posturing by an "irrelevant" such as Chancellor Gideon is....er......irrelevant.


8:24 am  The #flooding has amplified a major misjudgement by politicians of every political party. They continue to imagine that the spouting of platitudes and looking sympathetic in front of cameras is somehow "reassuring" to the public. Here's a "heads-up":  Voters certainly used to be reassured by politicians' Royal visits.......but unfortunately that was when politicians were respected. That started to dip after 1945 and was finally buried when MPs were caught thieving from the taxpayer in 2009.  They should do something useful: STAY AWAY.


8:07 am  What Governor Mark Carney was saying yesterday (in the nicest possible way) was than a few quarters of insipid above-zero growth does not immediately and definitely signify an economic recovery. Unlike politicians, who will extrapolate from a single quarter......but ONLY if if it is positive. Mr Carney is rapidly showing that he is his own man who tells it how it is. A very refreshing change.

The FLOODS: An inept response?

As a manager and director I have always attempted to create a “No Surprises” regime. In the last few years, I have been showing businesses how to achieve that for themselves through a combination of Business Control and honest Management Audit.

“No Surprises Management” is not a magic formula for corporate bliss but it does demonstrate how many of the factors which CAN affect an organisation can be controlled or mitigated.

Most of us have heard of Crisis Management, which, to put it simply, is responding to a crisis after it has occurred. For many years, the skill or otherwise of Management has been measured on its ability to deal with a crisis.

Our Coalition government is currently coming under a lot of criticism because it is not able to demonstrate that it has any idea of how to deal with the current flooding crisis. That is because it appears to be formulating policy on the hoof. The sheer volume of meetings (COBRA #23) also points to a lack of policy and organisation.

However, we have to understand that a collection of political academics, ex-local councillors, union men, administrators and sons of self-made parents have never been told how to deal with a crisis – so we should not really expect too much. It is becoming increasingly apparent that their response is that of a bunch of amateurs.

Modern Management thinking is NOT just about managing a crisis but about Crisis Leadership – which is VERY different. Crisis Management is reactive, whereas Crisis Leadership is proactive, in the sense that plans are in place BEFORE the crisis occurs.

Our government should know and have identified the (only) SEVEN types of crisis which will affect it and it should have procedures in place which are ready to deal with each. In fact, ideally, it should have an “umbrella” plan which can deal with ALL of the following:

1. An Economic Crisis. The 2008 banking crisis has been the best example so far, but one should include issues such as Labour unrest, unemployment, a sudden decrease in the “tax-take” or even a Stockmarket crash. If you cast your mind back to 2008, you may realise that there was no clear Crisis Leadership, merely a panicky stab at Crisis Management (by the banks as well as by the government) and because there was no contingency planning, it cost BILLIONS more than it need have – and I bet that there STILL isn’t a plan in place.

2. An Informational Crisis. A loss of confidential information is a good example. Remember the panic over the Telegraph’s disclosure of MP expenses claims? The NHS has wasted MILLIONS on an abortive migration to a new computer system. Ministry of Defence details have been leaked to the media. ALL of these issues have been dealt with as a Crisis rather than by Crisis Leadership.

3. A Physical Loss. Loss of key equipment. Government and MI5 laptops getting into the wrong hands. Selling an aircraft carrier to Turkey and then having to go cap in hand in order to buy-back components for spares. It was clear in each of those cases that there is no Risk Assessment with procedures in place to deal with loss.

4. Human Resources. The loss of a Minister because of expenses fiddling or Police lies. Those are always a real risk which once again were dealt with as a crisis. Simple Crisis Leadership in the shape of some very simple succession planning would have made it look as if someone WAS in charge!

5. Reputational. Rumours, Politicians being caught with their pants around their ankles, damage to a government’s reputation or even slander are all very real risks. They are inevitably dealt with as a crisis and on an individual basis.

6. Psychopathic acts. Assange is one case which springs to mind. Kidnapping and terrorism or even one MP smacking another one in the House of Commons Bar. All require a procedure! However, I bet that the ONLY psychopathic act which the government and its departments are half-ready for, is a terrorist attack!

7. Natural Disasters. In the UK, we are limited to flooding, the odd explosion or fire. Of these, flooding is the topical one and because of a lack of foresight and political will, a major crisis is unfolding.

