Tag Archives: eurozone

Rupert Murdoch and Other Shit… Literally

20120222 Hatchet Bristol Toilet Door 150x150 Rupert Murdoch and Other Shit... Literally

Kimberley from Bristol sent in this photograph taken in the toilets at the Hatchet Pub in Bristol.  Just like the stench of a dirty toilet lingering in your nostrils, Rupert Murdoch just won’t go away.

You know when the dog takes a crafty shit in the back seat of your car?  I don’t own a dog, but I have a vivid imagination.  Every time you turn on the air conditioning, the circulating air picks up the whiff of rancid turd every so often and then it goes away again.  You crane your neck, sniff, shrug it off… and repeat.  It’s rather like a good shampoo – or just a poo in this case.

In a similar manner Rupert Murdoch keeps hitting the news with this god-awful non-news story about phone hacking and the related fallout.  And now there’s the dreaded comeback: rumour has it he is going to launch a new Sunday newspaper.  But wait, isn’t that old news?  And does anyone actually give a toss?  Why was that the leading story on some news programmes last week?  It seems it is that and the death of another “celebrity” that has been making the headlines recently.

But what else can we report?  The economy is still in tatters, the Eurozone and Greece are looking as woeful as ever but we’ve all got immune to the effects and stopped caring.  It’s like the boxer Dereck Chisora slapping you in the face over and over.  After the first 500 slaps it stops hurting – hell it even starts to feel soothing.  It is almost as soothing as the giant hand of Zeus coming down from the sky and gently, nay lovingly, caressing you behind your little fwuffy-wuffy ear.  Who’s a cheeky monkey?  YOU are a cheeky monkey!  Tickle-tickle!

Phone Hacking

Poor Britney, though.  No wait, Whitby…  Wilma?  Whatever her name is, Ms Houston had a great voice and had a string of hits to her name that define different stages of many people’s lives.  A friend of mine forwarded one of those quasi-humorous chain texts to me the other day.  It read as follows:

“Rupert Murdoch is said to be deeply touched by the messages of condolence left on Whitney Houston’s phone.”

Hmm, nice allusion to phone hacking, however when was the last time you left a message of condolence on a deceased person’s phone?  It just doesn’t make sense.

What annoys me most about the phone hacking scandal is the fact that most people didn’t care about the dubious ethics being employed by newspapers initially.  They lapped up the deliciously succulent non-news stories about “celebrities” and bought papers in droves, like a cocaine addict searching incessantly for… her next tub of Muller Rice.  Mmm, it’s so delicious.  The public was as much a part of the wrongdoing by facilitating it.  They created the insatiable demand – insatiable until the Milly Dowler story.  When it involved the victim of a murderous paedophile it was all suddenly a step too far.  And don’t we bloody hate paediatricians – erm, I mean paedophiles – in this country…  We’re obsessed with them.  I’m not saying it’s not a heinous crime, but I think in this country we sometimes react disproportionately.

Don’t wet the bed

One final thing that annoys me about this story is the pronunciation of the name “News Corp” – short for News Corporation, of course.  The BBC in particular seem to think it is some sort of army regiment, choosing to pronounce it with a silent ‘p’.

And so, from a silent “number two” in the back of a car, we come full circle and end with a silent pee.  You couldn’t make it up – actually, I just did…

Don’t have nightmares.  Above all, don’t wet the bed.

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A Fat Cat in 3D and a Happy New Year

20111230 Urinal Pig Face 150x150 A Fat Cat in 3D and a Happy New Year

Nick sent in a photograph of a urinal that looks like a pig (or something similar) with a big grin.  As long as paper IOUs are pushed around as legal tender it will be the top 1% of pigs that will be grinning – and stinking of liquid gold, or piss.

As we approach the end of the year and a new one beckons there is always a sense of hope and optimism on the one hand and nervousness on the other.  The period after the festive season is often seen as the most depressing time of the year and it’s no wonder many people pop their clogs, as they face bleak weather and a bleak economic outlook – this coming year especially, as some of the figures aren’t looking good.

