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Trump to buy Greenland? Danes were scratching their heads on Friday, as rumours started that Donald Trump had floated the idea of purchasing Greenland from Denmark. Initially the news was greeted with some humour, with a former prime minister describing it as an April Fool’s Joke. However, over the weekend, when confronted, Trump confirmed his […]
One in six people in England are living in properties at risk of flooding. Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are becoming an increasing concern for many small communities, along parts of Britain’s shore line. This is particularly so for Norfolk where several metres of coastline can be washed away during big storms. Those property […]
A recent study estimates that the world produces over 2.1 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) or general rubbish waste every year, enough to fill over 800,000 Olympic size swimming pools. MSW is waste collected by local authorities from residential and commercial premises. The report suggests that globally only 16% of this amount is […]
Britain’s intelligence gathering agency GCHQ has recently revealed that it stopped 140,000 separate computer ‘phishing’ attacks last year. ‘Phishing’ is an attempted online theft of bank details and other sensitive information by impersonating a trustworthy person or organisation. Fraudsters are even impersonating real-life vicars and barristers to gain peoples trust. GCHQ believes it has been […]
Apparently, an African Plume is about to bring us the hottest July day on record. Last week, controversial climate protesters Extinction Rebellion took to the streets in London, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol in a so-called summer uprising. Many towns and cities across the UK have already declared ‘a climate emergency’, although there is no […]
While New Zealand may accuse England’s cricket team of hijacking the World Cup after the freak six-runs from the incredible Ben Stokes deflection, it was one of the most thrilling matches ever, with both sides showing a lot of heart, down to the last ball of the Super Over. Who said cricket was boring? Talking […]
The Government is falling short of its own R&D investment target. An additional £21bn of investment is needed if the UK is to achieve its vision of becoming a science-led economy. The UK’s leading independent science advocacy, Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), is calling for a material step-up in science funding for the UK […]
Temperatures across Europe have hit record levels, presenting a major health threat. We are reminded that that water is becoming increasingly scarce and in many areas is putting agricultural productivity under risk. Scientists are developing a satellite system to survey fields of crops to estimate water-use by plants and to also show how they transfer […]
Tension is increasing between the US and Iran. US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has landed in Saudi Arabia in a hastily arranged visit. The recent downing of a $100m US surveillance drone, reportedly brought us within 15 minutes of a military strike, before Trump intervention. However, the US and Turkey, one of Washington’s long […]
Western consumers are becoming more vocal about plastic waste and politicians are under pressure to introduce more regulation to increase recycling. Historically, many wealthy countries have sent their recyclable waste overseas helping them meet recycling targets and reduce domestic landfill. The US and EU are the largest exporters of plastic waste. The United Nations has […]
Once dismissed as a nautical myth, rogue waves that can be as tall as a ten-storey apartment block have been accepted as a leading cause of large ships sinking. In 1995 the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth II was hit by a 29-metre high rogue wave which the Captain Ronald Warwick described as ‘a great wall […]
Global warming and rising sea levels are very much making headlines at the moment. Unfortunately, some cities which were originally built on swamps are proving particularly vulnerable. Jakarta is sinking. Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has recently announced that it is to move the country’s capital away from Jakarta. The city is the home to over […]
The recent protests in London by climate activists were a reminder, if one were required, that we need to tackle global warming. Scientists at Cambridge are setting up a research centre to develop new ways to repair the Earth’s climate because they feel that current approaches will not be sufficient and governments appear more […]
A deadline of 29 August 2019 has been set by the UK’s financial regulator for final PPI-mis-selling claims to be made. As many as 64 million PPI policies were sold by UK banks as long ago as the 1970’s. They were designed to cover loan repayments if borrowers fell ill or lost their job. Not […]
A vegan sausage roll launched by UK bakery Greggs in January caused a flurry of headlines. Veganism is becoming more popular in the UK and supermarket chains are beginning to stock more vegan options, while Burger King has been trialling a new veggie burger made by Impossible Foods. Silicon Valley based Impossible Foods and Beyond […]
