Posts Tagged ‘Bank of England’

Friday Fiver

1. Just deserts for Chris and Vicky

From the repeated lies of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce during trial, to the sub storyline of Huhne’s fractured relationship with his son, this car crash of a soap opera-like story has been played out in full fanfare under the media spotlight. No one likes to air their dirty laundry in public. Perhaps the eight months sentence the pair faces, will draw an end to this thoroughly modern-day Shakespearean saga. Alternatively perhaps they will use the publicity to secure book deals.

Image source: Flikr

2. Britain loses its fizz

The fizz has officially fallen flat as Champagne has been cut from the basket of goods, alongside Freeview boxes and round lettuces. According to Mintel figures, sales of the bubbly have fallen by more than 30% since the hey-days of 2007, from £1billion to an estimated £690million. Trading in bottles of Champagne, typically around £40, are bottles of white rum which can be bought for a fraction of the price.

3. Sterling stagnation is here to stay

This week the ever-struggling sterling hits a two and half year low. Good news for British investors, bad news for holidaying Brits (of which sadly, I will be one of them).

4. There’s no Pope without fire

On Wednesday, for the first time in 1,300 years, a non-European Pope was elected as head of the Roman Catholic Church. A sea of faces welcomed Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as he stepped onto the balcony to rapturous applause. Bergoglio will now live as Pope Francis and take up residence in the Vatican. A far cry from his one bedroom flat in Buenos Aires…

5. Can women have it all?

An interesting commentary piece in the New York Times written by former CFO of Lehman Brothers, Erin Callan on wanting to “have it all” and failing. This was in response to a heated debate sparked by the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean in” – and much of our conversations here in the team as well.

Can women strike the perfect work/life balance and really “have it all” or is it simply about “having enough” and being happy with it? What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

Thanks to @goldtorpedo for contributing to this week’s Friday Fiver

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Another week, another Friday and that means another edition of our team’s Friday Fiver. This week, we have money-printing banks, Twitter-banning broadcasters, Newsnight-debriefing and Good week/Bad week. Thanks to our contributors DC, EJ, Hendog, and Josh-ua. Enjoy!

RUNNING OUT OF PAPER… It’s becoming increasingly hard for the Bank of England to convince people of the value of QE. As Fraser Nelson argued in the Telegraph, the Bank has gone a little quiet on their original reasons for launching QE which isn’t helping – nor is the fact that the links between QE and growth aren’t being articulated clearly, if it all. Yet at the same time, IHS’ Howard Archer is already predicting QE4 for May.

There's more of this in the games room

Source: Creative Commons/mtsofan

What the bank faces then is a PR challenge (as well as the frankly odd problem that they may run out of govt bonds to buy). If they believe QE4 is needed, then they’ve got 3 months to convince a sceptical media and public why it’s needed – expect Mervyn King’s quarterly inflation report next week to begin that process.

In the meantime, hats off to Stephanie Flanders last night for managing to explain what QE actually is and does – that may well be a first

SKY’S SOCIAL MEDIA COMMANDMENTS…

Source: theindiepedant

Thou shalt not repost non-company tweets

Thou shalt not re-tweet rival journalist or people on Twitter

Thou shalt not tweet someone else’ beat other than your own

Thou shalt pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks…

The Guardian reported that the greater powers at the broadcast station stamped down their feet, and banned journalists from reposting tweets not relating to the company. Contentious guidelines even include the warning to Sky News employees not to retweet rival reporters.

The latest development raises once again, the debate on ownership of Twitter accounts, corporate or otherwise and how a brand can be represented and equally, mis-represented on social media through its employees.

The interesting question here is whether the guidelines will be applied to other parts of News Corp’s network, and more importantly Murdoch’s own account.

NEWSNIGHT DE-BRIEF…On Wednesday, members of the FPS team attended a Gorkana event with Newsnight’s deputy editor Shaminder Nahal and planning producer Samantha McAlister to hear how the show is put together and what the team are looking for when it comes to content and guests.

For those of you with a Gorkana PR log-in, there’s a detailed summary of the event here.

