Tag Archives: nervousness

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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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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