FTSE 100
Dow Jones

Monday, 31 May 2010

Can you hear me, Ravi Shankar?

Ravi Shankar, Mohammed Ashraful, Konnie Huq (sorry I can't think of any more Bangla Deshis) can you hear me Konnie Huq? Your boys took one hell of a beating.

Actually it wasn't that one sided after all.

It's not just GCSE's that are being dumbed down

I wish the new government well, and I mean them no harm, but you have to wonder when you look at who is running the national finances.

First of all we start with Boy George whose sole demonstration of financial acumen appears to have been to be born into a substantial wallpaper fortune. His financial pronouncements appear to have been cobbled together by a scriptwriter who picks up their ideas (and jargon) from the business pages of the Evening Standard.

But the latest financial appointment is even more of a mystery. At a time when the greatest problem we face is to reduce the extraordinarily high level of government borrowing, the new Financial Secretary is a Lib Dem with no financial experience, who 5 years ago was the public relations officer for the Cairngorms National Park and whose only financial transactions of note was to claim second home allowances for a property that he later sold free of capital gains tax by claiming a primary residence exemption.

There is more financial talent in one of my little fingers than in the entire cabinet.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

They may be rated as favourites for the World Cup

But not by Fitch Ratings

Fitch Ratings-London-28 May 2010: Fitch Ratings has today downgraded Spain’s Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’. The rating Outlooks on both Long-term IDRs are Stable. Fitch has simultaneously affirmed Spain’s Short-term rating of ‘F1+’ and the Country Ceiling of ‘AAA’.

“The downgrade reflects Fitch’s assessment that the process of adjustment to a lower level of private sector and external indebtedness will materially reduce the rate of growth of the Spanish economy over the medium-term,” says Brian Coulton, Fitch’s Head of EMEA Sovereign Ratings.

“Despite government debt and associated interest costs remaining within the AAA range, Fitch anticipates that the economic adjustment process will be more difficult and prolonged than for other economies with AAA rated sovereign governments, which is why the agency has downgraded Spain’s rating to AA+,” Coulton added.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Good news for home-owners

The value of your house will increase today by the discounted expected cost of all future home information packs associated with your home.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Weird headline of the Week

Shares hit by German short-selling ban
Shares in Europe and Asia fell on Wednesday after a surprise move by Germany to ban some types of short-selling of shares.

As reported on the BBC. Probably not what the German authorities expected.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Can you hear me Germaine Greer?

Shane Warne, Ian Chappell, Les Patterson, Kylie Minogue, Germaine Greer. Can you hear me Germaine Greer? Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!'

Standards in public life

Am I just getting old, or am I not alone in thinking that there is something uniquely deplorable that a a man who has done little apart from espousing the communist doctrine of asset appropriation, should following a career as a trade union leader with a period as an inner city councillor should be inexplicably be promoted to be the head of the Football Association, where he carries on an affair with a woman 29 years his junior, who secretly records their conversations on tape and passes the tapes (presumably in return for cash) to a national newspaper, who publish his unfounded (but not necessarily untrue) allegations and thereby wreck this country's bid to host the World Cup in 2018 - a bid which has cost several million pounds to prepare?

There is so much ineptitude, I really don't know where to begin with this one, except to say: Labour peer. End of story.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Never trust a Liberal Democrat

I never did and I never will. The LD's started the weekend spouting some principled clap-trap about giving the first opportunity to the party with the most votes, but before that has had a chance to play itself out, we find that they have been holding sneaky talks with the other side, and then before negotiations with the Conservativcs are complete they rush over to talk to Labour because Gordon Brown has resigned. Meanwhile, I didn't see the number of seats held by each party increase.

Normally, in these circumstances I would pick a stock that should do well in the current political climate, but the company I see as most likely to prosper is a private one, Spear & Jackson, whose hay fork LK is about as close as you will come to the traditional pitchfork. Also pretty handy looking, but for export only, is their range of plantation tools , while others might find the hardwood pick-axe handle useful.

For those looking for exposure to European stocks I find that my large wooden felling axe from Fiskars brings out the "inner psychotic", and we can see an inxcrease in UK sales for this Finnish company.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

EU broke it, EU fix it

It seems that the EU would like the UK to be part of the group that bails out Greece in order to save the Euro. Nicolas Sarkozy tabled a measure in an emergency meeting late on Friday night to create a €60bn "European stabilisation mechanism" to provide bail-out support for countries which may face similar strain to Greece in the coming months. The Frenchman's idea is that this will be funded by all EU countries. As ever, the French try to push the cost elsewhere.
Sorry pal, but it is not our currency. We specifically decided not to be part of the Euro because we didn't like the profligate spending in some countries and we didn't think it would work. We were right. You were wrong.
That might seem a bit stingy, but it is like having a divorcing couple living next door. I can put up with the flaming rows and crashing of saucepans in the middle of the night. That's life. It happens. But don't ask me to pay for the divorce settlement.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A city close to my heart

Not my home constituency, but a place of which I am fond, is the ancient city of Winchester, whose voters made one of the loudest statements about the conduct they expect form their MPs.

In the past they punished the antics of Conservative John Browne, who made an exhibition of himself and embarrassed his supporters by harrassing his American ex-(but very wealthy) wife through the courts to squeeze out a larger divorce settlement for himself.

Now it seems they have turned on the Lib Dems with a 9% swing (that's an 18% change in vote) from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives in the seat vacated by Mark Oaten. Sorry, I know that term doesn't sound right in the circumstances.

Still, hats off to the three time Lib Dem loser (Winchester, NW Hants & Ealing), not for his political activities, but because at one time he was a salesman for Proctor and Gamble in Austria. Anyone who can sell healthcare products in a German speaking country with a name like Martin Tod has my respect.