Friday, December 22, 2017

The Downside of Bitcoin - Trying To Covert It To Real Cash

The Great Crypto Crash!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bitcoin Explained

Markets are driven by fear and greed.

Hence Bitcoin will be a roller-coaster, and is not for the faint-hearted!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The City Takes a Break

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

October Unemployment 4.3% - Lowest Since 1975

Monday, December 11, 2017

Labour's Tokenistic Gesture To Move The Bank of England To Birmingham

Seemingly Labour is considering relocating most of the Bank of England (The Old lady of Threadneedle Street) to Birmingham if it wins power at the next general election.

The FT reports that consultants commissioned by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, have concluded that the central bank’s base in Threadneedle Street is “unsatisfactory and leads to the regions being underweighted in policy decisions.”

They have recommended moving “some functions” to Birmingham, to be located “next door or close to” the National Investment Bank and Strategic Investment Board, organisations that Labour plans to create on entering government. Labour’s policy review will include whether the governor should also be based in Birmingham.

“All three, side-by-side, would constitute a new ‘economic policy’ hub,” said an interim report by consultants GFC Economics and Clearpoint Corporation Management. The report suggested moving the BoE’s premises “close to” Birmingham’s main train station, saying a relocation would “provide a clear, visible example of a new government’s determination to promote growth and a rebalancing of the economy”.

Well this is all very well and tokenistic. However, given that McDonnell's first act (if Labour gain power) would be to take over the Bank and remove its independence, moving it away from its main stakeholders (ie the Labour government) seems a tad stupid.

Whilst we are on the subject, given that Unite's head office is in Holborn, whilst Unison, TSSA and the RMT are all headquartered in Euston; will Labour ask them to relocate as well?

Friday, December 01, 2017

RBS/NatWest Closing 259 Branches

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Xavier Rolet Falls On His Sword

The Telegraph reports that outgoing London Stock Exchange chief executive Xavier Rolet is to step down “with immediate effect” after a furious row between the company’s board and one of its shareholders over his departure.

Mr Rolet had been due to remain in his job until December 2018 but today said he had agreed to leave straight away, just one day after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney indicated that he did not back calls by one of the LSE’s biggest investors for him to stay on until 2021.

"We can’t envisage a situation where a CEO stays beyond the agreed period," Mr Carney said at a conference on yesterday, adding that he was “mystified” by the row.

The news follows weeks of acrimony between the board and Sir Christopher Hohn, founder of the Children’s Investment Fund (TCI), who accused the LSE’s chairman Donald Brydon of forcing Mr Rolet out against his will.

Mr Rolet said he was leaving amid “a great deal of unwelcome publicity” and would not be returning to the board or the job “under any circumstances”.

I will leave the final word to Francis Urquhart:

"Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

London Property Market Booming - Or Is It?

The Telegraph reports that London house prices are now 14.5 times the earnings of an average Londoner, according to Hometrack, hitting the highest level on record.

This is up from last year's high of 14 times average income, despite house price growth having slumped in London over the last 12 months. This year's level is 42% higher than the long-term average over the last 15 years.

The question is, how are people paying for these?

-Excess mortgages
-Non resident investors

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NatWest Online Banking Problems - Update

NatWest Online Banking Down

Natwest online banking appears to be experiencing technical problems this morning, with customers reporting that the login page is slow to load or doesn't load at all.

Thus far mobile banking appears to be working.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Unemployment Falls By 59,000

The ONS reports that the rate of unemployment for July to September 2017 fell. There were 59,000 fewer unemployed than for April to June 2017 and 182,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.3%, down from 4.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.

Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.2% both including and excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Friday, November 10, 2017

National Savings Rates Increased By 0.25%

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Curate's Egg That Is RBS

The Telegraph reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland could be on course for its first full-year profit since its £45bn state bailout at the height of the financial crisis, after posting a third successive quarter of profits.

RBS posted £392m in profits for the three months to September and £1.33bn for the year to date.

However, there is a down side. RBS is still waiting to see if it will be fined by the DoJ for selling subprime mortgages. The fine is expected to be around £6BN.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Chickens Come Home To Roost At Barclays

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Manufacturing Growth Rises To 1%

The ONS state that UK gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 0.4% in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2017, a similar rate of growth to the previous two quarters.

Additionally manufacturing returned to growth after a weak Quarter 2 2017, increasing by 1.0% in Quarter 3 2017.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy T Day!

As from today, owners of older, dirtier cars will be charged an extra £10 if they want to drive into London.

Saddiq Khan, Mayor of London, announced the "Toxicity charge" in February as part of a package of measures to clean up the capital’s "filthy air".

The "T-charge" will be in operation Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 6pm.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

UK Unemployment Falls - Lowest Level Since 1975

UK unemployment fell by 52,000 in the three months to August to 1.4 million, leaving the jobless rate unchanged at 4.3% from the previous quarter - still at the lowest level since 1975.