Looking through our notes from the event, a number of points jump out:

  • The show has an average audience of 800,000 but this can jump significantly in a big news week. For example, at the height of the phone hacking scandal, 1.7 million people were tuning in
  • Those involved in the production of the show, are incredibly passionate about their work
  • Jeremy Paxman is apparently a joy to work with, although perhaps unsurprisingly, he is very challenging and demands a lot from those he works with

Source: Creative Commons/Ric_James

It’s a trend we have noted before, but was one that was reiterated at the event – business and economics news has become “sexy”. Newsnight’s producers are always on the lookout for people from the City who can explain the world of finance and its wider importance to the viewer.

The show’s producers left us with the thought that Newsnight is an opportunity to set the record straight or to put across a new or important view to the nation’s opinion formers. It’s not for everyone, but for those willing to take on a challenge, there are a few more prominent slots.

On the subject of setting the record straight and BBC flagships… The embattled chief executive of RBS, Stephen Hester, addressed his critics this week and the interview is a must listen.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…Credit where credit’s due, Ed Miliband has had a very good week. To be precise, Ed Miliband had an excellent PMQs. Yes, David Cameron had a very bad PMQs. His aggressive, impatient responses to Miliband’s patient line of questioning confirmed the accuracy of his likeness to Flashman ‘literature’s most famous bully’. Public bullies don’t tend to make popular Prime Minister’s. Just look at what happened to Gordon Brown:

Brown the Bully

Miliband on the other had a bit of an open goal when it came to the NHS. Even the influential ConHome has urged Cameron to #dropthebill, so to speak. The softly, softly approach worked well for Miliband though and importantly, his line of inquiry on the NHS was consistent. Cameron’s increasing frustration at having to give the same weak lines and limp backing to his struggling Health Secretary, amplified Miliband’s taunt of ‘calm down dear.’ It was typical of the bad luck Mili E has suffered with broadcasters that the news of Harry Redknapp’s court case emerged at the same time as PMQs, therefore minimising the impact of this little victory. Cameron’s an incredibly savvy dispatch box performer and will be increasingly wise to it, but if Miliband can continue to draw out Flashman Cameron he may enjoy more success in the opinion polls.

MORE BAD NEWS…Headlines have been dominated by the arrest and trial of ‘rogue’ trader Kweku Adoboli who is accused of unauthorised trading which cost his employer – Swiss bank UBS – about £1.5bn. However, a potentially more interesting story that has come to light in recent days is the sheer scale international investigation into manipulation of Libor – the interest rate used for inter-bank lending. Regulators in Japan, the UK, the US and Europe have been investigating the scheme since at least March 2011, and have now implicated employees at a number of major financial institutions. Analysts had long been suspicious that financial institutions were covering up the size of their borrowing costs during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008.

The American Securities and Exchange Commission has fined British medical equipment Smith & Nephew $22m for bribing Greek doctors to use its products over the course of a decade. The case follows a similar investigation into Johnson & Johnson last year which led to the company agreeing to pay $77m for bribes it had paid in Greece, Poland, and Romania.

The increase in intranational prosecutions and international regulatory collaboration has also highlighted differing standards about what constitutes corporate crime. Many American investors were surprised at the British Financial Service’s Authority decision to fine hedge fund manager David Einhorn for insider trading because his actions would not have been considered unlawful in the US. British authorities generally cast a much wider net when investigating white-collar crime but are perceived to have a miserable record when it comes to prosecutions. By contrast, their American counterparts have a narrower definition but pursue cases with vigour, even if that means crossing international boundaries to do so.

It seems likely that more cases of this nature will emerge in the coming months, especially if Eurozone crisis continues to destabilise international markets.

Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

It’s been a big ol’ week in the land of FPS, what with the Autumn Statement, Public Sector strikes, another round of downgrades for Europe’s banks and the beginning of Yuletide. Here’s our take on the week that was.

