Shocks & Stares » Economy http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:24:57 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=855 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

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Great expectations and the role of central banks in managing them http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/08/great-expectations-and-the-role-of-central-banks-in-managing-them/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/08/great-expectations-and-the-role-of-central-banks-in-managing-them/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2012 14:59:58 +0000 Jonathan Henderson http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=711  

When the economy stalls we turn to central banks for stimulus measures. Throw in significant sovereign debt issues and central bankers here in Europe and in the US have plenty to contend with. 

Debate and speculation around interest rates and quantitative easing programmes is widespread. Financial markets are looking for any sign of a shift in attitude from central bankers as to their views on what may be needed to turn the situation around. That is why here in Britain, the release of the monthly Monetary Policy Committee meeting minutes has become something of a media event in its own right.

We noted with interest recent analysis on the Zerohedge blog of the US Federal Reserve’s Maturity Extension Program or “twist.” The policy was introduced to combat perceived weakening of the US economy. The post demonstrates the way in which those following these announcements analyse the wording on the economic outlook:

The description of the outlook suggested Fed officials now see slower growth and have a more pessimistic view on the labor market. Committee members expect growth to pick up “very gradually” (adding “very” to the previous language) and think the unemployment rate will decline “only slowly” (as opposed to “gradually”).

 It all goes to show how carefully central banks must word their outlooks with so many interested parties looking for a guide to what is in store.

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FPS’ Friday Friday http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/03/fps%e2%80%99-friday-friday/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/03/fps%e2%80%99-friday-friday/#comments Fri, 30 Mar 2012 17:45:30 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=617

Image credit: Creative Commons/ su-lin

1. Just when we thought Granny tax ruled the “Best _______ tax” name, this week the press (and Twitter) had a field day with the pasty tax saga. The surprise budget announcement sparked a threat of a bakers’ march led by the head of bakery at Greggs. According to the Guardian, an online petition has already been set up on Downing Street’s scheme by bakers’ trade associations. Sign up here.

2. Not content with scoring the own goals that were pasty-gate, grannytax and the donor-row, the Government proceeded to exacerbate their worst week ever and add fuel to the flames of a pending petrol crisis that never materialised, despite Francis Maude’s best efforts.

3. The question on everyone’s lips is “Are we back in recession?” The answer is it depends on who you’re speaking to. Latest OECD figures reveal that the economy has shrunk for the second quarter, but according to predictions from Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK will avoid a recession with the economy growing by just 0.8 per cent over the course of 2012.

4. A giant step for the Eurozone but a small step for the global economy as the European Union confirmed the extension of the European bailout fund. The total funds available has now reached €700bn.

5. And on that note, I leave you with this video from the OECD with its latest Interim Economic Assessment on the global economy

Post contributors: Nick Woods, Edward Jones

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-26/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-26/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 19:12:49 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=405 Well hello there!

So it’s been a while since I penned anything on here and Dave Chambers the man who is not afraid to request a ‘Sav and a wedge’ should he feel the need, has MANFULLY held the fort. It has been a monumental week to say the least. As ever, we try not to focus on the obvious, but sometimes, particularly at the moment, there’s just no getting away from the travails of the modern economy and what Dr Doom would never call the ‘current economic climate.’ So here it is, our take on the week’s events, in 5 bite size chunks. Bon appetit!

#Eurover

Everything that could go wrong in the Eurozone pretty much has. It seems that since the first falling domino of Greece announcing it needed to be bailed out back in April 2010 through to Italy teetering on the edge this week there has been an air of predictability and certainty about which domino will topple next. So why is it that this destructive process has been seemingly allowed to go on when pretty much every falling domino has been widely predicted? In Ross’ view the primary reason has been short sighted politicians.

Naturally, politicians want to hold on to power once they have been granted it. Given that politicians are subject to frequent votes every few years in order to grant them a continued mandate they often fail to think more long term and strategically. Instead they look for quick wins. This breeds a culture of politicians not telling their electorate what they don’t want to hear which leads to many difficult decisions being overlooked. The Eurozone crisis being no exception.

Look at Angela Merkel. Unwilling to take the required step of committing Germany to underwrite Eurozone debt through fear of alienating voters who don’t want to support distant countries like Greece. George Papendreou’s craving for short term political support when calling for a referendum shattered any illusion that Merkozy had solved the Eurozone’s woes. The EU’s politicians need to address the bigger long term picture of Europe rather than bowing to domestic politics. Failure to do so will certainly result in more dominos falling.