As per the ONS:
  • There were 32.10 million people in work, 94,000 more than for March to May 2017 and 317,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.1%, up from 74.5% for a year earlier.
  • There were 1.44 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 52,000 fewer than for March to May 2017 and 215,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Inflation Edges Up To 3%

It should be remembered that the figures are provided by the same ONS that lost £490BN in Britain's balance of payments!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Round Pound Coin Days Are Nigh

As from 15 October the old round sided pound coin ceases to be legal tender.

Rules coming into force on that date will prevent shops handing out old £1 coins as change and will give shops the right to refuse them as payment.

However, there is no rule preventing shops (which are able to bank old £1 coins long after this date) accepting the coins after 15 October.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Don't Trust Banks With Your Money

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The King Is Dead - Monarch Collapses

Monarch Airlines ceased trading early on Monday, leading to nearly 1,900 job losses and the cancellation of all its flights and holidays.

The collapse of the 50-year old company is the largest ever for a UK airline.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Toys Rn't Us

Toys 'R' Us has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada as it attempts to restructure its debts.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Britain Leads The Employment Stats

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

J.P. Morgan Compares Bitcoin To Tulip Bulbs

We shall see!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Massive Equifax Security Breach

As per the BBC about 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised in a cyber security breach.

Equifax said cyber-criminals accessed data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses during the incident.

Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected.

The firm's core consumer and commercial credit databases were not accessed.

Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July, when the company discovered the breach.

Malicious hackers won access to its systems by exploiting a "website application vulnerability", it said but provided no further details.

The hackers accessed credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers, among other information.

Equifax said it had set up a website - - through which consumers can check if their data has been caught up in the breach. Many people trying to visit the site reported via social media that they had problems reaching it and that security software flagged it as potentially dangerous.

Unsurprisingly shares in Equifax took a hit.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Estonia To Launch Digital Estcoin

An excellent idea, and well within keeping with Estonia's desire to be at the cutting edge of IT.

However, I do hope that the Estcoin is impervious to the inevitable attempts by Russia to hack it!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FCA PPI Campaign Deadline Advert

Without a doubt, this is the most ridiculous financial advert I have ever seen.

No wonder the FCA disabled the comments section!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

US Launches $400BN Libor Case

This will run and run!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unemployment Lowest Since 1975

As per the ONS:
"The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.4%, down from 4.9% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975."
Additionally, the employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.1%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

Wrt "zero hours" see this from James Cleverly:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Greed Of The Railway Franchises Exposed

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Meaty High Protein Notes

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

British Gas Hikes Electricity Prices By 12.5%

British Gas will increase electricity prices by 12.5% from 15 September, its owner Centrica has said, in a move that will affect 3.1 million customers.

Gas prices are unchanged, but the average annual dual-fuel bill for a typical household on a standard tariff will rise by £76 to £1,120, up by 7.3%.

Centrica said the rise was a result of transmission and distribution costs and the costs of government policy.

Methinks that British gas will continue to lose customers!

Monday, July 31, 2017

UK Property Market Stable

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

UK Q2 Growth 0.3%

Growth in Q2 was 0.3%, significantly better than the Treasury's doom and gloom forecast borne out of Project fear!
  • The growth in Quarter 2 2017 was driven by services, which grew by 0.5% compared with 0.1% growth in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017.
  • The largest contributors to growth in services were retail trade, which improved after a fall in the first quarter, and film production and distribution.

A Lesson In Economics

Monday, July 24, 2017

IMF Cuts UK Growth Forecast From 2% To 1.7%

However, it should be borne in mind that IMF forecasts are invariably shite (the fact that they revised the forecast is a clue) as this chart from 2014 shows:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Card Surcharges To Be Banned

As from January next year, businesses will not be allowed to add any surcharges for card payments.

This follows a directive from the European Union, which bans surcharges on Visa and Mastercard payments.

However, the government has gone further than the directive, by also banning charges on American Express and Paypal too.

This covers all companies and organisations that add a surcharge, including HMRC!

You can bet your bottom dollar that companies will find another way to pass on the charges.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Inflation Falls To 2.6%

The ONS reports that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.6% in June 2017, down from 2.9% in May 2017.

This is the first fall in the CPIH inflation rate since April 2016, and was caused primarily by falling prices for motor fuels and certain recreational and cultural goods and services.

This means that there will be no increase in interest rates in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Piss Pathetic Pensions

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bank of England Wants People To Sniff Out Regulation Busting

G20 Minus 1

The G20 is now the G19 as America has placed itself into isolation.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Bank of England To Go On Strike

Does this mean that all debts held during this period will be interest free?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

George "Six Jobs" Osborne

Osborne doing his bit to maintain full employment.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beware Zombie Pension Companies

A prescient warning in the Telegraph wrt pension schemes that might go bust:
"There are 10 million people in 6,000 “defined benefit” pension schemes in Britain. Most of them will get the pensions they expect in full – but not all.

