I’m a financial idiot – help me out here! Please!

I really don’t get it.

Two days ago we had a budget that will do nothing for this country.

Then, today, we hear that over the first three months of this year, the economy shrank by 1.9% – the biggest  three month decline since 1979.

However, the FTSE had a pretty good day today – up 3.43% and keeping gains that it made during the day which it normally doesn’t seem to do  – and the £ held up pretty well against the $ and the €, finshing about the same as it started today.

Why hasn’t every indicator that we’re in the shit fallen through the floor?

What’s going on?

The UK economy – broken, kaput, fucked and royally screwed by Labour

On a personal level, the Budget yesterday did me no favours at all – tobacco, alcohol and petrol will cost me more, I don’t claim any sort of tax credits, I’m too young to qualify for any winter fuel allowance, etc, etc.

On a national level it failed too.

Oh, it tried to appeal to a certain demographic with the tax rate hike to 50% for those earning over £150K a year, but that will net very little more than bugger all in revenue and scare away some people we could do with in the UK to get us through this unholy mess.

It was a low rent budget by a low rent Chancellor on behalf of a low rent government.

What there is little doubt about is that this country is effectively fucked for about the next decade – higher taxes and reduced public spending are inevitable.

Fuck – we can’t even be sure that, as a nation, we’ll be able to keep our current AAA credit rating.

Meanwhile, crime figures are higher, our schools examination system is in crisis, our MPs continue to jostle at the overflowing troughs of taxpayers’ money, our anti-terrorist squads continue to harass innocent people and now some cock end is planning to stage a musical about the life of Jade Goody.

Sometimes I think that you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried.

Quote of the day – Derek Draper

From Twitter:

hannan is an economically illiterate sideshow

A risibly partisan comment from another barnacle on the hull of Labour’s sinking ship.

Gordon’s crystal balls


We now have a new government web site that’s going to save all our sorry asses.

It’s called realhelpnow.gov.uk.

I gather from sources close to Number 10 that the first choice of name was howthefuckcanwegetre-elected?.gov.uk but it was rejected as it had too many letters for the average net user to cope with…

Here’s the preamble to get you in the mood for all the lies, bullshit, condescension, vacillation and false optimism that is to follow:

Many people are asking how we found ourselves in this economic crisis, how we are going to get out of it and what the future is going to hold. I want to explain to people how this crisis, which started in America, has developed – and reassure people that Britain can come out of this stronger and fairer than before.

Talk about passing the buck.

On this evidence the esteemed Gordon Brown could pass a fucking grand piano if he strained hard enough.

It’s nothing to do with us, it was that big boy who ran away!

Some of this crack-induced, delusory rambling is quite entertaining.

Want to know how we got ‘here’ over the last 10 years?

…we are so much more interdependent and connected than ever before. It’s not just something that’s happened in banking – it’s everything from the amount of its income Tesco now gets from its stores in other countries to the kids here who play Xbox with strangers in Korea to the fact people are texting photos from family weddings from their phones to relatives on the other side of the world.

Never mind paedophiles grooming children on the net, happy slap mobile phone videos on YouTube, Nigerian email scams and online bingo…

Want to know how we’re going to get ‘out of here’?

…every investment we make is about building a fairer future. We’re committed to creating a digital Britain, to low carbon technologies, and we’re investing in the creative industries, in advanced technologies and science, in new manufacturing, pharmaceuticals.

We also want to see the renewal of the financial services sector – Britain has been a world leader in financial services, and at the hub of Europe, and as the sector recovers we want Britain to be a leader in its renewal. All of these industries are knowledge-based, talent-based industries, which is why it’s vital we invest in people.

Ah, the very same financial sector that’s done us proud over the last decade?

Want to gaze all dewy-eyed into Gordon’s crystal balls?

For years we have wanted to create a low carbon economy – now we cannot afford not to, so we need to build that economy of tomorrow today. For years we have been pledging to increase development assistance and deliver on the millennium development goals. And now we know our global recovery will not be sustainable unless it benefits the poorest and provides them with the tools to build their way to a more prosperous tomorrow – and to do so today.

This is the great economic bargain of the modern era. In this new age of global dependence, the world will work best only when the world works together.

And if on the road to the G20 the world works together; the global deal that will mark our destination can truly bring sustainable recovery and growth for us all.

Note the bolder text, as on the web site.



