Shocks & Stares » Friday Fiver 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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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-11/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-11/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:44:23 +0000 jamesdumelow http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=808 This week’s Friday Fiver…

1. Pay day loans companies are back in the news again after being labelled by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as “causing misery and hardship” and having 12 weeks to change their business practices or lose their licences. All in the week that maybe the most famous pay day loans company, Wonga, spoke at a Labour policy meeting on household debt. Personally any action the OFT can take to ban the catchiness of this Wonga advert tune the better!

2. Hugo Chavez died this week as a result of a long term battle with cancer. Some conspiracy theorists allege his cancer was caused by the CIA ; a claim dismissed by the White House as “absurd”. Love him or hate him Chavez was a huge figure on the international stage and what happens now in Venezuela is a big question mark.  However for those Chavez fans out there this is not the last we shall hear of him as according to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, Chavez will be resurrected along with Jesus. China will be watching developments particularly closely given that the state owned China Development Bank lent Venezuela over $40bn from 2008-2012 ($1,400 for every Venezuelan), a sum I suspect it would rather a post-Chavez administration would not default on.

3. Another country, another story; however the same response from the US government.  North Korea threatened on Thursday to launch a “pre-emptive nuclear strike on the headquarters of the aggressors”. A threat that was met with the response of the week from the US government – “Absurd (and suicidal)”. Meanwhile next door, a better week for the South Korean economy – on Monday the South Korean won depreciated against the dollar to its lowest level since February 12, buoyed on by weakness in the Japanese yen. Good news for those Koreans who have been wishing for a weaker won.

4. Today (Friday) is International Women’s Day, a day of political and social awareness of the struggles women worldwide face.  FPS would like to use the occasion to celebrate its favourite woman and one that faces one of the greatest struggles of our day in her quest for worldwide economic stability – Happy International Women’s Day to Christine LeGarde

 

  5. Finally, out of deference to Matt Bright and Danny Calogero, our two native Hullians in FPS we will end the week with a few of our favourite bits of Hull lingo from Learning to Speak Ull

  • Ellur, arm from ‘ull - Good morning, I am from Hull
  • Giz a croggie - Request for a ride on the crossbar of a bicycle
  • Gizza pennith ‘gammy fruit - Could I please have some of those bruised apricots

That’s it for the Friday Fiver! Happy Friday and end of the working week.  FPS are signing off and disappearing for Arfa Larga - A smaller glass of beer of continental origin

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/#comments Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:47:21 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=741  

Image source: STV

1. FRIDAY FIVER IS BACK!

After a brief winter hiatus, we are delighted to announce that Friday Fiver is back with a vengeance! We’re sorry we went away and we hope you’ll have us back!

2. Blimey… Tax evaders named and shamed by Revenue

This feels like a bold step from HMRC. Will ramp up pressure on the Govt to disclose big business’ tax evasion – as demonstrated by Margaret Hodge’s intervention.

3. Trial by media or trial by jury?

Judging by the number of online mentions of the tragic incident of Reeva Steenkamp’s death, which was close to 1,000,000 on the day of the shooting, it’s hard to detract from the two trials Oscar Pistorius is facing. One in front of the Magistrate’s court and the other in front of the world’s media and the court of public opinion. Nicely summarised in this piece by Daniel Howden and Ian Burrell at The Independent:

“…in many ways his trial began as soon as news of his lover’s death reached the media. The only difference here is that the facts of the case carry a much lower burden of proof. The slow grind of South Africa’s justice system, which barely recognises contempt of court, has been unable to keep pace in the era of social media and rolling TV news. As a consequence, the first disabled global sports superstar has found himself deluged with accusations and insinuations masquerading as facts.”

4. Harry Styles Backs Ed Miliband for PM

This is BIG NEWS! Really big, but begs the question ‘Who do the other members support?’ Perhaps they’re all lefties! Harry is the lead singer afterall. Ok. What about One Direction’s big rivals - The Wanted? They must be true blues. Mumford and Sons? Lib Dems. Definitely. Their love of string instruments, country folk and their urban upbringing must surely indicate a yellow streak.  

