Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Inflation Falls To 2.3%



The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that the UK inflation rate fell to 2.3% in the year to April 2024. This decline marks the lowest annual rate of price rises since July 2021 when it was at 2%. Here are the key points:

1. Energy Prices: The significant drop in inflation is primarily driven by cooling energy prices. Specifically, prices of electricity, gas, and other fuels fell by 27.1% in the year to April, which is the largest decrease since records began in 1989.

2. Core Inflation: Despite the overall decline, core inflation remains elevated. The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) rose by 3.8% in the 12 months to March 2024, unchanged from February. On a monthly basis, CPIH increased by 0.6% in March 2024, compared to a rise of 0.7% in March 2023.

3. Interest Rates: The drop in inflation could potentially bring the UK closer to the Bank of England's target of 2%. This development may impact interest rate decisions in the near future.

In summary, while overall inflation has eased due to energy price reductions, core inflation remains a concern. Keep an eye on how these figures evolve in the coming months! 

For more detailed information, you can refer to the official ONS report .

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Monday, May 13, 2024

Bank of England's Miserable Incompetence


 

In a recent turn of events, Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused the Bank of England of 'miserable incompetence' over its handling of inflation. This accusation comes amidst a backdrop of rising inflation rates and a growing concern over the Bank's strategies.

The Accusation

Rees-Mogg's criticism is primarily targeted at the Bank's failure to reduce inflation more quickly and its bond-selling strategy. He has accused the Bank of damaging the economy with its interest rate decisions and costing the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds by selling off government debt too quickly. This strategy, known as quantitative tightening (QT), is aimed at reducing the Bank's balance sheet.

The Fallout

The former business secretary's comments have stirred up controversy, especially as rightwing Tories prepare to renew their attacks on the Bank's independence¹. Rees-Mogg's criticism is particularly scathing, stating that the Bank's 'miserable incompetence allowed inflation to peak at almost six times its target rate'.

Furthermore, he has accused the Bank of demanding higher taxes due to its 'hopeless bond trading strategy. He even went as far as to compare the Bank's strategy to Nick Leeson's, who famously bankrupted the London-based bank, Barings.

The Response

The Bank of England has yet to respond to these accusations. However, this incident has highlighted the fractious relationship between the Bank and the right of the Tory party. This tension has been present since Liz Truss's short tenure in Downing Street, during which she considered sacking its top bosses¹.

The Future

As the situation unfolds, members of Conservative Way Forward, a Thatcherite group of Tory MPs, are preparing to launch a report that once more calls into question the Bank's independence. This report focuses on the losses made by the Bank's quantitative tightening policy.

In conclusion, Jacob Rees-Mogg's accusations have sparked a heated debate about the Bank of England's handling of inflation and its independence. As the political and economic landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how this situation will unfold and what impact it will have on the UK's economy.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

GDP Growth Hits 0.6% - UK Out of Recession

UK Economy Bounces Back: A Look at Today's GDP Figures

The United Kingdom has officially exited its recession, according to the latest GDP figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that the UK economy grew by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2024, marking the end of a short, albeit impactful, economic downturn.

A Closer Look at the Numbers

The 0.6% growth rate exceeded expectations, signalling a faster-than-anticipated recovery. This figure represents the UK's strongest expansion in over two years³. The rebound was driven by a 0.7% growth in the services sector and a 0.8% increase in the production sector⁵. However, the construction sector saw a decline of 0.9%.

The Bigger Picture

While the latest GDP figures offer some better news, it's important to remember that the overall growth picture tells a different story¹. The UK economy had been in a technical recession, with activity falling in the third and fourth quarters of the previous year⁵. Despite this, the economy has shown resilience and adaptability in bouncing back.

Looking Ahead

The recent GDP growth is a positive sign for the UK economy, but it's not a guarantee of continued expansion. The government and businesses will need to continue their efforts to stimulate growth and navigate the post-recession landscape.

In conclusion, today's GDP figures are a testament to the resilience of the UK economy. While challenges undoubtedly remain, the UK has taken a significant step forward in its economic recovery. The hope is that this upward trend will continue, bringing more stability and prosperity to the nation.


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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Bank of England Is Teasing Us!


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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

DEI - The Destroyer of Equity and Innovation

The cult of DEI has wrecked another business, this time the DEI wrecking ball trashed John Lewis which for reasons best known to itself (ie DEI) hired Dane Sharon White a civil servant with no retail experience (in brief, she Didn't Earn It).