Tory speaks sense?

I’m not sure exactly what the Tories would have brought to the biggest fire sale in UK banking history if they’d been calling the shots, but it has to be said that that old pro Kenneth Clarke isn’t wrong.

I’m not a Tory myself.

I’m one of the fuckskulls who voted Labour in all of the last three elections in the mistaken belief that they were what this country needed and that they would adhere to at least a few socialist principles.

How utterly fucking wrong I was.

People who saw a radical alternative to the Tory policies which deepened divisons in society, destroyed our manufacturing base and saw increasing erosion of individual rights were done up like kippers.

We were conned, with pledge after pledge being dropped from successive manifestos, a proliferation of restrictions on civil liberties and participation in illegal military actions from which we could never hope to emerge with any shred of integrity or dignity.

And all the while we were the US’s bitch and Blair was Bush’s fuckbuddy.

So, how I’ll vote in the next election is going to be a real problem…

Anyway, I actually quite like Ken Clarke.

He seems one of the more ‘human’ Tories and anyone who’s a big jazz fan, praises Miles, smokes and wears suede shoes can’t be a complete waste of oxygen.

Here’s the gist of what he had to say:

Mr Clarke said a Federation of Small Businesses survey suggested only 8% of small firms found banks had made credit available under the guarantees.

He also said, “They (HBOS and Lloyds TSB) should never have been allowed to merge. Lloyds TSB was a boring bank, it was a steady bank, it hadn’t done silly things.”

The FSB survey that more than half (53%) of small businesses said they did not believe the government’s policies would get banks lending again.

Mr Clarke said it was “frightening” that ministers were “dithering” over implementation, he told the BBC’s Today programme.

He said there was a “huge gap” between Treasury rhetoric and reality.

“I am just astonished that no-one appears to have had the discussions with the banks about the operation of the scheme from the day it was proposed,” Mr Clarke added.

His point about the lack of wisdom behind the merger of the two banks is a very valid one.

It’s like putting putrid meat and fresh meat together in a stew – it’s going to fuck the whole issue up as the fresh meat will be ruined and the rotten meat was ruined anyway – and suddenly the decision of Barclays to remain independent from any taxpayer bail out looks even more sensible.

There’s lots of talk about toxic assets and toxic banks – what about toxic governments?

That’s the problem.

Disregarding Labour’s past record, is it really the party that is going to get us out of the shit we’re in?

I don’t think the jury’s out on that one.

I think they’ve gone home, sold up and emigrated…

Tony Blair – limbo champion?

Sitting, as most of us are, amongst a set of circumstances that one might rightly describe as ‘pretty fucked up’ it’s tempting to wonder how things have got to this stage.

Here we are suffering one of the most serious economic declines ever, witnessing child abuse of an unimaginable nature, watching all manner of people bomb, shoot, kill and maim each other from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and, for many of us, seeing a steady erosion of personal liberty in the name of immigration control and terrorist alerts.

I’m not going to begin to attempt any sort of all-encompassing explanation as to how we’ve got where we are today, but I do have a largely unanswered question that’s been troubling me for a while now that could shed some light on one of the chief problems facing us.

Did Tony Blair see economic decline coming before he left office and to what extent has he avoided any blame for it?

As far as I can ascertain, very few members of the UK’s or the world’s press or media have addressed this question.

So, now it’s my turn…

Putting aside the bitching, the agreements, the disagreements, the broken promises and the in camera meetings that Blair and his successor Brown indulged in, it became pretty clear that the plum job of PM that Brown coveted so fervently was, in fact, a poisoned apple and only a brief  ‘honeymoon’ period ensued before Brown found this out.

For most of Blair’s premiership the economic situation seemed to be very rosy.

Inflation was low, employment was relatively high and many ordinary people felt secure and reasonably prosperous.

That perception was at odds with the reality of the divide between rich and poor ever widening and what we now know to be a festering bubble of over-reliance on credit waiting to burst, but that’s sort of my point.

Many of us thought things were fine and no-one in government bothered to tell us that maybe it wasn’t after all.

Now, Brown was in charge of the economy as Chancellor from the landslide victory of Labour in 1997 to when he took over from Blair as PM so it’s tempting to blame him. I think we should. Whether he knew how serious things were becoming in the domestic and global economies over that 10 year period or whether he didn’t doesn’t really matter.