Whilst the UK is surely towards the end of the domino line up, the fact those ahead of it keep falling should serve as a stark warning. We certainly won’t be able to say we didn’t see it coming.

How the Bond market works

This excellent graphic featured in the Times is not only a marvellous demonstration of what Ross was going on about above, it also does exactly what it says on the tin (click on it to see a larger version) and is well worth a read.  

via @SamCoatesTimes

Life on the slow (Metro) train

Last year Metro Bank launched to something of a fanfare. They proudly proclaimed they would take on the big traditional high street banks and lure customers into their doors with the promise of consumer-friendly opening hours, smiling staff, instant setup accounts and a personalised touch. The PR they got was very good in most cases, and the bank has continued with its branch opening programme to the extent that the blue and red branding is now a common theme on London’s streets.

The Guardian

All very well and good. But only if you then proceed to sell something, and as the FT reports today, this is proving tricky – there is a startling lack of mortgage sales going on, primarily because Metro can’t offer competitive rates owing to its small size and the cost of all those customer extras it offers. On a more positive note, the paper also revealed that Metro has signed up over 40,000 current and saving account holders. The message is clear then – when it comes to everyday money, many consumers will go for the brand. When it comes to big money however, a percentage figure still rules.

Good Week/Bad Week

It seems apt on today of all days to recognise the good week that the poppy campaign has enjoyed. Thanks to concerted pressure from the FA and others, England will tomorrow be allowed to wear their poppies with pride as they take on Spain at football. The poppy campaign has also enjoyed the debut of designer editions on the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, and continued coverage on the front of every national newspaper.

It also wouldn’t be right if as Poms we couldn’t have a little dig at the absolute stinker the Australian cricket team have endured. We know there’s very little finance related about them or cricket, but we simply couldn’t resist. At 21 for 9 it could have been even more dyer but for some heroic last wicket hitting by their tail-enders. I think we liked it best the way the BBC’s Hugh Pym summed things up.

Sorry - we just couldn't resist

Financial & Professional Services meets Alexandra Burke…

And in other news, one of our highlights this week was working with Alexandra Burke to launch the Street Dance for Change campaign with our client Aviva and Railway Children. The team delivered some outstanding results and our colleague Sam Lythgoe has written up a lovely little synopsis here.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-20/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-20/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2011 13:04:41 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=294 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

Indeed this photo, featured in Jackie Ashley’s excellent comment piece on what the future may hold for the Liberal Democrat’s (it’s a fairly bleak outlook) tells a very specific story of the Liberal Democrat’s past; the good intentions of fresh faced Lib Dem MP’s. Contrasted this week, with the harsh realities of Government, and the tensions between the two, superbly captured in Danny Finkelstein’s commentary.   

F8: The media story of the week…

Facebook and Spotify have teamed up to bring free music to Facebook users and announced the fruits of their labours this week with this video. Mashable provide a better summary than we ever could, but this is certainly worth knowing about.

“Disastrous miscalculation” – but by whom?

Yesterday Kweku Adoboli, the UBS trader accused of losing £1.5 billion, appeared in court on charges of two counts of fraud and two of false accounting dating back to 2008. During the hearing his lawyer said that he is “sorry beyond words” for his actions.

Mr Adoboli is not the only one who should be sorry – or worried. Mr Adoboli actually shopped himself; it was not the UBS risk or compliance teams that picked up on his reckless behaviour. This presents a massive problem for UBS and its internal control systems as they have been shown to be unfit for purpose.

“Disastrous miscalculations” have certainly been made, both by an individual and an institution.

Get set for the iphone 5…

Infographic: Dusan Belic, IntoMobile

 

The ‘will they, won’t they’ speculation was all a bit much for the iPhone junkies around the office this week, and despite the lack of information coming out of Apple themselves, we think all this confusion just makes for an even bigger launch when the iPhone 5 actually hits the stores – and we can’t wait.

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/friday-fiver-2/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/friday-fiver-2/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2011 20:03:02 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=278 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…

EU can go your own way…

This week there has been a lot of ‘break-up chat’ in the EU: first, over one hundred Eurosceptic Tories turned up to the first meeting of a new parliamentary group on Monday. The group is demanding that the Government uses the current turmoil that pervades the 27 member state club to wrest back powers from Brussels. With the sovereign debt crisis destabilising financial markets the world over, this group could be excused for thinking that they might be pushing on an open door. But alas for them, the Tory members of the Government are hampered by their EU-loving coalition partners…

Elsewhere in the EU, other countries fear expulsion from the Eurozone, namely Greece. Last night on BBC One’s Question Time, Nicola Horlick, the investment fund manager, declared that there was no future for Greece in the Eurozone; that it should leave the monetary union and return to the Drachma. All this said on the day that five central banks sought to assuage market jitters by announcing a co-ordinated move to provide commercial banks with three additional tranches of loans to help ease funding pressures. BNP Paribas’ share price may have risen following this announcement but this seems to have been the only thing to improve.

