Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

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

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FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello All! We seem to say this every week, but yet again it’s been a very busy and news heavy 7 days in the world of professional and financial services. This week’s Friday Fiver has a distinct air of gloom about it I’m afraid, though we do find room for a spot or two of humour as always. Thanks as ever to Ed, and Jonathan for their contributions.

CHART OF THE WEEK – GREECE: IN A NUTSHELL…..Stephen Hawking’s follow-up to his immensely successful 1988 book on the cosmos was labelled ‘The Universe in a Nutshell‘. As anyone with a passing interest in physics knows, it would take a forest of nutshells to even begin explaining the wonders of our universe. At times, the complex, ever-changing state of the Greek and wider eurozone crisis can feel pretty similar.

Help is at hand though, thanks to a handy chart unveiled by The Spectator this week. Sadly, upon reviewing it, only the most optimistic person would conclude that the eurozone is heading for anything other than very troubled waters.

The options (or not) for Greece (Chart: The Spectator)

THE DEVIL OF THE DETAIL – BANKING RESULTS…..Hot on the heels of Goldman Sach’s results this week came Morgan Stanley’s trading update. Unlike their rivals, MS were able to report a large profit for the quarter of $2.2bn.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver

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)

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How to position the Greek Financial Crisis?

posted by Edward Jones

If I could take the liberty of modifying the words of the incomparable Rodgers and Hammerstein – how do you solve a problem like Greece? Well, the macroeconomics, thankfully, are for others to worry about. The communications for this spectacular meltdown however are fantastically absorbing. How, I ask myself, could you position such a mess and achieve a sense of progress and dare I say it, optimism? With tongue fixed firmly in cheek, I give you the strategic standpoints that are at the disposal of any discerning political chief:

 1. The Collective – otherwise known as the ‘we are in this together’ position, or in the case of the British, ‘The Dunkirk Spirit’. Clearly, requires appropriate and visible commitment from public leaders such as a reduced wardrobe, or sudden fixation with public transport.

2. The Future Proofer – as in, do this now to ensure that we’re okay tomorrow. Also known as ‘our children’s children’ position.

3. The Fresh Starter – that is, it can’t get any worse so let’s have a fresh start, or ‘a blank canvas’, or in what could be more appropriate for the Greeks, ‘a Year Zero’ approach to the problem.

4. The Frontrunner – or to put it another way, we got there first and so will be better equipped to manage the situation when others are in the same predicament. Also see ‘ahead of the curve’, or ‘ ahead of the pack’.

5. The Flagellator – by far the hardest and bravest position to take; as in, we had it coming for all those years of irresponsibility and extravagance, but we’ll come out of it fitter and better…believe me.

Please note:  This post was orignially posted by Peter Roberts.

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello All! It’s been another very heavy week of news, and equally heavy rain here in London – will summer ever raise its head again? Given the weather is playing havoc with any outdoor plans for the next few hours, we’ve put together another series of five key stories of the week from the world of financial and professional services. Thanks as ever to Ed, Mel and Jo for their contributions.

When is a default not a default?…Here are two rather intriguing and perhaps contradictory headlines for you from the same news website today: ‘Greece deal sparks bank-led European share rally‘, and ‘Fitch declares Greece default‘.

Greece - lives to fight another day

So which is it? The answer, rather confusingly, is both, depending on who you listen to. What isn’t in doubt is that eurozone countries have agreed another bailout package for Greece (though some have their doubts as to whether it’s big enough). This in turn, has sparked a market rally.

What also isn’t in doubt though, is that ratings agency Fitch have declared that because the deal involves private lenders ‘taking a haircut‘ on some of their debt, Greece has undergone a ‘restricted default’. At least in part. Confused? Quite possibly. What does it mean? That Greece continues to rage against the dieing of the light for a little longer, and that the other PIGS get some brief respite as well.

UPDATE – It seems we may have spoken too soon. According to Channel 4’s Economics Editor, Faisal Islam, Fitch is now not declaring Greece to be in restricted default.

Britain’s economy 2011 – what might we think in 2021?…What will be made of the Government’s economic policy in years to come? Will George Osborne’s approach be heralded as a masterstroke which got the nation back on its feet or criticised for paralysing the economy, engendering neither deficit reduction nor economic growth?

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FPS’ Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

Well, an eventful week to say the least. We in the FPS team have looked beyond the obvious to find five other things that have happened this week. Enjoy.

Moody clouds hover over USA ratings

Photograph: Ryan24

This week, Moody’s threatened to revise down the USA’s AAA credit rating. Back in April, Standard and Poor’s revised to negative the outlook on USA ratings, a monumental move given that this was the first time that the USA’s outlook was revised down since Pearl Harbour. As the USA’s Congress and President continue to grapple over debt negotiations, it is looking increasingly unlikely that they will be able to come to an agreement before the 2nd August, after which the USA would literally run out of money and not be able to match its debt commitments.