If he knew, then why didn’t he do something about it?

If he didn’t know, then why didn’t he know?

There’s a clear choice here between negligence and ignorance – neither of which are qualities you’d want in a junior accounts clerk, let alone the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But, and here’s the crucial question, where was Blair whilst this was going on?

Did he simply let Gordon ‘get on with it’ or did he know from meetings with his Chancellor that there was trouble brewing?

Again, the choice is clear – ignorance or negligence – neither of which are qualities you’d want in a boy scout leader, let alone the Prime Minister.

So, to sum up the answer to the first part of my initial question – it doesn’t really matter whether or not he saw economic decline coming.

Either way he fucked up big time.

On to part two – to what extent has he avoided blame for catastrophic ignorance or negligence?

Well, it has to be said that Teflon Tony’s done a pretty thorough job of leaving No. 10 and finding suitable employment – he’s the UN’s Middle East envoy, he’s received a Yale University fellowship, consultancy jobs in two banks and is a potential candidate for the EC Presidency.

He’s believed to be earning about £7 million a year.

In an astonishing twist of irony, last week US President Bush awarded Blair with a Presidential medal for, amongst other things, his role in the War on Terror and, in the very same week, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband had an article published in the Guardian saying that the War on Terror was a mistake.

If that isn’t a fucked-up state of affairs, I don’t know what is.

It’s also an indirect criticism by Miliband of his old boss who supported Bush through all the WMD, 45 minute warning, and ‘Help, I’m living next door to a Muslim, get him out of here’ bollocks.

(I’m not even going to start tearing into the duplicity of Miliband who supported Blair’s decisions regarding the whole terrorist/Iraqi invasion issue and then suddenly had his recent ‘Damascus’ moment…)

Apart from this, however, where are the searching questions about Blair’s part in the downfall of the UK’s economy?

I don’t hear them coming from the very people who should be asking them – our journalists in the press and the media.

No, Tony’s got off scot-free with his future well sorted and his reputation, whilst not regarded with fondness by many, at least more or less intact.

There are many people in the UK today who won’t shed a single tear when Margaret Thatcher pops her clogs – she was responsible for the decline of our manufacturing sector which we’d die to have right now and she did her utmost to destroy our perception of society that gave it a certain cohesion that is lacking today.

Indeed there are many who’d queue to piss on her grave.

For what it’s worth I don’t think that Tony’s quite achieved that status yet.

However, I can only fervently hope that history will not be kind to him after he surfed into government like a golden boy on the waves of our hopes and dreams – after years of Tory malpractice – reneged on almost every Socialist principle people voted him in on and then buggered off after making a complete fuck-up of our economy whether through ignorance or negligence.

And as for Blair and the limbo, our Tony can get down so low that he can duck under anything.

Only time will tell whether he eventually goes down too low and ends up disappearing up his own arse.

I defy the guy to come up smelling of roses then…

Late addition…

I won’t say I’ve researched this very deeply but it seems clear after some cursory Googling that it was pretty clear from the way the US Federal Reserve started to slash its interest rates from early 2007 that all the signs of a US and hence an ensuing UK recession were all there well before Blair announced his forthcoming resignation.

Lest this be seen as letting Brown off the hook, George Soros – who’s been known to be right on many occasions – recommended that the Bank of England cut interest rates as early as January 2008.

I think it’s now pretty certain that we had over 18 months to get ready for the financial shitstorm that erupted in September 2008 but we appear to have done nothing about it. OK, maybe we couldn’t have avoided it altogether but maybe we could have been better situated to ride it out better than we are doing at present.

Tony…Gordon…you really fucked things up.

VAT’ll do nicely?

Is reducing VAT on ‘non-essential’ goods from 17.5% to 15% really going to do any good?

Say I see an mp3 player I fancy that retails at £100 plus VAT today – that’ll cost me £117.50. If VAT then gets reduced to 15% then it’ll cost me £115.

Is that going to make me wait to buy it?

Is that going to make me continue spending my money on high VAT-rated items?

I think not.

Given that Alistair Darling has stated that if you give money to the poorest people then they’re more likely to spend it – and I find that not only cynical, but deeply offensive – wouldn’t it be better to give them more money via tax credits, for example, that they’re more likely to spend?

David Cameron’s recent comment on the government’s measures to rescue the economy made me laugh:

‘The government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other’

No change there then…