Another week, another symptom. For the record, Badger, yes they are. But come on, Badger, "no-one had any idea" ?! That's just silly.
Here's waiting for your re-launch.
PS - a genuinely corking scoop by the Grauniad, that interview. Could even go down in the history-books, I reckon.
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
The Words at War
A series in 14 parts
Part 8 The July/August plot.
Voiced by Sir Laurence Olivier
The once mighty Labour legions are in full retreat.
The financial tide has turned firmly against them. Hundreds of thousands of packages of debt, pouring across the Atlantic from the United States have holed the fabled West Wall in so many places that Herman Prescott remarked it was more like the string Vest Wall.
In Scotland, Labour Ministers and front line activists were rushed to shore up the second front, but on 25th July
General Erwin Milliband,The Deserter Fop, one of the major contributors to the early years lightning successes, and commander of the original elite LeiBlairstandarte bodyguard has returned from the Russian front where the Russians have moved into
Gordon Brown talks of revenge taxes and the inevitable reversal of fortune that will smite his enemies and cause “the fragile Tory coalition arranged against us to be dashed apart on the subject of
Milliband is unconvinced.
He knows that this time they will not retreat. They are finally organized and well funded and have a war chest more than double that of the PLP. The usually cautious David Montgomery is buoyed by his outstanding victory at Crewe and Nantwich and moves cautiously, but decisively onwards.
Milliband knows that there is a plot to remove the leader. He has heard rumours that he is to be the new premier after the assassination. He has been careful to ensure that he is not directly connected with the plot, or to have had meetings with the ringleaders. But his outspoken criticism of the regime and his popularity with the rank and file mark him out as being complicit.
Perhaps he will see if the battle of Glenrothes forces the plotters hand. Perhaps try and shine at the big forthcoming rally. Or maybe Alistair von Stauffenberg's briefing bombshell in today's Guardian will cause enough damage to the leader's economic reputation to allow General Milliband to begin the coup.
Or will he continue to wait and possibly let events overtake him…?
Friday, 29 August 2008
Some comments yesterday thought I exaggerated the plight of several airlines, see this news today re my key concern, Al Italia:
The airline's perilous position was put into perspective by Roberto Colaninno, appointed to take charge of the new entity that emerges from the restructuring.
"No one can buy Alitalia in the state it's in," he told La Repubblica newspaper.
"With all respect, I am not Merlin the magician. The business is toast. It doesn't exist any more. There's nothing left."
Here at C@W we have long expressed our reservations about the Boy Osborne, notwithstanding his significant tactical triumph at last year’s Party Conference. Now he has the chance to prove himself, one way or the other.
It is no secret that McBroon is pinning his entire political survival on yet another re-launch: only this time it has been many weeks in the planning and can be expected to be a major offensive on several fronts, deployed with all the tools and tricks at NuLab’s disposal – not a matter for levity. As set-piece battles go, this one has the potential to be a decisive encounter. For the Tories, the re-launch must be crushed.
A basic military precept is that, whilst strategic surprise is an extreme rarity, by careful planning one can achieve tactical surprise. Two familiar examples are the Normandy Landings, and the ground-attack phase of Desert Storm. NuLab’s recent performances have been pathetic, but for one last throw of the dice, who knows ?
The initiative lies broadly with the red forces on this occasion - although the blues could usefully snipe in the interim. What the Tories must ensure is that this campaign becomes Brown’s Kursk peninsular – a clear ‘beginning-of-the-end’ engagement where the defending Russians comprehensively trounced the German attackers by astute preparation for the anticipated assault: after which Brown can do nothing but fall back and back until he is left only with the metaphorical pistol-in-the-bunker option.
The entire Conservative hierarchy have critical rôles to play in this: but it falls to Osborne to show us he is true Chancellor material. What have you got, George ? We’re watching, and there’s a lot at stake.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
There is a lot of discussion about weirdo's and madness on the internet today, so perhaps I can join in....
Blanchflower described the BoE's forecast earlier this month of the economy standing still over the next year as "wishful thinking" and said things could be easily a lot worse.
"We are going to see much more dramatic drops in output," Blanchflower said. "The way to get out of it is to act, by interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus and other things to try help people who are hurt through this."
