Monday, 31 January 2011

Coming soon: Compulsory water meters for all . . . and you'll pay £200 installation price

Daily Mail
"There is increasing concern that the 60 per cent of households without a water meter are being punished with hugely inflated bills, which can be more than £300 a year higher.The water industry has been accused of using price pressure to effectively force households to switch to water meters."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

This is the biggest squeeze on families since 1920s, warns Bank of England chief

Daily Mail
* Average salary rose by only 7.6 per cent since 2007
* Wages in 2011 set to be no higher than in 2005
* King: 'Bank of England can't wave a magic wand'
"Mr King said the wage squeeze is likely to continue this year, with inflation currently at 3.7 per cent but an average predicted pay rise of only 2.1 per cent.Speaking in Newcastle, he said: ‘As a result, in 2011 real wages are likely to be no higher than they were in 2005. One has to go back to the 1920s to find a time when real wages fell over a period of six years.’A ‘real wage’ is wages after inflation has been taken into account.Mr King piled on the gloom by declaring that the cost of living is set to keep on rising, making a situation which he described as ­‘uncomfortable’ even worse.The cost of living is ‘likely’ to rise by ‘somewhere between 4 per cent and 5 per cent’ over the next few months, although it will drop back next year, he said.This is far above the target set by the Government for inflation, measured by the consumer prices index, of 2 per cent."

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Brussels foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton 'saving £40,000 in EU tax deal'

Daily Mail
"Baroness Ashton – the EU’s foreign affairs chief – is paying reduced taxes on her £230,000 salary, it emerged last night.Lady Ashton, who is the world’s highest- paid female politician, is saving up to £40,000 a year through a special deal for civil servants in Brussels.She is paying at staggered rates of 8 per cent to 45 per cent, having opted out of the British tax regime.The same deal is not available to members of the European Parliament."

Monday, 24 January 2011

How Labour's 'tough' rules let in 2,100 migrants a day

Daily Mail
"Britain handed out 2,100 visas a day following the introduction of Labour’s ‘tough’ new border controls.Official figures reveal for the first time that 1,554,327 non-EU nationals were given permission to enter or stay in this country under the previous government’s points-based system.The beneficiaries included workers, their partners and children and hundreds of thousands of foreign students.Incredibly, the numbers entering Britain continued to climb between 2008 and 2009 – despite the country being in the grip of a recession.A fall of fewer than 20,000 in the number of work permits being rubber-stamped for main applicants was dwarfed by a leap of 80,000 in student visas.The total number of visas handed out in 2009, including renewals for people who would otherwise have been forced to leave, was 778,617 – up from 775,710 a year earlier."

Friday, 21 January 2011

Ed Balls arrives as the Coalition is busy cleaning up after Labour’s party

"The process of fiscal consolidation is about to start in earnest and gives Balls plenty of ammo to hurl at the Government. But cuts would have been needed even under a Labour government and they are a necessary solution to the financial mess created by Balls himself, and his mentor Gordon Brown. "

A thousand people a week leaving Ireland

"As many as 100,000 people will abandon Ireland by April 2012, according to the state-funded Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). The republic is set to witness emigration on a larger scale than in the 1980s, ESRI said, as people vote with their feet to escape high unemployment, rising taxes and growing unrest over Dublin's austerity cuts.

Young graduates in particular are leaving Ireland in search of better opportunities in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The rate of departure is set to be the highest in recent memory and overshadows the net outward migration peak of 44,000 in 1989. "

When Oprah gives, someone else pays

The Age (Australia)
"In Australia, Oprah ''gave away'' $1 million worth of computer gear to a needy school (donated by IBM and Hewlett Packard). She gave away $250,000 to a cancer sufferer and his family (donated by X-Box). She gave away 6000 pearl necklaces (donated by West Australian pearl producer MG Kailis) and 6000 diamond pendants (donated by Rio Tinto). And, of course, she gave away the trip of a lifetime to each of the 302 ultimate fans who accompanied her from Canada and America (donated by Australian tourism bodies).

None of which is to say there is not a lot to admire in Oprah's generosity. It's merely to make the point that when Oprah gives, there's a very good chance someone else is picking up the tab - even as she is picking up the glory."

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Treasury exposes the full turmoil of Labour's spending: Three Whitehall departments lost control during party's time in power

Daily Mail
"Labour lost financial control of three major Whitehall departments during its time in power, the head of the Treasury revealed yesterday.Financial management at the Ministry of Defence was so appalling it had to be put into ‘special measures’ – ordered to report on a month-by-month basis on its spending.Treasury Permanent Secretary Sir Nicholas Macpherson also identified the Department of Health and Department for Education as having ‘lost control of public spending’ during the past decade."

