This is quite intesting. Responding to unprecedented instability and turmoil in the global banking industry, in late Feb the Global Finance magazine published a mid-year update of its top 50 list of banks it considers to be the safest. Usually its update is done yearly.

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Today’s announcement of quantitative easing  – lowering UK’s interest rates to 0.5% accompanied by the decision to print more money – is widely acknowledged to be a total untried gamble and an admission of failure of all previously announced rescue-the-economy measures by the present UK government. It appears it’s the first time this is being tried in the UK, so we don’t know whether this will be successful or a total disaster.

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Over the last couple of days, we really have hit a new low as far as UK government’s incompetence in face of flagrant demonstration of corporate greed goes. I am, of course, talking about the scandalous pension due to be paid to Sir Fred Goodwin, previously the CEO of RBS, and the way the government has been handling this debacle.

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A few weeks back I found this fantastic January 09 article by Norman Lamont. Despite my delay in commenting on it, this type of material is unfortunately set to have a rather long shelf life, unfortunately for us Britons; Gordon Brown is set to wreak further havoc in the economy before the fat lady sings eventually.

Lord Lamont argues that Brown is “like an arsonist posing as a firefighter”. What does he mean by that?

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My other half and I been pondering this very question recently, so it’s quite funny that today the BBC site has an article on this very subject. Our own thoughts on this matter are that yes, it is selfish and not socially responsible given existing pressures on this planet’s resources.

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We’ve been trading since autumn 08 but have been extremely unfortunate in our earlier attempts to secure a great-sounding name for our business. The result of this debacle is that we are now facing the third change of name, which is extremely frustrating, so truly this needs to be the last and decisive choice made that we won’t live to regret.

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Yesterday, four former bosses of UK’s RBS and HBOS (former HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby, former HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson, former RBS CEO Sir Fred Goodwin and former RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop) faced the Treasury Select Committee for a questioning session about their role in the financial meltdown and the disasters that came to befall their banks.

The key snippets of this session, which has been dubbed “the show trial” for all the public apologies it started off with, can be found here.

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Most of us feel that auditors should indeed be worried now. After all, none seem to have been raising any alarms over the extent of bad loans accumulated by major financial institutions, or over risks that banks exposed themselves to through entering into derivatives contracts they claimed they understood but did not. And now many hold auditors at least partially responsible for the ensuing debacle.

For some audit firms, the time of reckoning seems to be approaching fast. However the degree of their concern over legal action will depend on where the firms are operating, and global or US-based firms are at greatest risk of coming under close scrutiny in the courts of law.

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Yesterday was marked by a number of events that all prompted me to think of science, religion, superstition and atheism.

On the one hand, there was an interiew with David Attenbourough on Breakfast where he was talking about his forthcoming programme on Darwin and Evolution. He made an interesting point which I never really thought about before. 

Every religion has a creation myth – whether this is Australian aborigines, an African tribe, Hindu or Hebrews (with Christianity borrowing on the Hebrew myth of Adam and Eve). However prior to Darwin, there was no natural explanation to nature’s unique richness and diversity on our planet, so there was no alternative, non-supernatural view to uphold. In the grand scheme of mankind’s development, it’s a fairly new theory, and as many things new of course it is going to be opposed by some (or many) religious people, as it threatens the very essence of their perception. Read the rest of this entry »

Nationwise released their January market update on the 29th Jan 09.

This report shows that prices have fallen by 19% since they peaked in Oct 2007, including by 16.6% in the last 12 months alone. Although it seems to indicate the rate of decline is slowing down, we have not yet reached the bottom of the cycle because of where the house price to earnings ratio is.

House Price to earnings ratio: Probably the key interesting point in this report is the house price to earnings ratio. The long term average highlighted by Nationwide is 4, with some other sources putting it at 3.5 or maybe even lower. Either way, it is currently around the 5 mark. Read the rest of this entry »

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