Alpha Publications

Lockdown Lottery

23 November 2020

While the recent positive vaccine news is a game changer, until vaccines are rolled out across the population, social distancing/face masks/frequent hand washing remain our primary defence. Much ink has been spilt over lockdowns in the fight against Covid-19, while the primary weapon in enforcing social distancing to prevent the NHS being swamped and restricting […]


Cummings and Goings

16 November 2020

After a dramatic week of Cummings and goings at No. 10, Boris now has a chance to reflect as he self isolates due to Covid-19. Boris Johnson has had a busy time of it – fire-fighting Covid-19, preparing a policy re-launch, negotiating Brexit and considering his relationship with the US president elect. With so many plates […]


What’s Occurring?

9 November 2020

Apparently, the government always considered a pandemic to be the most serious threat to the UK economy. How? This is because a pandemic was listed at the top of the National Risk Register, a little-known Cabinet Office document that catalogue’s the country’s worst nightmares. This is actually based upon a classified document, the National Risk […]


Trucking Hell

2 November 2020

Deal or no deal, Brexit looks to be still proceeding. Logistics companies formally haulage or freight firms, are concerned about the prospect of trucking hell. Businesses are facing with the prospect of a wall of bureaucracy, that threatens chaos at the border when life begins after Brexit on 1st January 2021. Tony Shally, Managing Director of […]


Carbon Copy

26 October 2020

China is currently the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide, responsible for around 28% of global emissions. Coal the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, accounted for over 50% of China’s energy use in 2019. In a ‘momentous’ and unexpected move, last month China’s President Xi committed to a long-term goal on tackling carbon emissions. China will […]


A Shot in the Arm

19 October 2020

With clear signs that a second wave of Covid-19 has taken hold across Europe it looks as if we are in for a tougher fight against the virus than originally envisaged. However there has been some encouraging vaccine news in recent days and SAGE expert Jeremy Farr is now predicting that a Covid-19 vaccine will […]


Flashpoint

12 October 2020

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has accused Beijing of purposefully inflaming tensions in the Asian region and over the weekend called for “meaningful dialogue” with mainland China as long as it was willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations. Chinese warplanes recently crossed the sensitive median line across the narrow straight that separates the mainland […]


Jaws

5 October 2020

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” a classic line delivered by Roy Scheider in the 1975 film ‘Jaws’. Well, we’re now going to need a bigger shark! Squalene -traditionally sourced from shark liver oil has been used in a wide range of cosmetic and personal care applications, including skin care creams and coloured cosmetics due […]


A Bridge Too Far

28 September 2020

China has embarked upon its grand ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) to build road, rail and sea links to the rest of Asia, Africa and further beyond. Under President Xi’s BRI strategy, overseas investment and construction contracts are estimated to have ballooned to $730 billion in over 112 countries. By way of example, in the […]


Battlezone

21 September 2020

During the Great War, Britain built the first completed tank prototype ‘Little Willie’. The UK has an ageing and some would say obsolete fleet of some 227 tanks. Could the nation which invented the tank be about to abandon them? The nature of global warfare is changing rapidly. UK defence chiefs are talking about ‘sunrise […]


Kick Starter

14 September 2020

Massive support stimulus from central banks together with positive Covid-19 vaccine trials have supported market hopes of a V-shaped rebound in the global economy in 2021. However, there are many different views of the potential shape of economic recovery which include V, W, U, L and a Nike’s logo shaped ‘swoosh’. Last week we saw someone forecast a new […]


Barmy Army

7 September 2020

Boris Johnson’s government has seen its lead in voter polling evaporate with the Conservative and Labour parties are neck and neck on 40%. This would appear to reflect a procession of government U-turns which have provided Labour’s new leader Sir Keir Starmer with plenty of ammunition for Prime Minsters question time. Pressure is also building […]


Too Big to Ignore

7 September 2020

Government imposed lockdowns to tackle Covid-19 have been something of a wake-up call for many companies. In the era of globalisation and just in time supply chain efficiencies it has caused a massive disruption leading to shortages. To further complicate matters, there is escalating tension between the US and China. A recent survey by supply […]


It’s not Rocket Science

24 August 2020

Is the ‘race’ to develop an effective Covid-19 vaccine also becoming the ‘new nationalism’, as world leaders jostle with each other for access and control? Are corners being cut to win? This follows President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of regulatory approval of the Sputnik-V vaccine after less than two months testing. Russia appears to have skipped […]


Beware of Zombies

17 August 2020

Last week, it was reported that businesses in UK have lost almost 750,000 jobs since the start of the coronavirus lockdown and it could be getting much worse without ongoing government financial support. Begbies Traynor, a leading independent business recovery specialist recently warned that some 527,000 businesses were in ‘significant financial distress’ reflecting a ‘toxic […]