If the companies behind these schemes are financially strong enough still to be in business when the pensions come to get paid, then all is well. However, around 1,000 schemes, possibly with as many as 1.7 million members, are in a very precarious position with financially weak companies behind them or large deficits - sometimes both.

Their members face a real and current risk that their companies will go bust. If this happens their scheme will almost certainly fall into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). This will ensure that they still get a pension, but it will be lower, at around 90pc of what they were expecting."
A pension is meant to cover you from retirement through to death, which may be 30 years or so from the date of retirement.

How the hell can anyone predict what the world will look like 30 years from now?

Scary isn't it?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The ATM's Fiftieth Birthday

50 years ago today the world's first ATM was unveiled at a Barclays branch in Enfield, London.

Reg Varney, a celebrity of the time, made the first withdrawal.

EU Stiffs Google for 2.4bn Euros

The EU said Google had broken EU competition law by exploiting the power of its search engine to promote its online shopping service, at the expense of other price comparison sites.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Deutsche Bank Way Offbeam!

This analysis couldn't be more wrong wrt "paralysis", there will be black swans aplenty coming!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

LIBOR Funding

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Carney's Cake and Consumption Doubts Nixes Rate Rise

The time is not right for an interest rate rise, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said.

Citing falling wage growth and Brexit uncertainty.
"Before long, we will all begin to find out the extent to which Brexit is a gentle stroll along a smooth path to a land of cake and consumption."
A wee barb there methinks!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Unemployment Lowest Since 1975

As per the ONS the unemployment rate for people for the latest time period, February to April 2017, at 4.6%, was the joint lowest since 1975.

For February to April 2017:
  • the unemployment rate for people was 4.6%; it has not been lower since May to July 1975
  • the unemployment rate for men was 4.7%, it has not been lower since September to November 1975
  • the unemployment rate for women was 4.4%; it has not been lower since July to September 2005
For February to April 2017, there were:
  • 1.53 million unemployed people, 50,000 fewer than for November 2016 to January 2017 and 145,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • 840,000 unemployed men, 26,000 fewer than for November 2016 to January 2017 and 58,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • 690,000 unemployed women, 24,000 fewer than for November 2016 to January 2017 and 87,000 fewer than for a year earlier

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Inflation Hits 2.9%

Inflation as measured by CPI is ow 2.9%, expectations were around 2.7% (which was the previous month's level).

The squeeze is on!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

House Price Rises Cooling

The Halifax report that the annual rate of house price growth is continuing to slow.

In the year to May house price inflation fell to 3.3%, down from 3.8% in the year to April.

Over the last three months there has been virtually no change in prices, the Halifax said.

Since March property prices have fallen by 0.2%. This was only the second quarterly drop since November 2012.

However between April and May, prices actually rose by 0.4%.

Exuberant property bubbles always burst, a gradual slowing is far better than a sudden collapse. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

RBS Shareholders Want Goodwin In The Dock

It seems that reports last week of a settlement being agreed between RBS and shareholders, thus negating the expected court appearance of a.o. Fred Goodwin, were premature.

The FT reports that the RBS Shareholders Action Group, which represents thousands of individual investors, secured a £2m deal with high net worth funders on Monday night, taking their total funding pot to about £7m to cover the cost of the trial, according to shareholder Neil Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell said that the claim is “now fully funded” and that “claimants are willing to proceed to trial”, which is set to begin on Wednesday.

It seems the desire to see Goodwin take the stand outweighs mere monetary gain.   A number of investors recently told the Financial Times they were unwilling to settle because they wanted to see Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood in 2012, held to account and for the “truth” to emerge.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Europe's Moral Obligation To Greece

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has said that Europe has a moral obligation to grant Greece some form of debt relief, and the International Monetary Fund needs to make up its mind whether it will join the country's bailout.

All very true, maybe. 

However, the fact that Greece has gone through financial hell as a result of its dishonesty/stupidity and the stubbornness of the EU/IMF, I wouldn't bet any money on the IMF or Europe coming round to Mr Tsakalotos's viewpoint any time soon!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RBS Reaches £200M Settlement

RBS has reached a last-minute deal worth about £200 million with thousands of investors who claim they were misled during the bank's 2008 rights issue shortly before a government bailout wiped out its share price.

In a letter to shareholders released Monday, the RBoS Shareholders Action Group recommended accepting the deal for 82 pence per share, below its previous damages range of 92 pence per share to 234 pence per share.

The group is the last of five sets of shareholders still pursuing claims that the bank misled investors with its £12 billion rights issue during the 2008 financial crisis, before the £45 billion government bailout wiped out RBS' share price. A trial had been set to begin in late May but was repeatedly postponed after RBS made the 82 pence per share offer on May 20.

