Archive for February 24th, 2012

Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

1. Peston & Hester on the One show: On the eve of RBS’ eagerly anticipated results this week, Stephen Hester, the undersiege Chief Executive, took to the airwaves to defend RBS. The interview on the One Show was as expected, up until the point Robert Peston, commenting that bankers usually hate the limelight, asked ‘Are you enjoying yourself?

Hester’s response was telling:

‘The limelight I hate. I don’t know if I’d have done it if I had my time again, but I’m here and what I care a lot about is can RBS succeed? I think it can, I want to be part of the team that made it succeed, and I’m gritting my teeth about the rest and pushing on with that.’

I was impressed with two things: first, his honesty, and secondly his determination. Both came through during the interview and set the tone for how the results were received the following day.  

2. Another week, another Greek bailout: A second bailout in as many years, amid constant rangling begs the simple question will it last? I’m not convinced.   

3. A less marked U-turn, but a U-turn nonetheless: Cameron ‘attacked’ anti-business rhetoric this week decrying those who criticise big business as ‘dangerous’. Quite. I’m pleased to say it wasn’t just us that noticed the irony of this statement. 

4. Only girls allowed: An advert with face recognition technology is highlighting discrimination against women for children’s charity, Plan UK. The ad on Oxford Street ignores men and will only play to women aiming to send a message about equality. Perhaps the Government could place one in the boardrooms of Britian’s biggest companies in its drive to improve equality.

5. The Sun on Sunday: Finally, we’re eagerly anticipating our little trip to the newsagents this Sunday morning to get our hands on the first edition of the Sun on Sunday, to complement our last edition of the News of the World. Don’t forget yours.

Forget about Greece, it’s all about the oil

posted by rossgillam

Following the second €130bn bailout for Greece, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Eurozone crisis might finally be abating. However, the increasing tensions between Iran, Israel and the West pose a significant threat to economic recovery.

As Gideon Rachman wrote this week, the threat of conflict with Iran is increasingly real. Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, has stepped up the rhetoric against Iran, recently calling for tighter nuclear sanctions, to the extent a pre-emptive missile attack by Israel no longer looks out of the question. Similarly, whilst the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, explicitly said the Government are not advocating military action against Iran, Mr Hague would not support a backbench motion calling for the unilateral ruling out of it.

Added to this is the escalation of conflict in Syria. Despite the veto by Russia of a recent UN resolution that sought to put an end to Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime, increased media attention of al-Assad’s crackdown, heightened by Marie Colvin’s untimely death this week, means some form of military intervention from external sources also looks more likely than previously believed. Such intervention is likely to provoke a response from Iran, a fierce ally of al-Assad, which could draw in other regional players, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. Whilst such a scenario currently seems a long way off, as events across the Middle East have shown us in the last 14 months, anything is possible.

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