Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
IT will take ten years to get Northern Rock money back. Or, as it should more properly be presented, this is a statement of the bleedin’ obvious:
Taxpayers will have to wait up to a decade to get their money back from the bailout of Northern Rock, according to the man charged with managing the rump of the failed bank.
In an interview with Financial Mail, Richard Banks, chief executive of UK Asset Resolution, said: ‘We expect the majority of the Government debt to be repaid within the next ten years.’
But Banks said he could not be precise about the final date as inflation and the state of the economy could push his forecast off course.
WE’VE had the report out today about how and why Halifax Bank Of Scotland fell over. You can read it in all its glory here. And the important takeaway point to be made about it is that it was nothing at all to do with speculation, investment banking, weird derivatives, high speed trading or any of the other things that people fulminate against. It was, very simply, a bank going bust in the way that banks have always gone bust. Lending too much money to people who didn’t pay it all back.
AND good on Willy Shakespeare for being a speculator in grant. For it is speculation in food that ekes out the harvest from year to year. Without them we’d all start getting damn hungry around May while waiting for the August harvest.
WHY would you want to be a CEO? Sure, the money’s bloody great but even so most of us would prefer to have a life to what these bozos do for their paycheques. Surprisingly, it’s The Guardian that tells us how hard these CEOs work. The piece is here:
First off – and there’s no getting around this one, I’m afraid – you have to get up early. Really early: 6am is good, but 5am is better. And CEOs don’t hit snooze: most of them claim to leap out of bed in the morning…..They may be in charge of large international companies, but they are absolute slaves to email. Karen Blackett of MediaCom claims to receive 500 a day. They’re emailing first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, and throughout the day. For the modern CEO, dealing with your own email seems to be some kind of touchstone of accessibility. I’m not sure what I’d do if I got 500 emails every day, but I know what I wouldn’t do: I wouldn’t read them.
A TORY MP has been complaining that the fees office treats them like dirt. They just go along to try and claim what is rightfully theirs, what the law provides for them to have, and they get treated like crap. Paid massively late, they’ve got to go into debt to pay their bills while they wait for the cash to be paid out.
Yes, of course this is what we should be doing to all politicians:
A Conservative MP has criticised the body responsible for overseeing politicians’ expenses claims, claiming they are trying to ‘screw MPs into the ground’.
Karl McCartney, the MP for Lincoln, says he has been forced to borrow £25,000 from his parents because of late payments by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) caused by delays in the processing of his expenses payments, a situation he claims that many other MPs face.
SO. Here we have Ed Davey, the third runner up in a Wayne Rooney lookalike competition, telling us how all that work they’ve done on renewables is going to save us money:
But my Department has been concentrating on keeping bills as low as possible over the long-term – and for everyone.
Some people think climate change policies on things like wind farms are what are behind high bills. But they couldn’t be more wrong. The biggest single thing driving bills higher is global oil and gas prices. They have been rising remorselessly, fuelled by demand in growing economies like China. They’re likely to keep rising.
The Government can’t control the global market and drive down international wholesale prices. What we can do is try to drive a wedge between global prices and the cost of bills.
Through investment in domestic sources of low carbon energy like nuclear, wind and wave power, and other renewables, we are helping to insulate the public from volatile fossil fuel prices in the future.
MAX Hasting on Cyprus:
People who rob old ladies in the street, or hold up security vans, are branded as thieves. Yet when Germany presides over a heist of billions of pounds from private savers’ Cyprus bank accounts, to ‘save the euro’ for the hundredth time, this is claimed as high statesmanship.
It is nothing of the sort. The deal to secure a €10 billion German bailout of the bankrupt Mediterranean island is one of the nastiest and most immoral political acts of modern times.
IN fact, the settlement in Cyprus is so sensible that it’s a wonder they didn’t just do this a week ago. Or even 6 months ago when it was obvious that the place needed help. For is was obvious that the banks were bust,. For what they were doing was taking all that lovely Russian money and then lending it to the Greek Government. Who, as you might recall, then decided not to pay 90% of the money they’d borrowed back. From which point on the Cypriot banks were bust no matter what else happened.
OVER this Cyprus thing. They’ve decided that everyone who has their bank deposits guaranteed by the government of Cyprus must lose some of their bank deposits guaranteed by the government of Cyprus. Which is insane.