Pre-planning for crisis (Crisis Leadership) starts with thinking about the unthinkable. It is also about acknowledging that every crisis can go on to create another apparently unrelated crisis. In addition, every crisis is capable of being the Cause and the Effect of any other crisis.

For instance, the floods could be either the  cause or the effect of an economic crisis.

Imagine that in the first instance, there is a flooding crisis. Someone can then cause an Informational crisis by leaking minutes of a meeting during which it was decided to severely limit the expenditure on flood defences. There may have been a Physical loss of dredging equipment as a result of bad policies with another physical loss being an unusable railway line such as the one in Dawlish. A Human Resources crisis has been demonstrated by Ministerial bickering, the loss or Owen Patterson and the installation of a totally unprepared Eric Pickles as the government spokesman who is now flip-flopping from studio to studio, defending the undefensible.

A Reputational crisis has clobbered not only the Environment Agency and Lord Smith but is likely to engulf the entire Coalition Government because the perception is that they are ALL incompetent.

The above are only a sketch which demonstrates how a single crisis , if not managed properly, creates several others in its wake.

So what should happen in the future?

A cross-functional crisis team should be assembled, with an expert from each of the seven types of crisis. Each member of that team should be polled, in order to give the other members of the team a detailed understanding of all the crises which they believe could occur on their ‘patch’…………..A COBRA meeting, consisting of the usual suspects listening to a DC soliloquy plus a couple of soldiers in Camo gear (for the cameras) is NOT the way forward!

The next step is to produce a high-level ‘map’ of ALL crises and how they may interact and produce hitherto unexpected effects or as we are currently seeing…a chain reaction.

Until a non-political team such as this is put together, the United Kingdom is doomed to experience crisis after crisis with politicians who create the crisis charging themselves with making the effort to deal with the crisis and unwittingly delivering further crises ……………ad infinitum.

Snapshots for 12 February, 2014

6:55 pm  Legal Highs cause a very small fraction of the deaths caused by Tobacco and Alcohol. End of debate.


6:29 pm BBC News Editors need to up their game as far as reportage of the #flooding is concerned. They write of "Records", they give us meaningless Statistics, with their newsreaders almost delighting in the scale of the tragedy. This sensationalist and voyeuristic style of delivery with reporters standing by blown-over trees, collapsed walls and wind-blown beaches serve absolutely no useful purpose. Asking victims with ruined lives the "How do you FEEL?" question is lazy and adds absolutely nothing to the debate.......and incidentally,  just because the Thames Valley is now flooding, is NO excuse to totally ignore the hell that West Country victims continue to experience.


5:12 pm  First Eric and now Patrick! DC really IS getting the BIG BOYS in! Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick Mc Loughlin says that when David Cameron said "Whatever it takes" to help UK flood victims, he did NOT mean "blank cheque". That is because what DC said was untrue.....and we ALL knew it! ...."Whatever it takes" does NOT necessarily mean "Whatever it takes." That's because there ARE occasions when badly-prepared political statements are no more than macho nonsense designed ONLY for newspaper headlines. #COBRA451


9:55 am Bank of England: Presumably, interest rates will be going up AND down, either side of the 7% unemployment rate?  :)


9:49 am  There was a classic "No shit, Sherlock?!" moment from "an expert" on the radio this morning: "With all the rain, wind and flooding, certain people will become depressed." It good to see that a Psychology degree is not always a waste of time.


9:42 am  I have a funny feeling that the Draghi-like "Whatever it takes" promise by David Cameron to United Kingdom flood victims will come back to haunt him. It was a VERY ill-advised thing he said, merely  in order to placate the press. Once quotas, amounts, conditions and timescales start being published by his government, he will end up looking as if he'd broken another promise and performed yet another U-turn. For the moment though, let's sit back and count the COBRA meetings.

Snapshots for 29 January, 2014

3:14 pm  Chancellor Gideon has said the rest of Britain might be unwilling to let an independent Scotland keep the pound! The SNP has responded by suggesting that Scotland might in return refuse to take on its share of Britain's 1.2 TRILLION pounds of government debt. Can Alex Salmond actually see beyond the over-romanticised notions of  "FREEDOM!".....  driven by blind idealism and Sean Connery?


3:05 pm  EUROZONE: The ECB has cut interest rates to a record low, pumped extra liquidity into the banking system and announced a fresh government bond purchase programme.... but the measures have so far not managed to unclog lending to the real economy. Watch for another slowdown....in spite of everyone attempting to talk it all UP!