The Autumn Statement

After declaring the Pre-Budget Report dead, the Government this week delivered their Pre-Budget Report Autumn Statement. It was depressing news, but we all knew it was going to be and it looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. The headlines are lower growth, increased borrowing, a squeezed public sector and more measures to help small businesses, a 0.088% increase in the bank levy and a promise to further reduce corporation tax.

Picture: Reuters UK

What really caught our eye(s) however, were the measures to help mid-size businesses; a theme championed by John Cridland at the CBI, the forgotten army of mid-size businesses have suddenly been remembered. In an attempt to create the UK equivalent of Germany’s Mittelstand, tucked away on page 64 of the Autumn Statement are a host of measures to help mid-size firms achieve their potential and export more proactively. After all, where else is growth going to come from?  

Going down, down, down…..

There’s been so much grim news on the economic front this week that it’s a little hard to pick out the ‘highlights’. To recap quickly – China’s domestic consumption appears to be slowing, as does its manufacturing production; the UK is going to grow very little in 2011, and even less in 2012; Italy continues to have to pay a fortune to borrow money; business confidence that the eurozone will survive is ebbing away; and several stars of The Only Way is Essex are about to be booted off.

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello All! We’re a little late this week, though happily the ever entertaining Matt Muir provided yet another great Web Curios which has probably kept H&K blog readers’ attentions for most of the afternoon. However, we’re still committed to bringing you a round-up of this week’s news from the world of financial and professional services (and yet again it’s been a week not to miss). It’s a little shorter this week, but we hope you enjoy it as always. Thanks to Ed Jones and Jonny H as always.

WE HAVE A DEAL – JUST…..It went down to the wire, involved a very well received slap-up meal, and what most leaders likely found an annoying intervention from the British PM. However, we have a deal on the eurozone which should see it stabilise for at least a few weeks.

The medicine is nothing if not severe though – a 50% writedown on Greek debt held by private institutions (i.e. banks) and £100bn which needs to be found in order to recapitalise banks and prevent them from falling into the abyss (sound familiar from about 3 years ago?).

Will it work in the long or even short term? The jury is definitely out on that one but already things are looking a wee bit wobbly

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver

There’s a heady mix of central banking, political shuffling and cat hair in the Fiver this week. Feel free to let us know what you think. 

Thanks to Dave, Marie and Ed for their contributions this week. 

From thin air… The virtual printing press is being turned on once again. This week the Bank of England announced its plans to inject a further £75 billion into the economy through quantitative easing. Ed Conway of Sky has a handy explanation as to what this actually means and what it is meant to do. You can find it here.

 While perusing Twitter for reaction to yesterday’s QE announcement, a comment [below] from Mark Cobley of Financial News caught my eye.

 

What if this money were put into people’s pockets – like a Euromillions jackpot for us all – rather than circulated through the City?

 Three initial thoughts came to mind:

1)      Low consumer confidence and consumption is one of the key problems facing the UK economy – this might act as a shot in the arm

2)      However, eliminating the consequences of personal debt would set a dangerous precedent and potentially a “too big to fail” mentality even amongst the collection of individuals

3)      We’re meant to be moving to a more export driven economy rather than relying on the consumer spending

 My musings are of little consequence as it’s never going to happen, but to read Peter Wilby’s more considered explanation of the idea click here.

 

Good week/bad week… Pretty tough to find anyone who’s had a good week whereas the list of those feeling the 7 day blues is distinctly long. The winner of the latter probably has to go to George Osborne though, if nothing else than for his quote two years ago that “printing money {quantitative easing} is the last resort of desperate governments”. I wouldn’t be surprised if some young Labour party workers had printed a few copies of that phrase and attempted to infiltrate the Treasury to plaster it on various noticeboards.

 

Searching hard for a good week, about the best we can do is one of the winners from Labour’s shadow cabinet reshuffle, namely Rachel Reeves. Barely in Parliament for a year, she’s scored a top job as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Reeves had been capturing attention as a forthright and capable shadow pensions minister, and it’s fair to say those in the pensions community aren’t overly happy at yet another MP stepping so quickly off the pensions treadmill.