5. FPS FATTIES

And a lighter story to end this week’s Friday Fiver, especially for the snack-loving FPS team, and for the myth of the “H+K stone” to be confirmed by a story in the papers this week. Research by The Village Bakery found that office workers are amongst the worst offenders for piling on the pounds – over 6lbs in fact – with cakes and biscuits brought into work by colleagues. This week already, we’ve had homemade cupcakes brought in by the lovely Clare M and the week before, a deliciously moist lemon drizzle cake made lovingly by Liz, Syrian delights and Jersey fudge from the islands. Temptation is just too hard to resist. Pass the biscuit please.

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

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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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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/03/friday-fiver-7/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/03/friday-fiver-7/#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2012 12:06:15 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=569 Sticking to the format of our new shorter and snappier Friday Fiver, here are five things that caught our eye from the week that was:

Just horsing around

Source: Creative Commons/Kenjonbro

1. The rise of the Sun on Sunday and the death, or rather resignation of another – On Wednesday, James Murdoch resigned as executive chairman of News International, raising speculation to the possibility of one of Jimbo’s older siblings emerging as eventual contender for the top dog of News Corp as he steps down.

2. The Leveson enquiry unrivalled another “surprise” this week with Rebekah Brooks and her gift horse from the Metropolitan Police. Sure did reveal the stable relationship Brooks had with the police. Oh the puns!

3. Facebook Timeline for brands got us talking this week as well. What it will mean for financial clients, for professional services? How to mark those significant brand milestones? I mean, issue 9.99 of an ISA account is hardly going to create the same emotional relevance, as the nostalgia of an iconic Coca Cola advert. Whatever the outcome, existing brands have just 30 days to clean up their Timeline and flip the switch.

4. In other news, banks have had their knuckles rapped this week by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS received over 250,000 complaints in 2011. Topping that list were Lloyds and Barclays as the most complained about banks.

5. Soon you’ll be able to use your phone for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Just earlier this week, H+K client, Visa Europe announced a worldwide partnership with Vodafone that will allow mobile phone users to pay for goods and services using their handset.

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/friday-fiver-5/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/friday-fiver-5/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:23:06 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=549 As you may have noticed this week’s fiver is a little, well, smaller. Importantly however, it’s still perfectly formed! It’s a new format designed to fit in around what we know are normally busy Friday afternoons. We hope you approve and do let us know what you think. 

1. Merlin fails to wave magic wand – Project Merlin’s official data this week confirmed what most people already knew, principally that the banks have missed their SME lending target of £76bn.

2. A case of impeccable timing – Good news then that later this week companies with a turnover of up to £41m will now be able to apply for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme and four new lenders have been accredited for the EFG scheme including Metro bank.

3. Inflation signals reprieve for consumers – Though expected, the news of a decrease in the rate of inflation is welcome news to household budgets and savers, as Lucy Tobin pointed out this week.

4. Taking AIM – Newspapers continue to fret about the fluctuating FTSE and its effect on our pension funds, the inactivity on the sister AIM stock market used by smaller companies is even more worrying. Allenby Capital reckon fundraising on AIM was very quiet in January with even less money raised than at the back end of 2011.

5. Not all bad though – 10 of the 17 companies that left AIM during January left because they were bought by other companies, which just goes to show that a well performing share price remains a magnet for buyers. Meanwhile the City continues to eye up the Glencore Xstrata merger, not least the eye watering fees, with glee.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/fps%e2%80%99-friday-fiver-3/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/fps%e2%80%99-friday-fiver-3/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:58:08 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=513 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.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/01/fps-friday-fiver-29/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/01/fps-friday-fiver-29/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2012 18:20:08 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=475 This is the last time in 2012 I say this – Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good Christmas but now it’s done let’s look forward to what will no doubt be a memorable year, in many ways, most of which Dr Doom will relish, but many of which are truly historic. Here is our first fiver of the year.