Snapshots for 21 January, 2014

1:35 pm  There was an unseemly exhibition of grandstanding  by Tim Yeo MP at this morning's Energy and Climate Change Select Committee meeting as  he told  #energy bosses "you are exploiting your privileged monopoly position" and neglecting customers! The Electricity Supplier CEOs were lined up like fairground ducks in front of the committee and all came across as reasonable guys who knew that in spite of the fact that they had done their level best, it had been impossible to reconnect every customer over the Christmas period. Yet more evidence that Members of Parliament are NOT fit to even be involved in such an inquiry and as for the Committee's Chairman, Tim Yeo....anyone would think that he either had other things on his mind or that he was trying too hard to impress!

Snapshots for 13 January, 2014

9:21 am Remember John Gummer in 1990 when he tried to feed his daughter a beefburger to try to convince the public re the safety of British beef? How about David Cameron doing something similar by being present (with the cameras) at the first FRACKING test drilling in Witney? We'd ALL love to be convinced!!

Christmas Leftovers

I’ve already published a version of this recipe and have adapted it for the traditional Yule turkey and ham which usually ends up in sandwiches, curries or pies.

Many years ago, I was driving through East Germany (don’t ask!)  and heard this on my car radio. It was read out on an English-speaking radio station and the presenter was obviously reading it for the first time, because after he’d read it out, he appeared to have a  severe coughing fit.

I won’t bother with a list of ingredients because there aren’t many but I guarantee that you WILL want to try this:

Preheat your oven to LOW but DO NOT attempt this dish in a gas oven. Use Electric or better-still, an Aga !

Take equal quantities of turkey and ham…but if you have no ham, then cooked sausage-meat will do.

500g of each is ideal but the weight may be varied.

Place the meat in the middle of a large sheet of foil (with a bit of luck, you should have some turkey foil left over).

Fashion the meat into a log shape, season with salt and pepper and fold the foil around it. Then roll it in the foil as tightly as possible and twist the ends so that you have an object resembling a large boiled sweet.

Place this on the rack of a high-sided roasting tin – the sort that in which you might have roasted your Christmas turkey. However, make sure that the roasting tin is very clean. Arrange sliced lemon segments around the perimeter of the roasting tin.

For the gravy: Into the roasting tin, pour one bottle of Gordon’s Gin and one bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and (if there’s room), half a bottle of Grouse Whisky.

Place the whole lot on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and cook for 30 seconds.

Remove from the oven.

Discard the foil-wrapped meat.

Drink the gravy!

Happy New Year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, children!

……………and tonight’s the night!!

Euro Christmas Wishes

My best wishes for an environmentally friendly, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender non-specific celebration of the Winter Solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a   fiscally successful, personally fulfilling  recognition of the onset of the generally accepted Gregorian calendar year 2014. This of course does not imply any disrespect to other calendars which, in certain cases, are accepted to predate the generally accepted measurement method and are not considered to be any less valid.

If you live within the Eurozone, we shall of course meet in one month’s time to discuss the above wishes and possibly renegotiate them as they are always subject to clarification or withdrawal. Moreover they can be withdrawn should one member not be in full agreement or should they personally not perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings, the above-mentioned fiscal success and ongoing cooperation from the Holy banking system.

The Wisher also accepts without reservation that especially within the political sphere, there may be, because of election, death or resignation, changes of Wishee. In such cases, the above is fully transferable in perpetuity, to subsequent Wishees but only subject to ongoing membership and cooperation.

Christmas Spirit.

One Christmas morning a few years ago, an army chaplain decided to join some squaddies in their armoured vehicle for a routine patrol in downtown Baghdad. As they drove through the dry dusty streets, they were only too aware of the possible dangers that they either saw or imagined in every person or pile of rubble that they came across.  As usual, they drove at walking pace.

Within about ten minutes, they found themselves surrounded by a silent crowd.

They soon realised that there was nothing to fear because the “crowd” consisted of about 20 skinny-looking, shabbily-dressed young children. They had that beige monochromatic look that we are all used to seeing in television reports – thin dusty faces, sand-matted hair , barefoot with beige and white ripped clothes. These were street kids.