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Inflation jumps to 3.7% - and it's set to get worse, raising fears of soaring interest rates

Daily Mail
"The soaring cost of food and petrol pushed inflation even higher than expected in new figures today, prompting fears interest rates will soon rise.The annual rate of inflation, the consumer prices index, jumped from 3.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent - confounding experts who had expected a 0.1 per cent hike.Prices rose 1 per cent between November and December - the biggest month-on-month rise since records began in 1996, the Office for National Statistics said.The wider retail prices index, which includes housing costs, also rose 0.1 per cent to 4.8 per cent in December, the figures revealed."

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Bank bail-out adds £1.5 trillion to debt

"Britain's public debt is set to soar from under £1 trillion to more than double that landmark figure when official figures are updated this month to take into account the impact of the banking bailout. "

Friday, 14 January 2011

Cameron offers hope of relief on petrol price pain as he hints at fuel tax reform in March budget

Daily Mail
"Mr Cameron said yesterday that the Government was continuing to look at the option of a ‘fuel-stabiliser’, where the rate of duty is cut as oil prices rise, which brings in additional tax revenue to the Treasury. Under the scheme duty goes up when oil prices fall."

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

German economy grows at fastest pace since reunification

"Germany's swift recovery has made it a standout in the 17-nation eurozone, where smaller economies such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal have been struggling with huge debts.

"We grew twice as fast as the European Union average," said Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle, who had forecast growth of 3.4pc. The figures show that "people are rightly looking optimistically into the future," he added.

A key trigger for the strong recovery was powerful growth in exports into a recovering world economy — a 14.2pc gain last year reversed a 14.3 percent decline in 2009. Germany is the world's second-biggest exporter after China. "

Sunday, 9 January 2011

PIGS Debt Riskier Than Iraq, CDS Prices Show

"Greece has become the world's riskiest borrower in the fourth quarter of 2010, surpassing Venezuela, while Spain, Portugal and Ireland were riskier than Iraq, according to data compiled by CMA, a provider of data on pricing of Credit Default Swaps (CDS)."

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Oil drops 2 percent on stronger dollar, U.S. data

(Reuters) - Oil prices fell more than 2 percent on Thursday to below $89 a barrel as a stronger dollar and weaker U.S. equities deterred buyers. ....U.S. crude for February delivery was down $1.76 at $88.54 a barrel at 12:50 p.m. EST (5:50 p.m. British time) in heavy volume for a second straight day. In London, Brent crude for February was down $1.20 at $94.30."

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Overheating East to falter before the bankrupt West recovers

"Ben Bernanke made a fatal error by launching QE2 too early, with an incoherent justification, by dribs and drabs for fine-tuning purposes. The QE card cannot easily be played a third time. If he now tries to print money on a nuclear scale to crush all resistance and hold down Treasury yields, he risks exhausting Chinese patience and invites the wrath the Tea Party Congress. "

Brazil pledges to stop US 'melting the dollar'

"We're not going to allow our American friends to melt the dollar," said Mr Mantega, who views the US government's move to pump $600bn (£387bn) into its economy as an unfair attempt to help exports

"There are infinite measures that we can take. One of them is to manage the entry of speculative capital in the short-term."

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Why I believe Tim Congdon is on losing side of monetary easing argument

"He argues that this column's description of quantitative easing as "a polite, yet intellectually dishonest name for money-printing" amounts not to a reasoned point of view but, instead, belies an "implicit prejudice".

Congdon's article then goes on to defend QE in robust terms, as he has ever since the Bank of England embarked on this policy in March 2009 – and just as I, since then, have attacked it. ......In my view, the main cost is inflation – and the related debasement of savings. By inflating away our debts, the UK is also imposing "soft-default" on our creditors, implying higher future borrowing costs. For some time, QE-advocates had a lot of fun deriding those of us who warned UK inflation would outstrip the Bank of England's estimates. We've been proved right – yet the inflation has only just begun. The vast majority of that QE money in the shadow-banking system, on both sides of the Atlantic, has yet to enter circulation. When it does, and is leant against many times over, we'll see QE's true inflationary impact. "

European debt markets 'face second credit crisis'

"European debt markets could be hit by a second credit crisis within months as fears grow over the huge volume of new bonds that must be sold by governments and banks in 2011. "