Law360UK quotes the shareholder group's letter:
"Until this offer was made, we were not satisfied that previous offers proposed by the bank were close enough to what may be considered an acceptable amount, bearing in mind our legal team's advice as to the true merits of the case.

In contrast, we did consider that the offer of 82p per share, being almost double that of the bank's previous offer, to be worth serious consideration."
This of course means that Fred Goodwin will not be appearing in court.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Moody's Downgrades China

Moody's has downgraded China's long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings by one notch to A1 from Aa3, with the outlook falling from stable to negative.

The downgrade will lead to increased borrowing costs. As such, it is not surprising that China's finance ministry said Moody's was exaggerating the mainland's economic difficulties and underestimating reform efforts.

Moody's said in a statement that the downgrade reflected expectations that China's financial strength would "erode somewhat over the coming years, with the economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows".

Ironically, the Chinese economy expanded by 6.7% in 2016 compared with 6.9% the previous year, the slowest growth since 1990. Other countries would kill for that level of growth!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fred GoodwinTo Appear In Court

Reuters reports that Fred "The Shred" Goodwin (ex boss of RBS and ex knight of the realm) will appear before disgruntled investors in court next week.

He will become the first senior banker in Britain to be challenged in court over his role in the financial crisis.

A civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors opens on Monday, alleging the banks' shareholders were misled by Goodwin and other former executives over the bank's financial health ahead of a £12BN cash call in 2008.

Don't expect any dramatic revelations though!

HSBC's "Secure" Voice Recognition System Sucks

The BBC have managed to shoot holes in HSBC's claims that their voice recognition system is secure.

BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons set up an HSBC account and signed up to the bank's voice ID authentication service.

HSBC says the system is secure because each person's voice is "unique".

However, HSBC let Dan Simmons' non-identical twin, Joe, access the account via the telephone after he mimicked his brother's voice.

The bank said it would "review" ways to make the ID system more sensitive following the BBC investigation.

HSBC introduced the voice-based security in 2016, saying it measured 100 different characteristics of the human voice to verify a user's identity.

Customers simply give their account details and date of birth and then say: "My voice is my password".

Although the breach did not allow Joe Simmons to withdraw money, he was able to access balances and recent transactions, and was offered the chance to transfer money between accounts.

To add insult to inury, HSBC allowed him seven attempts to mimic his brother's voiceprint and get it wrong, before he got in at the eighth time of trying!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

UK Unemployment Lowest In 42 Years

UK unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6%, its lowest in 42 years.

The ONS reports that the number of people unemployed fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the three months to March.

Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.1%.

There were 31.95 million people in work, 122,000 more than for October to December 2016 and 381,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

So much for Project Fear!

Trump's Solution For A Strong Dollar - Himself!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inflation Hits 2.7% - Easter Blamed

The UK's inflation rate rose last month to its highest since September 2013.

ONS figures show that inflation now stands at 2.7% - up from 2.3% in March - and above the Bank of England's 2% target.

The reason?

Higher air fares were the main reason, which rose because of the later date of Easter this year compared with 2016.

This is not yet a major concern, as the Bank of England are expecting inflation to peak at around 3% this year.

Monday, May 15, 2017

JPMorgan Buys 1,000 Staff Office In Dublin

Reuters reports that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to buy a Dublin building with room for 1,000 staff in the first sign of a financial services firm expanding significantly in Ireland since the government began a major campaign to attract firms in the wake of Brexit.

JPMorgan will acquire a 130,000 square foot (12,000 square meter) building at the Capital Dock development in Dublin's docklands.

"This new building gives us room to grow and some flexibility within the European Union," senior country officer for J.P. Morgan in Ireland Carin Bryans said.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Greek Bailout Deal Delayed Again

Unsurprisingly the much vaunted Greek bailout deal is no nearer fruition.

The IMF is dragging its heels. The Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, said that she expects eurozone lenders to be “far more specific” in their commitment to a debt-relief package for Greece.

Quoted by Keep Talking Greece, she said:
We will carry on working on this debt relief package.

There is not enough clarity yet but I hope that the European partners will continue to progress in that.

We have two issues, policies which are being voted on now, I hope, by the Greek authorities. Much progress has been made and we certainly hope that the Europeans will be far more specific in terms of debt relief, which is also an imperative.” 
In other words, the Quadriga and Greece are still nowhere near a deal.

No surprises there then!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Buy-To-Let Rates Rise

The Telegraph reports that figures from Mortgage for Business, the specialist broker, show average fixed-rate deals reversed the rate cuts made in March.

The average two-year fixed term loan was 2.9pc in April, up from 2.86pc in March. Three-year deals rose from 3.53pc to 3.56pc, while the average five-year buy-to-let mortgage went from 3.74pc to 3.76pc.