The chaplain signalled the driver to stop. The children came closer and closer, until some were actually touching the hot metal of the vehicle’s bodywork. The chaplain, being the good man that he was, always carried sweets – not chocolate, because that tended to melt in these temperatures – just a paper bag full of ordinary boiled sweets.

He leaned out of his window, held the open bag of  sweets and smiled at the kids.

The children all held their hands out – obviously not quite trusting the smartly-dressed British Officer, but gradually, one-by one they started to come towards the chaplain and his sweets. Eventually, there was a bit of a rush and within a minute, all the sweets (and the bag) had gone.

Gradually, the laughing children dispersed and their excited chatter left with them.

The armoured car remained parked until all of the children had disappeared and the street was back to the familiar grown-up adult bustle of diggers lifting the rubble of bombed houses, squeaky wheelbarrows and arguing workers with shovels and picks.

The chaplain had enjoyed the moment. The sound of childrens’ laughter reminded him of his own children back home. He imagined his young son’s and daughter’s squeals of delight that very morning as they  opened their Christmas presents without him. He felt sad but at the same time, he felt warm inside and felt that he had just been given a small taste of Christmas.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a girl of about 11 sitting on a pile of rocks, just a few feet away from him. He waved at her – but nothing. She just stared. He felt his pockets but he had no more sweets to give.

He decided to be silly and started to pull faces at her. He rolled his eyes, stuck his tongue out, stuck his thumbs in his ears and wiggled his fingers. His driver remained “eyes forward” – he knew that it was best not to look at an officer – chaplain or not- who was making a prat of himself.

Gradually, the skinny little girl began to relax, became a bit more confident. Soon she smiled began to look a little bit more animated. After a few more minutes of the chaplain’s silliness, she was laughing.

Two minutes later, the girl stood and  walked slowly towards the vehicle. The chaplain noticed that she had both arms down by her sides – as if she was trying to conceal something. For a brief moment, the chaplain felt a slight “frisson” of alarm, having heard of child bombers being told that they could detonate a bomb without any harm coming to them.

Nevertheless, he  stepped out of the vehicle and stood – waiting for her to approach.

She stopped only an arm’s length away and looked him straight in the eyes and continued to smile.

The chaplain could now see quite clearly how underweight and probably very hungry she was. He thought about two things simultaneously. Firstly, whether she was a bomber and whether there was anything to give her to eat on this Christmas morning – but he had nothing useful to give. She continued to stare.

Her cheeks were hollow but her eyes shone like diamonds.

Slowly, the girl stretched both arms towards him with two clenched fists turned downwards.  Her gaze never left his face.  Then she turned her clenched fists so that they were pointing upwards.

Then…she opened her hands, palms-up.

As she opened her hands, he was surprised to see  that there was a boiled sweet on each palm. She smiled the broadest smile and nodded,  indicating that he should take one of the sweets.

She didn’t move or flinch as he reached out and took a sweet. “Thank you,” he said.

She didn’t understand what the English soldier had said to her. All she knew was that ten minutes previously,  he had given all of his sweets away to the other children and she had accidentally taken two sweets.

She thought that she would give one back  to the soldier, so that he too had a sweet.

That small, simple act of generosity by a hungry little Muslim girl reminded the chaplain of what we call “the Spirit of Christmas” is all about.

Merry Christmas.

2014 Predictions – PART DEUX!

The first episode of my 2014 predictions has already been published and can be found HERE.

Below are my final predictions for the year and contain some extrapolations based on the government’s current air-brained and totally unrealistic attitude which is largely based on surveys and statistical “facts” – usually NOT based on a statistically significant time-span.

However, one has to admit that there are other predictions which are based in hope rather than fact!! See if you can spot the ones which are totally ridiculous!

And PLEASE don’t accuse me of being silly! They started it!

1. Chancellor Gideon Osborne will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

2. President Bashar al-Assad will win the Nobel peace Prize, in tandem with Tony Blair….for services to Syria and Iraq respectively.

3. The British Economy will recover and outgrow China.

4. British banks will lend money to SMEs WITHOUT blackmailing (for themselves) large chunks of equity participation.

5. There will be NO tax give-aways in the lead-up to the next General Election.

6. The French economy will recover and outstrip that of Germany.

7. Angela Merkel will become engaged to Sylvio Berlusconi.

8. Compulsory Bulgarian and Romanian will be taught in English schools.

9. Education Secretary, Michael Gove will stop interfering in the United Kingdom’s education system.

10. David Cameron will fire a Cabinet Minister for being a useless prat.

11. Banks will have completed the “Rebuilding of Balance Sheets”.

12. A thick person from the lower orders will win the X-factor.

13. Pope Benedict will ask for his old job back.

14. Economics journalists will start to write articles in easily-understood English so that EVERYONE understands what they are talking about – even those without an Oxbridge PPE degree!