Drawing parallels between Lehman and the Eurozone

Photo: AP

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the fall of the fourth largest investment bank in America, Lehman Brothers. Three years on, with Greece teetering on the default brink, there seems to be a growing anxiety that we are on course for another Lehman’s. But can we really draw similarities between the sudden and unexpected crash of Lehman’s and the ongoing troubles of the Eurozone? Gordon Brown definitely seems to think so and what’s more the former PM, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, believes that failure to act now could result in a crisis larger than the one faced by the US in 2008.

Daily Mail launches Right Minds

The dreams of Britain’s rightwing keyboard warriors came true this week as the Daily Mail finally launched its long-awaited comment site Right Minds. Presided over by Simon Heffer, the ex-Telegraph writer, the new site will host such darlings of the right as Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Philips and Peter Hitchens.

The Mail is late to this game, with active right-of-centre community sites already on the Telegraph, Spectator, Conservative Home among many others. But Right Minds’ combination of star writers, hot button issues and simple user participation rooted in the super-sticky ecosystem of the Mail’s main site looks like it will hoover up traffic.

Topman twitter storm

Another week, another brand brought to book by the fury of the Twitteratti. This time it’s men’s high street fashion mecca Topman that has been in the eye of the Twitter storm.

Topman, part of Arcadia group, was forced to withdraw two t-shirts from its stores this week amid claims the slogans featured on them were misogynistic and promoted domestic violence. The social media backlash started on Twitter and soon spread to other social networking sites, resulting in a swift response from Topman. The offending t-shirts were removed from stores and the company issued a public apology for any offence caused.

Company backs down in face of social media storm – so far, so increasingly familiar. But are companies too quick to capitulate in the face of consumer fury? In the social media environment a ripple can quickly become a tidal wave, leaving companies no choice but to act swiftly and decisively to stem the tide. Sometimes, as in this case, it is the right decision. The Topman t-shirts were at best crass, at worst pointlessly provocative.

Brands have come a long way in waking up to the power of social media and most worth their salt take direct engagement with their consumers on Twitter or Facebook very seriously indeed. But when bored office workers with too much time on their hands have the collective clout to fundamentally affect the way companies run their business, you have to ask the question: has the social media love-in gone too far?

Stat of the week

As you may have heard, Westfield in Stratford City opened its doors this week and will see 70 per cent of all Olympic ticket holders passing through its doors. 70 per cent! We reckon this will pose a rather tasty opportunity for non-affiliated retailers to cash in on the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year and beyond.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/fps-friday-fiver-5/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/fps-friday-fiver-5/#comments Fri, 27 May 2011 19:49:23 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=145 In case you missed it, President Obama was in the UK this week to talk essential relationships, cyber crime and have a barbeque in the Number 10 Rose Garden. In honour, of his visit this weeks’ fiver looks at the visit and the UK’s special essential relationship with the US.  Thanks to Dave, Clare, Rachel and Melanie for contributions.

Essentially …

Whilst Foreign Policy and the six point plan, were the main items on the agenda, surely the most interesting aspect of Obama’s visit was the upgrading of the UK’s ‘Special Relationship’ with America to an ‘Essential Relationship.’ Essential. Never mind our credit rating, we have an essential relationship with America! As Matthew D’Ancona pointed out earlier this week, it has a certain ring of indispensability to it. I’m less sure Obama’s deficit reduction plan can be described as Osbornian, as D’Ancona suggested, but you have to hand it to Cameron he pulled the rabbit out of the hat with that one.

Deficit indifference

Governments should “live within their means” but also sustain growth by investing in education, and the pace of deficit reduction “may end up being different”. Uncritical certainly from the President, but hardly the ringing endorsement David Cameron and George Osborne were hoping for with regards to their economic strategy.

They were probably also hoping for better revised Q1 GDP figures from the ONS than the ones that materialised this week at roughly the same time as the meat was cooking on the barbie. Traditionally, the revised figures show an increase in GDP for the quarter over the first, partial set of figures released. That didn’t happen this time, with growth remaining at 0.5%. More worryingly, household spending contracted 0.6% and business investment practically hid in the corner shivering, as it shrank 7.1%.

