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Category Archives: Business & the economy

The Chancers autumn statement…

I thought we were in the winter by now? It starts on the 1st December, which makes it all the odder since the winter equinox is a couple of weeks away. Whilst on the subject of timing and stuff you’ll have heard the BBC claiming that this year is likely to be one of the warmest years on record. It will be, but only because the satellite record started in 1998.

Back to topic if there is such a thing anyway…

Chancer Gideon Osborne stood up and ranted on for a while about how well the UK was doing and how we were well on the mend to normality. We were one of the fastest growing economies, employment was up and we would get tax reductions and various wee tempting things to make us smile.

Within a few hours the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published a paper rubbishing the Chancers claims. Oh dear. And an election coming up fairly soon. Not helpful. Now the Chancer and the sub-prime minister really like the IFS. They really, really liked it during the run up to the Scottish Independence vote. I bet they aren’t as keen on them now?

It was also interesting to hear that the Chancer was going to set up a Sovereign Fund for Manchester and that general area, based on fracking income. Most countries in the world, who have oil or other such resources within their borders have similar arrangements. Texas, for example, gets to keep a lot of the taxes collected on oil extraction and refining.

In Scotland we get zip. Worse than that we don’t actually get to know how much taxation has been taken on the 95% of the oil which is in Scottish territorial waters. We don’t know how much taxation in general goes into the Westminster pot. Could it be because WM doesn’t want us to know? Could it be that the 95% of the oil which, lies in the Scottish waters part of the UK has been propping up governments since the Queen turned the taps on?

It looks very likely that WM will make life very difficult for Scotland and try to make sure that the SNP and the whole idea of independence won’t ever be a possibility again. Until, of course, the oil has gone

Just one mention of Liebore. Yesterday at First Ministers question time Mr Grey from Liebore stood up and, with a large smile on his face, stated that it was a good job that the Scottish people had rejected independence since they could now see how volatile oil prices could be. Yes he smiled. Another nail in the coffin of the Labour Party in Scotland.

What joy.

 

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Education, education, education…

I’ve written many times about education as it is close to my heart and also because our country requires the education system to deliver the skills and knowledge which will drive it in the future.

There is a major disconnect within education and of course a general dumbing down of curriculums. Apparently primary school children arrive at secondary schools without achieving the correct level of attainment required to begin the secondary curriculum. When students arrive at Universities they also have not achieved the correct level of attainment required to begin their chosen subject. When students arrive at their new employers they also have not achieved the correct level of attainment required to begin their chosen job. Ho hum…

Then we have the “universities” which used to be “colleges”. I’m not altogether sure what they actually achieve although they must? How easy is it now to gain a degree from these establishments?

Our “learners”, up to the end of secondary, are incredibly negative about their education. Their education gets in the way of their lives and the things they want to pursue. I’d imagine a part of this is down to maturity or the lack of it.

The system lets everyone in education down and that includes teachers. That is a great pity. Some learners manage just fine and go on to wonderful careers, the middle of the group manage despite educational hurdles and the bottom scrape by and mark time until they are “released”.

My own definition of the success of education goes like this – if driving past a school at 7.00 am there would be a queue at the gates by pupils and some teachers who were desperate to get into school to get access to learn as much as they could. The same would be the case if driving past a school in the early evening. Again pupils would be still there working on their own initiative to gain as much knowledge etc. as they possibly could.

Not like the Korean system and also not like Mr Goves vision which is based on an independent model obviously.

That’s fine as far as it goes but what next? The learners are required to select a career, which they feel suitably enthused about and which will maintain their chosen lifestyle as they see fit. Here lies probably the biggest disconnect.

If someone decides they want to become a surveyor for example they take the course at university, which will give them the qualifications they need. Then they will then apply for surveyor type jobs. That makes perfect sense does it not? Well no actually it doesn’t.

The universities and colleges might churn out hundreds of surveyors who end up chasing much fewer jobs. There is no current system, which matches supply, to demand and the tragedy of this is that we are dealing with human beings not goods and services.

Presently we end up with people having degrees and expecting to be employed in a discipline that they have been trained in. This is a further problem because the universities and colleges suggest to their students that they are more than capable of carrying out the work and they will be given jobs because they have the right qualifications. Again the real world demonstrates that this is much less the case.

Sorting out education is a major task and it goes well beyond just the education system as it presently stands now.

There is much more that could and should be done.

The question is what can we do about it?

 

 

 

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Real money and independence.

This might be a bit of a winding path article but I’m sure you’ll stay with me. This is an important topic although you won’t have heard much about it.

There was recent programme on BBC, which almost but not quite mentioned the “Bradbury Pound”. That nice chap, Jeremy Paxman, started his new series about the First World War a few weeks ago and episode one covered the run up to war being declared.

He mentioned that, just a few days prior to the declaration being made the UK banking sector came close to collapse. That’ll sound familiar to you will it not? We are still suffering from the most recent collapse! Nothing changes.