15. More 65-plus Media and Arts perverts will be brought to book.

16. Manchester United will win the Premier League.

17. Heather Mills wins 2014 Sports personality of the Year.

18. The FTSE 100 will cross 7500. Or 4500! (It all depends on money-printing policy)

19. Yvette Copper will become Labour Leader and Theresa May will lead the Conservative Party into the next General Election.

20. David Attenborough will locate and identify The Big Society (and its bank).

21. Coalition Politicians will stop saying “The Mess THEY left behind” and “Difficult Decisions”.

22. David Cameron will keep talking about renegotiating the UK’s membership of the EU.

23. Richard Dawkins will prove conclusively, the existence of Godociety – with the former being the most likely!.

24. The Coalition Government will stop using the word “percentage” or “percent” in every other sentence.

25. Chancellor Gideon will get rid of his Caligula haircut.

26. Ed Miliband will say something intelligent and produce some economic policies

27. Dennis Rodman will be appointed Chief of Staff of  the North Korean Army.

28. A well-known former PR man and art collector will have an arse transplant – but it will reject him.

29. President Obama will DO something and Boris Johnson will stop talking bollocks.

30. The HS2 toy train project will become a very long runway.

31. There will be no further bank mis-selling scandals – and I certainly won’t tell that interest on your bank CREDITS is calculated from the day AFTER the deposit, whereas the interest on Withdrawals is debited immediately.

32. UK property prices will continue to increase For Ever! Capital Gain without end!

33. There will be no further Westminster expenses scandals.

34. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage will be quiet, dignified, restrained and statesmanlike after the UKIP gains in European Elections.

35. Iain Duncan-Smith will say “Sorry!”to all the innocent people he has wronged. Hopefully, just before he collects his P45.

(I am NOT a Global Warming mullah but the image above shows all the world’s water and air to scale.)

The Enfield Crime Squad.

Snapshots for 20 December, 2013

10:37 am  Remember, Chancellor Gideon: There are NO reasons - only excuses! By the way  the United Kingdom's trade deficit widened to £10.0 BILLION in Q3  from £5.0 billion in Q3, representing 5.1% of GDP. Spin that! http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_347294.pdf

Snapshots for 18 December, 2013

5:18 pm  What sort of twat sees a fireman outside Waitrose with tinsel on his high-viz jacket & drops a pound coin into his Latte?


5:13 pm  Is the Home Office ABSOLUTELY sure that the United Kingdom can attract Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to this land of Elitism, Noncery, Government Racism, Xenophobia, crooked Lords and SHOCKING Educational standards?


2:15 pm  RIP Ronnie Biggs. Mind you, the Great Train Robbery (including the cost of the investigation) pales into insignificance alongside HS2.


2:04 pm  Chancellor Gideon has claimed that "the taxpayer" has made a profit on the sale of Lloyds Bank shares. That is NOT true. It is yet another example of the half-truths and selective statistics which have come to characterize this government. The money to buy Lloyds shares in the first place, was BORROWED. That had an attendant cost. Therefore, if fees and costs are deducted from the share sale, "the taxpayer" made a LOSS. Gideon is becoming Brownesque in his ability to dispose of national assets.


11:14 am Our Education System is catching up with the NHS!!  1.56 MILLION people work for the NHS. Meanwhile, 1.49 MILLION are employed in Education. Approximately 450,000 of them are teachers.


11:09 am Currently, 30.1 MILLION people are employed in the UK....... Of those, 8.15 MILLION ( 27%) are part-time!

PMQ “gesture”!!

The Prime Minister spotted Ed Balls making a brand new hand gesture during PMQs. One suspects that it might have been this:

A Christmas alone – for too many….

The Inequality and Iniquity of Growth.

This Christmas there will be millions of puzzled and sometimes hungry people staring at their televisions. Their hunger is easily explained – they are poor but what will confuse them will be the newsflashes showing smiling people shopping and talking about ‘Tablets’ at £500 each, Champagne, and a million other expensive items and yes…even Christmas turkeys!