Having racked up losses of £234M she has left and been replaced by Jason Tarry, a man with 30 years experience in retail.

DEI is the kiss of death to business and organisations.


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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Bank of England Keeps Rates At 5.25%


In a widely anticipated move, the Bank of England (BoE) has decided to keep interest rates unchanged at 5.25%. One vote for a cut and eight for unchanged. This decision comes despite recent fluctuations in inflation and the ongoing economic recovery in the UK.

Context of the Decision

The BoE's decision to maintain the current interest rate level comes in the wake of falling inflation. Inflation fell to 3.4% in February, down from 4% in January, marking the lowest rate since September 2021. Despite this decrease, the inflation rate remains above the BoE's target of 2%.

The decision also comes at a time when the UK economy is showing signs of recovery. The FTSE 100, a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization, has hit a 10-month high.

Implications of the Decision

The decision to hold interest rates steady has several implications. For borrowers, it means that the cost of borrowing will remain relatively high, potentially slowing down consumer spending and investment⁵. For savers, it means that they will continue to earn interest at the current rate.

The decision also signals the BoE's cautious approach towards managing inflation and supporting economic recovery. By keeping interest rates steady, the BoE is aiming to strike a balance between curbing inflation and fostering economic growth.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, the BoE's focus is not just on bringing inflation back to target but keeping it there in the longer term. Analysts predict that the BoE may start cutting rates from August this year. However, the exact timing will depend on a range of factors, including the trajectory of inflation and the pace of economic recovery.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Inflation Falls To 3.4%


According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK's inflation rate has fallen to 3.4% vs 3.5% expected. This is the lowest annual rate of price rises in more than two years. The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) rose by 4.2% in the 12 months to January 2024.

What's Driving the Change?

The slower pace of food price rises helped push down inflation, along with soft drinks, restaurants, and hotels. However, this effect was partially offset by petrol prices and rental costs.

The Impact on Interest Rates

These latest inflation figures are particularly significant as they come just before the Bank of England's interest rate announcement. The Bank of England, which has a target rate of inflation of 2%, uses the latest figure when weighing up whether to raise or lower interest rates⁵.

The Political Response

The drop in inflation has sparked responses from both sides of the political spectrum. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has stated that the figures show the government's plan is working. On the other hand, Labour's Rachel Reeves has called for an election, stating that the country cannot afford another five years of a Conservative government.

Looking Ahead

While the drop in inflation is certainly good news, it's important to remember that this doesn't mean the cost of living is falling. Instead, it means that prices are rising less quickly than they were before. As such, the impact on households will vary depending on their specific circumstances.

In conclusion, while the latest inflation figures provide some cause for optimism, they also highlight the ongoing challenges facing the UK economy. It will be interesting to see how these figures influence policy decisions in the coming months.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

HP After Sales Service


 

I am in the process of communicating with the HP returns department about a faulty printer that I bought from them less than 3 weeks ago.

They have told me to print off the returns label.

How do I do that, given that my printer doesn't work?

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Thursday, March 07, 2024

The Budget - Key Points

 


Here are the key points from Jeremy Hunt's budget:

1. Tax Cuts: The Chancellor announced a 2p cut to the rate of National Insurance paid by employees.
 

2. Long-term Growth: The budget was set against the backdrop of the UK’s struggling economy, which slipped into a technical recession at the end of 2023.
 

3. Pensions and Wages: The cap on the amount workers can accumulate in pension savings over their lifetime before having to pay extra tax (currently £1.07m) is to be abolished. The tax-free yearly allowance for pension pot will rise from £40,000 to £60,000.
 

4. Fuel and Alcohol: Fuel duty is frozen, and the 5p cut to fuel duty on petrol and diesel, due to end in April, is kept for another year. Alcohol taxes will rise in line with inflation from August, with new reliefs for beer, cider, and wine sold in pubs.
 

5. Energy Bills and Nuclear Power: Government subsidies limiting typical household energy bills to £2,500 a year are extended for three months, until the end of June. There is a commitment to invest £20bn over the next two decades on low-carbon energy projects, with a focus on carbon capture and storage.
 