2019 is ‘Year of the Pig’ in China but it is ironic in that the country’s pig population is being decimated by African swine fever. While, not yet a threat to humans, this is a highly contagious virus with no known cure and is currently spreading through Asia killing virtually every pig it infects. African […]
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), some 1.5million people or 5% of workers in England are likely to lose their jobs due to automation. Worryingly, 70% of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women. Part-timers workers and the young are the next most at risk. We are in the […]
Airports are a key part of any country’s infrastructure and a vital asset to support long-term economic growth, so it is interesting to compare London and Beijing. The expansion of Heathrow Airport has dragged on for decades but in 2016 a new runway and terminal was approved by the Government. The new runway will add […]
Having a problem with your passport sounds a classic summer holiday crisis. For once, the issue is not related to Brexit, but actually refers to something far more dangerous! In 2005, the US Congress set NASA a task to identify 90% of near-Earth asteroids of 140 metres in size or larger by 2020. Asteroids of […]
Last week’s dramatic water leakage at the House of Commons prompted a halt to the Brexit debate, as water started pouring in through the roof! MP’s joked about another major leak in Parliament and even legendary spoon bender Uri Geller, tapped in and sought to take the credit to block Brexit! Water companies also need […]
…At the Royal Mint. Chancellor Philip Hammond had previously confirmed a commemorative 50p coin to mark the UK’s departure from the EU, in last year’s Autumn Budget. The original design, featured the phrase “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, as well as the date of 29th March. Whilst no cost has been borne by […]
Deal or no deal? Did we vote to leave or not? Should we revoke Article 50? Another General Election? Leadership contests? No wonder many are disillusioned with our politicians and the current debates. Let’s briefly ponder something that, before Brexit, used to get us energised… Next weekend, as part of Daylight Saving Time, our clocks will […]
‘Freak’ weather is disruptive and is making life harder for UK businesses. In 2018, we had the ‘Beast from the East’, then the joint hottest summer on record. In February 2019, the Sahara heatwave, caused temperatures to soar to all-time highs. At least March seems to be returning to normal with a series of storms! It’s […]
The United Nations estimates the current population of the world is 7.3 billion and is projected to reach a rather crowded 9.7 billion by 2050. However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 2015 and 2050 the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years old will increase significantly from 12% to 22%. Improved […]
Make a note for 6th April, it’s a rollover. No, not the National Lottery but the anniversary for older satnav devices whose weekly counters roll over from 1023 to zero. This means older devices will not be able to use Global Positioning System (GPS) from 6th April 2019, unless they have been updated. A ‘Y2K’ […]
Catfishing is the act of pretending to be someone you are not online. Creating a false identity to lure the unsuspecting, can have sinister consequences. Data protection and personal security on social media are a hot topic these days, but are the social media platforms doing enough to protect us? Some app settings have been […]
That save, from Pele at the 1970 World Cup. Everyone with a knowledge of football, considers it one of the greatest. RIP Gordon Banks OBE, the safest pair of hands. Banks’ career spanned 15 years, but was sadly cut short by injury. In comparison, today’s Premiership club managers are staying in their jobs for increasingly […]
The US and Russia have suspended a crucial nuclear weapon ban raising the spectre of another Cold War. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces or INF Treaty, prohibits the production or testing of ground-launched missiles with a range of up to 3,400 miles. The INF Treaty has kept nuclear-tipped cruise missiles off the European continent for over […]
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently published oil production forecasts which could alarm the Middle Eastern oil producers as well as other members of OPEC. The EIA forecasts the US is set to become a net exporter of crude oil and refined products by the end of 2020. Soaring US production, driven by the […]
Climate change – the link between humans eating meat and the associated CO2 and methane emissions from cattle and pigs, is now well established. We never fail to be amazed by the innovative idea’s entrepreneurs come up with – dog food using black soldier flies. Start-up pet food manufacturer Yora, claims that 40% of its […]
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The IMF has flagged sub-Saharan Africa as home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, almost 40% of the sub-Saharan Africa countries are in danger of slipping into a major debt crisis according to the Overseas Development Institute. The IMF is also concerned that Africa is heading towards a new debt crisis, with the […]