Then they will see celebrity chefs cooking Brussels sprouts with pancetta, more champagne, the perennial debate about goose fat versus oil on roasties and how we’ll ALL be ‘over-indulging’ and falling asleep on the sofa! An alien world which some will have tasted but sadly, too many – especially children, will never inhabit.

This (to them) is a ‘make-believe’ world of plenty. They know it exists somewhere near them but it is like the parallel universe of science fiction….there but impossible to access.

They see shiny, smug politicians saying words about ‘the recession being over’….something the poor haven’t been too acutely aware of because what the politician calls ‘recession’ and ‘austerity’, they call “LIFE”.

‘The economy’ appears to be doing very well! …………..By the way….what is that?

The disparity between the most affluent Brits and the rest is hurting the economy. This chasm between rich and poor appears to have become an unacknowledged issue, primarily as the result of too many of the Cabinet belonging to ‘the Affs’. It is apparent that few understand that everyone (up to middle class) has seen their income stagnate, whilst wealthy households have really thrived.

Note: I propose to dispense with euphemisms such as “the well-off” and “society’s disadvantaged”. Let’s stick to rich and poor.

Bonuses, higher salaries, higher profits and exceptional stock market gains are flowing almost exclusively to the already-rich. Proportionately, however, the affluent household ’spend’ represents much less of their money than that of  low and middle-income consumers.

One of the priorities of this government should be to engineer a much broader spending base – one which encompasses the poor……allowing them to actually participate in the economy.

Currently, there is a very distorted  picture of consumer spending because it is driven by the rich. The poor and the poorer are doing their best to keep up but inevitably need to borrow in order to spend – thus making themselves even poorer. Meanwhile, many rich are gaining profits from  bank or lending company shares which are fueled by the poors’ accelerating poverty….but the rich have something else which the poor have never had: OPTIONS or CHOICE!

One very profitable option this year has been the stock market – but once the markets have calmed down (which they will!) and gains are no longer eye-wateringly high, the affluent (As and Bs) will stop spending or at least, cut back dramatically.

THAT will have an immediate and devastating effect on this virtual economic recovery. SO, it is in the government’s interest to sustain the recovery illusion by keeping interest rates low and Quantitative Easing flowing to the banks so that , from an investment point of view, the equity markets (stocks and shares) remain the only game in town, so that the rich retain their mega spending power for as long as possible – at least until May 2015!

That is a very dangerous game for any government to play.

This is the phenomenon which has created and is sustaining the ever more bitter ‘CLASS’ debate and is in danger of feeding Populism and ultimately, major unrest.

Income Inequality and not airports or trains should be the government’s priority.

There is now little doubt that in spite of government policy, the United Kingdom’s economic growth is picking up….as it is everywhere else (Global Economy!)

NOW, while the mini-recovery lasts, would be a good time for the government to tackle the INEQUALITY OF GROWTH which is not an iniquity but the iniquity of modern times.

2014 Predictions – PART ONE

Predicting the future has always been a mug’s game. For instance, I continue to believe that the markets are all in the wrong place and overpriced and I predicted the FTSE at about 4500 – but then again, I could not have predicted the collective madness of Quantitative Easing and the real fear that politicians have of the banks. I used to understand investment…but not any more. Cheap virtual cash continues to fund the markets and to keep them artificially high.

The politicians feel that they have to please the banks first and only then the voter. Governments are no longer in control of events. Nowadays, finance drives politics and politicians have become the bankers’ lackeys.

For as long as banks and governments continue to mutually gorge themselves on virtual cash and governments do not have the courage to increase interest rates and taxes in order to join us in the real world, there is a very real possibility that the current economic situation will become the status quo.

These predictions are in no particular order.

1. The disconnect between economic data and the quality of life is fueling populism. It is also fueling right-wing extremism and anti-government sentiment. I fully expect the equivalent of the Arab Spring sometime during 2014 , in the UK and some other European states.

2. South Sudan will provide the next African bloodbath.

3. The Scots will vote “No” to independence.

4. The recently-adopted self-congratulatory air will desert both UK and European politicians as it is realised that the “virtual” economic recovery is unsustainable.

5. There will be a substantial increase in China’s birth rate (the new “one child plus” policy), contrubuting TWO MILLION children to the 2014 economy, boosting consumer motivation.

