Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
A FRENCH banking disaster?
Société Générale, France’s second-biggest bank, has revealed that one of its traders in Paris had committed a 5bn euro (£3.6bn/$7.1bn) fraud.
A list of recent monster banking frauds.
It’s Pounds for Pounds. And if the fatties pound the pavement and run it’s Pounds For Pounds For Pounds.
Sadly, the initiative already has a name – Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives – and is under the auspices of the Well@Work scheme.
The Telegraph says that one competition, called The Biggest Loser, awarded £130 in gift vouchers for the participant who lost the most weight.
This is just the start.
Companies should be encouraged to flag their interests, perhaps replacing the Ltd and PLC parts of their names with something to reveal that their clinically obese staff have signed up to the scheme.
What about [company name] FAT or FLAB (Fat Loser Aerobic Business)?
And there are are the belly ads…
A Britney photo garners anywhere from $250 (for a run-of-the-mill shot of her at Starbucks) to $100,000 or more.
The photo agency X17, which has a team trailing her 24-7, estimates that Britney accounts for 30 percent of its revenue: It sold $2.5 million worth of Britney photos in 2007 alone, including $500,000 for its exclusive Bald Britney pics. Competitor Splash News says that Britney accounts for 10 to 15 percent of its business, boosted this year by $200,000 for photos of Britney in a hot tub.
All told, Britney probably makes up a full 20 percent of the paparazzi business.
A celebrity tabloid with Britney Spears on the cover sells 1.28 million newsstand copies, some 33 percent more than the average. Between January 2006 and July 2007, Britney was a cover subject of People, Us Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style, OK!, or Star a total of 175 times in just 78 weeks. During that period, newsstand sales of issues with her on the cover amounted to a staggering $360 million.
SO dominate is the polar bear that it is now used to illustrate the curent economic climate.
While some may prefer a sloth bear, Matt Drudge uses a roaring polar bear.
THE Hello! factor puts us into debt, but “We’re free of debt at age 50 says new research (well, sort of).”
The Mail notes: “At the age of 50 years and 90 days the average Briton finally shakes off the shackles of student loans, credit card debts and personal loans and can look forward to a richer future.”
And, as lucky has it, that is also the age when your are deemed too old to appear within the pages of Hello!.
Granted some wrinkles make it onto the glossiness, but they feature in ensemble pieces, and taking an average age of the all body parts (old and new) we confirm that no one is older than 50 years and 90 days. Indeed, Zsa Zsa Gabor is spot on.
But the Mail pinpoints it exactly, telling readers: “How the Hello! factor is driving millions into debt.”
We are in the grip of a “spendemic”. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at Uswitch, said:
“We are caught in a spiral of conspicuous consumption. It is no longer enough to keep up with the Joneses.
“Instead we want to live like our favourite celebrities. But it is clear our salaries cannot keep up with our ‘Hello! magazine lifestyles’.”
Luckily, like you, the Anorak’s favourite celebrity is Anthea Turner, who has not been in the pages of Hello! for some time…
A selection of front-page headline reveals the big story of the day:
THE GUARDIAN: “Black Monday: recession fears spark global shares crash”
THE SCOTSMAN: “PANIC”. This one has pictures of men in shirts shouting and holding their heads in their hands
DAILY MAIL: “£75bn wiped off FTSE ++ Biggest fall in day scone 9/11 ++ record slump in mortgage lending ++ fears of a recession grow stronger”
DAILY EXPRESS: “Floods snow and worst stock market crash since 9/11”
THE TIMES: “World markets plunge”
DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Recession fears spark biggest shares fall since 9/11”
THE INDEPENDENT: “CRASH”
DAILY MIRROR: “Health fears for TV legend Jack” – Emmerdale’s Jack Sugden might be ill
“DIAMONDS ? Gold? Old hat! Tractors are the thief’s holy grail,” says the Times.
Hundreds of tractors are being stolen in an extraordinary crimewave that is worth £3 million a year and affects most counties in rural Britain. It is being investigated by police forces nationwide, working with the National Plant and Equipment Register in Operation Mermaid.
It’s a big problem:
They are particular about their pickings, and have a penchant for the distinctive green and yellow tractors of the John Deere brand. John Deere tractors usually cost between £63,700 and £75,000, and even second-hand models can be sold for up to £50,000. Some top-of-the-range tractors cost more than £100,000.
As Tim notes: “Taking that second hand value £3 million a year is 60 a year. So that ‘hundreds’ looks like a tad of hyperbole, don’t you think?
