Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Economic surprise in the Leeward Isles

Aborad in the Caribbean this week, so little posting.

of note in the business and political world here though is the story of sugar. You may remember that Britain founded colonies here to produce sugar nearly 300 years ago.

We supported the islands until 3 years ago, via subsidy for their produce. Then the WTO over-ruled our right to subsidise islands and we could no longer help them. The unit cost of sugar was equal £1.20 and the international average rate £1.

I recall being much dismayed on hearing this and wondering how the islands would cope. Along with the socialists who too rang their hands at international capitlisms worst travesty..

However, the sugar was mainly farmed by immigrant Haitians to keep the cost down. Now that these people have left crime has fallen and as much of the money went to these workers and the international traders the economy has barley suffered. Indeed, the politicians here have run on tickets to promote tourism and develop the island. Things are moving apace and the country as a whole is improving quickly.

Until the socialists and greens impose stiff charges on air fares which will destroy the tourist industry here; but then they are not coconcerned about that are they?

So much haschanged that Slicker's idea tothe president of using sugar fields to fire a new power station to replace their ancient diesel one has fallen on deaf ground.; they don't want to know about sugar here any more.

Friday, 24 November 2006

On Tour again

Slicker will be out of office yet again. So much travelling recently makes blogging hard to sustain. This time I will try to blog from abroad. So expect updates about foreign parts next week....

Thursday, 23 November 2006


by James Highham...

so my ten things I would never do are:

1. Audition for Big Brother
2. Drive a Ford
3. Holiday in a caravan
4. Visit Scotland (31 years and counting here...)
5. Go Hunting with Hounds
6. Convert to Islam (sorry, Croydonian)
7. Learn to read music
8. Support the Monarchy
9. Go to Old Trafford
10. Emigrate to France

not very exciting, but hey-ho. I tag Shotgun

Good ideas on the Environment at last

It takes a sane right winger to come up with sound ideas on the Environment. Anatole Kaletsky in the Times today (here).

Whether or not the Climate change lobby is right, Kaletsky makes some good points. Where is the investment in technology that will save us? Why the focus on aircraft when they contribute so little?

Clean coal, Fusion, Wind and Nuclear power can end this 'threat' within one or two generations. Somehow it does not suit the purposees of money-grabbing politico's though. They prefer fear and taxes.

Read the article, it is common sense.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Greg & Polly

The siesmic wave that has emanted from Greg Clark (not Barker, yet another Greg who has sullied the Tories reputaiton of late) today has left me speechless. Along with most of the known world I regard Polly Toynbee as the devil incarnate whose only usefulness is in helping to define what you should not believe.

However, now the NuTories are a-changing again. The re-branding will not end. The Tories are to embrace Polly. Hopefully this is just all some sick joke to wind-up the members and win over some wimpy Lib Dems.

Mr Eugenides sums up the universal reaction perfectly.

I am seriously considering abandoning the Tories as a party; I fail to see what part of the centre right they represent on any issue. They would miss my vote too, living in one of the tightest marginals.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

China and Politics

Further to my post below, I thought it worth commenting on what I saw of politics in China, given this is an occasionally political blog.

However, this is a hard piece to write, even in short, as there is nothing to report.

The people and businesses tolerate the over-arching government which appears to manifest itself in the form of rampant bureaucracy that consumes time and effort for all things. There are though no police on the streets except glorified traffic wardens. In Beijing the police I saw travelled in a golf cart and looked distinctly nonthreatening.

My take is that this is a very clever ploy on behalf of the PRC. The people are allowed relative freedom and encouraged to worship mammon. In this way their energies are turned from demanding rights and democracy. Who needs democracy if you are rich?

There is little crime in the country, amazing given the huge and rapid changes over-taking the populace. The Government also achieves much by being inactive. Notice how little China does in foreign affairs relative to its new status. This provides a stability for the countries' businesses to enter the world stage; yet China is also capable of shifting the goal posts to its own advantage. It's managing of the Renminbi to keep its exports competitive is a classic example.

All in all, there is something impressive about how they are moving away from a Maoist insanity to a full market economy without enormous political upheaval. I promise not to praise socialists on this blog again, but I have a hunch that the leadership of China gave this up some years ago now.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

China and the Environment

On my recent trip tot China I was fortunate enough to meet with a number of Chinese companies and visit Beijing and Hong Kong.

The pollution in Beijing is truly terrible (see here), the smog hangs over the city almost permanently. On a very rare day you may be able to glimpse the blue sky overhead. Hong Kong is a little better, but not much. The Smog rolls in from all the factories in Gaungdong province.

Interestingly though, this is of concern to the people who live and work there. Companies too would like to reduce their emissions and clean up the environment; but they also like the economic growth that swift development has given them.

The best solution that I can see is for the West to sell to China the best technology that we have for reducing emissions. We can't ask China to stop its growth in the iron age with countless millions still poor.

A new Kyoto, based on its old measures will not be ratified. A new approach is needed.

By the by, for the Olympics the Chinese Government are set to close all factories for a month in Beijing Province and ban all private cars. This should do much to reduce the pollution for the games. How Tony Blair must wish he had such powers in this country!

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Back from the Orient

Lots of excitment this week with a trip to Beijing and Hong Kong. No time for blogging unfortunately; but there are a couple of posts I am working on and should have them up tommorrow.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Slicker on Tour

I am off to China this week to try and repatriate some of our FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to Blighty.

No idea what I will find or if I will be able/allowed to blog. So either there will be the odd post or a collection at the end of the week recounting my experiences of business and politics China-Style.