The Government remains committed to cutting hard and fast in order to shrink the deficit and get the country back on track without a large credit card bill hanging over it. Judging by the economic data and reaction to it, the jury is still out on whether this will work or not – which is perhaps why the President hedged his words to such effect.

Inspiring relationships

Michelle Obama re-affirmed her own ‘essential relationship’ with old friends during the visit when she was re-acquainted with girls from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School. The EGA girls were visiting Oxford University as part of a programme to encourage them to aim high. Mrs Obama, herself a graduate of Princeton and Harvard, encouraged them to not “be afraid to take risks, ask questions, ask stupid questions, don’t be afraid to trip, fall and don’t be afraid to get back up.”

Wise words indeed from the First Lady and something all of us can take heart from. Media coverage of the meeting praised her as an inspiring role model for these young girls. But do our young people need to wait for a visit from a foreign leader’s wife to feel inspired? It strikes me that inspiration comes in all sorts of guises from dignitaries to teachers, to a school system and society that encourages successes achieved on merit. I cannot help thinking that more of our young girls would be inspired if the education system were fairer and society willed them on.

However, today’s announcement that under radical changes to admissions, some secondary schools will be able to select pupils on the basis of family income fills me with dread. If we want to inspire our young people, there has to be a better way than judging them on their parents’ finances.

Right all along?

Photo: Jacob Whittaker

There was a time when being British was all about keeping a stiff upper lip through adversity.  We were a bit stuffy, grumpy, and proud of it (with the exception of Ken Dodd). But if this week’s stats from the OECD are to be believed the old stereotype has been blown out of the water – we’re actually much happier than most of our European neighbours, including those where the weather is supposedly much nicer.

Of course our BFFs across the pond are way ahead, with the ‘pursuit of happiness’ in their constitution, but recent events have given them a run for their money (Will & Kate, less than a year to go to the Olympics, plus some cracking Aviva (client) sponsored ITV dramas on the telly).  Even Obama seemed to be using his visit to the UK to give a PR boost to the start of his election campaign, after all the yanks did seem to love the Royal Wedding more than we did.

Cheeriness is starting to look like part of a new national character, even a driver of government policy with the government launch of a new way of measuring it earlier this year.  Yet whilst the OECD’s figures do seem to suggest that money doesn’t necessarily make you happy, it will be interesting to see whether the next GDP figures show it can work the other way around.

Obama and the ostrich generation

When all the fanfare and noise from the military 41 gun salute to welcome Obama’s visit abates, we hope that the two leading western premiers might spare a thought for the lot of their respective domestic pensioners. They don’t need to look hard or delve deeply to find incontrovertible evidence of the pensions malaise and bleak future that faces many prospective pensioners in the UK and US and indeed across most Western economies.

The worrying statistics roll in on an almost daily basis. According to an international survey released by HSBC this week six in ten Britons have no financial plan for their retirement – due to a “cycle of dependency” and suffer from an equally self-deluded belief that they will enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Across the Atlantic, prospects are equally stark in the US. New findings from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) latest public policy institute report reveals that many older Americans, employed and unemployed, may never recover financially from this latest recession, although here, half of them do actually realise that they won’t have enough money to live on in retirement.

This dearth of planning contrasts with upcoming economies in the East, where a class of “prosperous pensioners” is merging. The respective expectations on annual growth showing  further downward revision for the UK economy (now a paltry 1.4%, with the US at only 2.6), is in stark contrast to buoyant growth rates in Asia’s flagship economies – China 9.2%, India 8.5%.

Worrying indeed.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/04/fps-friday-fiver-3/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/04/fps-friday-fiver-3/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 17:24:07 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=79 Nearly the weekend. First, here is this week’s Friday Fiver…

Thanks to DC, Daisy, Rachel and Nick for contributions.

Is the economy looking up?…

Economic figures this week were better than predicted, but is this just a pause for breath before the storm?

Here’s a question for you. If GDP growth is so flat (or even in reverse as it was last winter), then how can it be that unemployment fell according to the latest figures? Wednesday’s announcement from the ONS stated that total unemployment was down from 8% to 7.8%. Here’s another question for you as well. If global commodity price rises (particularly food and oil) are showing no sign of slowing down, then how can it be that inflation fell against most predictions according to the latest figures? The ONS’ figures on Tuesday recorded a drop in the Consumer Price Index from 4.4% in February to just 4.0% in March.