However, in this case things did change. Jeremy informed us that a collapse was imminent and a run on the banks had begun, people queued to change their bank notes into gold. Luckily though a Bank Holiday was on the cards and duly went ahead. The government then extended the bank holiday by a further three days, followed by the banks re-opening and providing bank customers with “Bradbury” treasury notes.

The Bradbury pound (so named because of the signatory on each pound and ten shillings note) became legal tender. The notes were backed by Acts of Parliament and were unique as their value was secured on the value of the UK’s assets. At the same time these notes provided their monetary value with NO INTEREST. Money used to buy goods and services using the Bradbury pound did not attract interest.

I would have thought that Jeremy would have covered this incredible step, but, alas no he didn’t. He might also have gone on to say that the use of Bradbury pounds would have avoided the huge debts, which were run up fighting the First World War. Then he might have also said that the bankers managed to get the government to agree to withdraw Bradburys so they could get back to lending money and making huge monies from it in the form of interest.

Now the independence part. The Bank of England and wee Georgie Osbourne have spoken and said that Scotland can’t have a currency union with the rest of the UK. Sounds good to me. But Scotland will have shares in the Bank of England which would be recouped to Scotland the desolution of the UK. But who really knows who owns the Bank of England?

Apparently those who know aren’t telling. Are you also aware that the City of London is a completely seperate state? As is the Vatican and an area within Washington?

Are you also aware that almost every country in the world has a central bank run, not by the politicians, but by the Rothchilds? Iran, North Korea and Cuba don’t, and if Scotland goes for it’s own currency neither would we although that list of other countries isn’t enticing.

So how about a Scottish Bradbury (we could call it he Goodwin for fun) pound equivalent and a central bank outwith Rothchilds control? No interest loans. How much money would that put back into peoples pockets and help grow the economy which in turn would help pay for all those good works that so many people seem to want to do following independence?

In ending may I also suggest that in the USA “greenbacks” had also become currency for a number of years following the civil war. I’ll leave you with this thought. It some peoples minds the death of Abraham Lincoln was connected to the issue and use of greenbacks.

Who knows where the truth lies.

 

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Living up to their name…

I watched an episode of Dragons Den a couple of weeks ago. I think it was the first episode of the new series.

It was shocking. There were five dragons sitting with their “wad” a la BBC and various entrepreneurs wafted in and out again either with a promise of money and support or not. It was like a financial version of “Big Brother”, I’m a celebrity” and “The X Factor”. Just shocking.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some real “white knights” who are keen to support promising people or people with promising products/services. Most of them had lots of money which they’d made over a number of years and many of them saw it as their duty to re-invest some of that money back into business and commerce.

Not one, that I came across, were anything like the Dragons. Big egos sure, but generally good men and women.

Obviously the BBC pitch it as they see fit. It’s surprising though that the dragons may at times, and I’m being gentle here, be a bit rude, look down on people, be slightly arrogant, etc. etc. etc.

The first guy to pitch didn’t do a good job but he was ridiculed for his trouble. Others followed. They knew their numbers but there were flaws or there wasn’t enough money in it for the dragons, or the dragons thought the concept being pitched to be ridiculous.

They did offer deals to support the idea and the people behind a couple of times. But the deal is always slanted towards the dragons advantage.

I would have thought that the dragons would remember times in the past when they didn’t have as much as they do now. There must have been times when they went to their bank manager and he wouldn’t play ball, or they needed to win an important client and they couldn’t even get a few minutes to make their pitch etc. etc. etc..

It might make good television for people who don’t know how business and commerce works but it is pretty brutal for those who do.

I worked with a very well know entrepreneur who had made huge amounts of money. In his early career he’d been selling goods from franchises in a large department store with many branches. One day one of the main buyers asked him to go see him. He turned up and the buyer suggested that he got as much of the money that was owed to him as quickly as possible.

A few weeks later the store went bust leaving him with a £3000 loss, which he never got back. He had saved his bacon though and was able to go onto bigger and better things. Why did the buyer tell him to chase his money? Because the buyer liked him and liked the way he did business.

Do any of the dragons strike you as being that type of entrepreneur?

Even if they are acting in a way that the BBC likes?

I don’t think so.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in BBC, Business & the economy

 

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The truth about money.

I read blogs as well as write them. I’ve kind of stopped doing the “issues of the moment” type of blogs but if you are a regular reader of my drivel you’ll have noticed that.

I tend to visit a number of blogs each day including Captain Ranty. He had post about voting NO in the Scottish Independence Referendum, mainly because the SNP want to stay in the EU. It’s very, very likely that the SNP may not be able to make such decisions, which will include keeping the pound, the queen, NATO, windmills etc., but I digress.

Anyway, within a few days he had another post, which was about banks and money. One of the comments provided a link to a video website and specifically to videos which laid out how the money system actually works.

The link is http://hiddensecretsofmoney.com.

I would encourage you to visit the site and to watch each of the 4-5 episodes.

Captain Ranty and others have tried very hard to bring how the money system works into the public domain. At face value that doesn’t seem to be an interesting thing to do or to read about.