It is the first time buy-to-let rates have increased this year, and the first time three-year fixed mortgages have risen since April 2016.

However, the average tracker mortgage fell, from 4.85pc to 4.74pc in April.

It would appear that mortgage providers are using the increases in buy-to-let rates to offset reductions in rates offered to residential customers.

Monday, May 08, 2017

House Prices Rise 3.8% Year on Year

Despite the fact that house prices (year on year) have increased by 3.8%, the Halifax has released figures that show that house prices are "stagnating" and have actually fallen in the last three months.

As per the BBC in the three months to April, prices fell by 0.2% - the first quarterly fall since November 2012.

However, for the year to April, prices rose by 3.8%, the same figure as in March. The average cost of a house or flat at £219,649.

It seems that the reason for the "stagnation" is the fact that prices (when compared to salaries and mortgages) are hitting the ceiling of affordability.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Greece Failing To Hit Targets

Given the poor performance of Greece wrt meeting targets and forecasts, why are people deluding themselves about the chances of a bailout deal being agreed?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Forgery Proof £1 Coin Falls Apart

Oh dear it appears that the new £1 coins, that are allegedly forgery proof, have one small defect.

They fall apart!

It seems that thousands of new £1 coins have been produced with major flaws that have seen the centres fall out. 

Owners of £1 coins with centres missing have been putting them up for sale on eBay, with some reportedly selling for almost £2,500.

Friday, April 28, 2017

NatWest Now Admits To Online Problems

Further to my earlier post about problems with the NatWest app, and issued with the online system.

Having first stated that the online system was still working, Nat West now admit that there are problems wrt transfers.

NatWest App Crashes and Online Systems Stumbles

The NatWest banking app crashed this morning, and is still out of action.

NatWest have stated that they are working on the issue, and claim that the online system is working.
However, having had several unsuccessful attempts to login and access the payments section, I tried to transfer money from one account to another and whilst the money was debited from one it has not been  credited to another.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Southern Rail Emulates United Airlines' Approach To Customers

A Southern Rail staff member lobbed a bucket of water over a protesting vegan who had written on the ground in chalk at Polegate station.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tsipras Demands Debt Relief

Alexis Tsipras, Greek prime minister, insists that Greece will legislate additional tax and pension reforms demanded by the Quadriga.

However, no legislation will be passed until a deal on debt relief was in place.

Notwithstanding this, Tsipras is confident that a deal to be wrapped up by May 22.

How many times have people expressed "confidence" that a deal for Greece would be "wrapped up"?

Delusion at the very height of government!

Paper Fivers Expire 6 May

As from May 6 paper fivers will not be able to be used in shops, cafes and restaurants.

Banks, building societies or post offices will usually exchange them after this date. 

If they refuse, the notes can still be exchanged with the Bank of England in London by post or in person.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Government Borrowing Falls

The Telegraph reports that the Government borrowed £52bn in the last financial year, a fall of £20bn compared to the year before, as the long struggle to eliminate the deficit moved closer towards its goal. That amounts to 2.6pc of GDP, the lowest level of borrowing since 2007-08.

The fall in the deficit is bigger than analysts forecast a year ago by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

For why are the figures better than forecast?

Strong economic growth, unexpected by the fear mongers!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Don't Dither wrt Financial Matters

Whatever the outcome of the election, and whoever ends up trying to "manage" events, nature will take its course and the politicians will prove powerless to stop it.

Thus make your financial decisions without delay and procrastination.

Don't dither and don't look for excuses for delay!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quarterly Retail Sales Fall - Monthly Sales Rise

UK retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years in March, as the prices of everyday goods continued to climb.

Sales were down 1.4% year-on-year on a quarterly basis, and down 1.8% compared with February 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In March 2017, the quantity bought in the retail industry is estimated to have increased by 1.7% compared with March 2016 and decreased by 1.8% compared with February 2017; decreases are seen across the four main store types.

Average store prices (including fuel) increased by 3.3% on the year, the largest growth since March 2012; the largest contribution came from petrol stations, where year-on-year average prices rose by 16.4%.

Online sales (excluding automotive fuel) increased year-on-year by 19.5% and by 0.5% on the month, accounting for approximately 15.5% of all retail spending.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

US Currency Monitoring

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Facebook Down For Virgin Media Customers In UK

Those of you on Virgin Media will have been unable to access Facebook for at least the last two hours, as there is a technical glitch which Virgin have yet to resolve.

Monday, April 10, 2017

LIBOR Rigging

Following the acquittal of two former Barclay's traders last week, Panorama asks if the right people are being blamed for what has been called the biggest financial fix of all time.