China is showing little inclination to let things go. In fact, the world’s second largest economy rarely seems out of the news these days as it continues to flex its muscles globally. In recent weeks Beijing has been accused of a worldwide campaign of cyber-attacks against the US, Britain and their allies, aimed at stealing […]
2018 was the year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac. China’s stock market proved to be a dog with the largest fall in 2018 of over 24%. However, it wasn’t much better for many other markets. Those markets more exposed to global economic slowdown suffered the most, with Germany down over 18% and Japan […]
Huawei (pronounced Wah Wey) is one of the world’s biggest makers of smartphones and networking equipment. The New Zealand government is the latest to prevent Huawei supplying a local mobile network with 5G equipment. Three members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance have now acted against the Shenzhen-based company whilst Canada is carrying out a security […]
The UK is a world leader in tackling climate change – with emissions reduced by more than 40% since 1990. However, in its first major update on climate change in almost 10 years, the Met Office has warned of significant temperature rises in the decades ahead. The UK Climate Projections 2018 or UKCP18 study suggests summer […]
Under fire audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, is investigating a growing number of cases involving the UK’s leading accountancy firms. The latest investigation involves alleged misconduct relating to audit work carried out at mattress company Silentnight. This adds to a growing list of other well publicised audit criticisms including Carillion and more recently Patisserie […]
Charismatic entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has been a prominent advocate of Brexit and recently insisted that the UK leaving the EU with no deal, would ‘make no difference’. With a massive research and development capability in the UK but a manufacturing presence in Singapore, it is understandable that Dyson would not envisage being impacted by […]
Japan’s ageing population is well documented and is creating many economic challenges. It is also reflective of demographic trends within many other countries. In Japan, a third of construction workers are over 54 years of age and they are not being replaced fast enough by younger workers. Japan’s pool of construction workers is forecast to […]
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At a time when we have chance to reflect on the war to end all wars, around 70 world leaders gathered in Paris to attend a peace conference – the Paris Peace Forum. Recent political disharmony has centred on national interests and spurred increased military tensions. As we approach a new era of independence, where does […]
There are a record number of global billionaires. The recent growth in Chinese super rich has been staggering. According to a report by Swiss bank UBS, the largest communist state, China produced billionaires at the rate of two a week in 2017, with some 373 by the end of the year and an estimated wealth […]
Italy’s populist government won this year’s elections with promises to spend big. However, are their promises already underwater? National debt already stands at €2.3trillion which is 131% of the economy. That means that Greece is the only country in the eurozone with a bigger debt burden at 178%. Italy is bound by the EU Stability […]
Notorious supervillain Gru is the main character of animated film Despicable Me. Some would say equally accident prone, but far more dangerous is GRU -Russia’s military intelligence unit. What are Putin’s minions up to? British and Dutch authorities recently named four members of Russia’s GRU caught red-handed trying to infiltrate the inquiry into the Salisbury […]
Autumn officially started on the 23rd September. Intriguingly, the season is referred to as ‘Fall’ in America and is roughly marked the recent peak of the US stock market. Along with many other global markets UK equities have taken something of a battering over the last week. While UK media has tended to focus on […]
Just in Time is a very simple concept, but one that is essential in modern manufacturing. Global supply chains and tight control of working capital means manufacturers and retailers rely on smooth running logistics, with delivery ‘just in time’ of components and finished goods. We appear to be entering the final countdown in the Brexit standoff. […]
You may not be surprised to hear that the Met Office has confirmed 2018 was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK as a whole and hotter than the sizzling summer of 1976 for England. However, according to the British Pest Control Association, the recent heatwave resulted in a significant increase in the […]
Xi Jinping and Putin – What are you cooking up? At a time of increasing tension between the East and West, Russia recently carried out its largest war game since the fall of the Soviet Union. The military training exercise, Vostok 2018, involved some 300,000 troops, including joint exercises and units from China. As both […]
