Shocks & Stares » Boris Johnson H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 en hourly 1 FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 09 Sep 2011 17:17:04 +0000 David Chambers 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)

The event took place ahead of Paralympic tickets going on sale this morning at 9am – so now all that remains to be seen is how much demand there will be for the Paralympic events. Organisers have been working hard to raise the profile of the Paralympics and ensure full stadiums during Games time, so fingers crossed all this activity pays off and our athletes – both Olympic and Paralympic – will have plenty of support and cheers from the crowds when competing in 2012.

The hottest ticket in town?….The Rugby World Cup is off to a great start for the hosts, New Zealand, as they commence their bid to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup again for the first time in 24 years. The big question is whether all the stadia will be full in the world’s most rugby obsessed country?

According to press reports, only three of the tournament’s games have sold out so far. Earlier this week organisers claimed that 63% of available tickets had been sold, with some 100,000 tickets being sold in the past three days. Yet fears persist about whether teams will be playing in front of less than capacity crowds in scenes reminiscent of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Some commentators have claimed that tickets prices are too high which is impeding sales – and New Zealand’s sole source of income from the tournament.

Whilst a spike in sales is anticipated once the tournament begins, it does make you wonder why countries take on these sporting events given the risks involved, be they financial, reputational or security related. Perhaps the joy of the game outweigh the risks and the prospect of being World Cup winners. We shall see.

Uni blues….Having just returned from my graduation ceremony it is sad to see even more headlines shouting about people being put off university by the hike in tuition fees and the cuts in funding for low income families. I do think everyone should have the chance to enjoy three years of study (and fun) that I have had, and especially the chance to don the age old cap and gown for the ceremony.

But I think it is about expectation setting. Most of the people in my class were able to afford a pretty decent standard of living whilst at university. Long gone are the days of baked beans and re-heated microwave meals. Most went out 2/3 times a week, ate out for lunch at least as many times and had an iPod or smartphone and laptop; of course with varying levels of funding from various sources. But all (except one) had a part time job, and none of whom received a lower final grade than they expected.

So please if you are reading this and considering going to university, don’t be put off by higher tuition fees or lower funding. If you want to make it happen you will be able to. And you won’t regret it.

Good Week/Bad Week….Undoubtedly a star of the media week has been Alastair Darling. Hot on the heels of Blair, Brown and Mandelson, Ally D added his memories of time in Downing Street to the ever growing list of 21st century political memoirs. As Chancellor at the time of the financial crisis, it’s certainly sure to make an interesting read. He learnt a trick or two off Mandelson as well, offering the Sunday Times the chance to serialise the book ahead of publication. Or at least that was the plan, until someone leaked a draft to political website Labour Uncut.

Gordon Brown's death ray super stare is likely to intensify after Alastair Darling's revelations this week

Still, the former Chancellor had a fine week enjoying his moment in the spotlight. The same can’t be said for just about everyone mentioned in his book though. His former boss and once close friend, Gordon Brown got it. Mervyn King got it. Bankers got it (although they’re pretty used to it). And as Steve Richards pointed out, Ed Miliband might get it in the future.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:36:06 +0000 David Chambers Another week and one in which unsurprisingly, UK media attention focused primarily on the England riots (Peter Oborne’s piece today captured the wider issue rather well I believe). That’s not to say things haven’t been happening elsewhere though, particularly in the financial world.

With that in mind, here’s a round-up of the key stories from all aspects of this week. Thanks to Jonathan, Ross, new writer Claire Scott, and also our MD, Ben – his article is second up and attempts to add some perspective to events.

Zut alors…..Another week, another country but the issue, namely financial stability, remains the same. Early in the week one of the world’s best known fund managers, Bill Miller, published a response to S&P’s downgrade of US government debt. The articleA precipitate, wrong and dangerous decision ran in the FT and is well worth a read.

There was a lot of this going on this week, as markets behaved in wild fashion

By Wednesday however, the bottle had stopped spinning yet again and this time it was the turn of France and its credit worthiness to come under scrutiny. With speculation about the health of some of the country’s largest banks and the ability of the nation to underwrite possible further bailouts in southern Europe giving investors sweaty palms.

Sovereign debt has become synonymous with Western governments but in today’s FT, Jamil Anderlini provides an alternative perspective arguing that the disparity between China’s official and actual debt levels deserve further scrutiny.

Putting perspective on this week…..The riots captured the UK media’s attention, and were clearly unacceptable. They raise all sorts of questions about society, as well as being highly damaging for London and the UK’s image with the Olympics round the corner. At the same time though, there are bigger and potentially more threatening global economic issues at play at the moment. While you can understand the rolling news channels’ focus on the riots, with all due respect they are a catastrophe on a much smaller scale than what is going on in Europe and the financial markets.

That’s not to downplay the riots in anyway but if things go the way they look they might (and I know of European bankers who fear the worst), and in the continued absence of any discernible leadership from Europe, frankly, a minority bent on destroying the businesses that support their communities, could, disturbingly, have far less long term impact on the wider UK population that what is happening on the continent.

The domino effect of Eurozone countries coming under immense market pressure shows no sign of slowing, market sentiment has gone haywire, and growth prospects across the West are tumbling. It’s time to wake up, smell the coffee and look beyond our own borders for signs of an even greater potential trouble.

Sound advice from Twitter given events this week

Boris rising, Dave declining…..The Blair/Brown tussle is one of negative memories from Labour’s 13 years in power. Blair admitted in his memoirs that Brown’s constant hounding for a stand down date and need for backing caused distraction and hindered progress. Jonathan Powell, Blair’s Chief of Staff, is even more damning of Brown in his recent book The New Machiavelli. If David Cameron thought his Premiership was to be without such challenges and unwanted burdens, surely he must now think again.

Boris Johnson is becoming a thorn in Cameron’s side. With speculation already rising that the future of the Conservative Party lies with either George Osborne or Johnson, it’s the latter that is fighting his corner more rigorously. This was evident this week when Johnson went against the Party line stating that budget cuts for the Met were wrong – swiftly rebuffed by Cameron yesterday when he said police budget cuts were non-negotiable.

How much of an eye does Boris have on the PM's job? (Image:

Johnson has also openly challenged Osborne as well – he recently called for a cut in taxes to boost economic recovery and entrepreneurship. This was delivered at a time of sensitivity for the Chancellor after the recent less than stellar GDP figures were announced and when he faced similar attacks from his nemesis, Ed Balls. Boris’ willingness to openly challenge the Party leaders must be taken seriously, even if he is not. At a time when the Government faces colossal challenges, such distractions are doubly unwelcome. It is up to Cameron to nip this in the bud and not let the future of the Party overrun the present.

It was Sarko's turn to feel the pressure of the markets this week

Good Week/Bad Week…..A tale of three men with O’s in their names this week. For Silvio Berlusconi, it was pretty much as expected – another tough week spent herding away the hounds at the door as investors continued to murmur about Italy being on the verge of downgrade/default/bailout (delete as appropriate, or not perhaps). Some relief for Silvio came on Thursday though, as the focus shifted to the hitherto tranquil setting of France, giving Mr Berlusconi’s neighbour, Nicolas Sarkozy, a rude awakening.

Sitting pretty watching all of this was our own ‘O’, George Osborne, who had a comparatively good week. Gilt yields are at rock-bottom, which the Chancellor swiftly proclaimed as proof of the UK’s position as a “safe haven” for investors, and an endorsement of his deficit reduction plans. Not everyone’s convinced though, and he also had to contend with the Bank of England downgrading growth forecasts – again. Still, compared to others, a relatively good week for George.

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