Archive for September, 2011

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello all and happy Sunny Friday. It’s a good thing the rays are shining outside, because things are still looking decidebly wintery for the global economy. The Fiver touches on this issue this week as you’d expect, but we’ve also comments on Ed Miliband’s speech at the Labour Party conference and we profile some of the work we’ve been doing with Aviva. Thanks to Sallie, Ed, Jonathan and Joey.

Towards anomie? The human cost of the Greek crisis…..Yet another round of crisis talks were required this week to try and resolve the seemingly irretraceable problem of European sovereign debt and avoid a situation where Greece defaults on its financial commitments. Needless to say, further funds have been made available to help prop up struggling nations. In a fascinating piece for Newsnight, Paul Mason went beyond the bailouts to examine the human cost of Greek debt. The Newsnight broadcast can be found here and we’d encourage you to watch it.

The Greek economy continues to burn (Image: Belfast Telegraph)

The message to take away from the piece was that Greek society is in a fragile condition. Young people expect nothing from the state and are understandably disillusioned by the situation they find themselves in. This sense of betrayal extends beyond the nation’s youth and up into many middle class families. Mason’s report refers to the potential for anomie – not a word we were familiar with – which describes the worrying potential for a breakdown of social norms. It’s all too easy to see events through the big picture prism of the EU politicians and German parliamentary debates but it is worth sparing a thought for those who face the consequences of these decisions.

Choose your leader…..A leader in waiting addressed the Labour Party conference this week. He looked unassuming, strode the stage with confidence and was greeted with a standing ovation…..Step forward Rory Weal, the 16 year old who took Liverpool by storm, enthusiastically embraced by the actual leader Ed Miliband, who some might argue could learn a thing or two from the young man.

Labour found a new star this week, but Ed Miliband's speech was hampered by technical difficulties (Image: Daily Telegraph)

Read the rest of this entry »

How to position the Greek Financial Crisis?

posted by Edward Jones

If I could take the liberty of modifying the words of the incomparable Rodgers and Hammerstein – how do you solve a problem like Greece? Well, the macroeconomics, thankfully, are for others to worry about. The communications for this spectacular meltdown however are fantastically absorbing. How, I ask myself, could you position such a mess and achieve a sense of progress and dare I say it, optimism? With tongue fixed firmly in cheek, I give you the strategic standpoints that are at the disposal of any discerning political chief:

 1. The Collective – otherwise known as the ‘we are in this together’ position, or in the case of the British, ‘The Dunkirk Spirit’. Clearly, requires appropriate and visible commitment from public leaders such as a reduced wardrobe, or sudden fixation with public transport.

2. The Future Proofer – as in, do this now to ensure that we’re okay tomorrow. Also known as ‘our children’s children’ position.

3. The Fresh Starter – that is, it can’t get any worse so let’s have a fresh start, or ‘a blank canvas’, or in what could be more appropriate for the Greeks, ‘a Year Zero’ approach to the problem.

4. The Frontrunner – or to put it another way, we got there first and so will be better equipped to manage the situation when others are in the same predicament. Also see ‘ahead of the curve’, or ‘ ahead of the pack’.

5. The Flagellator – by far the hardest and bravest position to take; as in, we had it coming for all those years of irresponsibility and extravagance, but we’ll come out of it fitter and better…believe me.

Please note:  This post was orignially posted by Peter Roberts.

FPS’ Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

Known unknowns…

Frank Portnoy, Professor of Law at the University of San Diego has written a fantastic article in today’s FT on market uncertainty, rogues, risk taking and trust in banks. The best we’ve seen and rather frightening, Dr Doom would be proud, because ultimately, however much we regulate, we are only basing decisions on what has happened in the past, rather than what could happen in the future – i.e, Greece defaulting.

Every picture tells a story…

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Doom returns

posted by Edward Jones

Dr Doom returns this week with the news of slashed growth forecasts

Seen it all before? Indeed you have. This time the IMF predicts the UK economy will grow not by 1.7 % as previously forecast in April, but 1.1 %.

Next year the IMF predicts our economy will grow 1.6 % revised down from 2.3 %.

Dr Doom points out that the plan for growth is not really delivering what it promises. We can only hope rumours of a ‘plan B’ by any other name is forthcoming.

This in the same week Italy’s credit rating was downgraded from A+ to A by S&P.

Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

Friday Fiver

Soon to be called the Saturday Fiver if we post this any later, please see our take on this week’s news below. Never ones to go for the obvious, we’ve shied away from adding further comment to the ICB’s final report, instead looking at the possibility of a break up of the EU, the anniversary of Lehman’s and the shadow it still casts over our financial markets, the Daily Mail’s new website, a twitter storm at Topman and stat of the week! Massive thanks to Coffey Clare Coffey, Claire Scott, Sallie Bale, Matt Bright and Linzi Goldthorpe for this week’s contributions.

Here they are…

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Happy Friday peeps! Here is our fiver with a definite sporty feel to it this week. Thanks to KB, DC, CC and newby Sallie Bale, who writes about life as a fresh graduate, for this week’s contributions.

A new virtual team member….First of all, a quick welcome to our new virtual team member, DR DOOM, who we anticipate making more appearances on this blog over the coming months. We may yet recruit an alternative superhero breeding confidence into our markets, but for the time being we provide you with a depressing reminder that:

  • German, Italian and French markets were all down this week
  • Gold is reached a record value of $1,900/oz
  • And the all important services sector recorded its weakest growth in a year this August according to the Markit and our client CIPS’ (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) services index this week

International Paralympics Day….This week all eyes have been on the Paralympics with a huge event being held in Trafalgar Square to mark the occasion of International Paralympic Day yesterday. The event drew an impressive crowd, unsurprising considering there was a lot on offer: David Cameron and Boris Johnson taking on a (rather competitive looking) friendly doubles tennis match and Paralympic stars such as Oscar Pistorius and Ellie Simmonds were also in attendance.

Boris and Dave faced off over the net this week - it could be a sign of things to come (Image: Daily Mail)

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello All! A little late this week, and we apologise for that, but as it’s now officially the end of summer that means it’s the start of the business season and we’ve all been a little flat out here at H&K Towers. Still, we wouldn’t want to miss out on reporting another busy week in the world of financial and professional services. And what a week it’s been. Thanks to our contributors this week: Ed, Ross, Clare and Rachel.

Turn that frown upside down…At the end of a pretty crazy August, there have been some fairly gut-wrenching figures this week from the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers Index (one of our clients). Declines in manufacturing output prompted fresh talk of double-dip recession, construction continued to be weighed down by weak confidence in the housing market, and all eyes are now on the all-important Services PMI which comes out on Monday.

Happy faces are hard to come by in the UK at the moment. But are we talking ourselves down too much?

Worrying indeed, but could it be that the UK economy is going through stage four of what could be termed ‘post financial crisis bereavement’ (PFCB)? According to one description, this involves ‘a feeling of listlessness and tiredness’ and possibly ‘wandering around in a daze.’

Well it certainly does feel like that sometimes but if the theory holds at least this is the final stage before acceptance sets in and the economy ‘regains its energy and goals for the future.’  It may just be the time for a bit of Vince Cable style positive thinking.

Breaking News – Football clubs spend less…The last minute wheeler-dealing of transfer deadline day was interesting for many reasons. But it’s the debate it has started about financial fair play which poses the biggest question for the future of the beautiful game. We’ve commented before on the ownership of football clubs, particularly in the immediate future. The onset of the Financial Fair Play from UEFA, requiring elite clubs to record a maximum debt of £39.5m over a three year period, may also have implications. Read the rest of this entry »