Ageing Gun

10 August 2020

Despite mixed initial reviews, Top Gun became an iconic film from the 80’s. By 2015, the United States Library of Congress even selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry.  The re-make of the 1986 film about the US Navy’s Fighter weapons School starring Tom Cruise Top Gun: Maverick, has been 30 years in the making but has […]


Space Wars

3 August 2020

At a time when countries need to pull together, East-West relations have worsened and it’s not just Trump getting caught with a frosty East wind.  It’s fair to say that relations between the UK and Russia are not great at the moment. Following the Salisbury poisonings incident and alleged hacking of UK scientists developing a […]


Testing times

27 July 2020

Scientists appear to be making significant strides in their fight against Covid-19.  According to reports more than 100 groups around the world are currently working on vaccines and 18 are now being tested on people in clinical evaluation trials. Last week, the preliminary results of a clinical trial by UK company Synairgen suggested a new treatment dramatically reduces […]


Love is in the Hair

20 July 2020

I was able to get my hair cut last week after nearly four months which provided an interesting micro-view on the UK economy and the challenge for many businesses. Hairdressers have seen pent-up demand but after the initial rush to get a haircut what level will business settle at? First, the shop’s capacity has been […]


No Place Like Home

13 July 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak and shift to even greater internet usage is going to lead to some fundamental changes in our lifestyles in the years ahead – where we live and where and how we work. This will have a massive impact upon the global property market, particularly houses, offices and shops. In Japan, technology firm […]


Bottleneck

6 July 2020

With the number of global Covid-19 cases still growing, fresh regional clusters and fears of a second wave in winter, the race is on to develop a vaccine. Britain is amongst the front runners with the likes of Oxford University and Imperial College along with major drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca. Having previously dismissed […]


Turning the Screw

29 June 2020

In last week’s Alpha Bites, ’A wolf in sheep’s clothing’ we highlighted how China had suspended some beef imports from Australia due to the latter’s call for a global enquiry into the Covid-19 outbreak. Developments appear to have taken a more sinister path recently with Australia coming under attack from a wave of foreign cyber […]


A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

22 June 2020

The Chinese foreign ministry has been taking an increasingly strident tone against the US and its allies in what has been dubbed ‘wolf-warrior diplomacy’, named after popular Chinese action films based on its special forces. This has seen it adopt a new approach which appears popular inside China, with a move from conservative, passive and […]


All at Sea

15 June 2020

Coronavirus outbreaks aboard cruise ships made distressing headlines at the start of the global pandemic. Many holiday makers were confined to their cabins and the ‘toxic’ cruise ships were detained in ports or frozen out at sea. So, spare a thought for some 400,000 mariners who are currently estimated to be stranded at sea or […]


Don’t Stand So Close To Me

8 June 2020

Drivers have got used to distancing chevron markers on some motorways to prevent vehicles getting too close in peak periods. This doesn’t seem to be open to debate and is simple common sense. Now we all have to get used to walking around shops, factories, warehouses and offices with 2-metre social distancing markers. However, now […]


Its A New Dawn, Its A New Day

1 June 2020

There is no doubting the fact that due to the Covid-19 pandemic the world will never be quite the same again. The lockdown measures enforced around the world have made many of us re-evaluate the meaning of life and for a time many local communities and neighbours felt closer. Tensions are starting to creep in […]


No Longer Besties

26 May 2020

In January, President Donald Trump heralded the signing of phase one of the US-China trade agreement – ‘This is the biggest deal anybody has ever seen.’ However, could the US and China trade deal be latest victim of Covid-19? The economic hit from lockdown measures suggest that China’s purchases of US goods is likely to […]


Letting Your Hair Down

18 May 2020

Governments are re-starting their economies and a growing number of people are pushing to ease lockdown restrictions.  All the ‘non-essential’ industries which have been in suspended animation for many weeks, will no doubt celebrate the opportunity to start on the path to normality (whatever that is). However, many sectors in the UK particularly hospitality, can […]


I Don’t Like Mondays

11 May 2020

Before the Covid-19 lockdown many of us faced that Monday morning feeling with the commute to work and the start of another working week. Some of you that have been self-isolating may be looking forward for the long-awaited return of that Monday morning feeling! However, will rush hour be consigned to history? The government is […]


The Single Greatest Logistical Challenge

4 May 2020

Later this week the government will be updating us on lockdown restrictions. It is widely expected that these will be the first measures aimed at unlocking the country. Five key tests have been identified, including if there is sufficient testing capacity and if there is enough PPE equipment in hand to meet future demand. Do […]


Boris is Back

27 April 2020

#Borisisback In the UK, full lockdown measures are in place until at least 7th May, but businesses and households are beginning to ask when can we start on the path towards returning to normal? The government has already outlined its five red lines to ease containment measures but PM Boris Johnson has urged caution on […]


The World Turned Upside Down

20 April 2020

We live in unprecedented times. The ‘law of the jungle’ or survival of the fittest is very much in play as Covid-19 lockdowns leads to recession in many countries. In this environment, investors have had to completely re-think – what is a defensive business? For example, in previous recessions pubs were relatively defensive as even […]


