Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Brit PM Gordon Brown retreats on Budget spending spree

March 26, 2009

Gordon Brown seemed to heed warnings about the health of the Britain’s public finances as he retreated from plans for a massive spending package to revive the economy in next month’s Budget.

The telegraph (UK)

He was understood to have been considering announcing a new fiscal stimulus package in the Budget and encouraging other countries to do the same in an attempt to tackle the global recession.

But he appeared to have backtracked after a warning on Tuesday from Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, that Britain cannot afford further tax cuts or public spending rises and a shock failed gilt auction yesterday which raised questions over the country’s ability to borrow tens of billions of pounds to fight the economic crisis.
.
Speaking in New York, where he is canvassing support for a deal on a global rescue package ahead of the G20 meeting in London next week, he said had no plans to add to the £20bn fiscal stimulus announced by Alistair Darling last autumn.

He shifted the focus from fiscal stimulus to other mechanisms intended to revive the economy. The prime minister pointed to the importance of quantitative easing, last year’s fiscal stimulus and “incredibly low” interest rates.

“If you take these three changes that have happened over the last few months together, that’s where you look for results on the combination of these three,” Mr Brown said.

He said there were other “effective and quicker ways” of kick-starting demand.

Many European leaders are growing increasingly concerned over the scale of public borrowing. Mirek Topolanek, the Czech prime minister, who holds the presidency of the European Union, said plans by Britain and America to borrow money to fund an economic recovery plan were a “way to hell”.

Advertisements

ACORN Protesters At Homes of AIG Execs Similar To Lawlessness For UK Bank Exec?

March 25, 2009

Politics is one thing.  But sending people to protest at people’s homes seems an invitation to lawless behavior to many…

When ACORN funded protests at the homes of AIG executives last weekend, most of the mainstream media was silent.  Those that reported on the protests didn’t mention ACORN at all.

And certain congressmen fueled these protests: asking for the names and addresses of AIG workers.

For what purpose?

Paying protesters can only lead to trouble.  Sending protesters to private homes can only make homeowers and neighbors fearful which could mean the police get involved and confrontations occur.

We condemn such conduct: no matter how much we seem to think someone has wronged us; sending protesters to his house is out of bounds and invites trouble….

Related:
Did ACORN Organize Protests At Homes of AIG Execs?

 Protesters At Homes Of AIG Execs (Organized by ACORN?)

See Michelle Malkin:

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/0
3/25/the-rule-of-the-mob/

ACORN at the homes of AIG execs….

*******************
The Times (UK)

An anti-capitalist vigilante group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals has claimed responsibility for an attack on the home and car of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The ex-banker’s £3 million Edinburgh house was targeted in the early hours, with at least four ground-floor windows smashed and a black Mercedes vandalised. Police were called at around 4.15am to Morningside, a leafy suburb of the Scottish capital lined with substantial, stone-built homes.

A storm of controversy has engulfed Sir Fred over the £16.9 million pension he negotiated as he was made to leave RBS last October for his part in bringing the bank to its knees. The 50-year-old financier has already started to collect an annual pension of around £700,000, and refused invitations to hand it back..

Less than an hour after the attack, an e-mail was sent to local media outlets, signed by Moira McLeod, claiming responsibility and threatening further vigilante assaults. The e-mail account used to send the warning was named “Bank Bosses Are Criminals”.

Read the rest:
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol
/business/industry_sectors/bankin
g_and_finance/article5974253.ece

http://nicedeb.wordpress.com/2
009/03/21/acorn-aig-protest-fail/

********************

Pelosi’s Lawlessness

And then we have Nancy Pelosi, the third in line to the presidency, virtually telling illegal immigrants to violate the law: that the law is “Un-American.”

Well, here’s more “anything to win” — changing law by illegal acts and shenanigans.

If Nancy wants to make good law; she is in the catbird seat to do so.  The Speaker of the House knows how to make good law and how to defeat those that stand in her way too….