Piecing together explosive new evidence, which calls into question the safety of other convictions, Panorama reporter Andy Verity reveals that manipulation of the world's most important interest rate, Libor, was allowed and even ordered by people at the highest levels of the financial establishment.

A secret recording that implicates the Bank of England in Libor rigging has been uncovered by BBC Panorama. 

The 2008 recording adds to evidence the central bank repeatedly pressured commercial banks during the financial crisis to push their Libor rates down.

In the recording, a senior Barclays manager, Mark Dearlove, instructs Libor submitter Peter Johnson, to lower his Libor rates.

He tells him: "The bottom line is you're going to absolutely hate this... but we've had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower."
Mr Johnson objects, saying that this would mean breaking the rules for setting Libor, which required him to put in rates based only on the cost of borrowing cash.

Mr Johnson says: "So I'll push them below a realistic level of where I think I can get money?"

His boss Mr Dearlove replies: "The fact of the matter is we've got the Bank of England, all sorts of people involved in the whole thing... I am as reluctant as you are... these guys have just turned around and said just do it."

It is of course convenient for banks to blame others (eg the Bank of England).

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The End of The Paper Fiver

Meanwhile in Sweden:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Greek Bailout Talks Grind To a Halt

Last week I warned people not to believe the hype over the alleged progress and agreement on the Greek bailout talks.

As can be seen, I was right to issue that warning.

Greece is unwilling and incapable of implementing the reforms that the Quadriga are demanding.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Greek Creditors Allegedly Reach Preliminary Agreement

How many times have we heard this before?

Don't believe the hype!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#Grexit Looms Large Again - Greek Banks Haemorrhaging Cash

Greece’s beleaguered banking system has taken a fresh hit from the country’s shaky bailout talks this year, registering its worst deposit outflows since the height of its debt crisis in the summer of 2015.

The FT reports that the latest figures from the European Central Bank showed households and businesses pulled €1.1bn from the country’s lenders last month, moderating from the €1.7bn withdrawn at the start of the year but marking the worst two-monthly outflow since the country was bought to the brink of a eurozone exit nearly two years ago.

For why?

There is no sign of agreement between Greece and the Quadriga wrt the bailout. Indeed there is no sign of agreement between the IMF and other members of the Quadriga over the terms of the bailout!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Europe Isn't Working

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Retail Sales Rise

Retail sales last month rose 3.7% compared with February of 2016, the Office for National Statistics said, and were up 1.4% on January’s sales.

However, many in the media are looking at the three month data and reporting a decline of 1.4%. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inflation Hits 2.3%

Inflation jumped to it highest level for three and a half years in February. Average prices rose by 2.3pc in February, from 1.8pc in January. This was higher than the 2.1pc predicted by economists, and was driven by price rises for food and fuel and the weakened pound.

Right on cue the siren sound of people calling for an increase in rates. Not so fast though, any rise in rates will adversely hit economic activity and increase unemployment.

There will be no rush to raise rates anytime soon!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Unemployment Lowest Since 1975

Unemployment fell to its joint lowest level since 1975.

Joblessness dropped to 4.7pc, down from 4.8pc a month earlier and from 5.1pc in January 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bank of England Response To The Resignation of Charlotte Hogg

Press release

Following recent events, Charlotte Hogg yesterday voluntarily offered her resignation.

This morning, Court has accepted her resignation with deep regret. 
Anthony Habgood, Chair of Court, said:

“In her time at the Bank, Charlotte Hogg has made a huge contribution in areas such as professionalising and modernising the management and operations of the Bank, leading the implementation of the strategic plan, championing diversity and driving forward the Bank’s understanding of key issues such as Fintech and Operational Risk.  No one who knows her doubts her track record or her integrity.  While Charlotte’s decision by any measure exceeds the standard that would be expected in the private sector or would be required under statute, it is understandable in the circumstances and she has taken it with the best interests of the Bank at heart.”

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank, said:

“While I fully respect her decision taken in accordance with her view of what was the best for this institution, I deeply regret that Charlotte Hogg has chosen to resign from the Bank of England.” 

“Since Charlotte joined the Bank almost four years ago, she has transformed its management and operations.  Drawing on her extensive private sector experience and her unrelenting commitment to excellence, she has led a broad range of initiatives to build a more open and inclusive institution, to overhaul our IT systems, and to change fundamentally how the Bank develops, manages and rewards its dedicated public servants. Along the way, she has inspired countless colleagues at the Bank and attracted a new cohort of professionals to it.  The combination of Charlotte’s unique skills and drive were exceptionally well suited to lead similar transformations of our markets and banking responsibilities, particularly given the growing importance of FinTech, operational excellence and the management of cyber risk.”
“The Bank of England today is stronger, more diverse, secure and effective in large part because of Charlotte Hogg.  We will do everything we can to honour her work for the people of the United Kingdom by building on her contributions.”