Probably the best recovery of any opposition party in history

So the Labour Party hasn’t had the best of weeks. In fact on Thursday it really didn’t have the best of days. Firstly, Lord Glasman, adviser to Ed Miliband, gifted the tories and the so-called ’Miliband hunters’ in the Labour Party with a stinging critique of the Labour leader’s, err, leadership. Shortly after this excitement, Diane Abbott kicked up a storm over comments she made on twitter, later interrupting an interview on Sky News to take a call from Ed Miliband himself, who proceeded to give Abbott a ‘severe dressing down.’ The icing on the cake was a leaked strategy document script for broadcast (according to Labour HQ), which is worth a read, if you haven’t already (P1 & P2), and yes, it does include those fateful words in the above subtitle.     

Count the cars

No doubt you’re bored of hearing about Europe and the mess our inter-dependent economies now find themselves in. The simple fact of the matter is, the problems are not over, and 2012 is set for more of the same.

Singing a different tune at the end of 2011 however, Sam Jones, the FT’s Hedge Fund Correspondent penned an intriguing piece about the lengths hedge fund managers go to find out what they are investing in. The crux of the article was that all may not be quite as rosy as it seems in the East and that problems may lurk within the Chinese economy. Hedge fund managers have dispatched intelligence gatherers to factory gates to “count the cars” and ensure official figures match realities on the ground.

Image: http://thefederalist-gary.blogspot.com/2011/07/real-estate-bubble-chinas-ghost-towns.html

The article also linked to a video of hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry dating back to 2009 on a jaunt amongst seemingly empty Chinese skyscrapers pondering who is actually going to rent these steel giants. Both the article and the video are worthy of five minutes of your attention.

Top 50 Most Valuable Brands in China

Moving seemlessly from empty skyscrapers to those who might fill them.

Click on the image – Simples!

Old hacks new tricks

After tweeting this in error, Sky’s crime correspondent Martin Brunt gave a quick lesson in how to shut down an embarrassing moment with this swift response.

Tweet that

A precise report which helpfully landed in our inbox earlier today revealed the following:

Who ‘owns’ your company’s Twitter followers?

A US firm is suing a former employee who took 17,000 Twitter followers with him when he left the company. PhoneDog Media is seeking damages of up to USD370,000 from Noah Kravitz after claiming the costs and resources invested in its followers and fans were substantial. Kravitz speaks to TheDroidGuy about the dispute and says the company never asked for the Twitter account back and suggested he could tweet on its behalf. In contrast, PhoneDog president Tom Klein says the Twitter account was created to promote PhoneDog content and to give fans a chance to follow Noah ‘as a representative of the company’. The New Statesman says the case could have far-reaching legal implications regarding the value of social media and its users and how intellectual property law has adapted to the emergence of social media. The outcome could also influence how companies choose to use and invest in such technology in future.

It is an interesting development, and follows (to some extent) the debacle around Twitter account ownership of Laura Kuenssberg, who you may remember, moved from the BBC to ITV taking some 60,000 followers with her. The central question (or one of them) being are you following the tweeter due to the specific interest you may have in them as a person, or because of the inherent brand association they enjoy thanks to their role i.e., were you following Laura Kuenssberg, or the BBC ‘s Chief Political Correspondent?

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-28/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-28/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2011 17:24:44 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=436 Happy weekend all! It’s been an incredibly busy week in our financial and professional services team this week, handling everything from the forthcoming surge in Christmas shopping, to understanding the world’s expats just a little bit more. Speaking of Christmas, it’s now just one month away – something our resident Christmas Enthusiast, Karen, reminds us of thanks to this handy iPhone app every single day.

Sadly, there isn’t actually a whole amount of Christmas cheer around at the moment, particularly not if you live in Europe, or indeed the US, as Ross blogged on yesterday. With that in mind this week’s Friday Fiver covers off the continuing economic situation, as well as changes for UK bank customers, and two of the biggest video games of all time. Enjoy, and happy weekend.

