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Having racked up losses of £234M she has left and been replaced by Jason Tarry, a man with 30 years experience in retail.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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Friday, February 16, 2024

ECB Infested With Net Zero Zealots


 

The ECB has become infested with Net Zero zealots who tolerate no suggestion that the climate change mantra may be wrong. 

Frank Elderson, who is the bank’s climate czar and vice-chair of its supervisory arm, spoke at a meeting and stated that people who did not believe in climate change should not work at the bank.

Elderson, one of six members of the ECB’s executive board, told an internal meeting

“I don’t want these people anymore.” 

Elderson forgets that the ECB's role is to control inflation, not tackle non existent climate change. Unless the ECB remembers its actual mission, wrt inflation, the people of Europe will find themselves bankrupted by these zealots.

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Thursday, February 15, 2024

GDP Fell 0.3% in Q4


 

The UK has fallen into recession. The latest ONS figures show gross domestic product shrank by 0.3% in Q4 2023. That follows a 0.1% contraction in Q3. 

Given that the ONS is useless, we all know that these figures will be revised in the coming months.

However, the real issue lies in the GDP per head which shows that migration is hiding the actual decline in GDP which was 0.7% in 2023.

No wonder governments love migration, and using the basic GDP figure, it hides the truly appalling GDP per head figures!

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Southern Water Hacked

Southern Water are sending out emails to customers wrt a recent hack of their database.

"Cyber attack: important information about your personal data  

I am very sorry to inform you that Southern Water has been the target of an illegal cyber attack, which has unfortunately affected the security of some of your personal data, as one of our customers.

We are currently conducting an intensive investigation into this, supported by industry experts and following guidance from our regulators together with the National Cyber Security Centre. Our operations and services have not been impacted and your water supply is unaffected.

As a result of this investigation, we have reason to believe that the data stolen and at risk, and which relates to you, may include:

  • Basic personal details for administering your account and identifying you, such as your name and contact details. This may include your national insurance number and date of birth if you have provided these details to us.

  • Financial information including your sort code, bank account number and payment reference number.

What we are doing to reduce the risk to you  

Southern Water takes its data protection and information security responsibilities to you seriously, and so we are bringing this to your attention as soon as we can. We are working closely with the regulatory authorities. We have notified the Information Commissioner’s Office and are in regular contact with the National Cyber Security Centre. In addition, we have taken further steps, with support from independent cybersecurity experts, to enhance the security monitoring of our IT infrastructure.

We have also engaged a reputable third party to monitor the dark web on our behalf. They report that, since we were named on the cyber criminals’ site on 22 January 2024, they have found no new evidence of data potentially compromised by this cyber incident being published online. They will continue to carry out these checks for as long as necessary.

To ensure that we’re doing everything we can to look after you, we are offering you a 12-month, free-of-charge, enhanced Experian credit monitoring membership. This service provides identity monitoring and helps detect possible misuse of your personal information. It also supports identification and resolution of identity theft incidents....

What is the background?  

On 22 January 2024 we became aware that a cyber criminal organisation was claiming on its website to have stolen data from some of our IT systems.

We had previously detected suspicious activity and launched an investigation, as well as enhanced monitoring and other precautionary measures. Our independent cyber security specialists continue to investigate.

What happens next?  

The information we have provided is based on what we know at this time. Our investigation remains active, and should we receive any additional material information, we will contact you.

Once again, I am very sorry that this has happened and for any inconvenience this illegal breach of data may cause you. We are working closely with the authorities and industry experts, to do everything possible to manage the situation and support you at this time.

Please call our dedicated customer service team on 0330 303 0025 if you have any questions.

FURTHER INFORMATION  

The National Cyber Security Centre, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Information Commissioners Office all provide helpful information to help protect your data and prevent fraud. This is summarised below with some useful links.

- Stay alert against any suspicious calls, texts or emails which could be a scam. If you receive any suspicious messages or calls, do not hand over any information such as your bank account details. Instead, hang up, or delete any worrying texts or emails and then contact your bank to report the suspicious activity. The FCA has some useful information on how to spot the warning signs of financial scams at www.fca.org.uk/consumers/protect-yourself-scams.

- Cyber criminals commonly use a scam technique called “phishing”, which is mostly email-based but can also be via telephone calls, to lure victims under false pretences to websites which appear legitimate to get them to provide information including bank account and credit card details. These emails/phone calls appear to be from recognisable sources such as banks but actually link to fraudulent websites. To help prevent phishing:

  • Protect your email with a strong password.

  • Do not share your password with anyone.

  • Install the latest security updates to your browser software and personal computing devices.

  • If in doubt, do not open emails from senders you do not recognise.

  • Check links look correct before you click on them.

  • Be suspicious of anyone who asks for your bank account or credit card details.

  • If the email contains spelling mistakes, this can be a sign that this is a phishing scam. Do not open the email or attachments.

- More helpful information on how to protect your data can be found on the National Cyber Security Centre’s website - www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/data-breaches and the Information Commissioner’s Office website – www.ico.org.uk/for-the-public/identity-theft and www.ico.org.uk/for-the-public/online."

Summary

  • Southern Water, a UK water utility company, confirmed that their IT systems were compromised in a cyberattack in January 2024.
  • Hackers stole data from a "limited portion" of their server infrastructure, affecting potentially hundreds of thousands of customers.
  • The data breach was claimed by the Black Basta ransomware group, who threatened to release the stolen information unless a ransom was paid.
  • Southern Water has not confirmed the extent of the data stolen, but reports suggest it may include names, addresses, and contact information.

Current situation:

  • Southern Water is working with cybersecurity experts to investigate the breach and monitor the dark web for any signs of leaked data.
  • No evidence of the stolen data being published online has been found so far.
  • The incident has been reported to the UK's Information Commissioner's Office.

Impact:

  • The affected customers have been notified and are advised to be cautious of phishing attempts or suspicious activity.
  • The full impact of the breach is still being assessed, but it could potentially lead to identity theft, financial fraud, or other forms of harm.

Additional resources:

 

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Inflation Holds Steady at 4%

As of today, February 14th, 2024, the latest inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that the UK inflation rate remains unchanged at 4.0%. It had bneen expected to rsie to 4.1%.

While holding steady might seem like a positive sign, it's crucial to understand the bigger picture. Here's a breakdown of what the figures mean:

Key Points:

  • CPI inflation: Stands at 4.0%, up from 3.9% in November 2023.
  • CPIH inflation: Remains at 4.2%, unchanged from the previous month.
  • Monthly comparison: Both CPI and CPIH saw a 0.4% increase in December compared to November.
  • Long-term perspective: 4.0% inflation is still higher than the Bank of England's target of 2%.

What does this mean for you?

While an unchanged figure might offer some stability, It is important to realise that the figure is expected to drop significantly in the coming months.

Looking ahead:

The following factors will influence the future trajectory, including:

  • Global energy prices: Continued volatility in energy markets could fuel further inflation.
  • Supply chain disruptions: Ongoing issues with global supply chains could continue to push up prices.
  • Bank of England policy: The Bank's monetary policy decisions, particularly regarding interest rates, will play a crucial role in managing inflation.

Stay informed:

It's important to stay informed about inflation and its potential impact on your finances. Here are some resources to help you do so:

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