Elsewhere financial markets are getting increasingly jittery as this week Ireland became the third Eurozone country to be downgraded to junk status –Ba1 – alongside Greece and Portugal. This downward pressure continues to strengthen fears that Italy and Spain will soon follow suit. One wonders if any country will escape what feels like a tidal wave of downgrades.

Bonuses back in vogue?

Photograph: Sky

We read with interest this week Sports Direct’s average £44,000 payout to staff after hitting profit targets. Out of 18,000 employees, 2,200 staff qualify for the bonus. This is on the basis of their employment being permanent over the last 12 months, irrespective of their position. According to the Times (£) the scheme is the most generous in the retail sector.

The move offers an interesting parallel to bonuses paid in the banking sector and the justification offers hope to the City: “There is nothing more powerful… in terms of  getting everyone pulling together… we wanted them [the staff] to see everyone is going to benefit” said Sports Direct’s Chief Executive Dave Forsey. One wonders if the banks presented their bonus schemes with the same clarity and distributed the fruits of their labours more equitably, they might not receive so much stick. Does this move represent a shift in other sectors towards a model whereby staff are incentivised to deliver for their employer? We are all aware of the success of the John Lewis Partnership, Sports Direct’s scheme seems a very positive sign in a sector which has struggled of late and could offer a way forward in overcoming low staff morale.

The cost of living (longer)

How much does it cost to retire in the 21st century? If you’re talking purely about the level of income people should have, then the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reckon that around £15,000 should be sufficient. If however, you’re asking how much it costs the state for you to retire, that’s a very different question. The bad news is the cost is rising as we continue to live longer lives.

The OBR released its first Fiscal Sustainability Report this week which provides long-term projections on how much the government will have to spend on welfare and healthcare by 2060. The answer, in a nutshell, is a lot more. Spending on health is going to increase from 8.2% of GDP now, to nearly 10% in 2060 and the separate cost of long-term care is going to increase as well. At the same time, the amount spent on the state pension will increase by over 2% of GDP to 7.9%. Put the whole package together, and ‘age-related spending’ increases from 24.6% of our GDP to 27.3%.

So what can be done about the rising cost? One answer is to raise the retirement age and hence lessen the number of years people receive their state pension, though this is proving deeply unpopular. Another is to prepare the population better for old-age and try to keep them healthier in it, which is no easy thing. This still isn’t enough though – which is why the OBR suggested we will need to raise an additional £22bn in tax each year from 2016 onwards to stop national debt spiralling away. Not what consumers who believe their disposable incomes are already shrinking want to hear as The Economist notes today.

Baby Boom to Boomerang

Our parents were the baby boomers- tuition fee free, riding on the crest of 80’s affluence, buying up property and reproducing. Whilst we are the boomerangers saddled with the debt of our education and the country and forced to return to the nest that our parents bought.  Returning home post Uni would once have made you a failure or at least a social embarrassment for the parents having to hide a 30 year old console loving son in their annexe.  But now 1 in 4 graduates are returning home and frankly, who can blame them?

Photograph: Paul Barton/Corbis available at Guardian.co.uk

New findings from Endsleigh show that most rental prices in the UK have increased steadily in the last two years with the average rent now standing at £688 per month, rising to almost £1,372 in London where most grads head in search of that increasingly elusive goal ‘employment.’ Demand is also increasing in the rental market as more and more first-time buyers are finding themselves frozen out of the mortgage market due to tighter lending criteria and a lack of finance.  And this would probably account for why 41% of the three million adults living with their parents returned home to save money whilst three in ten cited that they were unable to pay mortgages.

The introduction of tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year from 2012 will increase the pressure on graduates even further, with the number returning to the family home likely to rise.

Hungry for Growth

Photograph: Reuters

This week, the GE Capital (client) team were hitting the phones to secure coverage of the first ever ‘SME Capex Barometer’, a survey of 1,000 small and medium sized businesses across Europe looking at how much they plan to invest in replacing equipment ranging from plant machinery to IT hardware to photocopiers.

In the UK, 92% of SMEs are planning to spend a staggering £74.9 billion in the coming year, although businesses in Germany and France were looking to invest even more.  Reflecting the challenges involved with pulling out of recession, businesses reported missing out on over £8bn of new businesses as a result of out-dated equipment.

As John Jenkins, CEO of GE Capital put it: “Despite popular belief, the appetite for investing in growth amongst UK SMEs is actually very strong, with many businesses having reached a tipping point where putting off investment is no longer possible without compromising their ability to create revenue”.