"Sitting by doing nothing is not going to get us out of this and hoping that a knight in shining armour will come and lift us out of this is optimistic in the extreme."
And he said that an expected boost to exports from a weaker pound was unlikely to prove the "great rescuer" of the economy.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
We know that crime costs us money, not least by way of increased insurance premiums. Sometimes one gets an inkling of just how much.
Today I had the annual pleasure of renewing my car insurance, as part of which process I was offered additional cover against the eventuality of suffering at the hands of an uninsured driver, of which there are estimated to be well over a million. Living in Saaf London, I confidently assume I travel the same roads as a goodly number of the uninsured, (whose documentation is likely to be deficient in more ways than one): so I accepted, and can thus put a personal price on this particular little crime.
Such crimes – lack of car tax and lack of insurance – must be some of the easiest offences to detect, prove and punish. Vehicles tend to poke their noses out into the world of surveillance cameras, and are themselves assets – presumably of some value to the driver, if not much to the motor trade.
The usual reason for a policy of ignoring crime is to keep the numbers in check and assure us that “crime is down”. In this case, to find it is to be able to prosecute it, so one would imagine it would boost the clear-up rates rather nicely.
So one can be fairly certain that the reason these laws are enforced with such dilatory negligence is that various NuLab client groups are disproportionately involved. Result – privatisation of the consequences, and a yet another tax on the law-abiding.
The list of parallels – TV licences, fly-tipping etc ad nauseam must be lengthy. It would be interesting to know (a) if instructions to go easy on selected ‘demographics’ have ever been issued in writing; and (b) if any think-tank is making a systematic reckoning of this doubly-disguised stealth-tax.This, surely, represents a target for tax-cuts that George Osborne could sign up to.
PS – any comment starting with the words “well, overall crime is down” may receive an uncharacteristically discourteous response
The BBC's accounts for the year to March 31 2007 showed that the true cost of BBC3, when distribution and infrastructure support are taken into account, is £119m, or roughly £600m if this figure is extrapolated over five years.
That's an awful lot of licence fee payers cash for not that many viewers, some would argue. Does it continue to be money well spent?Answers in the comments please.
Monday, 25 August 2008
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Friday, 22 August 2008
Thursday, 21 August 2008
This will not be front page in The Sun, but nonetheless it is worrying, if predictable news. The ONS has withdrawn publication of its housing statistics for this last period as they are not satified with their quality.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
This time last year, and in many business news reviews, I have noted the dire straits that BAA has been in. Financially, the acquisition by Ferrovial was a disaster. The costs of funding could not be refreshed due to the credit crunch and the business was forced to seel World Duty Free; the most profitable piece of the company. 200 redundancies were announced too.
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund
This is the latest news to hit the US markets. Of course Bear Stearns has already been palmed off to JP Morgan. In the UK we have had Northern Rock and Alliance and Leicester has an emergency sale of itself to Santander to prevent collapse - just today it has acknowleged that in effect it cannot survive if the sale falls through.
Bradford and Bingley is also only fit to prepare itself for a fire sale.
This is not a good run of events and clearly the weak are already fallen. Now what is being discussed is some of the larger beasts also succumbing to what is effectively financial gout; Bursting with debt and greed they can only stagger to a final fall.
In the US Lehman Brothers was considered just a few weeks ago as in a serious state. It has just put up a big part of its business for sale, scotching the current view that the driving down of its share price was all just speculation.
In the UK the main banks have fallen again today - but could one of the big ones collapse? It is still a distinct possibility. With no more access to the capital markets, the government spent out on Northern Wreck and high costs for bond issuance the banks are very much stuck.
HBOS, RBS, Barclays and Lloyds in that order are under threat. HSBC seems too big to fail but its frankly unfeasible scale of CDO's and other toxic mess could even hurt the biggest beast of all.
But will it happen - I am not sure. What I can see is a third leg to the credit crunch, with a consequent retrenchment from the gains of recent months and so another 'test' for our financial institutions. More will be found wanting if this occurs.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
No biting or gouging please, ladies ...
