Shocks & Stares » PMI 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/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-25/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-25/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2011 18:07:33 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=398 Happy Friday afternoon everyone. The clocks have gone back, it’s dark outside, and the eurozone still doesn’t look any closer to salvation. Light relief does at least come however with the prospect of a good fireworks show this weekend. Before you get out the sparklers though, take a look at the Financial and Professional Services Friday Fiver below, which this week takes in a wide range of topics on everything from Bob Diamond to celebrity marriages. We hope you enjoy!

WE’RE GROWING!!! SORT OF…..Finally, some good news this week as the UK economy grew 0.5% in the third quarter of 2011. Compared to recent efforts, that’s practically a meteoric rise, and was ahead of City expectations.

But here’s the bad news though – the effect may not last for two reasons. Firstly, some of the rebound in growth is being attributed to the disruption in Q2 owing to that dress and the ensuing two week holiday that most people took to get over it. And secondly, the forecast ahead looks dire – the latest purchasing manager indices, released by our client, CIPS, nosedived this week, suggesting order books are drying up. Still, let’s enjoy a bit of growth while we can shall we?

SING SONG TO AN ATHENIAN RHAPSODY…..We’re viewing Europe’s sovereign debt issues through a musical prism this week. The debt odyssey has taken a number of twists and turns, the most unexpected of which was Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s call for a referendum on the latest bailout package. The brinksmanship proved a step too far and was quickly called off.

Disappointingly, the on-going crisis has meant that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been forced to delay the release of his latest CD of love songs. On first inspection, readers would be forgiven for mistaking the article as an April Fool.

It’s good to see the City is keeping itself busy and Alphaville was the recipient of a cleverly penned version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody set against the backdrop of recent events. Click and enjoy!

MORTGAGE DÉJÀ VU…..In 2006/07, people in America stopped paying their monthly mortgage bills. Many of them simply got up, left their houses and never came back (due to a wonderful quirk in US rules on home ownership they had very little obligation to stick around). Once enough people had walked away, banks realised that they were sitting on a pile of worthless housing stock that they couldn’t sell. Once that happened, banks who had bought mortgage loans off of other banks (neatly packaged up like a mince pie in lovable ‘CDOs’) realised they too were sitting on potentially worthless debt. Panic ensued, and we’ve been struggling to recover ever since.

Old news by now isn’t it? Probably not worth noting then that today’s FT reported that US state-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac has requested an extra $6bn from taxpayers because “homeowners were falling behind on their obligations and it could not count on mortgage insurers to reimburse the company for losses”. Or that US house “sales are down, delinquencies are rising and the pipeline of seized homes due to flood the market is growing ever larger”. Nope, not worth noting at all.

SLEB WATCH…..One for our celebrity interested readers at the request of our resident pop-culture queen, Helen Searle. Yes, in case you weren’t convinced, HuffPo’s title is eager to underline this IS an INFOGRAPHIC of the shortest celebrity marriages in homage to Kim Kardashian’s filing for divorce this week (your author this week isn’t sure who that is either). Although it could also be described as a bar chart, either way, our sleb watchers rather like it.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..Whisper it, but it’s been a relatively good week for Barclays boss, Bob Diamond. His company’s results were better than most of its peers (though again the use of some accounting wizardry perhaps hid the true picture), and Diamond also faired rather better in media interviews than he did last time he mentioned the word ‘remorse’.

On the flip side, his banking compatriot at Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, faired far worse. No one should ever work so hard or endure such stress that they have to take a leave of absence to recover. Not ever. We hope he gets well soon.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-18/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/09/fps-friday-fiver-18/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2011 17:32:25 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=267 Hello All! A little late this week, and we apologise for that, but as it’s now officially the end of summer that means it’s the start of the business season and we’ve all been a little flat out here at H&K Towers. Still, we wouldn’t want to miss out on reporting another busy week in the world of financial and professional services. And what a week it’s been. Thanks to our contributors this week: Ed, Ross, Clare and Rachel.

Turn that frown upside down…At the end of a pretty crazy August, there have been some fairly gut-wrenching figures this week from the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers Index (one of our clients). Declines in manufacturing output prompted fresh talk of double-dip recession, construction continued to be weighed down by weak confidence in the housing market, and all eyes are now on the all-important Services PMI which comes out on Monday.