Pelosi made the stimulus bill and Obama has already offered her the health care revolution.  But she’s not satisfied yet: now she’ll rewrite immigration law by not picking up a pen: she’ll use the microphone.

Obama, Pelosi: Anything to Win

*****************

When I wrote last week’s column, before the AIG fury erupted, I argued that we in Washington should dial back our rhetoric because public passions were already dangerously high — and we have so many hard decisions in probably hard times ahead of us that we need to face as a united people. Little did I expect that within hours of my writing those words, congressmen would be calling for the names and addresses of AIG employees to be made public — even though the congressmen had been told that the lives of the employees’ children had been threatened as a result of the uproar. Congressmen who would risk the lives of innocent children to save their own political skins are not likely to provide noble leadership in the months and years to come.

By Tony Blankley
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_conte
nt/political_commentary/commentary_by_ton
y_blankley/the_most_dangerous_city_in_the_world

http://lewlew.wordpress.com/200
9/03/25/a-big-stick-but-no-carrot/

Euopean Union President: Obama “will undermine the stability of the global financial market”

March 25, 2009

As the President of the United States gets ready for his first trip to Europe, he’ll have to prepare humself for disunity over his budget and economic plan — from the European Union.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Obama, ” talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans.  All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell.”

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

The “biggest success” of the European Council so far this year is a refusal to follow the same path, he said.

“We need to read the history books and read with it the lessons of history,” Topolanek said.

But Britain’s Pime Minister, Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is trying to convince Obama to spend even more……

Here is how Gordon Brown faced the heat at the EU:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=94lW6Y4tBXs

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts,  as he listens to ... 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts, as he listens to the debates, Tuesday March 24, 2009 at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Brown called for global standards of financial regulation and insists every continent must pour enough funds into their economies to beat the crisis.(AP Photo/Christian Lutz)

****************

From The Telegraph (UK)

Mr Brown used a speech to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday to exhort the European Union to take the lead in rehabilitating the world economy and forging a new “moral” capitalism. He called for an end to offshore tax havens, tougher financial regulation, and international limits on remuneration.

But his message risked being overshadowed by a warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that Britain may not be able to afford further fiscal stimulus measures.

Mr King told the Treasury Select Committee that the UK’s deficit levels were already “very large”.

“I think the fiscal position in the UK is not one where we could say, ‘well, why don’t we just engage in another significant round of fiscal expansion’,” he added.

The remarks were seen as embarrassing to Mr Brown, who has successfully pressed the case for wealthy countries to bring forward significant fiscal stimulus packages to refloat the economy.

Read it all:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/p
olitics/gordon-brown/5047550/Gordon-Bro
wn-seeking-to-win-over-US-bankers-with-hi
s-vision-for-global-economy.html

************************

A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as “a way to hell.”

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Associated Press

A day after his government collapsed because of a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, Topolanek took the EU presidency on a collision course with Washington over how to deal with the global economic recession.

Most European leaders favor tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. has been pushing for larger economic stimulus plans.

Topolanek’s comments are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from recent U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

They also pave the way for a stormy summit next week in London between leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

The host of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, praised Obama on Tuesday for his willingness to work with Europe on reforming the global economy in the run-up to the G-20 summit.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/e
u_eu_us_economy

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/BU
SINESS/03/25/EU.topolanek.u
s.economy/index.html

UK to remain in deflation trap until 2012

March 22, 2009

Britain will be mired in a deflation trap for years despite the radical efforts of the Bank of England to pump extra cash into the economy, economists have warned.

By Edmund Conway
The Telegraph (UK)

The forecast, by a team at BNP Paribas, states that prices in Britain will keep falling for at least another two-and-a-half years, as Britain suffers an apparently intractable bout of debt deflation.

The warning comes only days before official figures confirm this Tuesday that the Retail Price Index has dipped into negative territory for the first time in almost half a century.