One conflict after another this week as a different pair of feuding foes square up. This time it's the Gruaniad's Madeleine Bunting, giving her take on Scandinavian society:
"It's easy to romanticise the welfare priority and democratic values, but it's all built on very un-British restrictions of freedom"
"the most successful societies the world has ever known"
Incidentally, though I don't have the reference to hand, Sackerson hosted a fantastic comment several months ago from a reader who had detailed insight into the extraordinarily repressive nature of Swedish society. It made chilling reading - Sackers, can you oblige ?
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Back in the 1980s, after the massive oil-price hikes of 1973 and 1979, scenario planners at BP conceived the notion of ‘One Last Shock’. Their thesis was that the world could take a third and final oil-price surge, but no more: Something Else would happen to prevent there being another. Energy substitution, perhaps.
Now nuclear power is certainly an alternative source of energy, but it can mean something else as well.
The geopolitics of oil are never far from the headlines: and now events in
Few of the ‘unarmed’ nations would have the slightest difficulty in rectifying their position (and indeed one might surmise a couple of them have contingency plans).
Notice anything ?
If we were to think briefly about the big holders of oil reserves,
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
"after the Olympics Russia will make a provocative intervention in another country, just to prove it can"
The Bear has grudges aplenty and, well tanked-up on oil & gas revenues, is in the mood to do something about it. Noting that China has been acting with impunity, and assessing a window of US lame-duck weakness, he sees a fine opportunity to roll back some of the geopolitical gains made right across the Former Soviet Union by the contemptible ‘only superpower’. Whoever is the next US President can expect to start from a position a good few miles further to the west and the south than Cheney would have wanted: Georgia chastised, the Ukraine chastened, and the ‘Stans all realizing that when push comes to shove, they are on their own.
The key feature of chess is that both sides can see all the other’s pieces and dispositions. Cunning and understanding are all. Do we credit GW with either ? or GB ?
Monday, 11 August 2008
Sunday, 10 August 2008
On holiday too. So while pouring some 1664 Blanc, which tastes like snakebite, a quick reflect.
Not a full Sunday review, but for anyone interested in
“Within a few years,
With this colossal crisis fast approaching, our ministers are still lost in the cloudcuckooland of Mr Brown's £100 billion "green energy" plan, to meet our EU target of generating a third of our electricity from renewables by 2020. Not an energy expert in the country says this is remotely feasible."
He concludes (my emphasis):
“Tragically, no one seems to remain in more blissful ignorance of all these harsh realities than our Conservative opposition which, when the crisis arrives, may well be in power. Not only will those at the top of the Tory party, on present showing, have no idea why the lights are going out, but they will have even less idea of what to do about it - because by then it will be too late."
He is right on the basic analysis: and I fear he may be right about the Tories too. We shall need to take a little look for ourselves in the coming days.
Mr Dale, King of all he surveys in the blogsphere, is having his annual awards for best blogs.
Labels: Sordid ego satiation
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Working has its side benefits and the Slickers are off for a week on vacation. Mr Drew has been instructed to stay at the coal face and keep you merrily entertained as best he sees fit.
Labels: Summer Holiday
Friday, 8 August 2008
It’s August. The whole of the BBC has gone to
Piqued by George Moonbat’s declaration of everlasting war upon coal and newfound acceptance of nukes, Arthur wishes to offer a modest counter-proposal or two of his own:
(1) “Britain needs an integrated energy policy that will produce 250m tonnes of indigenous deep-mine clean coal per year - from which could be extracted all the electricity, oil, gas and petrochemicals that our people need".
Integrated, and balanced, too, don’t you feel ? And on the subject of balanced …
(2) “I challenge George Monbiot to test out which is the most dangerous fuel - coal or nuclear power. I am prepared to go into a room full of CO2 for two minutes, if he is prepared to go into a room full of radiation for two minutes".
Now this is tempting. I’m sure what Arthur was really volunteering for was a couple of minutes in a room full of carbon monoxide, and as a service to the Nation, doubtless George will oblige us by picking up the gauntlet. I feel also that others should be joining the challenge, by immersing themselves for two minutes in their own effluent: Alan Johnson in a vat of MRSA; Hilary Benn in agricultural slurry; bullshit also of course for several more of their Cabinet colleagues …
Sadly, and before we get carried away here, the Grauniad has consulted a potential umpire for this little bout of Jeux Sans Frontieres, the Health Protection Agency. Putting on their most disapproving faces, these worthies “would not sanction admission to either room.”