Here’s the real basic problem: banking is inherently unstable. No, I don’t mean casino banking, excessive trading and all that stuff. Because banks don’t keep your money in the vaults, they lend it out to other people. So if we all turn up one day demanding our cash the banks go bust simply because our cash is invested in Mrs. Miggins’ mortgage.
WELL, along one dimension it is, fracking producing much less waste water (and polluted waste water) than normal drilling for gas does. It isn’t quite how we normally think of it of course, but it does seem to be true:
There is a perception that the hydraulic fracturing of rock to discharge natural gas produces inordinate volumes of wastewater. After all, millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals are pumped at high pressure into the ground and a considerable portion of this fluid rushes back to the surface when the pressure is released.
THERE are bad budgets and then there are bad budgets. And this one is a true stinker in at least one respect. Osborne’s decided to try and pump up house prices. The simpleton fool:
A state-backed mortgage guarantee scheme worth £130billion will see the market flooded with 500,000 cheap loans.
The Government is to subsidise deposits and provide state backing for loans to help homebuyers get on the property ladder or move up.
But there were warnings that the scheme risks creating a house price bubble.
No, that last line is wrong, is too milquetoast.
HOT in from the Mail we have the news that VW are thinking of building their new Bentley SUV in Bratislava in Slovakia. And why in Buggery would anyone want to do that?
Bentley may build its new luxury off-roader in Bratislava rather than Britain, the firm’s bosses have revealed.
In a dramatic blow to its 4,000-strong British work-force – and to Chancellor George Osborne ahead of today’s Budget – the firm’s German chiefs announced at their annual results conference in London that they were considering manufacturing the £150,000 4X4 in the Slovakian capital in Eastern Europe.
One of these things is not like the other: The EU on bankers’ bonuses and the Swiss on corporate pay
SADLY, all too many people seem to be thinking that these things are the same, or similar.
We’ve the EU trying to push through a limit on bankers’ bonuses. They can only get a bonus equal to 100% of their salary, or 200% if the shareholders agree. And then there’s the Swiss vote of yesterday about how fat cat corporate pay can be limited. The thing is, not only aren’t they roughly the same thing they’re actually opposites of each other:
Swiss vote to impose world’s strictest rules on executive pay after public outcry over fat cat bonuses
People in Switzerland have voted for strict controls on executive pay
68 per cent backed plans to veto pay-outs to bosses
Move sparked by anger over the big bonuses blamed for fuelling risky investments
It comes after the EU announced plan to cap bankers’ bonuses at a year’s pay
IT had to happen of course: that the Guardian would go from being partisan on the subject of economics (and why not?) to publishing stuff that is just flat out ignorant. Take this about Bill Gates for example:
One of the most peculiar but least understood developments of our time is the emergence of billionaires against capitalism. Even some of the greatest beneficiaries of the market system seem deeply disillusioned with it.
The same mistake is made throughout the piece. Capitalism and markets are not the same thing, not the same thing at all.
THESE figures about growth in the UK economy really aren’t a surprise:
The data is likely to deepen concerns about the widening gulf between the capital’s “bubble” economy and the rest of the country. Between 2007 and 2011, London’s economy grew by 12.4pc, despite the painful impact of the financial crisis on the City.
That rate compared to growth elsewhere which ranged between 2.3pc in the East Midlands to 6.8pc in the South West, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The South East, boosted by proximity to London, was close behind at 6.4pc.
A rough guide to the British economy is that it’s a middle of the road, middle ranking, European economy. Nothing very special about it in any direction: except for the presence of London. That’s a part of the Great Global Economy and so is influenced by what’s going on out there, not what’s happening at home. China growing at 8%, India at 6, hundresd of millions, billions even, climbing up out of destitution into the petit bourgeois delights of three square meals a day: these matter more to London than whatever the hell is happening in Bradford or Bingley.
It isn’t just banking either: accounting, law, arts, real estate and so on and on. London’s global in the way that New York, Singapore, Hong Kong are.
Maybe it shouldn’t be like this. Maybe we should do something so that it isn’t. But what is currently happening makes a great deal more sense if you think about the British economy in this manner. London really is entirely different from the rest of the UK economy.