Socialist tosh here

This about the cost of raising children was in The Times this week:

The survey found Wales the cheapest place to raise a child, at £172,632, and inner London the most expensive, at £193,562. According to the Halifax, the average house price is now £184,593.
“While there is substantial cost and responsibility attached to raising children, we mustn’t forget the huge joy and happiness a child brings to parents,” said Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the National Family and Parenting Institute.
She said that while the survey reflected average costs of raising children, it did not show that for poorer parents this was a much larger proportion of their income than more affluent parents.
Raising a child is a responsibility to be shared between parents and the state and so it is right that the state should share the financial burden with parents." (My Italics)

Enough to make my blood boil here. Mary MacLeod spouting such gibberish; no wonder she is a multi-quango-tax-eating-monster. Since when is the State responsible for bringing up our kids? What sort of idiocy is this to peddle to people, as if somehow there is a third parent?

We need to head back towards people becoming responsible for their own lives; not leaning further on the state. It reminds me of the need to hark back to Mrs Thatcher and her off-misquoted speech:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

Friday, 10 November 2006

Take that Lancet

Last month I posted on the nonsense of the Iraq war dead estimate as written in the Lancet. It was my most viewes post yet.

Here is a link to the latest new from Iraq. They estimate 100,000 dead. A colossal figure and a sad stain on our expedition to Iraq; nevertheless, how does this sqaure with the Lancet fantasies....

Culture Clash

Nick Griffin and his henchman have been found innocent of charges brought against them of inciting racial hatred. This followed an undercover BBC investigation. (here)

Given their defence, that they were attacking Islam as a fanatical culture rather than race of skin colour (he even use the Koran as
evidence); I am not surprised that he won his case.

Two points strike me here:

1. How long until the government changes the law to cover 'cultural' as well as racial discrimination?

A long time I hope, as this would be a massive restriction on free speech.

2. So many of the follow-up cases to TV undercover investigations fail. Clearly they have sought shock value over fact. The recent football bribes being another case of this. How long until the Police start to sue TV Companies for wasting their time?

UPDATE: For the record it took Peter Hain, (surprise eh!), two hours and 1o minutes to suggest new laws were needed to prevent the CPS from looking silly in court again.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

American dreams

Many bloggers have posted re the recent US mid-term elections. Rather than add to the melieu, I was lucky to find that Istanbultory, has written a short piece with which I agree totally.

What are your thoughts though?
How much of an effect on UK politics will this really have over the next few months or years?

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

FSA catching up with the Slicker

The FSA have finally released their report into Private Equity buy-outs today. A good article on this is in today's Times (here).

I blogged 2 months ago on the crisis that is brewing in this industry, with companies abusing the market by lending at unsustainable levels to corporates and then selling off their risk piecemeal.

As usual, little mention of any consequences of corporate defaults in the FSA report. The Boys at North Colonnade are worried about the effect on fellow city workers; the jobs and pensions at the affected companies are hardly mentioned. Even Robert Coles column on this in the Times today barely mentions the real world.

The FSA also downplays any systemic risk from the collapse of one of the big LBO's (the lenders). No surprise there then; the FSA never thinks there are any major risks in the financial markets that it regulates.

Cityunslicker predicts the demise of the mad Private Equity lending rush in the next year will be one of two catalysts to next years' recession; the other being the more well understood consumer credit crunch.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Religious road to nowhere

Whilst baby slicker was playing with the remote on Sunday, he chanced upon the BBC Heaven & Earth show for a minute or so. The sole piece I saw was the Bishop of London discussing the Stern report and pronouncing that it was indeed a sin to drive a 4x4 or take holiday flights long-haul.

With the great success of the COE's previous campaigns, such as to lower the divorce rate, I can see that nothing but disaster for the world ahead if the Climate Change lobby is to be proved correct.

Really, what is the point in haranguing people in today's consumer society. This is no way to bring back the agnostics. However, I can't see the COE learning, they are too obsessed with the drive for 'Hair-shirts-for-all.'

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Freedom from Scotland

My very first job involved sharing an office with a Scotsman; and hilarious company he was too. Since then I have acquired one or two other Scottish acquiantances. Many is the time I have wound them up with a refusal to ever got to Scotland. An achievement with no merit, but it gladdens me nonetheless to hear them witter on about the glories of Edinburgh(never seems to be Glasgow though?) and why I should go.

Today, in the Times here there is a poll which, albeit rather weakly, suggests the people of Scotland may soon seek Independence. This has the effect of making me draw a huge sigh of relief.

Scotland has many famous sons and daughters; but some notable bloggers apart (The Devil and Mr E. for example), it provides little benefit to merry England today.

Without the impernicious Barnett formula the English would be much better off.
Their dreary and socialistic local politico's would be free to impose on the Country its own new 1980's style communist government. Leaving England to be a more Right-wing and Conservative dominated political state, more like the USA. Their intelligent and hard-working citizens would flock to London at an even greater rate than they do now, to our benefit.
They would be free to adopt the Euro; with all the benefits that has brought to the countries of the EU.
The last few years of oil revenue could be all their own too (or most of it, it depends how the boundaries would be drawn). The cost to the English treasury, at up to 10% of revenues, would be lessened by the fact that BP and Shell are London based and would still have to pay English taxes. In addition, the Pound would lose its petrodollar premium which would help our balance of payments and improve e the prospects of our manufacturing sector.

Overall, I can think of few reasons to keep the Union from the Southern side. We may miss their stout troops perhaps and submarine bases..I can't think of too much else.

I look forward to May 2007 and Alex Salmond's smiling face; I never thought I'd say that!