I’m expecting low interest rates, more QE and a second recession in the first half of 2012.  With Italian 10-year bond yield still perilously close to the 7% mark, there is reason to remain nervous about the Eurozone too.  And as we ring in the New Year, prices inevitably go up, whilst salaries remain unchanged.  Inflation still stands at 5%, the price of my weekly badminton court is up by 3.3% and average train fares are up by a whopping 6%.

A Fairly Fair Fare?

Is a 6% increase in rail fares reasonable?  Does this yield a fairly fair fare?  Without any research into the matter, the answer is instinctively NO, because 6% represents the maximum allowed by regulation (RPI inflation + 1% point) and smacks of greed – plain and simple.

But has the service got better by 6%?  Unscientifically, I am going to pick on First Group and in particular their south-western operations, First Great Western.  In August 2011 the Department for Transport reported that the top three most overcrowded train services were all First Great Western services with an end destination of London Paddington.  As a former commuter on a train with the same destination, I chose sitting in traffic jams over First Great Western.  Enough said.

Reward for Failure

Slightly more scientifically, First Group’s annual report tells a story of its own.  Dividends have increased consistently year on year since 2004 and this year they were up by 7%.  Profit before tax was reported at £127.2m – down from £175.3m the previous year.

Does this sound like reward for failure to you?  It makes First Group chairman Martin Gilbert look like a greedy fat cat – or pig – rolling around in his own liquid gold, or piss.  Martin Gilbert bought 4,661 shares in First Group in the past two months alone and he must own a shedload more.

On a lighter note, as I round up this year in news, current affairs and society I leave you with a stereoscopic 3D image of Martin Gilbert that I knocked up.  I found two images of him taken from slightly different angles: one in the annual report and one on First Group’s website.  Now you can see what a fat cat looks like in glorious 3D.  Don’t have nightmares!  Have a great 2012!

20111230 Martin Gilbert Stereoscopic 3D A Fat Cat in 3D and a Happy New Year



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It’s all Greek to me

20111106 Air Freshener Face 150x150 Its all Greek to me

Claire sent in a picture of an air freshener and boy do we need one.  Last week Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou caused a stink by announcing a referendum on the previously agreed rescue deal and sent the markets into a spin.

You must have been living on Mars (or simply not interested in politics, the economy and current affairs – which is fair enough) not to have noticed how one small nation in the Mediterranean managed to overshadow the entire G20 summit in Cannes, despite not being part of club itself.  The world looked towards Greece as the Eurozone and the Euro itself teetered on the brink of destruction.  Would George Papandreou, affectionately referred to as G-Pap on Twitter, be pushed or would he jump?  Would there be a referendum on the rescue package or would there be a new unity government backing the deal?

So much fuss was made about this Greek referendum and markets reacted violently as the news broke.  At the time of writing there is still much uncertainty and markets are going to love the latest uncertainty about the coalition government when they open tomorrow.  Latest word from RT is that G-Pap has agreed to resign.  Greek politics seem more uncertain than the economy itself and I’ll believe it when I see it.

All talk

As it turned out, last week was a massive storm in a teacup and Papandreou survived the confidence vote on Friday night.  Funny that – politicians seem to have a knack for causing a storm and subsequently surviving confidence votes, either by means of a massive U-turn or by iron rule, neither of which inspires *ahem* confidence.

I wonder how much of this Greek drama is intrinsically down to the politics and how much is media hype.  And I’m not just talking about mainstream media.  With the advent of Twitter, rumours and hearsay without much substance are rife and wreak disproportionate havoc on the markets.  It is even said that some high frequency trading (looting) algorithms tap into Twitter feeds to get a feel for market sentiment.

In the days before Twitter and even 24-hour rolling news (yes, I remember the days when TV stations would shut down overnight) a story such as this would simply run its course and we would only hear of the end result in the evening’s news, sans all the drama and the speculation.  That’s not to say that amongst those to whom it matters, the drama never existed – of course, those in close proximity to the Greek PM would have heard the rumours, but they would have been contained and stayed as mere chatter.  Speaking of rumours, I heard a rumour on Twitter last night that Berlusconi might face a confidence vote this week.

Answers on a piece of feta cheese

The mainstream media keep reporting that the currently agreed (pending formation of a coalition government) rescue package is the least-worst outcome for Greece and whilst the austerity measures are going to be painful, the alternative would be much more so.