Is it goodbye or until the next time? Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is calling time on the infamous Jäger bomb. The German herbal spirit Jägermeister is being replaced, along with a number of well-known European branded spirits, by domestic alternatives. Well known as a champion of Brexit and free trade, Tim Martin, has made a […]
The halfpenny was abolished in 1984 and the value of the 1p coin has subsequently been reduced by inflation. Furthermore, the Treasury estimates that six in ten 1p and 2p coins are only used once before being put in a jar or discarded while one in twelve is thrown into a bin. The government has […]
Tolls on the bridges across the River Severn between England and Wales will be scrapped by the end of 2018, when ownership passes to Highways England. This will remove the current toll of £6.70 for cars and up to £20 for lorries. This is in line with previous pledges by both the Conservative and Labour […]
When it comes to the environment, it appears even mining companies are exploring greener manufacturing options these days. This is in response to interest from major global brand owners who want to ensure consumers view their products and the packaging they are sold in, are as environmentally friendly as possible. Iron, steel and aluminium production […]
Despite the term ‘sea’ being used in its name, the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water and technically a salt water lake. Home to the sturgeon and producing between 80%-90% of the world’s caviar, the Caspian Sea is also highly-prized for its vast oil and gas reserves, estimated to be 50 […]
Despite apparent close government oversight, the sudden collapse of Carillion last year was a surprise to them and sent shockwaves through the UK construction sector. This has led to calls for a review of the government’s policy on outsourcing of public services to the private sector. Unsurprisingly, Jeremy Corbyn reiterated that a Labour government would look […]
Twice as many youngsters are believed to have applied to appear in ITV2 reality show Love Island as applied to attend Oxford and Cambridge Universities. A sad reflection on our country or the new reality of easy money to be made from social media? The winners Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, besides picking up the […]
Those of us of a certain age might well have some fond memories of the golden summer of 1976. Whilst many of us enjoyed the endless days of summer sun, the country was actually in crisis, caught up in the worst drought for 250 years. This led to the appointment of Denis Howell […]
Overnight the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that over half of the packaging reported as recycled, is actually being sent abroad to be ‘processed’. For decades, China was the world’s largest importer of waste — a status that many countries took for granted, However, from January this year in a surprise move, Beijing […]
The Piccadilly line tube station in Enfield, North London, will be temporarily rebranded Gareth Southgate for 48 hours from Monday, Transport for London has today revealed. Now onto other notable disruptions this morning… Some traditional business models, that have existed for many years, are now under threat from a new age of internet- based disruptors. […]
As the UK swelters in a heatwave and the nation’s thoughts turn to Moscow, lets ponder a taxing question. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published a report examining the growth of electric vehicles and the repercussions for the oil market. This included looking at the possible impact on the tax revenue of governments globally […]
Our banks and building societies are closing branches at an alarming rate as they seek to reduce costs in the face of changes in consumer banking trends. Last month, Royal Bank of Scotland announced it was to close a further 162 branches bringing the total planned closures so far in 2018 to approximately 800. Half […]
A pan European shortage of CO2 could take the fizz out of our summer celebrations. At least five producers in northern Europe are reportedly closed due to a combination of technical failures and planned repairs causing the worst supply situation to hit the European CO2 business in decades. Carbon dioxide is actually a by-product of […]
Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the World Cup is underway, which made us think. Investing can be a bit like a football match. Why? Well, it’s the result that matters, but often it can be ‘a game of two halves’. These days, more companies are issuing trading updates to keep investors up to speed […]
The term ‘vanilla’ when investing, typically describes a simplistic or basic version of a financial instrument, not exotic or with leverage for those seeking extra spice. Talking of spices, saffron is more valuable than gold. Vanilla, due to the difficulty in cultivating the delicate vanilla orchid flower, is now as expensive as silver. Madagascar, which […]