6. Childcare and Universal Credit: 30 hours of free childcare for working parents in England is expanded to cover one and two-year-olds, to be rolled out in stages from April 2024. Families on universal credit will receive childcare support up front instead of in arrears, with the £646-a-month per child cap raised to £951.
 

7. Back to Work Plans: There are new plans for fitness-to-work testing regime to qualify for health-related benefits, a new voluntary employment scheme for disabled people in England and Wales called Universal Support, and tougher requirements to look for work and increased job support for lead child carers on universal credit.

8. Government Debt, Inflation, and Economic Growth: The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts the UK will avoid recession in 2023, but the economy will shrink by 0.2%. Growth of 1.8% is predicted for next year, with 2.5% in 2025 and 2.1% in 2026.


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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Virgin Media Gouging Its Customers Dry!


 

The hapless customers of Virgin Media have been receiving letters and emails advising them of the forthcoming April price gouge.

Prices will go up by an eye-watering 8.8%  being: February's 4.9% RPI plus an additional (unwarranted) 3.9%.

They saw you coming!

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Net Zero Boosts China's Economy

 

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Monday, March 04, 2024

For Good or Ill, This Will Be Rishi's Budget!

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Friday, March 01, 2024

The Double Life of Jan Marsalek: Wirecard COO and GRU Agent




Jan Marsalek, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the German payment processing firm Wirecard, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only was he at the helm of one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history, but recent reports suggest that he was also a Russian agent for nearly a decade.

A High-Flying Executive

Marsalek spent 10 years as the COO of Wirecard, from 2010 to 2020. In his role, he oversaw transactions worth up to $140 billion a year, on behalf of thousands of companies¹. For a time, he lived in a mansion in Munich he rented for $38,000 a month, and crisscrossed the world on private jets¹.

The Downfall of Wirecard

Wirecard imploded after a series of investigations by the Financial Times exposed massive accounting fraud in its Asian operations, which Marsalek was in charge of. The company admitted that nearly €2 billion in cash it supposedly held did not exist. Wirecard filed for insolvency in June 2020, with close to a $2-billion-hole in its balance sheet¹. Marsalek is accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars¹.

The Fugitive Life

Marsalek fled Germany after being fired from Wirecard in June 2020. He is reportedly fugitive in Russia after Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest due to his alleged role in the Wirecard scandal.

The GRU Connection

Western intelligence and security official sources told The Wall Street Journal that Marsalek used his position as Wirecard's COO to illegally fund Russian spy agencies' covert operations around the world, as well as provide assistance to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. This involved helping to pay Russian intelligence officers and informants and funneling money into conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa¹. Marsalek also likely collected data on Wirecard clients in Munich, including Germany's Federal Criminal Office — the country's equivalent of the FBI — and sent it to Russia.

Conclusion

The story of Jan Marsalek is a stark reminder of the potential for corporate malfeasance and international espionage to intertwine. As investigations continue, the full extent of Marsalek's double life is yet to be revealed..

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Trillion Pound Cost of Net Zero


 

You know, that ludicrous idea where we magically poof away all our carbon emissions? 

It turns out, according to the House of Lords, it might be a tad pricier than your average eco-tote bag and reusable straw combo.

Achieving net zero emissions – basically, balancing out all the carbon we chuck into the atmosphere – could cost a whole lot more than we previously thought. Like, way more. We're talking eye-watering sums that'd make even Elon Musk do a spit-take with his Dogecoin martini.

Olivier Blanchard, former head economist at the International Monetary Fund, dropped this financial bombshell on the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. Apparently, transitioning to a low-carbon economy is "necessary," but also "much more expensive than people imagine." 

Who knew?

The cost to the UK?

A "mere" £1 Trillion!

People need to wake up to the cost of this insanity before the West totally bankrupts itself!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Haldane Calls For Rate Cut

Andy Haldane, the former chief economist of the Bank of England (BoE) and known hawk, has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons by urging the central bank to cut interest rates. This comes despite the BoE holding rates steady for the fourth consecutive time earlier this month, citing concerns about inflation.

Haldane's Argument:

  • Sluggish growth: He argues that the UK economy is facing "anemic growth" at best, with the risk of a deeper recession looming.
  • Taming inflation: Inflation has fallen from over 11% to 4%, suggesting room for loosening monetary policy.
  • Credibility at stake: He warns that the BoE risks losing credibility if it doesn't adjust its stance as economic conditions change.

 

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