It also follows a warning from the Bank itself that the UK is now exhibiting early signs of becoming stuck in debt deflation − the combination of falling prices and rising debt burdens that afflicted the US during the Great Depression.

But while many assume the combination of near-zero interest rates and a heavily-devalued pound will help prevent falling prices from becoming entrenched, and may stoke inflation, the BNP Paribas economists said they expected deflation to persist all the way until 2012. Furthermore, the fall in prices would be broad-based across the economy, pushing into the red not only the RPI but also the Consumer Price Index, which the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee targets

Alan Clarke, UK economist at BNP Paribas, said: “Our revised economic forecasts for the UK are the most pessimistic in the market. We expect GDP to contract by more than 4pc this year and by a further 1pc in 2010. We expect deflation to set in during 2011, even earlier were it not for the VAT hike [which will follow the temporary cut in the tax this year].”

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financeto
pics/recession/5028673/UK-to-remain-in-de
flation-trap-until-2012-economists-warn.html

Treasury might not be up to the job of fighting recession

March 10, 2009

The Treasury might not be “up to the job” of spearheading the British Government’s response to the recession, according to the IPPR, one of Labour’s favourite think tanks. Britains worry…

By Christopher Hope
The Telegraph (UK)
Senior officials from the IPPR, the Institute of Public Policy Research, also questioned whether Gordon Brown’s policy of appointing former bankers as ministers was appropriate in dealing with “problems that banks have caused themselves”.

The Treasury was “not in good shape” to cope with the pressures of becoming a more interventionist Government while keeping a right rein on public spending, the IPPR said.

Guy Lodge and Tony Dolphin from the Institute said: “The lights are on in the Treasury but who is minding the tills? After hiving off so much responsibility for fiscal and monetary policy, the department is not in good shape to tackle the biggest economic crash for decades.”

They said part of the problem was that, when Mr Brown was Chancellor between 1997 and 2007, the Treasury spread itself too thinly and became a “Department for the Domestic Front”, wrapping its “tentacles” around large swathes of policy including welfare reform and child poverty.

This has meant that when the economy went downhill, the Treasury lost its core skills of keeping a check on the public finances and lost touch with its “conventional role of saying ‘no'” to more public spending.

In article in this week’s edition of ‘Public Finance’, the pair said: “Genuine doubts have been raised about whether the Treasury has the people it needs to face all these challenges simultaneously.

“The ‘Alistair and Mervyn’ show might be about to hit the road. It remains to be seen whether Treasury staff are well placed to support such a ‘show’.”

The departments suffers from “ridiculously high turnover rate in posts”, they said, adding: “Treasury officials rarely spend more than a year in post before moving on. This weakens the department’s skills base and deprives it of specialist expertise.”

Staff numbers have been cut by 17 per cent over the past four years. More cuts are planned by 2011. To make matters worse, the Treasury has also had problems filling policy posts. A recruitment drive last year was “only partially successful in plugging the skills gap”, leaving the Treasury short of vital skills.

They said: “One consequence of these changes is that today’s Treasury has few staff with experience of fighting a recession or dealing with a major economic calamity.”

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/rec
ession/4967743/Treasury-might-not-be-up-to-the-jo
b-of-fighting-recession-warns-IPPR.html

And other than Turbo Tax manipulation, what is U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s experience in dealing with recession?

Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

March 10, 2009

Remember when Donald Rumsfeld made the remark about “Old Europe”?  Eeryone howlded, including Democrats.  Now Barack Obama has thrown Britain under the bus and nobody has said a thing….There is real “regime change” ongoing….at the White House…..What’s next?  A “special relationship” with Hamas and the Taliban?

Our fear here that barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and others just don’t get it….In their haste to change everything about everything since moving into the White House, Team Obama may be doing irreparable harm to U.S. foreign policy, strategic alliances, along with the economy and everything else….