HM Treasury (National) -(HMT) Northern Rock
HM Treasury, on behalf of the Tripartite Authorities, today announces a new financing structure that could be made available to Northern Rock and other interested parties, for a possible private sector solution for the entire company. This new financing structure would only be available for proposals that would protect taxpayers’ interests, as well as meeting the Tripartite Authorities’ other stated objectives of financial stability and the protection of consumers. If no proposal is received which meets these objectives, the Government would bring forward legislation in order to facilitate temporary public ownership of Northern Rock.
In any event, the existing Government guarantee arrangements remain in place. Savers’ money continues to be safe and secure.
The proposed financing structure envisages Northern Rock raising funds from investors in the financial markets backed by a mixed pool of assets. This structure would ensure all Bank of England loan facilities to the company are repaid in full, with interest, upfront, as soon as the funds are raised. To facilitate this, the Treasury would put in place a guarantee for the payment of investors in the event that the assets were insufficient to fulfil the obligations, although any losses to the asset pool would first be borne by Northern Rock to protect the taxpayer. Northern Rock would pay a fee for this guarantee in addition to the fees for the existing guarantee arrangements which will continue.
The Tripartite Authorities consider that this would reflect their stated objectives, as a proposal using this structure would have the potential to:
- ensure the Bank of England’s loan facilities to the company are repaid in full, with interest, upfront as soon as the funds are raised;
- contribute to finding a cost-effective solution under private sector ownership with the private sector at first risk for Northern Rock’s commercial success or failure;
- involve significant private sector participation, including new private sector capital, in the financing of Northern Rock; and
- provide the Treasury with the ability to share in the potential upside returns for private sector participants in return for the financial support being provided to the company.
Proposals would need to demonstrate compliance with a range of conditions, including a robust business plan, commitment of sufficient additional capital and management and ownership by suitable persons, appropriate for the provision of financial support of the kind contemplated. There would also be clear restrictions on the sale of the company and on dividend payments whilst the taxpayer remains at any risk. The proposals will also have to be consistent with the regulatory requirements of the FSA.
HM Treasury and the Bank of England, as providers of financial support to the company, and the Financial Services Authority, as its regulator, will consider proposals received by 4 February from Northern Rock and other interested parties.
The Tripartite Authorities recognise that any proposal relying on this financing structure is likely to involve state aid, which would require approval by the European Commission, and will submit a restructuring plan to the Commission by 17 March. HM Treasury and the Bank of England will make arrangements for the existing Bank of England loan facilities to be extended up to this date to allow time to explore the financing structure with Northern Rock and other interested parties.
In the event of temporary public ownership, the company would be managed at arms’ length on a commercial basis. An experienced and professional management team would be appointed. Services for savers and borrowers would not be affected and the company would continue to operate and provide services to customers as normal. Branches, call centres, postal and internet banking would all continue to be open and accessible, as usual.
Any decision or announcement to take Northern Rock into temporary public ownership would also address the future of the Northern Rock Foundation.
EX Lib-Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell is joining the board of SCOTTISH AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY. The company’s nickname is Saints.
You can find the Scottish American Investment Co. plc in the fiance pages under… SCAM.
IN FLORIDA McDonald’s Corp. has pulled -voluntarialty - its sponsorship of report-card covers in Seminole County, Fla., public schools.
“This is a good day for parents and children in Seminole County and anyone who believes that corporations should not prey on children in schools,” says Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “We are pleased that McDonald’s is listening to parents all over the country who believe that report cards should not be commercialized.”
McDonald’s had agreed to sponsor the report-card jackets for the county’s elementary schools. On the covers, McDonald’s was to offer a free happy meal to any scholar with A’s and B’s, two or fewer absences, or good behavior.
Protests were made.
“It was McDonald’s decision to remove our trademarks from report-card jackets in Seminole County, Fla., because we believe the focus should be on the importance of a good education,” said Bill Whitman, a spokesman for McDonald’s USA. “McDonald’s, not the school district, will cover the cost to reprint the report-card jackets.”
Because a corporation using education to advertise looks shallow, greedy and abusive? Becaue Ronald the neon clown gives the children bad dreams? Well:
Regina Klaers, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in December that the school approached McDonald’s for the sponsorship, not vice versa. For the 10 years prior to McDonald’s sponsorship, Pizza Hut had picked up the tab. During that time, Ms. Klaers said, there were no parental complaints.
Thin and crispy. Or stuffed?
THE “craze” going on in the United Kingdom involves people take pictures of themselves partially covered with folded banknotes. At least so say the American site Freaking News.
(Has anyone seen anyone doing this?)
The result is this:
IN ‘Poultry is not a class issue, old Etonian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tell us about chicken:
But a commercially produced free range bird, not organic, can be had in most supermarkets for a little over £5. And there is another – cheaper – higher welfare option provided by the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods method of poultry rearing. All the major supermarkets offer this bird or an own-brand equivalent, and these typically sell for about £4. As one of these birds will easily feed a family of four – twice, in the hands of a keen and resourceful cook – you could even say they are a bargain.