But what is the alternative?  Presumably an exit from the Euro and a default?  To be honest, it’s all Greek to me (awful pun intended).  Is it really more painful to default?  Sure, banks and private investors lose their money – painful for them – and the new Drachma would be severely devalued leading to a higher cost of living for Greeks and the high probability of investors pulling money out of the country.  But looking at the bigger picture, it appears as though we are servicing debt with yet more debt.

Where is the money coming from?  Speaking as a cynic, it sounds like wallpapering over cracks and hoping the problem will go away.  I am not sure we, collectively, can generate enough economic productivity to ever pay it all back.  Wouldn’t it be easier to default and start again?

Surely at some point the entire structure is going to crumble under the increasing debt burden.  And when it does, the impact would surely be much bigger?  Answers on a piece of feta cheese, or as Vic would say, a kaescard.

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Please sir, can we have some more?

20111030 Dutch electrical socket snowman face 150x150 Please sir, can we have some more?20111030 Water meter lid robotic transformers face 150x150 Please sir, can we have some more?20111030 Toilet open mouth face 150x150 Please sir, can we have some more?





These pictures were sent in by Chris and depict a dirty toilet with its mouth open, a snowman (in the form of a Dutch electrical socket) with its mouth obscured and a water meter inspection chamber lid.  All three photographs were taken in Amsterdam. 

The dirty toilet mouth could be a metaphor for talking shit.  Speaking of which, this week saw the European leaders meet at yet another emergency summit (one of many in the last two years) to reach a deal on the EFSF or €1tn bailout fund of worthless paper money or whatever you want to call it.  I call it nihilfoliteracapital.

I can’t believe all the hype that was made around this deadline and the nervousness and volatility in the markets in the days leading up to the agreement.  Did this deadline really have any significance?  After all, it was a self-imposed deadline and what did it really matter, other than the fact that the markets would remain volatile?

Place bets now!

It is incredible how naïve the casinos – sorry, the markets (Freudian slip) – appear to be and how easily swayed they are on the basis of what is effectively nothing but hot air.  There was nothing inherently positive about Wednesday evening’s news of a master plan to tackle the Eurozone’s debt.  Greece received a 50% cancellation of its debt, yet banking shares were up.  Where’s the logic in that?

A 50% haircut is surely tantamount to an incremental default.  Given the massive deficit the country still has, even after implementing austerity measures, I think it is just a matter of time beforeGreecefinally defaults.  The question is, will it be 6 months, 6-18 months or longer than that?  Banzai!  Place bets now!  Bet bet bet!

Betting ends.

Democracy and occupation

Everyone knows that Greece should never have been allowed to join the Euro in the first place, but I suppose there was a political, almost romantic notion of unity in allowing Greece, the fathers of democratic principles to join.  I used to be pro-Euro and politically I still think it is a good idea, provided correct controls are implemented.  Strategically (or more likely by nothing but sheer chance), it turns out that Britain’s decision not to join the Euro was probably a good thing.  If only we had anything to export to the Eurozone and the Eurozone’s economy was strong enough to buy useless trinkets from us, it would be better.

I am not against capitalism, but somewhere down the line our society has got greedy and we have allowed it to get out of hand.  It is this corporate greed and materialism funded by fiat debt that I am against, which is why I support the GIABO, or Global Occupy movement.  To me this movement is not against capitalism per se, as the mainstream media keep suggesting – especially the BBC, whose shoddy journalism has got so intolerable for a number of personal reasons that I try to avoid it.

Please sir, can we have some more?

So, assuming this rescue plan is going to work, where the hell is the €1tn going to come from?  Does it really matter?  Speaking not as an economist (which I am not), but as a cynic, the whole thing sounds like shifting debt around:  it hasn’t disappeared; it is simply owed to others and the banks seem to get a good deal out of this (despite the 50% haircut).

Why don’t we just stick two fingers up at the banks and let Greece default?  The banks are the ones who got us into this mess and now we’ve gone cap in hand, begging China for money so we can repay them.  This, in my opinion, further cements China’s position as the new superpower.  Please sir, can we have some more?

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