 Cat-gate… As a massive fan of felines a.k.a being a sad old cat lady, I find myself in camp Clarke on the issue of cat-gate. Teresa May clearly hasn’t felt the warmth of a purring  hairball on her lap as she tucks into a jumbo-sized Galaxy and watches Corrie in her PJs, or else she would never have ridiculed the process that kept the Bolivian bloke and his much-loved moggy together in the UK. It made perfect sense to me, despite some of my own reservations about the impact of the Human Rights Act.

[Oose - author Marie’s cat]

On a serious note though, Ken Clarke did raise some interesting and serious issues over the use of rhetoric and polarising positioning in public speaking and politics. Whether the cat or the case exists isn’t the whole point of his disagreement with May, it is the fact that she taking on the role of an alarmed Daily Mail headline writer about an issue which is fundamental, complicated and potentially explosive that irked him and rightly so. But the masses applauded and job done for Mrs. May and her speech writer. Meanwhile the real debate about Human Rights gets lost in the farce the story has now become. That said it did helpfully distract people from Cameron’s credit crackdown gaff but the Conference managers must also surely feel it was an unhelpful distraction overall.     

Umunna roll – Chuka’s meteoric rise… This afternoon, Ed Miliband confirmed what had widely been reported yesterday, that John Denham, the widely respected Labour figure would be resigning from his post as Shadow Secretary of State for Business. He would be joined by John Healey the Shadow Health Secretary and Ivan Lewis the Shadow Culture Secretary who was demoted.

 

What will surely grab the headlines however is the meteoric rise of Chuka Umunna – the British Obama – who has been promoted to replace John Denham and Shadow the wise old head of Vince Cable at the Department for Business. It has been pointed out Mr Cable, everybody’s favourite Liberal Democrat, is not only twice Chuka’s age, but has also spent longer in the Labour Party! 

Family Friendly… To finish the week, we’ll take a look at a piece of work conducted within the H&K FPS team. Working with leading children’s savings provider Family Investments, we wanted to help the business demonstrate just how well they understand their customers and family audience – particularly ahead of the new forthcoming Junior ISA which is going to be a competitive market. 

The FPS team created the Family Friendly Hotspots Report, a unique analysis revealing the best places to bring up children in England and Wales. The report was compiled using a unique analysis model combining more than 60 sets of data including education attainment from Ofsted, Land Registry property prices, police crime figures and ONS population data. 

These were all aggregated to generate overall scores for every single postcode region in England and Wales. The report listed the top 20 postcodes to bring up children and a tool was created for the Family Investments website which enabled individuals to type in their postcode and see how it scored.

Launched on 26th September 2011, the Hotspots report has so far generated over 200 pieces of coverage including 12 national articles, BBC online and BBC News pieces as well as 150 regional articles and no shortage of national debate.

The Bank of England & 9 other economists you should follow on Twitter

It seems the heart of the City has finally embraced social media, as word spread this morning of the Bank of England’s new Twitter feed. One can only picture Governor Mervyn King typing away at his desk, or perhaps on his smartphone providing updates on the latest data coming out of the Bank’s finest economic minds.

Or perhaps not, given that the Governor probably has his mind on other things, what with announcing that the printing presses will be whirring into action to the tune of £75bn of quantitative easing.

With today’s decision likely to dominate the domestic agenda for the next couple of days, here are 9 journalists worth following on Twitter to get your daily economic dose:

Ed Conway – Sky’s Economics Editor, @EdConwaySky

Faisal Islam – Channel 4’s Economics Editor, @faisalislam

Paul Mason – Newsnight’s Economics Editor, @paulmasonnews

Steve Hawkes – The Sun’s Business Editor, @steve_hawkes

Allister Heath – City AM’s Editor, @AllisterHeath

David Smith – The Sunday Times’ Economics Editor, @dsmitheconomics

James Mackintosh – The FT’s Investment Editor, @jmackin2

Jeremy Warner – The Telegraph’s Business Columnist, @jeremywarnerUK

Stephanie Flanders – The BBC’s Economics Editor, @BBCStephanie