The spring Bank Holiday weekend saw thunderstorms and torrential rain sweeping across parts of Britain, with dramatic lightning flashes across the sky. Around 15,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the early hours of Saturday morning. This week we expect more lightning. However, this is the long-awaited arrival of the first £100m new ‘game changer’ F-35 […]
Napoleon famously described us as a nation of shopkeepers. However, Britain is rapidly becoming an island of inventors and entrepreneurs. London is Europe’s leading start-up economy, despite the uncertainty around Brexit. Encouragingly, according to a recent research report small business survival rates are over 90% after one year of trading, although after five years just […]
Technological change seems to be moving at an even faster pace these days and where America leads the rest of the world tends to follow. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has previously had extremely tight rules on the use of drones but has selected ten commercial drone projects to test new ways for unmanned […]
Oil recently hit a 3-year high as tensions in the Middle East have escalated and President Trump has pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal. However, this has distracted attention from elsewhere in the resource rich region. A major geopolitical crisis involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan has erupted over who controls the Nile, the world’s […]
Car workers at BMW in Germany are wearing ‘smart’ gloves that can scan objects when they put their thumb and forefinger together and the data is sent wirelessly to a central computer. The smart gloves have replaced hand-held barcode readers and allows the workers to keep hold of items with both hands speeding up the […]
A recent study by structural warranty provider, LABC Warranty, has revealed that over a 50-year period new houses built in the UK have been shrinking in size. Along with the size, the number of houses has diminished, as regulations and guidelines for new housing developments have increased. The analysis concluded that house sizes are smaller […]
The 2013 multi-Oscar winning film ‘Gravity’, featured two American astronauts attempting to return to Earth after the mid-orbit destruction of their shuttle by space debris. After 60-years of space exploration the Earth’s atmosphere has a mass of debris, ranging from old rocket bodies and defunct spacecraft to screws and even flecks of paint. The average […]
Top Trumps may be fondly remembered from its original heyday in the playgrounds of the 1970’s and 1980’s. In the digital era, how has the game ensured its longevity? It appears to have attracted young players by offering a broad range of popular subjects from volcanoes and dinosaurs to bugs and predators. It has further […]
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for environmental protection and food production – covering both agriculture and fishing. Defra covers arguably the two most nationally sensitive and certainly well publicised links between the UK and the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. Defra also oversees £3bn […]
‘Rules of Origin’ might sound like the sequel to ‘Game of Thrones’ but with under a year to go to the Brexit Article 50 deadline could prove significant. It is effectively how you define where a product comes from and whether we can say ‘Made in Britain’. For some industries, this could prove quite a […]
Absolutely Nothing! The global economy is growing nicely. Having done their job, central banks are starting to withdraw previous stimulus measures and some have embarked on the longer-term path to normalising interest rates. Central banks have to manage inflation, but not choke off growth, given the high level of global debt. Their challenge has suddenly […]
MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s ‘poisonous air’ in an unprecedented report from four Commons Committees. The Environment, Health, Transport and Environment Audit Committees want a new Clean Air Act along with a clean air fund financed by the transport industry. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have responded, by saying that […]
US President Donald Trump is in the eye of a storm – ‘Stormy’ Daniels. However, it’s not just the US ‘actress’ that is stormy or that Donald Trump is provoking a legal fight with. In a calculated move, Trump has raised the spectre of a trade war by implementing a 25% tariff on steel imports […]
Emma and the ‘Beast from the East’ caused havoc across most parts of the UK. On one hand it has seen great community spirit with 4×4 drivers taking nurses to hospitals and people handing out hot drinks and food to drivers stranded in their cars. On the other hand, despite the herculean efforts of gritting […]
#Chickengate A lack of chickens is a serious issue for a company whose business model relies on selling fried chicken! Delivery problems meant that at the peak of the chicken crisis, more than 600 KFC outlets were forced to close last week, while others offered a reduced menu or shortened hours. KFC recently switched its […]
As the FA sells off the latest batch of broadcasting rights to Premier League matches, we look at the politics of business. In the UK, there is still a chance that divisions within the Conservative party could lead to another leadership contest. Would this in turn lead to another general election? In its shift to […]