Court notes today’s report by the Treasury Select Committee.  It is making the following announcements.

The Bank is reconfiguring reporting lines and internal structures in order to safeguard more effectively the governance of its Code of Conduct, compliance and disciplinary processes.  The new configuration will involve:

  • Senior Management Responsibility for Bank-wide risk management moving from the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to Deputy Governor for Prudential Regulation Sam Woods in his capacity as Chair of the Executive Risk Committee.  Mr Woods in turn reports to Court’s Audit and Risk Committee (ARCO) on risk matters.
  • The Head of Compliance reporting to the General Counsel (who in turn reports to the Governor) and the Chair of ARCO, who is tasked with ensuring the independence of the Bank’s compliance function.
  • Senior Management Responsibility for the Code of Conduct will rest with the General Counsel who will ensure the policies under the Code are fully understood and adhered to, and will report on that to the Chair of ARCO.

To ensure adherence to the Code of Conduct at the most senior levels of the Bank, Court has commissioned a review which will be carried out by Court’s non-executive directors other than the Chair. The review will examine:
  • The lessons from Ms Hogg’s case,
  • The extent to which the changes to reporting lines and internal structures outlined above are adequate, and
  • What the Bank should do to ensure full and timely compliance now and in future, especially amongst senior members of the Bank.
The Bank will make the findings and recommendations of this review public. 

The review by Court’s non-executives will be assisted in the first instance by the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Office, the Internal Audit division and the National Audit Office as appropriate.

Letter from Charlotte Hogg

Charlotte Hogg Resigns As Deputy Governor of The Bank of England

Unsurprising given that she has lost support of MPs, who stated that her "professional competence falls short" for the role of Deputy Governor of The Bank of England.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rents Falling

London Loves Business reports that the average monthly rent for newly let properties has fallen for the first time since late 2010, according to figures from Countrywide.

The fall is due to an increase in supply of properties, because some landlords were in a hurry to buy properties last year before a three per cent stamp duty surcharge came about.

The average new tenancy in England, Scotland and Wales fell by 0.6 per cent in the year to February, to £921 a month.

As ever, when the state tinkers with taxes there are consequences.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Greece Unemployment Stuck at 23%

"Stable" implies something to be happy about. A 23% unemployment rate is nothing to be happy about, most especially as it shows no sign of improving!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Budget Live - #Budget2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Back To The Future - EU May Revert To Single Market

Oh irony of irony, the EU is finally waking up to the fact that the best way to survive may in fact be to revert to its past; namely to become a single market (what once was called the "Common Market").

Why and how? 

In a scenario where the EU27 cannot agree to do more in many policy areas, it increasingly focuses on deepening certain key aspects of the single market. There is no shared resolve to work more together in areas such as migration, security or defence. 

As a result, the EU27 does not step up its work in most policy domains. Cooperation on new issues of common concern is often managed bilaterally. The EU27 also significantly reduces regulatory burden by withdrawing two existing pieces of legislation for every new initiative proposed. 

By 2025, this means: 

The functioning of the single market becomes the main "raison d'être" of the EU27. Further progress depends on the capacity to agree related policies and standards. This proves easier for the free movement of capital and of goods, which continues tariff - free, than it does in other areas."
This revelation on the road to Damascus comes in whitepaper on the future of Europe, published by the European Commission and signed off by Juncker.

Needless to say, Juncker and his ilk want full steam ahead to full political and monetary union. However, that simply won't happen.

In reality, the EU will be lucky to survive even as a "Common Market"!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Samsung Buries Its Corporate Head in The Sand

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ides of March - "Everything Will Grind To a Halt"

I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017.  That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015.  That holiday expires.  The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion.  It will then be law.  It will be a hard stop.  The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. 
We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate.  By summer, they will be out of cash.  Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. 
Everything will grind to a halt.  I think we will have a government shutdown.  There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace.  There will be no tax cut.  There will be no infrastructure stimulus.  There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Self Delusion of Tsipras

Tsipras is of the view that Greece's creditors feel that austerity is no longer necessary for Greece.

That is wishful thinking in the extreme. The Quadriga will move heaven and earth, and allow Greece to suffer whatever it takes, in order to safeguard the loans made to Greece to date.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To Destroy The High Street

In order to destroy the high street:

1 Encourage supermarkets to open out of town.

2 Impose greedy business rate increases.

3 Impose parking enforcement zones.

Kudos to councils and the government for following this above steps to the letter!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Greece Will Sink The Euro Ship of State

The Europhiles are celebrating the fact that creditors have agreed to work on new structural reforms in order to be able to provide Greece with more bailout money (7bn euros are needed in the short term).

However, what the Europhiles are ignoring in their celebration is the fact that the creditors are in no rush and don't expect any meaningful conclusion (one way or another) before summer.

