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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yet another of the interminable Scottish days, when the slate of the sky seems to weigh as heavily as do those on the roof of a swaybacked cottage.. This is the time of year that brings on the feeling that one can almost sense the true isolation a closed sky affords..
It would appear that public opinion has, for once, had an effect on at least one of our bankers.. The Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland has decided not to accept his bonus for last year's work.. Sir Philip Hampton announced he would forgo the £1.4million the Board had opted to award him.. Now this RBS statement came amid continued controversy over the bank's decision to award Stephen Hester, its Chief Executive, a £963,000 bonus.. a bone caught in the public throat when the fact the bank is 82% owned by the taxpayer.. Hester has not declined his whack of the pie..

Now this was only to have been expected..
As Spanish unemployment breaks through the 5 million barrier, the new government of Mariano Rajoy has begun to put pressure on the European Union to ease Spain's deficit targets, which are sending the country tumbling back into recession..
Rajoy's government is demanding greater 'realism' from Brussels as it struggles to rein in a deficit that ended more than two percentage points, or €20billion, above its EU-set 6% target last year..
EU officials are unlikely to greet his message with enthusiasm after continued wrangling in Athens over a deal with private creditors and a torrid day on the bond markets that pushed Portugal closer to needing a Greek-style rescue.. Brussels indicated that talks in Greece would take at least another 48 hours..
Just what they might manage to come up with before Monday's EU Ministers conference, is moot..

Might be interesting to keep an eye on Nigeria..
An Islamic fundamentalist group calling itself 'Boco Harum' has killed over a thousand in it's fight to force the country into a 'true Islamic State', governed my strict Shari'a Law.. Spokesman, Abu Qaqa, says "We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees.. Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released [from prison], we will only put aside our arms.. but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."
Now there's a statement which we in the West would do well to remember..
Shari'a law is already in place across 12 states in the Muslim-majority north.. But few believe the group's radical ideology has traction in Nigeria's mainly Christian south, which is also home to millions of Muslims, yet has so far been out of the group's reach.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seems that Greece is getting closer to some sort of an accommodation with it's creditors.. the European Union's Economic Commissioner, Olli Rehn, said 'they were very close'.. Of course, the last thing the EuroZone wants is Greece to default..again.. Such a scenario would almost certainly rattle the house of cards the European Union has become.. We should know by the weekend whether or not a deal can be reached.. at least by the time EU Ministers meet next Monday..
It would seem the only solution to this problem would be to drastically reduce the amount of interest Greece is paying on the trillion or so € it has 'borrowed'.. and should that come to pass.. watch Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy looking for a similar concession..
In fact, Spain's unemployment figures show there are some 5 million Spaniards on the dole.. That's 22.8%, the highest figure in 17 years.
Not encouraging..

Now.. in the States.. there are figures that would seem to indicate their economy grew by just over 2% this past quarter.. But let's not start thinking their problems are beginning to shrink.. These 'growth figures' are a direct result of manufacturers stockpiling their product, instead of offering them for sale.. This cannot be kept up, and we'll be looking at much lower figures in the very near future.. New car sales were up some 14%.. but that has to do with Pre-orders finally being filled following the tsunami in Japan. Don't look for GM or Chrysler to be posting higher sales figures..

Just yesterday we mentioned the public was entirely unhappy with the £million bonus handed the man at the helm of the Royal Bank of Scotland.. Now, it's become an issue for the Commons, and yet another bone for Labour to chew..
Mind you, this 'bonus' is not due to be paid for three years, and will be determined by the share price of the bank at that time.. But still, for those on fixed incomes who are struggling to maintain their utilities bills with their grocery bills.. such an 'incentive' is preposterous..

Grey. It's still grey.
Interesting to note, that while crime seems to be on the increase.. the number of Bobbies in England and Wales has fallen, and will continue to fall 'til 2015..
This due of course to government funding cuts, and truth be told, it's the old coppers who are taking the brunt of the redundancies.. Those who have served for 30+ years, and quietly being shuffled out the door..
Still.. they're keeping the numbers up in Scotland and Northern Ireland.. Might be an indication of where they're needed most..

Now what's really rankling the man on the street today, is the announcement from Royal Bank of Scotland.. That Chairman of the Board Steven Hester is to get almost a £million for his part in 'strengthening the banks position and bringing it back to, almost, respectability..
Yet, RBS is owned by the public, at least 82% of it is..
The public is wondering why that million wasn't used to pay down the bank's debt..
Needless to say, banking institutions are not well thought of these days on this Island..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not that much has changed.. there's an ice warning out for most of the Island this morning..
We've been expecting to hear from the government.. and we're not that overwhelmed with the expected announcement that our economy will shrink slightly, or to be more precise, that it had shrunk over this past quarter..
Seems we're at the point, where we just want the government to do something that would show us at least a glim of the light at the end of the trouble. But it would seem that most are canny enough to realize that it wouldn't matter which Party had the reins.. we would still have to endure what fumbling economists come up with to recommend to the Exchequer and hope for the best.
It is of no help, that we're reminded at least three times a week, that emotionally, we're close to the edge.. We're still surprised that we hear, regularly, that some husband has run amok..killing his wife and children before turning the weapon on himself.. People are aware the trick is to walk the tightrope without looking down..
The problem being that there are those who have been walking the high wire for years, and who now find what was once a short fall, has now become an abyss..
We're becoming more insulated. News filters through from the US when Barack does something extraordinary.. We still get reports on what's happening in the EuroZone.. But for the most part, our news consists of local or national stories.. written with the decided twist towards inspiring some brief relief, however fleeting..
There are fewer gathering along the rail at the local these days, with pensions buying less and less for more and more.
But this is Great Britain.. and for the vast majority, it's still an attitude of a 'stiff upper lip'..
There's always the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to look forward to..
Bread and circuses..

Monday, January 02, 2012

A new year.. and we face the same problems. In fact, things are going to get worse before they improve..
As our Prime Minister looks to the upcoming Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to help boost our prospects, reports from think-tanks around the country paint a somewhat gloomier future for some.. Caps being set on housing benefits will leave some of those who depend on the social safety net out in the cold..literally. These changes to the system come into effect over the next few months.
Happy new year.
Mind you, the effects will be phased in as Council tenants come up for their annual rent review.. small comfort for those, especially in Scotland, where those on benefits outweigh those in gainful employment..
And for those who have work and use rail transport to get them to and fro.. will find their fares 11% more expensive, as of today. Passenger Focus Chief executive Anthony Smith points out "report after report.. the government's own McNulty review into the rail industry's costs.. show we have a very inefficient rail industry. The industry costs a lot to run. Those costs are being dumped on passengers, year after year, and we can't keep on doing this.."
Ahhh.. but we will..

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