If Trump manages the US economy like his former Atlantic Casino, then, then we all have a problem. Last year, Channel 4 aired a critical 4-part documentary about Donald Trump’s life. In summary, a ‘story of audacious deals, enormous gambles, catastrophic misjudgements, wives, mistresses, ego, dynastic ambitions, politics and celebrity’. This included the collapse of […]
‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently admitted it had made mistakes in the way it had measured the telecoms sector between 2010 and 2015. The Deputy Chief Economist for the ONS, highlighted just how far the current statistics could […]
The world remains a dangerous place with ongoing geo-political tension in the Korean peninsula and fighting in many parts of the Middle East. In addition, there is China’s build-up in the South China Sea disturbing smaller neighbours and Russian military training exercises making former eastern-bloc countries increasingly uneasy. Increased Russian spy plane and submarine activity […]
New York City has filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell – to recoup money spent on protecting the City from the effect of climate change. The suit requests a judgement to determine, the current and future costs incurred by the city and what […]
2018 looks as it is starting where 2017 ended, with President Donald Trump pushing the buttons. Cancelling his high-profile visit to London, a suggested pay off to an ‘adult entertainer’, defending racist accusations, and of course tweets about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has tweeted ‘Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works’. Latterly, North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, in February. The North and South have also agreed to hold military talks to defuse border tension.
2018 will see some important milestones, most notably the 100th anniversary of end of the Great War. In addition, for the UK, it will be the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS. In the field of entertainment, it will mark Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary. In sport, 2018 will see the Winter Olympic Games […]
With the festive season finally here, retailers have revealed the top selling toys. The biggest seller this Christmas appears to be unicorns! This could well be due to the success of the 3D computer-animated comedy film series Despicable Me. Why is a unicorn special? Well, ‘it’s so fluffy’.
The University of Bristol has submitted an outline planning application for its new £300m city centre campus which will transform the landmark seven-acre site next to Bristol Temple Meads railway station. The campus will include a new £43m Quantum Technologies Information Centre as well as an innovation hub based on the successful Engine Shed, with the aim of helping more start-up businesses. When opened in 2021, some 3,500 students will be catered for initially with teaching and research focused on digital technologies.
Most of us might be surprised to learn that Tencent, a Chinese technology company, recently surpassed sector behemoth, Facebook in market capitalisation terms, making it the world’s most valuable social media company. Passing $500bn mark, it is the first Chinese technology company to join an elite group dominated by the US internet businesses. Tencent is not only bigger than any FTSE 100 constituent, it is actually larger than the top three index constituents – combined.
Investing in our transport infrastructure is vital to the UK to attract inward investment and compete in the world following Brexit. In case you haven’t noticed, ‘we have one of the most reliable railways in Europe’*. However, passenger numbers have doubled over the last 20 years and the rail network is currently creaking. To compound matters, passenger numbers are forecast to double again, over the next 25 years.
*Source: Network Rail
Blue Planet II is a reminder (if we needed one) of how precious our oceans are. It is captivating viewing, but a reminder that water is a precious commodity and that we need a greater global commitment on pollution – notably plastics. In the UK, every person uses approximately 150 litres of water a day. If you take into account the water that is needed to produce the food and products you consume or use in your day-to-day life, known as embedded water, we actually consume a staggering 3,400 litres – per day.
China has launched a new dredging ship capable of creating islands, such as those Beijing has already built in the disputed South China Sea. The ‘Tian Kun Hao’ has been dubbed the ‘magic island maker’ by Chinese state media. According to the designers, it is the largest dredger in Asia and can dig 6,000 cubic metres an hour, the equivalent of three standard swimming pools from 35 metres below the surface of the sea. China’s Belt and Road initiative is seeking to revive Silk Road trade routes, linking China with Africa and Europe. This includes developing a number of ports in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East and the ‘Tian Kun Hao’ could be used in deep water port construction.