Happy faces are hard to come by in the UK at the moment. But are we talking ourselves down too much?

Worrying indeed, but could it be that the UK economy is going through stage four of what could be termed ‘post financial crisis bereavement’ (PFCB)? According to one description, this involves ‘a feeling of listlessness and tiredness’ and possibly ‘wandering around in a daze.’

Well it certainly does feel like that sometimes but if the theory holds at least this is the final stage before acceptance sets in and the economy ‘regains its energy and goals for the future.’  It may just be the time for a bit of Vince Cable style positive thinking.

Breaking News – Football clubs spend less…The last minute wheeler-dealing of transfer deadline day was interesting for many reasons. But it’s the debate it has started about financial fair play which poses the biggest question for the future of the beautiful game. We’ve commented before on the ownership of football clubs, particularly in the immediate future. The onset of the Financial Fair Play from UEFA, requiring elite clubs to record a maximum debt of £39.5m over a three year period, may also have implications.

Fernando Torres may be the last £50m player we see for a while

Michel Platini, champion of these new regulations, would argue otherwise, but the financial future of football could go one of two ways. Clubs will either find loopholes in the rules and splash out enormous sums of money for overpriced talent. Or the rules will re-establish a sense of financial realism and build a future for football based on financial sustainability. The more prudent approach from England’s top clubs in the latest transfer window is a hopeful start. Ultimately however, the path football decides to take will come down to UEFA’s refereeing of the clubs who fall foul.

Women and Pay – the fight goes on…All things being well, Clare’s imaginary great granddaughter will be assured a pay packet that is on a par with her male counterparts, according to research published by the Chartered Management Institute this week. Some might call that progress. But we don’t.

There still aren't enough women in boardrooms (Image: Able & How)

It is forty one years since the Equal Pay Act. The Act prohibits employers from favouring one sex over the other in terms of pay and conditions. Whilst some things have improved in the past four decades, many others have not. Men still earn, on average, nearly a third more than women doing the same job. This, quite frankly, is ridiculous.

Over the past couple of months, the issue of women in the workplace has been an ongoing topic, particularly following Lord Davies’ inquiry into the dominance of men in company boardrooms. Whilst we think it is great this topic is being addressed, why is it employers still think that they can treat 50% of their workforce in such a manner? And the conclusion Clare has come to is this: they can, because they can get away with it. Is there another Act in British history that has been allowed to be so flagrantly ignored?

What then is the answer? Implementation! Transparency! Mobilisation! Anyone want to join the revolution? Please note – it might take us another 98 years to get anywhere near what we want…

Britain’s place in Europe…Ross wrote two weeks ago about the detrimental impact politics and politicians are having on the global economy and investor confidence. He was particularly critical of Angela Merkel as she seemed to be avoiding the glaringly obvious: Germany has to underwrite the debts of those struggling in the Eurozone and be prepared to commit much more to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) for it to be taken seriously.

Credit where credit is due, Chancellor Merkel seems to be winning over enough parliamentarians in order to squeeze a bill through the Bundestag that will give German parliamentarians more of a say on the EFSF. By giving the Bundestag more of a say on future aid packages Ms Merkel is hoping to bridge the domestic and international problem she faces by merging the two. She is currently having to overcome domestic political pressures as the German electorate resent the fact that they should have to pay for the problems of others in distance places like Greece.

Should the Bundestag gain these powers, Germany’s economic dominance in Europe is likely to sore further. On the one hand, this may finally be the security the Eurozone needs, but on the other it may push the UK even further to the periphery. So far the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has kept the UK out of the Eurozone crisis, but by doing so Germany may be able to cement its position as the true leader of Europe.

Good Week/Bad Week…Two sides of the banking coin this week. For Vince Cable, champion bank-basher, scorned scourge of Rupert Murdoch, and Parliamentary stand-up it wasn’t a particularly good week. He’s been banging the drum on banking reform for several months now, but it seems as though the Independent Banking Commission’s recommendations are firmly on route to the long grass.

On the flip side, for bankers, and particularly those with both retail and investment arms, it was a relatively good week for the very same reason. Their lobbying effort has been long, hard and expensive, but with the likes of the CBI and BCC now on-board, it looks like it might be paying off. It wasn’t all good for the banks this week though – Alastair Darling’s forthcoming book launch looks set to drag them through the muddy playing fields again in a few weeks time.

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