6. China will continue to build and accelerate its natural resource monopoly in Africa. (One million Chinese already live there).

7. As the West cuts its military budgets, China will continue to do exactly the opposite.

8. David Cameron will continue to tell us what MUST and SHOULD be done, one a whole range of issues.

9.  Anaemic growth in the advanced economies will see government debt continue to climb.

10. The US $ will continue its decline. Instead of Quantitative Easing Infinity accelerating economic growth, its effect will be to shrink the $’s buying power.

11. The sudden (and unexpected) pick-up in UK growth, followed by the indication of a reversal in the final quarter of 2013 suggests that businesses were adding to their inventories rather than selling their goods. Expect the reversal to continue in 2014.

12. Germany currently represents approximately 30% of the Eurozone economy and will continue to enjoy the fruits of a weak euro and ramp-up exports.Germany has the world’s highest current account balance as a percentage of GDP. During 2014, Germany’s economic success will continue to accelerate and will represent over ONE THIRD of the Eurozone’s output.

13. Japan will continue to prosper. Its economic output is not 75% of China’s. although it is 4% of China’s size with 9% of China’s population. “Abenomics” has provided the “jump-leads” which Japan needed.

14. The USA will enter another recession in 2014. Currently it is still on “below-2%” growth.

15. A Populist movement will become increasingly vocal here in the UK (and in certain Eurozone countries), with sudden impetus being generated AFTER the European Parliamentary Elections when the main traditional parties will be decimated by the Left and Right.

16. In spite of the Eurozone’s economic “recovery”, unemployment will remain at current record heights (Over 12%).

17. Deflation will accelerate within the Eurozone and economic forecasts will once again be downgraded.

18. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) will publish the 2013 EU accounts and once again, confirm that the continuing “errors” in all of the EU’s spending  areas have finally crossed 5%(!) of expenditure.

19. The UK government will do well to prepare for the possibility of social unrest which is driven by the rapid growth of the “have nots”. The financial hangover caused by  Christmas 2013 will be far more extreme than in previous years.

20. The Federal Reserve will announce and implement the end of its  massive bond-buying programme. This will have a substantial effect on the markets.

21. The full-extent of the banking industry’s Pension and Life Assurance mis-selling will become apparent.

22. There will by an explosion in Teacher Militancy as the government continues to fiddle with our childrens’ education.

23. The price of Crude Oil will fall to about $75 per barrel. The decrease will be primarily caused  by oversupply as a result of new production methods.

24. The European Union will fail to deal with its members’ collective debts. Again.

25. The Global Recovery will falter.

26. On January1st, Greece will take over the Presidency of the EU – at a cost to itself of €50 MILLION. This exemplifies the madness of the European Union when a de facto bankrupt state with zero clout is allowed to be burdened such a “spend”. Prediction: Greece will make a “pig’s ear” of its Presidency. Hopefully Subway and MacDonald’s are bidding for the catering contract.

27. Twitter, Amazon etc will be recognised as part of yet another totally unsustainable bubble.

28. In the UK, there will be yet more calls for House of Lords reform. Hopefully, as more and more of their Lordships’ financial “indiscretions” come to light, the debate will snowball, eventually leading to an elected Upper House. Turkeys may well HAVE to vote for Christmas.

29. Once South Africa has recovered from Mandela’s death, there is a real danger of  a return to what I can only describe as “Reverse Apartheid”. Violence.

30. Syria will continue to generate substantial profits for the world’s Arms producers as it has become increasingly apparent that there is NOT the political will to even attempt to end this butchery.

(I am NOT a Global Warming mullah but the image above shows all the world’s water and air to scale.)

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/

Chancellor Gideon – Fact or Fiction?

One of the greatest pleasures in life used to be for someone to read a great work of fiction to you out loud. You would sink back, close your eyes and let it wash over you ……and all that you had to do is to compose the pictures! Unfortunately, reading out-loud is a dying art and now a pleasure only enjoyed by young children and the infirm.

So imagine the frisson of  anticipation ahead of listening to Chancellor Gideon reading The Autumn Statement – (I have always been a great fan of realistic fiction!)  I closed my eyes, kicked back…but…the pictures just wouldn’t come. All I could visualise was a smug fat boy with a Caligula haircut and eyes with all the charm of two bullet holes,  reading with all the conviction of a posh grocer reading a Fortnum’s shopping list.