If I were to tell you that banks create the numbers on their computer screens for the amounts you borrow would that be a surprise or would it shock you? The banks charge interest on money that they brought into existence meaning that you haven’t actually borrowed any money (because it wasn’t there in the first place) but they make you pay interest on it.

The videos are pretty clear and informative. I have no reason to believe they are anything other than legitimate.

At some point however, the present system will crash because it’s a ponzi or a pyramid con.

When it does it won’t be pleasant.

Maybe Dave from Dave’s Bank should do a programme on it?

 

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The plight of the High Street.

 

Remember Xmas? You rushed about like a loony, bought a large amount of stuff, food and presents. You may also have had decorating and other stuff going on in your house. All in all it’s a busy time.

How much money did you spend on petrol and parking fees? A fair bit? Or did you use the bus or train?

At chez moi things were fairly calm. The work on the outside of the house finished early December and the Xmas decorations went up in about 15 minutes. Without being aware of it we did almost all our Xmas shopping on-line. It was just so much easier to sit at the Mac and press keys.

We went to Costco for foodstuff and I went to Hopetoun House Farm Shop for some goodies. It was a cold day but I braved it on the Harley. Our meat and such like came frozen solid via a butchers in Aberdeen or thereabouts.

I feel sure that a lot of you would have done similar.

You’ll also be aware of the drop on profits from a lot of the High Street stores. Debenhams seemed to suffer more than most and blamed it on not having as good an on-line service as their competitors. M&S grew but, as it has been recently, it was their food part that carried the rest.

A few years ago it was HMV who were suffering. A week or so ago I was in HMV and their music part was closing down. It wasn’t a good experience; it felt like I was raking over the bones. I felt for the staff that wouldn’t be employed by HMV for very much longer.

With the demise of HMV there isn’t a lot of choice as far buying music is concerned.  The number of independent record shops has fallen dramatically although a bit of a comeback has been unfolding as vinyl makes a fashionable return.

Now we download music either on a renting basis or we have it in a digital format and it’s the same for movies. Apple, Amazon and others have been making a very nice living out of selling bits rather than atoms.

Then there are books. I used to have a strategy, which I used when buying books. I’d go to a bookshop and peruse the latest offerings usually laid out on tables. I’d look at the covers and then read the synopsis before buying three books. That would keep me going for a while before I repeated it. Now I rarely go into bookshops and if I do I don’t buy any I download them onto my mini ipad.

I don’t think that this change is going to come to an end anytime soon. Amazon delivers food and all sorts now and they are very competitive. How will Debenhams get back on course? Who will be next to miss their profitability targets? What is the secret of the universe? 42!!!!!

 

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Dave’s Bank with a twist.

Dave was back on TV a few days ago. I watched the programme because I think Dave has identified more than a few points, which could well be important in the greater scheme of things.

Not content with starting a bank, which is a local bank for local people, that provides loans and general banking services Dave is looking at other financial “products”. It looks as if Dave’s Bank is being very successful and it harks back to a time when there were a lot of local savings banks etc. which were more personal and much, much, much less corporate and distant than they are now.

My first real job in the mid to late 1970s was working for a bank. I joined at 18 and did all the usual stuff that new recruits did which was serving the public at the counter and doing various admin jobs. After I’d been there for a while I noticed that the banks customers were probably not taking as much benefits from their banking activities than they could do. I didn’t mention it to anyone but it was apparent that the customers were, for the most part being kept in the dark about what benefits they could get, some of which would be financially beneficial.

Banks services have deteriorated over time and they are now at a pretty low ebb. We are all suffering for the mess the banks made. It wasn’t the fault of the vast majority of the staff; it was of course the more senior managers and their roulette game staff.

Dave has been doing pretty well providing loans for local people and businesses and in due course he has become aware of the activities of the pay day loan companies who have sprung up everywhere. You’ll have seen the ads and the ridiculous interest rates some of which are over 2000%.

It turns out that a lot of these loan companies are owned by very large USA financial organisations. Dave tried to get to meet some of the people running the pay day loan companies and found that he couldn’t. The addresses they provided were forwarding addresses and everything they did was on-line so no chance of speaking to an actual human then.

Some of the pay day loans that some people in his area and beyond had taken out, hadn’t gone well. They had borrowed a small amount, which became a very, very, very big amount. In fact as we all realise that’s the way these people make their money. They are set up to ensure that people don’t pay the amount they are supposed to and get into default with the huge interest amounts making things very serious in a very short time.

It’s very obvious that some of these pay day loan companies perhaps don’t trade as ethics might require. Of course they should be regulated and it would seem that they are in fact operating outwith current lending regulations as things stand.

The Government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are doing something about it but it is happening very slowly. In the meantime peoples lives are being damaged and whilst it’s easy don’t take the loans then it’s not so easy if the people who do are desperate.

Dave set a fund of £25,000 to provide pay day loans to his local community and every penny he lent was repaid. That might not be the case in the future.

His request to those who were borrowing was – “Ill lend you the money and if you don’t pay it back it will mean that I’ll not be able to help someone just like you or your sister/brother/Mum/Dad etc. in the future”.

 

 

 

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