Sunday 29 May 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011 Posted by Jake 1 comment Labels: , , ,
Unremitting doom and gloom in this blog would get anyone down. A little while ago we celebrated a salesman who is on our side – the estate agent. It’s time to cheer ourselves up again, that we Ripped-Off Britons aren’t being vindictively picked on. We should remember that Britain doesn’t only rip-off Britons. Britain has for centuries had an enriching tradition of offshore private, or should that be pirate, enterprise. Britain rips-off our foreign brethren as well as us ordinary Britons.

Like a mother doting on her wicked children, the British Government over the centuries has licensed pirates, sailing under the euphemism of ‘privateer’, to loot Spanish treasure ships, and incorporated private companies to invade foreign countries. The private British East India Company invaded India, and the Virginia Company took the first colonising steps into North America. “What can you do?” says Mother Britain with faux-exasperation, “Pirates will be pirates.”

Anyone who thinks this is all ancient history has missed the still thriving ‘offshore fleet’ of our financial services industry.
  • HMS Antigua
  • HMS Bermuda
  • HMS British Virgin Islands
  • HMS Cayman Islands
  • HMS Gibraltar,
  • HMS Turks and Caicos Islands
  • HMS Guernsey
  • HMS Isle of Man
  • HMS Jersey

“HMS” of course standing for Her Majesty’s Shifty Cayman Islands etc. Sir Francis Drake (picture courtesy of New York Public Library, would be spinning in his grave, knowing his heirs purloin vast foreign treasure showing no more derring-do, no more courage, than facing dinner schmoozing a tax dodger of tedious conversational skills. For what else are tax havens for, other than to deprive countries of their tax revenues. Just the same as Sir Francis and his fellow sea-dogs who were licensed by the British Government to deprive the King of Spain of his treasure.

Friday 27 May 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , ,
Chris, Fee and KJ discuss the NHS's infamous patient IT system

rip-off rip off aircraft carrier patient care record system

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , ,

KJ seeks to exploit the airlines as volcanic disruption looms

Iceland volcanic ash cloud airports airlines holiday travel disrupts flights cancellations UK grounds

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , ,
Will the moribund housing market bring a change in dinner party conversation?

Sunday 22 May 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011 Posted by Jake 1 comment Labels: , , , , , , ,
The Centre for Policy Studies, a leading think tank, has proposed that the UK Government should hand its stake in Lloyds and RBS to the citizen taxpayers. If this happens then, for the first time in decades, a bank would actually be majority owned by ‘small shareholders’. The banks would only accept this if the shares were handed over without any voting rights, for fear of what would ensue at their Annual General Meetings (AGM).

AGMs are traditionally stitched up between the big financial companies who hold the bulk of one another’s shares in the pension and investment funds they manage on our behalf. Scratching one another’s backs, they follow an iron-clad policy of “no pay package left behind”. I'll vote for your package if you vote for mine.

One reason for the Government’s hurry to get rid of its shares in RBS and Lloyds is holding them is so embarrassing – showing up the fact that all its heroic talk about reining in excessive pay is nothing but hot air. No more evidence is needed than the dismal performance of UK Financial Investments Limited (UKFI), the government body that manages the shareholdings, at the RBS and the Lloyds Banking Group Annual General Meetings in the last month.
If one more shareholder had voted against the Lloyds Banking Group’s executive pay proposal then there would have been a 49.11% against. As it was, the contrarians mustered just 8.11%. If one shareholder had voted against the RBS executive pay then it would have been thrown out. Who was this weighty shareholder? The UK government, with its 41% stake in Lloyds Banking Group, and its 83% in RBS bank.

“Payment for Performance” – what does it actually mean? These are the details of how performance is rated, taken from the Lloyds Banking Group’s Annual Report:

Lloyds Banking Group, allocation of bonuses in the form of share options (which allow executives to buy shares at subsidised prices):
  • Options granted up to March 2001: “Lloyds Banking Group plc’s ranking based on total shareholder return (calculated by reference to both dividends and growth in share price) over the relevant period should be in the top fifty companies of the FTSE 100.” You have to come in worse than fiftieth out of a hundred to lose your bonus.
  • Options granted from August 2001 to August 2004: “The performance condition was linked to the performance of Lloyds Banking Group plc’s total shareholder return… against the comparator group was required to be at least ninth.”  There were 17 companies in the comparator group.  Come in ninth out of seventeen, and you were in the money.
  • Options granted in 2005: “the performance condition was linked to the performance of Lloyds Banking Group plc’s total shareholder return… If Lloyds Banking Group was ranked below the median (ninth or below) the options would lapse.”  There were 15 companies in this comparator group – so long as Lloyds was better than ninth position, they were in the money.

Friday 20 May 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
But it's not as bad as it sounds

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
Fee convinces KJ that CEOs aren't worth their huge salaries

Monday 16 May 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , ,
Chris and his wife find a way to make all family members contribute to household bills

Sunday 15 May 2011

The financial competence of Gordon Brown, the former Chancellor and Prime Minister until the ejection of the Labour government in 2010, was exposed with hindsight by his government’s failures in protecting the British economy from the Credit Crisis that started in 2008. However, the evidence of financial dizziness in the rarefied atmosphere he once sucked up was there in his earlier statements.