GDP..blah blah….Growth…blah blah….Deficit…blah….and so on.

Then, after the “de rigeur” and customary:  ”Hard-working people” , “Mess they left behind” and “Tough decisions” plus the recently conceived “It will be less that it WOULD have been”….all from the Coalition Book of Platitudes, came something about the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) moving ever closer to life expectancy!

I felt myself slowly emerging from the Treasury-induced coma.

Whether the NRA is 69, 70 or 102, it will never affect those on a private pension or those with enough money to be able to make choices.

The ability to make choices is what individual freedom is all about. One of the overriding features of this government is that too many people perceive that their choices have been compromised. Control has been wrested away from those who are relying on the State to feed and provide their shelter in old age.

Meanwhile, the “well-off” will continue to be able to stop working whenever they want to.

It is only those clapped out individuals who see retirement age as The Finishing Line who will be affected. They are the ones who used to retire at 65 and die at 67.

Soon, they will retire at 70… not quite dead but maybe wishing they were, knowing that some of their better-off acquaintances will have already been retired for 20 years.

(BTW, unemployment at the time of the 2010 General Election was 2.47 million. It is STILL 2.47 million. ……NO statistical sleight-of-hand will ever change that fact!)

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  A big UP to Jim Murphy MP   #TheClutha


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  #blair ....I bet that I can name at least ONE former P.M who would NEVER be accused of suspected "knobbage"  :)


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.

Heads I win, Tails I….er…win?

The American Dollar is on its way up because everyone has woken up and is rushing towards it as fast as they can. Why this sudden (but expected) reaction? Because no matter what happens in the USA as a result of the battle between the Republicans and Obama, the dollar is the one world currency which will always trade and will always bounce back.

Never mind that hundreds of thousands of poorly-paid American employees aren’t being paid, never mind that America is quite likely to default on its debts as a result of Congress possibly blocking the raising of the $17 trillion debt ceiling. Those things just DO NOT matter. Why? Because of the numbers.

To every other country on Earth a debt ceiling of $17 trillion seems beyond huge! It appears to be beyond management…but you have to remember that the USA’s  annual economy is worth approximately the same amount! In addition,  the worldwide trade in the American dollar is about $4 trillion PER DAY  and even though much of the trade is by algo-trading, such vast volumes mean that there is little chance of business suddenly drying up!

The dollar trading volume  every FOUR DAYS is roughly equivalent to America’s entire debt! So, even if the USA defaults on its debt, the worldwide dollar trade will continue.

A very high percentage of these trades will be in derivatives and high-speed meta trading. Whatever the views are on this modern equivalent of the three-card trick (blink and you’ll miss it), as the owner of the world’s reserve currency, America can get away with economic choices and techniques open only to it.

Whatever happens in the States, the global economy, especially within the Eurozone, will remain fragile.

The American economy has given a very good impression of having been in recovery for several quarters but the maximum collateral damage that the current Washington crisis can cause, will be to make the ersatz recovery look even more unconvincing. That’s unlikely to give the Fed, Obama or even the Republicans too much of a headache.

The whole affair will not be dealt with by means of finesse or any subtle change in policy. It will be the equivalent of a fiscal sledgehammer! Uncle Sam’s customary solution to any issue!

We live in a  “meta-money” driven financial system which sits above (and below) the “real” economy. It manages to both influence and to be driven-by the real economy which gave birth to it (that’s the old-school economy which is based on profits derived from either manufacturing or providing a service).

Stockmarkets, whose original purpose was to raise capital to fund business are now no more than piles of gambling chips to be plundered (mainly) through the medium of high-frequency trading – a mutation of “simple” capitalism.

The goings-on in America will generate billions – no matter what the outcome, because bets are currently being placed on all scenarios and outcomes. In the main, it will be Republicans or, strictly-speaking Republican-supporting business placing the bets.

That’s because Washington’s political agenda is being driven by right-wing business because it is they who are funding the Republican right-wing and ultimately, their agenda is very straightforward. They want Obama out. The Republican left-wing has to go along for the ride.

The outcome will be similar to that which has developed in the United Kingdom over the last few years – big business (specifically Banking) and not the electorate will drive the political agenda.

They have the chips AND the cash.

(The IMF’s Christine Lagarde has just made the customary panic announcement that the Americans should sort themselves out. “Vite! Allez!!” ….Calm down, love…let them finish the game.)

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)

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