So what’s going on? Well, the fall in unemployment was definitely welcome, but it may be shortlived. The reason for this is the continued fear that new jobs created in the private sector may not be able to keep up with the large redundancies likely being made in the public sector as the government trims spending – it’s a bit like pouring water into a bucket at the top, and it flowing out through holes in the bottom; the problem is, we can’t pour water in fast enough.

And on inflation? Well, it turns out that we can thank retailers, and especially supermarkets, for the slight fall in inflation. According to the ONS, the level of discounting by shops is at an all time high as they try to maintain the flow of customers in through their doors (this might explain why my local Co-op has been running a 50% off wine promotion almost non-stop since Christmas). The question is, how long will these promotions continue to entice consumers? Especially when growth in wages continues to lag behind inflation, reducing the amount of disposable income we have to spend on the high street.

AV your say…

It’s not been a good week for the No to AV campaign with a survey revealing nearly half of the electorate supports the alternative voting system.  The controversial ad campaign warning us that if we vote Yes soldiers and babies will die or, according to Baroness Warsi, make us complicit in the rise of British nationalism, hasn’t deterred 45% from saying they would vote Yes.

Perhaps they should have opted for the slightly cuddlier celeb approach like the Yes campaign whose leaflet proudly lists off celeb supporters including Tony Robinson, Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Colin Firth and Stephen Fry. Their involvement in politics may be limited, but something they did has worked if 2,199 voters now put the Yes campaign 12 points ahead of the No camp.

Of course if you are in the No camp you won’t believe these results anyway and will view any survey produced by the Yes supporting think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) with immense suspicion. Or you could use the comically Blytonesque phrase ‘dodgy shenanigans’ to sully the Yes campaigns’ reputation as Mr Osborne did this week- accusing them of receiving more than £15m in contracts from the public purse.  And so the mudslinging continues in what has already been an acrimonious debate (sigh) only three weeks to go!

Journalists follow journalists on twitter. But What do they say?…

Two great infographics. Both covered by the Guardian’s datablog. The first was developed by Tony Hirst showing journalists’ following habits on twitter. The infographic indicates journalists tend to prioritise following their colleagues within the same news outlets.

And secondly, Tweetminster have teamed up with the Guardian to produce this infographic on what the UK Media tends to talk about. All fairly intuitive, but it’s interesting to see it broken down.

Above all else we think they both look great.

What price £ducation?…

In those halcyon days pre 1998, going to Uni seemed so much simpler. No tuition fees, plus those lovely maintenance grants you could blow, unwisely, in the union bar. Fast forward to this week and government adviser Professor Theresa Rees labelled as ‘barking’, the system where what you have to pay for your university degree will depend not only on where you study but also which part of the UK you’re from due to differences in devolved funding decisions.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills stepped into the fray on Thursday announcing that higher education students attending 83 of their approved ‘alternative providers’ can now borrow up to £6,000 toward the cost of their tuition fees, in an attempt to boost competition.  This is unlikely to leave the mainstream unis quaking in their boots however, with many willing and able to charge the maximum of £27,000 for a three year undergraduate course (bursaries for the under-privileged aside). Given the overwhelming demand for places at these universities, it will take much bigger market forces to make them more self-conscious about their pricing.

When football club owners go offside…


Sometimes you have to feel a little bit sorry for football managers. Whilst the financial rewards are undoubtedly pretty big, so too are the egos of many of your players, the pressures from unrealistic expectant fans and the chances of stress related heart disease. It’s a tough job at the best of times but in an era of billionaire owners is it becoming even more difficult?

Carlo Ancelotti cut a pretty lonely figure on the touchline during Chelsea’s disappointing performance at Old Trafford this week. You’d think he’d be happy given the fantasy football transfer strategy of Roman Abramovich but it seems that increasingly top managers are having to deal as much with boardroom tactics as they are the opposition’s. Like any group of businessmen, this merry band of football club owners is driven by return on investment and throughout many of their careers they’ve a history of calling the shots and generating success.

However investing in sport is arguably a little bit different. Firstly owners, except in the rarest of circumstances, don’t have the underlying knowledge or experience of their respective team managers. Success is to some extent out of their hands and as a result there must be implicit trust in the owner/manager relationship. Each must understand their role and when boundaries get crossed performance is likely to be compromised.

As in many situations, too many cooks can spoil a broth and when owners start interfering in team selection and tactics even the seemingly most appealing of jobs can slowly begin to look like a poisoned chalice.

I’d imagine the majority of football club owners would be less than receptive to allowing their manager to advise them on what stocks or shares to buy or which emerging market might be best suited to their latest investment strategy. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your workforce is a fundamental in business and the Roman Abramovich’s of this world could do with a bit of reminder.

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