Primum non nocere

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/10/am
ericans-apologizing-to-british-pm-gordon-brown/

Donald Rumsfeld

By Frank Geffney
The Washington Times
.
The British are understandably mystified. Long accustomed to a “special relationship” with the United States, they are trying to figure out why the latter’s likable new president would go to such lengths to distance himself from the country that has for generations been America’s closest ally.

First, there was Barack Obama‘s decision to return the Churchill bust that had graced the Oval Office since then-Prime Minister Tony Blair gave it to George W. Bush as a post-Sept. 11, 2001, gesture of solidarity. Then, there were the successive affronts during the visit by Mr. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, to Washington last week: A seemingly thoughtless official gift (a set of DVDs of popular American films); a painfully chilly and brief press availability before the start of the two men’s private meeting; and no formal joint press conference of the kind George Bush afforded Mr. Blair on all but one of numerous visits to Washington (the exception a hastily arranged trip right after the September 11 attacks).

The British press has offered several face-saving explanations for these serial rudenesses. Perhaps Mr. Obama is “exhausted.” Alternatively, he is simply “focused elsewhere” in the midst of cratering capital markets, collapsing automakers and skyrocketing unemployment.

The real answer, however, was supplied by an unnamed State Department official whom London’s Sunday Telegraph reported on March 8 “reacted with fury” when asked by the paper why the Brown visit was so, er, “low-key.” According to the Telegraph, “The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship. ‘There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.’ ”

Such a comment by a representative of the State Department – an institution that never saw a foreign government it wanted to offend – is a sign of how serious Team Obama is about “resetting” the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Of course, as that term applies to friendly Britain, it means something very different than when used to describe the administration’s desire for improved ties with America’s enemies, actual or potential, like Russia, Iran and “Palestine.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news
/2009/mar/10/farewell-to-britain/

Related:
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
.
Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
.
Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

*******

YouTube cuts off music videos to UK

March 9, 2009

YouTube, said it will block all music videos to British users after it was unable to reach a rights deal with the main songwriters’ collection society.

The world’s largest video sharing site said PRS for Music, a British collection society that collects royalties on behalf of nearly 50,000 composers, was asking it to pay “many, many times” more than the previous licensing agreement that has expired.
.
By Yinka Adegoke
Reuters

“The costs are simply prohibitive for us — under PRS’s proposed terms, we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback,” the company said in a blog on Monday.

Read the rest:
http://eideard.wordpress.com/2009/03
/09/youtube-cuts-off-music-videos-to-uk/


The move is the latest sign of the tension between YouTube and the music industry and also indicates the video site’s resolve to keep operating costs under control as it strives to generate meaningful profits for Google.

 

YouTube said PRS was also unclear about which songs are included in the renewed license.

 

“We’ve been talking to them for a long time and we’re still talking to them,” said Patrick Walker, YouTube director of video partnerships for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

 

Walker described it as a “painful decision.”

 

But PRS disputed YouTube’s version of events and said it was caught by surprise by the announcement in the middle of ongoing negotiations.

 

“We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google’s drastic action,” said PRS for Music Chief Executive Steve Porter.

Reuters:
http://www.reuters.com/article/techn
ologyNews/idUSTRE5286GM20090309
?

Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

March 7, 2009

President Barack Obama’s gift of a set of DVDs to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appalled the British media, furious about the lack of traditional protocol afforded to Brown while he was in Washington.

Iain Martin, a columnist and blogger for the Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found Obama to be rudeness personified toward Britain.

Martin tells NPR’s Robert Siegel that Britons are used to a full news conference when their prime minister is in town.

“Only at the last moment was it agreed that there would be a small press conference, and, I think, it was read as a metaphor for the concern that Obama really just didn’t like having the Brits in town,” Martin says. “Yes, he’s dealing with the biggest global crisis in 70 years.

“Still, it would have been nice if he could have welcomed Brown with just a hint more enthusiasm.”

From NPR:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s
tory.php?storyId=101561670&ft=1&f=1004

In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers

A lot of people get paid a lot of money to prevent the kind of gaffe just made this week by President Obama and Hillary Clinton, America’s top two representatives to the world.  Usually they work in an office called “protocol.”

