Shocks & Stares » Greece 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 FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/fps-friday-fiver-24/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/fps-friday-fiver-24/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 17:50:07 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=391 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

THE RICH GET RICHER…THEN RELATIVELY LESS WELL-OFF…THEN RICHER AGAIN…..The info-graphic below from the New York Times captured our attention this week. It tracks the financial fortunes of US citizens dating back as far as the First World War and the original web version can be found here.

Wealth across the years (Image: New York Times)

The figures are relatively self-explanatory but they highlight how the relative prosperity of each segment of society has evolved over time. The Top Fifth of earners have done particularly well of late and in 2007 the top 1% of earners controlled 23.5% of all wealth. If you’ve been following the remarks of Warren Buffett of late you’ll know that the issue of distribution of wealth is a source of some debate in the US at present and only time will tell whether the 21st century will follow a similar pattern. Today’s figures from Income Data Services only fuelled the fire as well.

WHEN IS AN EMPTY TENT NOT AN EMPTY TENT…..On Monday, the Daily Telegraph (and others) shone an infrared camera on tents at the Occupy London site outside St Paul’s. Their results appeared to show that most of the tents were empty during the night, implying that these were the most fairweather of protestors.

It dealt a severe blow to the credibility of the movement, but not it seems the story may not have been entirely accurate. As The Guardian and others reported later in the week, the technology used to hunt for tent-dwelling heat-producing humans wasn’t entirely equipped for the job at hand. There seems to be little doubt that some protesters are sleeping at home, but probably far fewer than some media outlets tried to claim initially.

TESTING THE WATERS OF IMPARTIALITY…..Andrew Marr wrote in last weekend’s Sunday Times about the Queen on the eve of her diamond jubilee. One thing he noted in particular was that while the Monarch retained a thoroughly impartial stance on political matters, she did still enjoy quizzing ministers on matters of policy.

The same doesn’t quite seem to apply to the other supposedly impartial institution at the top of the British power tree, the Bank of England. In another sign that it is becoming increasingly bold with its statements, the Bank’s director of Financial Stability, Andrew Haldane, gave a bold speech on Monday about the dangers as he saw of the 21st century banking system. His comments received the support of prominent commentators, not least for his conclusion that:

“The words bank and bankrupt have common etymological roots dating from the 13th century. In the 13th century it was bankers bankrupting banks. In the 21st century bankers are still bankrupting banks. But it is no longer just banks. This tells us that the risks from banking have been widely spread socially. But the returns to bankers have been narrowly kept privately”

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..Silvio Berlusconi is pretty much a no-contest winner for the bad week slot this week, finely topped off by some more lurid accusations on Thursday evening.

Good week though goes to our favourite interviewee of the past year, Noel Gallagher, who gave this gem to Shortlist at the back end of last week. Still got it Noel, still got it.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/fps-friday-fiver-23/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/fps-friday-fiver-23/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2011 13:22:39 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=370 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.

Or were they? As some media outlets quickly noted, the majority of MS’ profits for the quarter were a result of the company reducing the value of the debt it holds. Once the benefits of this accounting manoeuvre were removed, the results looked far less impressive - Iain Dey at the Sunday Times provided one of the best summaries of the ‘revised’ picture.

He wasn’t the only journalist somewhat peeved at the sleight of hand either:

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS…..A “dark pool” may sound like a feature of an exotic health spa and for all we know, it could well be. The increasing importance of dark pools in financial markets however was apparent this week.

In simple terms these are markets behind closed doors that allow institutional investors to trade with one another outside public exchanges like the London Stock Exchange. This week we heard that investors are increasingly using dark pools to access and trade privately owned stock in companies like Facebook before they float.

The emergence of dark pools was one consequence of the European Commission’s MiFID regulation which was in part designed to break up the monopoly of public exchanges. Now however the Commission is looking to take back control of its creation amid concerns about their lack of transparency. Complicated stuff, but as always, the FT [article here] explains developments in simple terms and their graphic below illustrates the overarching trend.

PROOF THAT PLAN A COULD BE OK?…..In amongst the growing concern about the eurozone, and increasing focus on the OccupyLondon movement, the ONS announced on Friday that public borrowing for September was below expectations. In addition, borrowing in August was actually lower than first thought.

