Shocks & Stares » Skype H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 en hourly 1 FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 08 Jul 2011 13:38:14 +0000 David Chambers Yes, it’s Friday, and even though the weather’s not looking great, it is at least the weekend. Undertandably this week, most people have had their heads focused on one story in particular. However, there’s also plenty else going on which is why nin this edition of the Financial & Professional Services Fiver we bring you some of the stories you may have missed this week.

Thanks as ever to our contributors – this wek, Jo, Ed and Clare.

To save or spend, that is the question…With retailers going bust on UK High Street, you could be forgiven for thinking that consumers have no money to spend. However, quarter two’s Visa Europe: UK Expenditure Index (our client) paints a more complicated picture of consumers’ expenditure behaviour.

Consumers aren't spending and the high street is in trouble. The reasons why are more complex than you might imagine though (Image:

The Index shows that year on year consumer expenditure increased by 4.4% in quarter two. The monthly data for April, May and June shows year on year increases in expenditure of 4.2%, 4.5% and 4.3% respectively. However when you look more closely at May’s figures, things start to get interesting: expenditure growth in May was bolstered by consumers saving rather than spending as they put their money into NS&I certificates. The impact of one-off factors were largely diminished in June, which saw a strengthening of underlying spending as consumers cautiously returned to the High Street and ‘usual’ spend.

It seems that consumers are becoming increasingly circumspect about what they do with their money.  The challenge for the High Street is to convince consumers their money is best spent with them rather than saved. This is a battle that may well get bloody…

The Huffington Post launches…Yes, HuffPo, as it is affectionately known has launched in the UK. The brainchild of Arianna Huffington who took the US political news market by storm, has set her sights on the UK online media market. Already, questions have been raised – ‘Where is the innovation?’, The Guardian’s digital content blog asked. It’s a fair point, given the work that paper has done in this area, but why change a winning formula?

The jamboree around the launch alone must’ve generated major traffic. Its success will undoubtedly lie in its ability to challenge the online print media for traffic and generate advertising revenue for its owners AOL. Given PoliticsHome’s rapid shift to a subscription model, it will be interesting to see if HuffPo also competes in the political news aggregator space. Certainly, plenty to look forward to and we anticipate the ‘meeja’ watching developments very closely.

It’s also worth also noting the launch today of Dale & Co: ‘a new blogging platform, showcasing 92 writers, each with editorial independence, providing some of the best political, media, social and sports commentary on the net’. This may provide the real competition for Huffington Post UK given Iain Dale’s profile as a commentator in political and media circles.

FaceSkype…This week, Facebook announced an interesting partnership with Skype, which the latter’s CEO, Tony Bates, considers as “the most important strategic relationship”. Is this yet another reason for us spend more time behind the digital wall or does it really bring the opportunity for video chat to go truly mass market?

Facebook picked up another partner this week, which will make distant friends & family happy

Apart from being extremely useful to keep in touch with those that live on the other side of the world this might just fuel the demise of a simple face to face coffee in Starbucks and with over 750 million active users this is looking more and more likely. We can safely say then that Facebook is the current big winner of the social network fight!

One country which isn’t jumping on the Facebook / Skype bandwagon is the UAE. Surprisingly Skype is not legally licensed in the UAE – quite remarkable coming from one of the most technologically advanced countries in the Middle East. Trust Facebook to fuel this debate further as discussions over whether or not this ‘innovate feature’ will actually make it to the forefront of people’s laptops and phones are in the air.

Boris Bonds…A couple of weeks back, we wrote about the Scottish government’s attempts to raise money through their new powers to issue ‘braveheart bonds’. Now it seems, it’s the turn of the Greater London Auhtority, which plans to issue £600m worth of bonds to pay in part for CrossRail.

Crossrail - the GLA are digging a big hole in the ground while trying to avoid a big hole in their budget

Paying for any kind of public works project at the moment is tricky. Raising enough money to pay for a £17bn construction programme is therefore at the very tricky end of tricky. As Anthony Hilton noted though, the move by the GLA and Lloyds, who will act on their behalf, could be a masterstroke and a template for future fundraising efforts by local authorities as austerity cuts really start to bite.

PIGS or PIGI…Greece, as we know, is in serious trouble. This week Portugal looked like it was being lined up to be the next to fall off the wagon as one ratings agency downgraded its debt dramatically. Ireland, we all know about as well. The question is though, who’s next in line?

The conventional wisdom had been that Spain was the next most vulnerable, but now thoughts are beginning to turn towards Italy. As The Econmist noted in a special report last month, in the good times the country has grown less than its peers, and in the bad times has tended to suffer more than its peers. Perhaps its no surprise then that some are starting to question whether investor eyes might be about to turn on it.

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