BYE BYE FREE MONEY…..When is a free bank account not free? Pretty much always in the opinion of the Financial Services Authority. According to this morning’s Financial Times, the financial regulator is of the belief that free current bank accounts have “distorted the landscape and led to damaging decisions about what products are available”. In other words, the costs of providing free current accounts have been made up elsewhere by retail banks charging higher fees for other services (and by selling occasionally dubious products such as PPI).

The result of all this? The FSA believes that customers should be charged for their current account to negate this problem. It may appear a controversial idea, but the UK is something of an anomaly on bank accounts in the West – lots of other countries charge for this service, albeit at a low level, so we shouldn’t really be surprised that charging may happen here too. That would certainly make starting a retail bank far easier, something Metro and Virgin would probably welcome. Any move is likely to require concerted action though – as the FT also noted, if one bank were to unilaterally start charging, customers would simply get up and walk down the road to a ‘free’ competitor.

IS THE UK REALLY A SAFE HAVEN?…..This week, Germany failed to sell all €6 billion worth of ten year bonds, which came as a bit of a shock to many. Then again, it also provided evidence of what we perhaps should already know by now: even Germany may not prove immine from the unfolding Eurozone crisis. The lacklustre auction may be an indicator that investors and banks are spooked by Germany’s exposure to the Eurozone crisis and the fact they are intrinsically linked to the future success or failure of the Euro currency. Remember it is the bond markets that have wreaked havoc for many of the Eurozone’s failing economies, so this week’s bund auction which only raised €3.6 billion, little over half of the full allocation, is an ominous sign.

It may be Germany's turn to sweat next

Following the under-subscribed auction Germany may have lost some of its image as the safe haven of Europe. This was further compounded by the fact that charges for UK 10 year gilts dropped below the same cost of borrowing for 10 year German bunds – 2.18% and 2.26% respectively – which is the first time this has happened since 2009. This evidence points to the fact markets view the UK as a safer option than Germany right now, a point you can bet Chancellor George Osborne mentions in his Autumn Statement on Tuesday. As Osborne will inevitably say, the low gilt charges are evidence that the Coalition Government’s economic policy is working to the extent that it is repelling contagion from our numerous struggling European counterparts.

Does all this point to the fact the UK is now the European safe haven of choice? We’re not convinced. With youth unemployment now over 1 million and forecasted economic growth of no more than 1% in 2012, the UK is teetering on the edge of slipping back into recession. Whilst the Government should be applauded for appeasing the markets to date, we are no-where near out of the woods yet and certainly can’t consider ourselves a safe haven as suggested by Osborne earlier this year.

GRAPH OF THE WEEK – PROPERTY…..We always enjoy the Business Dashboard graphics created by The Times’ business team, and Tuesday’s was no exception, highlighting the internationalisation of the City’s commercial property.

The City's property by nationality of ownership (Image: The Times)

LOBBYING AND THE BANKS…..With all the threats of regulation and counter threats by financial services companies of ‘we’ll leave the country if you regulate us’, it was refreshing this week to see the mud-slinging continue, this time on the subject of lobbying. The mud in question came from Robert Jenkins, newly appointed to the Financial Policy Committee – the body responsible for spotting risks to financial stability and ways of containing them. Jenkins adopted an aggressive approach, arguing that “A profession which should stand for integrity and prudence now supports a lobbying strategy that exploits misunderstanding and fear”. Though the FT pointed out that the most interesting dynamic in this is whether this rhetoric translates into FPC recommendations, we can’t help but think we could do with less of the rhetoric and more, well,  stability, though the two aren’t apparently (we hope) mutually exclusive.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..In the Good corner this week, it’s Infinity Ward. Never heard of them? They’re the guys behind the Call of Duty video game, which along with our client Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls V, is currently outselling Hollywood blockbusters at a rapid rate. Video games are big, big business these days, enjoying huge marketing campaigns and massive airtime. It’s all a far cry from Pong in the 70s that’s for sure. Call of Duty isn’t without its detractors though – a group of MPs this week started a petition against the game in Parliament. As The Independent noted though, support hasn’t exactly been overwhelming for the cause, while Murdoch-scourge Tom Watson MP appears to be something of a fan – probably no select committee hearing just yet then.