Does this mean that the Chancellor’s refusal to adopt anything less his Plan A might be starting to bear fruit? Quite possibly, though as the BBC’s Hugh Pym pointed out, much depends on UK growth in the next few months. The Chancellor hasn’t been proved right yet by any means, but at least he now has a proof point to attack his critics with.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..Leaving aside the obvious winners and losers over the last 7 days, it was a good week for the economist and Sunday Times columnist, Irwin Stelzer, who picked up the ‘economics commentator of the year’ award at the media industry’s Editorial Intelligence awards on Thursday.

Or at least he would have picked it up if not for a small error by the normally unflappable Robert Peston who is this week’s ‘bad week’ winner. Regrettably for the BBC’s Business Editor, he fluffed his lines on stage by announcing the wrong winner. And thus, the FT’s Martin Wolf walked on stage to collect the prize, only to have it quietly taken away from him 10 minutes later. If you want to read more on this little tale, Roy Greenslade provides a full commentary here. Mr Peston’s stablemate, Rory Cellan-Jones also clearly enjoyed the incident, as well as his colleague’s fashion sense.


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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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How to position the Greek Financial Crisis? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/how-to-position-the-greek-financial-crisis/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/how-to-position-the-greek-financial-crisis/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 15:05:52 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=314 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.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/07/fps-friday-fiver-12/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/07/fps-friday-fiver-12/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:08:08 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=221 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?

It’s a particularly intriguing question, given broad public support for the Government’s economic programme, both by economists and a significant proportion of the public. Are tough decisions being made now in the knowledge of public empathy undermining future economic growth? Ed pondered this issue in light of public sector borrowing figures rising last month, the corollary of this being missed borrowing targets set by the OBR, and subdued growth figures, emphasised by the depressing weather and decline in food sales.

The Chancellor has rebutted calls for a ‘plan b’ and there is little indication of a shift in his strategy. To be fair his hands are tied with the ever present threat of a downgrade in the UK’s credit rating. But it is continued suppression of growth that is alarming and the reluctance to use the domestic tools which are available, most notably VAT, to alleviate matters (something that some are pressing hard for).

George Osborne - hanging tough, but the pressure is growing (Image: Telegraph.co.uk)

Of course, by the time the General Election comes round the issue of growth may be redundant as the economic cycle picks up and returns a Conservative led Government. The alternative of a Japanese style decade of slow growth is put forward by David Miliband in the Huffington Post and an assessment Ed’s more inclined to agree with.

Whilst he hopes it is the former which comes true, the analysis closest to reality will no doubt be the subject of textbooks for years to come. The added dynamic of a supportive public and the impact this has on political economic decisions will be a particularly fascinating area of study.

A right royal row over the retail review…The first rule Mel learned as a young diplomat is that you don’t launder your dirty policy in public, as witnessed by the unedifying swift exchange of “in the public domain” letters between the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) and the FSA this week, following the former’s recommendation to a one year delay in introducing the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). But relations, of course, deteriorated there a long time ago.

The fact that the FSA, as the TSC put it so bluntly, made a “precipitate” move to circulate an embargoed response to their report does look clearly premeditated and indeed “pre-emptory” and an act the TSC “deprecates”. This is regulatory blue language…

Not so, cried the FSA – apparently misunderstood – and planning to submit a considered response to TSC by the end of September. Meanwhile, other regulatory heavyweights waded in – predictably the Association of Independent Financial Advisers quickly offered its firm support for the TSC’s calls for delay. Against this were Which? and the Financial Services Consumer Panel, urging no delay from the timetable.

At stake, a regulatory bun-fight around the pace of reform to introduce higher professional standards in the advisory community. The TSC feels that the current timetable will – needlessly – put a large number of experienced financial advisers out of business.

A lasting regulatory peace around this issue remains elusive. The question is, where does this leave the consumer in the brave new regulatory era to come?

Andy Hornby - new CEO at Coral

Good week/bad week – Andy Hornby…Perhaps we should make this a new feature of the Friday Fiver with a different candidate each week? If so, then Mr Hornby is a good contender for the first slot. Having left Alliance Boots in March saying he ‘needed a break’ from the corporate world, the increasingly Lazarus-like Hornby surfaced again in his new role as CEO of Coral on Monday.

Timing is everything though, and scarcely had the champagne been poured, then it may have turned a little flat in the former HBOS man’s glass as the FSA announced an enquiry into the former bank’s collapse.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/07/fps-friday-fiver-11/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/07/fps-friday-fiver-11/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2011 14:07:21 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=216 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”.

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