Protocol and dacorum are the opposite of awkward and foolish rolled into disrespectful and inappropriate.
.
There have been awkward moments before at the White House and in presidential administrations and sometimes they cause pain and embarrassment to visiting dignitaries.  Sometimes they detract from years of great diplomacy.

Just ask Hu Jintao, President of China, after he was introduced at the White House during a Bush hosted ceremony as the President of the “Republic of China,” which most of us know as Taiwan.  President Bush added to the lack of protocol and decorum that day by manhandling President Hu toward the exit to the stage, a “touching” just not allowed  — except maybe for children.

Related:
Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

Retirement plans of millions at risk after bank action

March 7, 2009

The retirement plans of millions of Britons have been put at risk after the Bank of England’s controversial plan to create money tore an unprecedented hole in pension schemes.

By Edmund Conway Economics Editor
The Telegraph (UK)
.
In a mere 24 hours the size of the pension deficits facing some of Britain’s biggest companies has jumped by around £100 billion to a record £390 billion – the equivalent of over £150,000 for every member of a final salary scheme.

The increase is a direct result of the Bank’s announcement this week to create £150 billion and pour it directly into the financial system, experts said.

The ballooning deficits sharply increase the chance that a swathe of companies shut down their pension schemes – not only for future employees but for those already paying into them.

It sparked further criticism of the authorities for endangering the financial future of Britons’ savers in their efforts to bring the financial crisis to an end. The Government and Bank have already been accused of obliterating the incentive to save by slashing interest rates on savings accounts and visibly attempting to stoke up high inflation in the years to come.

The Bank was accused of hammering the final nail into the coffin for Britain’s final salary pension schemes, which have seen their deficits climb in recent years, partly as a result of Gordon Brown’s decision as Chancellor to levy a £6 billion tax raid on pension funds’ dividends.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pens
ions/4950466/Retirement-plans-of-millions-of-Britons-a
t-risk-after-Bank-of-England-prints-money.html

Cocaine cheaper than lager and wine as drug price falls by half

February 14, 2009

A line of cocaine is now cheaper than a pint of lager or a glass of wine, official figures have disclosed.

Cocaine cheaper than lager and wine as drug price falls by half

45 kilos of Cocaine Photo: PA

The Home Office has admitted that the street price of both cocaine and heroin has fallen by nearly half in the last ten years, making the most dangerous illegal drugs cheaper than they have ever been.

Based on reports from police forces, the Home Office said that cocaine is now being sold for as little as £20 a gram in some parts of the country.

The most common price for the drug is £40 per gram. Home Office figures for 1998 show the average price was £77.

A gram of heroin can now be bought for as little as £25, with the average price somewhere between £40 and £50 per gram. In 1998, the average was £74.

The Home Office figures are based on data collected from police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

According to DrugScope, a charity that provides research and advice on drugs policy, gram of cocaine can make between 10 and 20 lines for snorting, depending on its strength.

That means a line of cocaine can cost as little as £1, with an average price per line of between £2 and £4.

The average price of a pint of lager is around £2.75, although some pub chains have reacted to the credit crunch by cutting the price of a pint as low as 99p. A glass of wine typically costs £3.50.

The figures were uncovered by the Tories, who said they proved that Labour had failed to stem the flow of Class A drugs into the UK.

James Brokenshire, the Conservative shadow home affairs minister, called the figures “startling.”

He said: “These startling figures show the reality of drug use in Britain. Price falls of this nature indicate that the supply of hard drugs into this country has jumped. It’s a serious indictment of Labour’s failure to combat drug crime and stem the flow of drugs onto our streets.”

Less cocaine is being intercepted on Britain’s borders. The Home Office figures last year showed that the total weight of cocaine seized actually fell by 15 per cent a year, and it has halved in five years.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4602051/Coc
aine-cheaper-than-lager-and-wine-as-drug-price-falls-by-half.html