You could. Only:
And be in no doubt, these birds may be reared inside but they have, through lower stocking levels and an enriched environment, certainly led more comfortable and less stressful lives than the “two for a fiver” birds piled beside them in the supermarket chill cabinet. The irresistible pressure on many shoppers to buy cheap chicken arises not because higher welfare birds are expensive, but because standard factory farmed poultry is aggressively, artificially and, I would say, shamefully cheap.
I would say a bargain…
I believe that there is a continued need for a domestic poultry industry that can deliver good value chicken at a keen price for a massive popular market. But basic welfare reform is an urgent matter. If something like the RSPCA standards were adopted as a new starting point for the industry, it would add only 50p to the cost of raising a bird. That includes a fairer price for the farmers, who are struggling to stay in business as their grim product sells for insultingly low prices.
Let’s hear it for more expensive chicken!
EMI: “Guy Hands’ attempts to prevent an exodus of talent from EMI have suffered a blow with the Rolling Stones’ decision to release their new album through rival Universal Music.
“The album, Shine A Light, will be released in March, and will accompany a Martin Scorsese film of the same name that features two live shows the band performed in New York in 2006.”
Yeah, what a blow. Does anyone buy a new Rolling Stones album?
EMI faces a rebellion:
But it is hard not to sympathise with the new bosses’ surprise at discovering entries in EMI’s accounts such as £200,000 for fresh fruit and flowers – a well-known industry euphemism for artists’ partying requirements – or the fact that 30% of the advances they hand out never result in an album being made, let alone one that people want to buy. But you do not need to audit a major record label’s accounts to know that there is a serious problem – just listen to Radio 1. Talk to anyone in the music industry, and they will admit that the parallel themes of gross profligacy and crap records are not unconnected.
Take a look at what they produce…
FROM the Forums: When the Nationalisation goes through, it may be as well to understand that it means every single N. Rock mortgage borrower is going to wake up and find a Government which finds it difficult to cope with the correct way of dealing with political donations is going to have the FIRST CHARGE on the title deeds of hundreds of thousands of private homes and business properties….
IN “The Globalization Election”, Fred Siegel writes:
Clinton’s slide in the polls began when she muffed a debate question about whether she supported New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. But when, in a subsequent debate, Obama botched his answer to the same question, he suffered no political penalty. That’s because Clinton draws her support heavily from white and black working- and middle-class voters who feel threatened by the double bind of increased internal and external economic competition. Obama’s core constituency, by contrast, is made up of people who have benefited from outsourcing and immigration, so the issue of illegal immigration doesn’t cut against him.
As Clive Davis notes, “there’s a clear class divide”…
SOME economic analysis from Hillary Clinton: “I think we’re slipping toward a recession,” she said. “A couple of people that I met on the street, they work in construction. They tell me it’s slowed down.”
Hillary’s common touch…
BIG bonuses at New York bank Merrill Lynch. Or not. As reported on CNBC, an employee at Merrill Lynch’s fixed income research group has “inappropriately relieved” himself in reaction to his meagre bonus.
Reported: “In the first place, it wasn’t piss. It was shit. DealBreaker can confirm this much….The way we first heard it is that a guy took a dump in the rest room, stomped in it, and then dragged it all over the place by walking around with it on his shoes.”
Merrill says there was “an unfortunate accident” in one of the stalls.
Has the, bottom, fallen out of the market?
He is refusing to work for Terra Firma, the financier company which took over EMI. Williams says the new boss, Guy Hands, is behaving like a “plantation owner”.
Hands the overseer has Williams on a £80million contract. Nice slavery if you can get it. But, then, Williams’ name has sold 70 million records for EMI.
EMI has a problem. And it bigger then just Williams and image. As the economist notes:
IN 2006 EMI, the world’s fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.
Says Williams manager, Tim Clark: “We have no idea how EMI will market and promote the album. They do not have anyone in the digital sphere capable of doing the job required.”
Does anyone buy music in a record shop any more?
“TONY Blair will earn around £2 million a year in his part-time role as adviser to the Wall Street bank JP Morgan without ever having to go into the office,” says the Telegraph.
“BLAIR’S £1m-A-Year PAYBACK FOR IRAQ,” thunders the Mail’s front-page headline.
Says Reg Keys, whose son was killed in Iraq: “If he had a conscience or any sensitivity he would not have taken this job.”
Chimes Conservative defence spokesman Gerald Howarth: “It will be viewed with some contempt by the armed forces that he picks up this large cheque when he was happy to send British troops into battle ill-equipped and in insufficient numbers.”