We are on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution or 4IR, bringing together the benefits of robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Siemens UK, Rolls Royce, GKN, IBM and other manufacturers along with academics from the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle have produced a report to help the government’s industrial strategy plans.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a total of 121 recorded incidents of maritime piracy and robbery in the year-to-date. At present, pirates seem to be very active in the Gulf of Aden and Indian ocean, off the Somali coast, and in the strait of Malacca. However, could shipping be facing an even greater threat from ‘cyber piracy’ given the increasing use of computers in shipping control and navigation?
With only a month to go to the Budget, embattled Chancellor Philip Hammond is apparently planning to promote ‘intergenerational fairness’. Tax breaks could be offered to the newly influential younger generation, paid for by cutting reliefs for older and better off workers. Risking the wrath of the Party, the policy, which has been dubbed ‘tax on age’, could prove controversial as it is likely to target voters who typically might be expected to vote Conservative and would follow the poorly thought through ‘dementia tax’, that contributed to the disastrous election result. A cut in pension tax relief has latterly been mooted. This does highlight the challenge for politicians to address the gulf between older and younger voters that emerged during the EU referendum and General Election.
As we sit here reading about Ophelia, 30 years on from the great storm of ’87, Theresa May is heading off to Brussels in an attempt to resolve a Brexit deadlock. If only all her troubles could be resolved so easily. Our accident-prone PM is limping along, but has found herself in the eye of a storm – of her own making. Having botched a general election that she did not need to call, her popularity has plummeted, unfortunately she also fluffed her key party conference speech, due to a coughing fit and fell ‘victim’ to a prankster with a P45. On the face of it, Cabinet ministers have rallied around her, for now. Surely, the Conservative Party does not have the appetite for another leadership contest? More likely, in the midst of a power vacuum, who sees themselves as a unifying leader? Is it time for bungling Boris Johnson to make a move?
Europe’s largest carmakers have more than doubled the amount of lending on their Balance Sheets since the financial crisis with the growing use of credit in car sales. Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Renault are estimated to have €400bn of exposure to loans and leases to support car sales by providing attractive lending options to customers. The finance arms of the car manufacturers, many of which have banking licences, fund their lending through deposits and corporate bond issuance as well as complex securitisation, where loans are packaged up and sold to investors. Remind anyone of an earlier credit bubble?
The economic case for renewable energy in the UK has recently been given a boost as an auction to provide electricity from offshore wind farms proved cheaper than nuclear power for the first time. The price of electricity guaranteed to developers of new offshore wind power farms for 2022-23 has dropped to £57.50 per megawatt hour. The latest strike price for offshore wind, which is guaranteed for 15 years and rises with inflation, is substantially lower than the £92.50 per megawatt hour for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is also inflation linked and has been secured for 35 years.
The world remains a dangerous place and besides the ever- present terror threat, there is ongoing military tension with North Korea continuing to launch missiles and ongoing unease between Ukraine and Russia. Sanctions have been imposed on Russia, whose submarine and aircraft patrol activity seems to be as high as that seen during the Cold War. In the Pacific, China is turning into a major naval power to rival the US navy and is already in dispute with a number of neighbouring countries over the Spratly Islands.
The UK’s financial services regulator, the FCA, have enlisted the help of Hollywood legend and former Governor of the California, Arnold Schwarzenegger to draw the public’s attention to the ending of the PPI miss-selling claims – August 2019. Featuring an animatronic model head of Arnie, somewhat reminiscent of his acting roles, this is the latest in the annoying PPI related adverts that we have suffered over the years. Interestingly the eye-catching £42m bill is being met by the 18 institutions with the most PPI complaints.
When it comes to the causes of hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma, climate change is not a smoking gun. However, according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture. For every degree in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events more extreme when they occur. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are currently estimated to be about 1.5 degrees warmer than between 1980-2010 according to the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
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