G2 or not G2? That is the question

So what’s this G20 thing all about?
Apart from, that is, the chance for certain well known leaders to hang around Obama and catch a bit of the glow?
Is it a meeting to solve all the Worlds financial ills? I don’t think so, they’ll hardly have time to get their abacuses out before it’s roll up the red carpet time.

Looking at Gordon Brown’s beaming face through the numerous photo opportunities it almost looks like he thinks it’s job done already.
“I’m a world statesman.”

“My place in history is assured.”

“Don’t I look good in this suit?”

Blah, blah, or Blair, Blair as that seems to be the diplomatic model he’s copying.

But why not knock the Zero off and call it G2, after all isn’t this what the whole thing is about?

Apart from Sarkozy threatening to throw his toys out of the pram and have a hissy fit and some very upset people giving the police a chance to try out some new public order tactics, isn’t all this just a smokescreen?

It looks like a summit between a superpower and an emerging one, namely USA and China, on neutral territory. Or put another way the meeting of a client (US) and a banker (China.)

America may be the world’s biggest economy but it’s also the world’s biggest debtor, hocked up to it’s eyeballs. And China is the one holding them balls. Estimated at 1 to 1.5 Trillion Dollars.
China doesn’t want the US to fail. It can’t afford for it to fail, it’s necessary for it’s continued growth. But it’s important to show the US and the West that they hold the purse strings now.
This is their chance to subtly do just that.

Yeah, the Chinese will be incredibly polite and subservient to the great West but it’ll be made clear that if your country wants a new overdraft then you’ll have to show this particular banker some new found respect.

The other 18 are little more than munchkins dancing attendance who gather round to queue up and utter the immortal line, “Please Sir, can I borrow some more?”

Their task will be (with the exception of the dear old French, trust them to try and ruin the party) to shut up, put up and tow the line as well as turn up for breakfast and piccies for the family album outside numerous doors and on various steps.

Oh and the UK has one other additional, very important, responsibility …

… pass the hors d’œuvres round.

The Apprentice – you’re inspired!

Lock the doors, take the ‘phone off the hook, give the cat some prawns, banish the kids to their bedrooms, get granny an extra sherry. Yes The Apprentice is back!

March 25th. (Wednesday) sees the welcome return of this classic suited n’ booted, tycoon finding, knockout TV extravaganza.

Hosted as usual by the Sid James of the corporate boardroom, as Jonathan Ross refers to Alan Sugar, The Financial Times readers version of X-Factor returns for a Fifth series.

I love it when the contestants all start off luvey duvey with each other, talking about team building and giving their all, while all the time hoping and planning to stuff up one anothers chances at the first opportunity.

Though I do think some of the contestants must be looking to be awarded the business persons version of the V.C. because they seem very keen to put themselves right in the firing line.

For example who’d be a team leader in the first programme? Whew, lamb to the slaughter or what? Anyone who’s smart won’t do it but you always get some schmuck who’s talked into doing it by having their vanity massaged.

“We think you’d be great.”
“As soon as we saw you we thought you were the one to lead us in this first task.”
(Titter, titter)
“Aw shuks, sure okay then, ‘course I’ll do it.”

You can almost hear the taxi driver starting his black cab up, ready to whisk them off to business oblivion land. (Though personally I reckon they just get dropped off by the bustop at the end of the road, London taxi fares, do me a favour!)
They won’t be remembered by anybody except possibly some drunken guest at their next party, “Oh you were the prat that went out first weren’t you? You got well stiched up!”

Sometimes their personal competition winning tactics also seem a bit strange to me. Do they not realise that if they get in the bad books of that weeks Team Leader they are going into the boardroom for sure?
If you don’t agree with your boss, shutup, look helpful and take solace in the fact that their gonna’ get theirs sometime soon and you’ll be smiling right at them when they do.

“Et tu, Brute?”
“Damn right matey. BIFF!”

It’s nice to see that Alan Sugar’s cockney accent hasn’t been rounded off by his many years of champagne and limos. It will be a welcome return of some of his not so chirpy cockney catchphrases including:-

“You’re not pissin’ my money up the wall!”
“I don’t like liars, I don’t like cheats. I don’t like bullshitters.I don’t like schmoozers. I don’t like arse-lickers.”
“You’ve gone out and lost me money!”

His accent is so strong I keep expecting him to say, “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, at any minute.

But it does beg the question what will the eventual winners actually be doing? I thought he’d sold his manufacturing empire and was just involved with property?

Perhaps they’ll just end up as glorified secretaries.

If that’s so I do hope the winner has brushed up on their shorthand and typing.

The Apprentice - The Best Of [DVD]

My company needs YOU!

Costa lot

Gennaro Pelliccia’s tongue is worth £10m ($13.95m). That’s a lot of money for a tongue. It’s a lot of money for a body. Heck it’s a lot of money for a whole neighbourhood.

He’s the chief taster at Costa coffee and so his wriggling muscle has been insured by Lloyds of London for a huge salivating amount.
I wonder if the small print in the insurance policy has restrictions on usage similar to car insurance where you can’t off road etc.
Clauses like no tongue piercing, no overly aggressive French kissing, no sticking out of tongue at friends or colleagues, no licking of frozen metal. Why you would want to do the last one is beyond me but some people seem to be fascinated with doing it.