“It’s almost like blood money,” comes the headline inside the paper.
But surely if Tony is earning money and domiciled in the UK, he is paying UK taxes. His wages will go into the big pot and be used to pay for things like better guns, improved armour and more soldiers.
Like him or not, Blair has the right to earn money…
Sugar is the blunt businessman who left school at 16 and sold car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he had bought with his savings of £100. He is a trader by nature.
But the pupils are not being allowed out of class to sell the lamps they’ve made in design and technology, the home economics biscuits and car radios obtained from the teachers’ car park. Scholars at Matthew Arnold School, Surrey, are being invited to take part in challenges.
As the head teacher Jackie Pearson says: “Firms would set up a challenge, students would go off and do the challenge, come back and report on it and get told ‘you’re hired’, or ‘you’re fired’.”
What pupils are studying and aping is the celebrity Alan Sugar, the one who scowls as if someone has just poured white spirit over his car; the Alan Sugar who stars on The Apprentice TV show and sees which aggressive and pushy “I get results –I’m not here to be popular-I would murder my first born for this chance” agonist gets to be a trainee Alan.
Nto emntiely without interests, one of the cpanies invocleed with the schme is McDaionald’s
Anorak is minded of the maths teacher who equips every failed test with a McDonalds’s application form.
How to you motivate the little loves: stick, carrot, Sugar or two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun…
TAX in France: “Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday launched a far-reaching shake-up of French television, proposing to tax -commercial operators in order to fund a high-quality public broadcaster that would promote the country’s cultural and economic -’renaissance.
“The French president said at his first full press conference at the Elysée palace since his election seven months ago that advertising on the nation’s two public television stations could be scrapped.
“Instead, funding would be generated by a tax on mobile phone operators and internet service providers, as well as a levy on the advertising revenues of commercial channels.”
So the commercial channels will have to pay to fund their competitors? Genius! Do Tv execs burn cars?
TO the Indian call centre, sink of depair and hopeless phone calls:
Researchers estimated that heart disease, strokes and diabetes would cost India more than £100 billion in lost productivity over the next 10 years.
Staff in call centres dealing with customers in Britain say they have been shocked at the ferocity of the verbal attacks they encounter.
Nidhi Aggarwal, 24, said she had never heard some of the insulting language used – including the word “Paki” as a term of abuse – before she began taking orders for a British catalogue company, which routes its customers’ calls to a Bangalore call centre.
“At first, I thought I’d get used to it, but it’s been a year now and it’s not getting easier,” she said.
“On its own, maybe I could cope with the abuse, but there’s also the stress of finishing calls in one minute and hardly having time for breaks.”
Miss Aggarwal, an English graduate, said she planned to quit, tired of wishing customers a good morning only to hear: “Oh, I’m through to India am I? Put me through to someone who can understand English, you f****** cow.”
The Indian call centre is the eight layer ofg hell. The ninth layer is the Dell Indian call centre…
GOLDMAN Sachs workers taunted in New York:
You know Merrill and Morgan and Lehman and Citi
J.P. and Wamu and Bofa and Barclay’s
But do you recall?
The most famous i-bank of all?
Goldman the two-faced i-bank
Gave out very shoddy loans
And if you ever saw them
You’d wonder how its profits rose
All of the other i-banks
Lost billions on the subprime game
How did that crooked Goldman
Come away with all the fame?
Because it knew how bad it was
And it stoked the flames
At the same time that it made bad loans
It bet that folks would lose their homes
Right now it’s bonus season
And we’re shouting “don’t you see!
Goldman the two-faced i-bank
Pay now or pay in history!”
Frosty the Goldman
Frosty the Goldman
Was a very crafty soul
With a gilded pipe and a lot of dough
And a heart made out of coal
Frosty the Goldman
Was too smart to lose they say
He made awful loans
But he sure did know
How to swindle us for pay
There must have been some magic
In that goldman pipe he smoked
For when he held it to his lips
He made bank and we went broke
Frosty the Goldman
Was as rich as rich can be
But still he’d say
“Make the poor folks pay!
And bring their homes right back to me”
Frosty the Goldman
Knew there had to be a way
To boost his funds
At the end of the run
On the backs of the subprime prey
He plundered and pillaged
Like a felon on the lam
Running here and there all around De Beers
Saying catch me if you can
He led us down the road to debt
And before the market dropped
He even bet we’d lose our homes
And now we holler STOP!
Frosty the Goldman
It is soon your bonus day
Stop telling us lies
We can rhyme “securitize”
And you sure as hell can pay
thumpety thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Look at Goldman go
thumpety thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Give up your dirty dough