‘It's a hypothetical experiment on an emotive issue and it would never get approval on ethical grounds’ said a spokeswoman.”
Sanity prevails and we can all go back to watching the Olympics. Now there’s a real contest in a fog of CO2 ...
PS, to judge from the photo, Scargill's previous encounters with CO2 gave him a nasty case of that unpleasant miners' complaint, toxicombova
PS, to judge from the photo, Scargill's previous encounters with CO2 gave him a nasty case of that unpleasant miners' complaint, toxicombova
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Dithering is damaging.
(Above: Badger and Broon 'assist' the UK housing market)
The recent announcement about vehicle excise duty has damaged the car resale industry.
The value of vehicles that may be in a very high tax band has fallen. If your car MAY be in a high tax band, but may not, depending on the final decision.. would you sell it or hang on?
If you are a dealer with a forecourt full of Ford Focuses that MAY now have a VED of £150 more than a rival car are you selling many?
People without information and feeling uncertain will wait and see so a slowdown is automatic.
Today there is a bungled non denial non confirmation from the Chancellor that there may be a cut in Stamp Duty,may be a suspension, maybe a deferment in some cases or maybe nothing.
The housing market, already in deep deep trouble, will now glide to a halt as purchasers who are already wondering if they should wait a bit longer for lower prices, now believe that possible savings on tax can be had.
Stamp Duty of 1% on the average price home of £100,000 is a £1000 saving. Not bad if you are struggling for the £5000+ deposit. On a £300,000 home its 3% or £9,000. Would you give that up to HMG if you may not have to?
The problem isn't whether its a good or a bad idea to alter stamp duty, to allow the market to stabilise or to reinvigorate falling tax receipts by offering a discount to First time buyers.
The issue is this damaging and politically motivated method of government whereby change is 'hinted' at to either reassure, float an idea, shore up support or destabilise an opponent.
We strongly believe that any announcement is being held for the coming Labour Party Conference, probably with a further hint on vehicle excise duty and any other good news that can be found. That may make good political sense but shocking and damaging economic sense.
Anyone remember what happened when a previous chancellor pre-announced that he had some gold that he was thinking of selling?
In the middle of this comes a highly illuminating contribution jointly from Greenpeace and the WWF, who’ve commissioned consultants Pöyry to ‘prove’ that no new coal stations or nukes are required to keep the lights on - because renewables can do the trick. Here’s what they say.
“The report finds that, if the UK Government is able to achieve its commitments to meet EU renewable energy targets and its own ambitious action plan to reduce demand through energy efficiency, then major new power stations (burning either coal or gas) would not be needed to ensure that Britain can meet its electricity requirements up to at least 2020” (WWF)
“We can plug the 'energy gap' without building big new power plants - whether they're coal or nuclear powered. And to do it, the government just needs to meet its existing energy efficiency and renewables targets” (Greenpeace)
‘If’, and ‘just’ – how much is swept along with those words ! As we’ve said before, if an athlete just runs 30% faster, he can run the 3-minute mile But he can’t. So he won’t.
As part of our usual service to readers, C@W has read the report, which inevitably skates lightly over several critical issues. Firstly, it accepts the
If … just … nope: it’s CAN’T & WON’T.
Monday, 4 August 2008
And, of course, it is not for HMG to ask for anything from independent bodies.
They are INDEPENDENT.
But that's unlikely to stop them asking..
The normally excellent Robert Peston has his thoughts here on HSBC's results this morning. Following on from LLoyd's 70% fall and the disasters at HBOS and expected at RBS - these HSBC results seem to be a shining star.
OK OK, I know - how did I find it amongst all the guff; why am I rootling around in the dustbin, etc etc
Sunday, 3 August 2008
In a follow-up effort to a post earlier this week on the Labour Treasury, I present to you the opposition and likely team to inherit a terrible mess in desperate need of sorting out.