WHY do men fight to get rich? Because it gets the babes. Here’s George Soros and his former lover Adriana Ferreyr:
Soros’ papers state: ‘Soros and Ferreyr…engaged in a physically intimate relationship over the course of several years. [They] continued to date other people.
‘[At the time of the alleged assault in 2010] Soros was approximately 80 years old, and Ferreyr was approx 27 years old.’
THIS should be a spoof but unfortunately it isn’t: they’ve managed to get the economics of this situation entirely the wrong way around:
As bidding topped £680m, the Czech regulator pulled the plug on the 4G auction, saying that to continue would risk pushing cripplingly high prices onto the winner’s customers as well as delaying deployments – both to the detriment of the country’s citizens.
The Czech Republic was hoping for a fast deployment, and the regulator had placed a reserve of 7.4bn Czech Koruna (£250m) on the bands being auctioned off, but with four operators determined to divide the bands into three bundles, the bidding got out of hand and the regulator decided to pull the plug rather than taking the money.
This is insane.
THE was an incredible piece in the Mail four months back. It was all about how a couple with kids on £75k a year just didn’t have any money, weren’t paying off the capital on their mortgage, didn’t have any savings and boo hoo hoo. At the time all of the comments were about just what it was they were doing: what simple damn mistake were they making? Sure, £75k’s not going to turn the head of any investment bankers but it’s still a decent enough chunk of change.
- Citizens have not been consulted directly, however. Instead they have been ventriloquised through ‘sock puppet’ charities, think tanks and other ‘civil society’ groups which have been hand-picked and financed by the European Commission (EC). These organisations typically lobby for closer European integration, bigger EU budgets and more EU regulation.
- The composition of ‘civil society’ at the EU level is largely dictated by which groups the Commission chooses to fund. There has been a bias towards centre-left organisations, with a particular emphasis on those promoting policies that are unpopular with the public, such as increasing foreign aid, restricting lifestyle freedoms and further centralising power within EU institutions.
THIS is an absurd complaint about shale gas:
The shale gas energy boom which critioooocs say will scar the countryside could line the pockets of foreign firms rather than boosting the British economy.
Most of the companies licensed to drill for the fuel using the controversial technique known as fracking are not UK-owned, it can be revealed.
FOR governments will lie to you and lie to you again and again.
As the companies that make solar panels are finding out.
Only four years ago, hundreds of start-ups optimistically built factories and churned out solar panels to meet rising demand. Now, closures and failure loom for many.
The brutal shakeout is a dramatic reversal for an industry that has seen overall global growth of more than 30 percent annually over the past decade and this year will reach new records for solar panel sales.
Only a handful of manufacturers are now profitable in the face of too much capacity, which has contributed to a plunge in prices, and as government subsidies have been curbed. European banks that lent billions for solar installation have also pulled back as they struggle in the euro zone credit crisis, and debt-laden Chinese solar companies are in danger of burning up.
YES, we all know the complaints. That those Chinese workers assembling the Apple products are paid a pittance, it’s all a shame and the company are capitalist bastards for exploiting the poor so.
Or we could look at the actual facts and decide that Apple’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the denizens of the perfumed east. For it is exactly that Apple and other companies expanding their operations there that is pushing up wages. Which is, I hope we’d all agree, what we’d actually like to happen? That the poor get rich?
Wages in Sichuan and Henan have surged 120 percent in six years because of economic growth, increasing local competition for labor and slower population-growth nationwide.
D’YE remember a little while back when UK Uncut was the new thing in town and all the cool kids were joining up? One of the things they did was have a little visit to Fortnum and Masons. Can’t remember exactly what they were whining about but it was something very important about people not paying taxes in some manner.
Which brings us to something from the financial pages:
Accounts for the holding company of the Weston family, Wittington Investments, show it recorded a sharp rise in revenues and profits last year thanks to the success of its sugar business and Primark.
For example, you know we were all told that excessive speculation is what made prices jump around all over the place? And in one market at least, that speculation was stopped:
Trading volumes in sovereign CDS have plummeted as much as 50%, according to traders, four months on from a European Union-wide ban on speculative positions came into force.
Data from Citigroup and the DTCC showed that the net amount of outstanding CDS for all EU sovereigns has sunk 27% from around €124bn in mid-2012 to about €98bn. This follows the ban on “naked” short positions in sovereign CDS – that is positions that are not hedging an underlying position – having kicked in last November.