UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from MacroScope:

Crisis? What Crisis?

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The title of this post is taken from two sources. One was a headline in British tabloid, The Sun, in January 1979, when then-prime minister James Callaghan denied that strike-torn Britain was in chaos. The second was the title of a 1975 album by prog rock band Supertramp that famously showed someone sunbathing amidst the grey awfulness of the declining industrial landscape.

Are we now getting blasé about the latest crisis? Not so long ago, perfectly respectable economists and financial analysts were talking about a new Great Depression. The world was on the brink, it was said. Now, though, consensus appears to be that it is all over bar the shouting. The world is safe.

Wealth managers at Barclays have gone as far as telling their clients to get over it.

Move past the crisis .... The past year's events were deeply traumatic for most investors, but now is the time to move on, and take a more "business as usual" approach ...."

from The Great Debate UK:

When firms “Too Big to Fail” fall

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Amid the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis a myriad of events unfolded that the general public knew nothing about, writes New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin in a new book titled "Too Big to Fail."

Wall Street fell from the dizzying heights of good fortune to calamity in a matter of months. To a large degree it's still to early to tell whether financiers and politicians involved made the right choices.

from The Great Debate UK:

Bank hedges bets with QE expansion

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BRITAIN-BANK/RATESWhen the Bank of England decided to expand its quantitative easing policy by 25 billion pounds to 200 billion on Thursday, it was essentially hedging its bets.

After Britain's economy shrank unexpectedly in the third quarter, and with two thirds of the City expecting an expansion to the QE programme, simply shutting off the tap of government bond purchases would risk being more of a shock than the economy could bear.

from The Great Debate UK:

Why is the UK still in recession when the U.S. isn’t?

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Recent U.S.  gross domestic product data show the world's biggest economy emerged from recession in the third quarter, while in the UK data show that in the same period Britain's economy contracted.

British economist and author John Kay theorizes that Britain is mired in its worst recession on record in part because government support has not been evenly distributed across sectors.

from The Great Debate UK:

Can emissions be tackled without Copenhagen deal?

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Even if a deal is reached among political delegates at the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, it is unlikely to set out specific emission targets, says Mike Hulme, author of "Why We Disagree About Climate Change" and a professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

"What we've done with climate change is to attach so many pressing environmental concerns to the climate change agenda that trying to secure a negotiated multilateral agreement between 190 nations is actually beyond the reach of what we can achieve," he argues.

from Global Investing:

Global FTSE 100 shrugs off parochial UK GDP data

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Britain's FTSE 100 seems to be almost impervious to any bad data that can be thrown at it. GDP data shocked the market showing the UK unexpectedly contracted in the third quarter.

Sterling tumbled more than a cent against the greenbackand gilts jumped while the FTSEurofirst 300 pan-European equity index trimmed gains considerably.

Clouds of change: Buzzwords from conference season

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dave1Opposition leader David Cameron has delivered his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester.******Cameron told delegates there would be “painful” cuts in public spending, promised to send more troops to Afghanistan and stressed the importance of confronting “Labour’s debt crisis.” He also pledged to modernise the pension system, “break the cycle of welfare dependency” and cut back on bureaucracy to make life easier for entrepreneurs.******Cameron’s speech brings conference season to an end. Leaders of the three main parties — Cameron, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats — have all laid out their plans for Britain ahead of a general election due by June 2010.******The ‘word clouds’ below have been generated using the complete texts from each of the leaders’ keynote conference speeches, in the order they were given. At first glance there are some striking similarities and fascinating overlaps — but we will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.******How did you think each of the leaders performed? Who did you find the most convincing? Is David Cameron ready to lead the country?******Keywords from Nick Clegg’s speech:******cleggwordcloud2****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from Gordon Brown’s speech:******brownwordcloud3****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ******Keywords from David Cameron’s speech:******cameronwordcloud

BAE, the SFO and time travel

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rtxp5uiProsecute over bribes allegedly paid in far-flung lands years before you banned such practices?

That’s the bluff from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and its biggest defence firm, BAE Systems, is having none of it.

Roger Bootle throws capitalism a life preserver

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Problems sparked by the financial crisis have not gone away, but have been transferred to the public sector, economist Roger Bootle posits in his new book.In “The Trouble With Markets: Saving Capitalism from Itself” Bootle argues that in large measure, the underlying cause of the financial crisis was the result of an idea that markets work, and that governments do not.”Despite the trillions of dollars lost, and despite the worries of millions of people, more than this — much, much more — is at stake,” Bootle writes. “For this crisis has delivered the killer blow to an idea that has underpinned the structure of society, framed the political debate, and moulded international relations for decades.”Bootle, director of Capital Economics and an economic advisor to business accountancy firm Deloitte, reflects on the pitfalls of the corporate system and puts forth his ideas on the future of capitalism.He discussed his book and his economic predictions with Reuters at his London office.

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