In a rare appearance in the Bad corner, it’s the usually all-conquering Sir Philip Green, owner of the Arcadia Group which counts Topshop and Miss Selfridge among its raft of retail businesses. Green was forced to announce a hefty plan to axe over 200 stores this week following a large drop in profits. Arcadia has been a strong retail pillar in recent times, with Topshop leading the way on the high street. With consumer spending tightening each day in the UK, it could be a bumpy ride for Green ahead.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-21/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-21/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 16:08:05 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=319 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)

The leader’s speech itself was just getting going when the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) struck all the main broadcasters whose screens cut out missing the middle section. It meant Ed Miliband could not deliver his message of a ‘quiet crisis’ engulfing Britain. Not that it mattered much. We all knew what was in it anyway.

There were jeers from the party faithful for the mere mention of Tony Blair, yes he who so awfully delivered them three General Election victories, two of them landslides. How dare he! On the evidence available the speech was well received by the party, if not in the media. That suggests Ed Miliband has aptly captured the mood of the party – and it is one that doesn’t want to be in Government. Thanks goodness for that then.

House of bubbles…..The Financial Times today reported on an increasingly sticky situation in the Chinese property market. Construction in the country is big business in both senses of the word – skyscrapers are still sprigning up daily, and apartments are going for well over $10m according to the paper.

The problem for Chinese officials with all this growth is twofold – one, rapid growth leads to bubbles and we know what happened last time there was a big one of those involving housing. And two, property developers in China are a mixture of “dragons and fish tumbled together” in the words of one official. In other words, while some developers know what they’re doing, many others don’t.

China is keeping the world economy going - but a bubble is growing there

The Chinese authorities have therefore come up with a plan which hopefully tackles both these issues – tightening up bank mortgage lending. It seems to be working. As the FT notes, “stocks and bonds of Chinese property developers have been battered this year”, prices are falling and transactions are down.The question now, which the FT asked in a seperate article yesterday, is whether the fall signals the controlling or bursting of the bubble.

Dancing with Diversity…..Our Aviva team were very excited this week to see their hard work pay off on the very worthy Street Dance for Change campaign. This saw young people from across the country upload their own street dance videos to raise money for the Railway Children charity and the chance to win VIP Diversity 2011 Tour tickets.

Dancing, Diversity and the Railway Children - our campaign of the week

We had some great young people come to a dance workshop with Diversity and learn some of their latest street dance moves at the world renowned Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden. Plus, Diversity created a fab new video specially for the campaign, which is well worth a view. If you want to see some behind the scenes shots from the video check out Diversity’s Twitter feed.

For any who fancies getting involved and uploading a routine but just needs a little inspiration, Ashley Banjo shows off a few basic moves here. For every view of every competition entry Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children and the video that raises the most money, i.e. gets the most views, will win VIP Diversity 2011 Tour tickets and meet the group. The team enjoyed working with the boys (thanks for tweeting about the campaign!) to raise money for Railway Children and hope that the competition hits its £50,000 target.

Video of the week: Trader or hoaxer…..This video made the rounds after ‘independent trader’ Alessio Rastani stunned BBC viewers and presenters in a painfully frank interview where he said the “market is toast” and that the stock market is essentially finished.

TV's newest hate figure - Alessio Rastani (Image: Metro.co.uk)

His candid remarks were not well received with many viewers questioning his authority to make these comments. Some even branded him a hoaxer, choosing to believe that Rastani is the work of Andy Bichlbaum from The Yes Men rather than accept the bleak future he painted. Could we really be heading towards another economic recession? What do you want to believe?

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