One way or another Greece will sink the euro ship of state.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Unilver Falls 7%

Unsurprisingly, since the withdrawal of the Kraft Heinz takeover bid, shares in Unilever are down by 7% in opening trade in London.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Employment at Record High of 74.6%

Friday, February 10, 2017

IMF and Eurozone Agree Common Stance on Greece

Reuters reports that the IMF and Eurozone have finally come to an agreement as to what they will say to Greece today.

A meeting between the lenders and Greek officials is scheduled for later today, the head of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in The Hague.

"There is agreement to present a united front to the Greeks," the eurozone official said, adding that the outcome of Friday's meeting with the Greeks was still unclear and it was unclear if Athens would accept the proposals.

I think it fair to say that if the IMF and Eurozone really have come to a common stance, then Greece will not like it!

Whither The Prophesied Brexit Armageddon?

So much for Project Fear!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Malloch Predicts Grexit and Euro Demise

Ted Malloch, the US ambassador to the EU, expects Greece to leave to euro and suspects that the eurozone's days are numbered.

As per Zerohedge:
If the [IMF] will not participate in a new bailout that does not include substantial debt relief, and that’s what they are saying, then that, more or less, ensures a collision course with eurozone creditors.

Now we all know that primarily [puts pressure on] Germany, which remains opposed to any such actions, so I think it suggests that Greece might have to sever ties and do Grexit and exit the euro."
Suffice to say the EU doesn't want to hear defeatist talk like this, and is collectively whining at full pitch about Malloch's appointment!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Greece's Oncoming Explosion

The International Monetary Fund has warned that Greece’s debts are on an “explosive” path, despite years of bailouts and half hearted economic reforms.

This oncoming explosion existentially threatens the eurozone itself.

The solution according to the IMF is debt forgiveness.

However, as noted many times before on this site, neither Germany nor the other members of the Quadriga (sans IMF) have forgiveness in their hearts.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup President repeated the mantra saying there would be no Greek debt forgiveness and dismissing the IMF assessment of Greece’s growth prospects as overly pessimistic.

This will not end well!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

IMF Unreasonable Demands Upon Greece

Deutsche Bank Israel CEO Arrested

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Bank of England Rejects Project Fear

Bank of England Backtracks on Brexit

Bank of England raises its economic forecast close to pre-referendum levels.

Story on the @skynews website:

So much for Project Fear!

Greece - The Crisis That Refuses To Go Away

Despite the media's obsession with Trump, there are other issues in the world.

One such issue being the ongoing Greek financial crisis, which has not gone away and is not likely to be solved.

Those who are optimistic for the chances of a solution should bear in mind that the IMF doesn't think that Greek debt is sustainable and that a write down is required. Germany, however, won't countenance a write down.

In short, there are no signs of a solution.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Deutsche Bank Fined £500m

Deutsche Bank has been fined in excess of £500m by UK and US regulatory authorities for failures in its anti money laundering procedures.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Short The Euro!

VW In Prosecutor's Crosshairs

RBS Increases Provisions For Fines

RBS announced on Thursday that it has set aside a further $3.8 billion to cover expected fines from U.S. authorities over its handling of residential mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

RBS said the additional provision would mostly be for a penalty expected to be imposed by the Department of Justice and other agencies over its issuing and underwriting of U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) during the U.S. housing boom of the 2000s.

RBS’s total package for provisions related to the mortgage-selling misconduct now stands at $8.3 billion.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Going For Growth

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Robots Aren't Coming

Monday, January 23, 2017

Samsung Confirms Dual Battery Fault

At a press conference today, Samsung officials said exhaustive tests on tens of thousands of devices and batteries had ruled out any problems with the device’s hardware or software.
Samsung confirmed what everyone knew, namely that it was a battery fault. Internal and independent investigations had “concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents”.

In the case of the original battery, the casing was too small, causing it to short-circuit and ignite. It was replaced with a battery that had a different manufacturing defect but led to the same result.

Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, is quoted by the Guardian:
We sincerely apologise for the discomfort and concern we have caused to our customers.
The company said there would be no fire risk involving future devices.

Meanwhile the heir to the Samsung throne, Lee Jae-yong, faces the prospect of arrest as prosecutors have accused him of making bribes worth millions of pounds to a close friend of South Korea’s president.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Schaeuble Positive On Brexit Trade Deal

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Momentous Change - Tax Rates

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UK Unemployment Falls

ONS statistics released today show that unemployment in the UK fell by 52,000 to 1.6 million in November, the lowest number since 2006.

In the three months to November, unemployment continued to decrease after hitting a 10-year low in October last year.

The UK now has one of the lowest jobless rates in Europe at 4.8%. The employment rate is now 74.5%, up from 74% in the previous year.

Average earnings increased by 2.8% in the year to November, a 0.2% increase on the previous month.

Where is the much vaunted post Brexit apocalypse?