I imagine this tongue has a great responsibility for ensuring the coffee is a good as it possibly could be. There’s a lot tasting on this tongue. The most expensive tongue there has ever bean.

I just hope the tongue hasn’t had a curry the night before.

No kissing please, I don't want to lose my no-claims bonus!

No kissing please, I don't want to lose my no-claims bonus!

Right Said Fred

Right Said Fred

Right said Fred it’s time to put me skates on
Pack my bags and catch n’ early flight,
But as I tried to shift it, couldn’t even lift it,
I was gettin’ nowhere at all,
So I had a cuppa mo.

Well right said Fred of course I know the reason
It was pure and simple, the bags was full o’ cash,
‘Cos I don’t trust a transfer, I’m an ex-banker,
But I’m goin’ nowhere at all,
So I had a cuppa mo.

Right said Fred I know you’ve all been saying
It’s a bad thing I ought to give it back,
But it’s my bonus and the flippin’ onus,
They’re gettin’ nuthin’ at all.

And I’m not a ruddy poet,
So I had a cuppa moet,
And unplugged the ‘phone.

(Sung to the tune of the fantastic song ‘Right said Fred ‘ released by Bernard Cribbins in 1962.
Original lyrics by Myles Rudge, Music by Ted Dicks. With apologies.)

Slip Slidin’ Away …

Now that Lloyds Banking Group shares are literally cheaper than chips (53.80 pence as I write) you might find ‘The Daily Mail‘ giving them away free on a Saturday like they do with DVDs.

No doubt someone will be making money out of all this share price slaughter, namely the hedge funds who’ve ‘shorted’ the stock. But for most of us it seems to be pointing the way to the fact that share ownership is a poisoned chalice.

Surely anyone owning shares these days must have a bit of a screw loose? Buying premium bonds, lottery tickets, horse-racing bets or land on the moon probably provides a better investment opportunity at the moment.

Perhaps one day admitting to owning shares might have the same stigma as admitting to owning porn. People have it, they just don’t advertise the fact. Definitely a subject changing moment at parties:-

“Actually I like to dabble in SM, the stock market.”
“Really? Nice weather we’re having at the moment …”

Share prices on Bloomberg may become something you won’t want to get caught watching by the wife.
Or you’ll be approached by a shady looking gentleman in a pub who sidles up to you and asks, “Psst, wanna’ buy some shares? It’s good stuff. Ex-Blue chip.”

Pay per view choices in hotels may never be the same again.

The Naked Trader: How Anyone Can Make Money Trading Shares

The future image of share buying?

Sorry seems to be the easiest word

Does Anything Eat Bankers?: And 53 Other Indispensable Questions for the Credit Crunched

Sorry ...

Well the four bankers have said sorry so can we move along now and get on with our lives please?

What!” I hear you cry. You want your pound of flesh?

Well you may have to wait awhile longer. I doubt whether they are going to be thrown to the lions just yet and I seriously doubt they are going to fall on their swords.

After all they did say they were sorry, maybe even very sorry. So that should be hunky dory then shouldn’t it? Forgive and forget. Everyone can make a mistake can’t they? Live and let live. More like live and let die.

Amazingly I still get the impression that they feel that they haven’t really done anything wrong. That the decisions they made were ruined by the cruel hand of fate. That circumstances beyond their control contrived to make a good plan bad.

I don’t think they were hiding their head in the sand and couldn’t see the storm that was about to break. More likely they couldn’t see because they had their collective heads too deeply into the trough. You tend not to worry too much about starving when you are attending a perpetual banquet.

They are apologizing because they have to. Not because they want to. There is a difference.

There’s a lesson to be learnt here and I don’t think they are good pupils. Probably because not so long ago they were the teachers.

So next time to you are unable to pay your credit card bill or miss a payment on the mortgage why not take a leaf out of these financial geniuses notebooks?
Just utter that little five letter word, look chastened (but not overly chastened) and everything will be okay.

It will be okay, won’t it?

Chartism is for dummies

Now that were well into the credit crunch (I guess nostalgia lovers will be storing away memories of this so that they can tell their grandchildren. “Yes, I remember when there were banks.” or be able to answer “What did you do in the great crunch daddy?”)

Well I was looking at the BBC’s Archive section on their website and they have a series of programmes about british banking etc. first broadcast in 1964. (Back in the days when the world was black and white.)

One of the episodes was called  ‘The Golden Eggheads’ and amongst other things is about ‘Chartists.’
Now Wikipedia describes them as:-

‘A chartist (also known as a technical trader or technical analyst) is one who utilizes charts to assess patterns of activity that might be helpful in making future predictions. Most commonly, chartists use technical analysis in the financial world to evaluate financial securities. For example, a chartist may plot past values of stock prices in an attempt to denote a trend from which he or she might infer future stock prices. The chartist’s philosophy is that “history repeats itself.” ‘

On this programme (about 7:00 in) they were being asked and were attempting to explain what they did and how successful they were at it.
Unfortunately they failed at both. Either they didn’t want to tell and give away their secrets of alchemy or they just didn’t know. At one point during the explanation it seems to dawn on them that there is nothing to know, they don’t really know what they’re on about and all they do is look at graphs and well, sort of guess!

Anyway I don’t think this chart-porn is all that difficult to decipher. You only have to look at this graph (produced during the recent “I’ve been here before” financial déjà vu) that I found during my study of the subject …


Enough said really.