When, in 2008, Brown was pushing for a long-term pay settlement with public sector workers, he stated

It seemed that Brown hadn’t got to the chapter in his economics book that would have taught him: it is not only certainty on your pay that provides stability, it is certainty on the cost of your bills. To be charitable we must assume this was simply too difficult for Brown to comprehend – as the alternative would be that he was being, shall we say, misleading. 

The Bank of England’s own inflation projection – its estimate of what inflation is likely to be over the next few years – shows that nobody really has much idea where inflation is going. Bank of England estimates for the next few years show inflation is likely to be anything between –0.5% and 4.5%.

Just as Labour pulled a fast one with inflation back in 2008, so are the Conservatives in 2011 with their change in the indexation of pensions from a link with the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Friday 13 May 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Chris turns the tables on an energy salesman who won't take no for an answer

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , ,
Chris, Fee and KJ pay their respects to the PPI victims
UK banks won't appeal ruling to compensate customers missold payment protection insurance, Lloyds to settle PPI claims, PPI: 'Banks behaved disgustingly', Coming up: Jan. PPI, housing starts, Payment protection insurance complaints still rising, US core PPI falls in Oct, largest drop in 4 yrs, Payment protection insurance sale curbs approved

Monday 9 May 2011

Monday, May 09, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Fee and KJ discuss the Greek situation, with another bailout on the horizon
Germany powers eurozone economic surge
Portugal learns terms for $115 billion bailout
Osborne: eurozone crisis shows dangers to UK
Portugal seeks EU bailout
Portugal closer to bailout
Eurozone leaders meet to bolster euro
Eurozone retail sales up for first time since July

Sunday 8 May 2011

Sunday, May 08, 2011 Posted by Jake 6 comments Labels: , ,
Is investing in the stock market all it’s cracked up to be? Judging by this rocketing graph, it would seem so. But take a closer look and you will see how you can get ripped off by investing via a “Structured Product”. The worm on the Structured Product hook is the promise that you can invest in a risky market, but if even the worst happens you are guaranteed to get your money back.

“Structured Products” are yet another method used to bamboozle the public. In the last decade there has been an avalanche of products promising returns running into the tens and hundreds of percent with minimal risk. These have included investments such as “Equity Bonds” that promise the “chilli-hot” returns of the equity markets. These come not just from known shysters like the big high street banks and building societies, but even from our own dear United Kingdom government’s NS&I (National Savings and Investments):

The agents of the Chancellor are perhaps not quite so shameless as those in the City, as NS&I haven’t been issuing these bonds since the election last year. But for the majority of us, who sometimes get a whiff of rumours that there are chilli-hot returns available from investing in shares, there are a multitude of similar rip-offs on offer from other providers.

The weasel words for this kind of bond are “may not get as high a return as they might through investing directly in the stock market” and  “will not be eligible for dividends”

Friday 6 May 2011

Friday, May 06, 2011 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , ,
After a historic victory over the banks on mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), our heroes discover why the FSA is now investigating the banks' newest idea: ID Theft Insurance

[KEYWORDS: Three million bank customers ripped off over payment protection insurance in line for payouts worth £4.5bn after High Court victory, Payment protection insurance complaints still rising
Payment protection insurance sale curbs approved, Payment protection insurance complaints soar
Lloyds stops selling payment protection insurance, Complaints over payment protection insurance on the rise, says FOS, New rules on payment protection insurance are delayed, PPI, refund, compensation, rip-off
income protection, income protection insurance, ppi, redundancy insurance, unemployment insurance, mortgage payment protection, mortgage protection insurance, mortgage protection, mortgage insurance]

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Fee comes up with a novel political solution.

[KEYWORDS: UK Votes 'No' To Alternative Vote, Alternative Vote 'Would Have Kept Brown In', David Cameron ignores calls to rearrange alternative vote referendum over royal wedding date Electoral reform: The case for alternative vote Alternative Vote: the wrong referendum on the wrong question What exactly is fairer about the Alternative Vote? Would the alternative vote have changed history?]

Sunday 1 May 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , ,
Forget whether “First Past The Post” or “Alternative Vote” is the best way for you to elect your politicians. With the imminent referendum on the voting system in the UK, politicians, journalists, activists, and even ordinary voters interested enough to have any opinion at all are focusing on the procedure of “elections”. Getting terribly heated, calling each other rotters and liars, threatening legal action for dishonesty in politics (!), they are being successfully distracted from the real issue. Not "Elections", but “Ejections”.

The question should be, “What is the most effective way to eject our politicians”. In short, “First Past The Post” is probably the most effective Ejection System for the very same reasons it is a poor Election System. Just as an MP doesn’t need more than 50% of the vote to get elected, his opponent doesn’t need more than 50% to boot him out.

Reforming the Election System is as futile as reforming the shape of clouds. Clouds form to other winds than your or my whistling. “Elections” are stitched up long before it comes to Election Day, and the stitching continues in a continuous seam long after that day. Stitched up not in the result, but in the choice.

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