Testing Times

14 April 2020

Covid-19 has something in common with Brexit- the government is going to need an exit plan. Indeed, all governments are going to need a lockdown exit strategy. The next 7-10 days are going to be very painful for many families as we approach the Covid-19 peak. In the UK, the ‘three- week’ lockdown will, this […]


London’s Burning

6 April 2020

In 1666, when the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth was woken up to be told about the Great Fire of London, he replied ‘Pish! A woman might piss it out!’ If he had acted sooner the fire may have been contained to a smaller part of the city. Officially only 6 deaths were […]


It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow

30 March 2020

Boris Johnson who has himself tested positive for Covid-19 has tried to invoke a war time spirit in Britain’s fight against the virus, so will Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘It’s a lovely day tomorrow’ go viral? Given the lockdown perhaps we should all be singing ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials. Failing that what about John Denver’s […]


Its Life Jim

23 March 2020

Its life Jim, but not as we know it’ – not actually a quote from Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy from Star Trek, but a line from the 1987 song ‘Star Trekkin’ by The Firm. However, this phrase seems to aptly capture the unprecedented change in lifestyles for not only the UK, but also Europe, the US […]


Two Black Swans

16 March 2020

Black swan theory suggests it is an unpredictable event – that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Is coronavirus a black swan event? Global stock markets and the oil price have fallen significantly on coronavirus fears. Investors have always known there was a global health risk from China […]


No Fly Zone

9 March 2020

Last week, regional airline Flybe went into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk and casting a shadow over regional economies across the UK. This was due to a combination of factors, but there is no doubt that the coronavirus outbreak tipped it over the edge. Unfortunately, Flybe isn’t likely to be the only casualty. The […]


Don’t Panic

2 March 2020

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring The coronavirus outbreak is a reminder of how fragile life can be despite the massive strides made in healthcare in recent decades. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, last week was a rather painful one for equity investors with a 10% correction being felt across the majority of major markets. Having […]


Weather Warning

24 February 2020

2020 has been earmarked the UK Year of Climate Action. Judging by the weather that we have recently experienced, mother nature is keen to reinforce the message. Climate change continues to be a divisive and controversial topic. The top 10 warmest years in the UK, have all occurred since 2002. Higher temperatures mean more water evaporates […]


Excess Gas

17 February 2020

Alongside a tragic loss of life, coronavirus is having all sorts of ramifications globally and amongst the commodities to be hit, is liquified natural gas (LNG). Natural gas is greener and a cheaper alternative to oil. However, an excess of supply, has seen the price recently fall below $3 per million British thermal units, and […]


All that glitters is not gold

10 February 2020

Palladium is a precious metal 30 times as rare as gold. The price of palladium has soared on global commodities markets having recently peaked at about $2,500 an ounce – almost double its value a year ago. Indeed, it is now even more expensive than gold, but why has its valued rocketed? As ever it’s all […]


Green but Lean

3 February 2020

The increasing availability of electric and hybrid cars has made investors excited about new technology such as fuel cells and lithium batteries. The fact that many consumers ‘want to do their bit’ to address climate change should be supportive of the switch in the longer term to more environmentally friendly transport. However, the catch is […]


Cloud Hopper

27 January 2020

Some global equity markets have recently been propelled to fresh all-time highs as the US and China have signed the ‘phase one’ trade deal. However, the US and China look as far away as ever from addressing fundamental differences which are likely to come to the fore in ‘phase two’ talks. One of the key […]


Chernobyl

20 January 2020

2019 was memorable as it saw the UK generate more power from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. However, this includes nuclear power which comes with a catch. Having recently watched Sky/HBO’s critically acclaimed mini-series ‘Chernobyl’ it got us thinking about the nuclear industry in our part of […]


Quick Sand

13 January 2020

At the start of a new decade, we are again reminded about climate change with the terrible fires in Australia.  Growing numbers of us in developed western countries are concerned about the global climate, while many of those in emerging economies aspire to own what we take for granted. Global population growth is driving greater […]


20/20 Vision – Investment Themes Beyond Brexit

6 January 2020

2020 promises to be a year of change so as we enter a new decade, we thought we’d be a little different and look at some of the key global business trends over the next decade*. Population growth, urbanisation, the internet of things  Global population growth will be a key factor and will in turn […]


Blue Nodules

16 December 2019

The growth of electric vehicles has sent demand soaring for cobalt, an essential component in batteries. Some analysts have calculated that the amount required for the batteries of just the UK’s electric cars in 2050 would require nearly twice the world’s current output of cobalt. At the moment most of the world’s cobalt is mined […]


Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

9 December 2019

Congratulations to Anthony Joshua on regaining his heavyweight titles in the re-match against Andy Ruiz Jr. on Saturday. However, there is an even more significant world ’heavyweight’ bout underway between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping that will really make history. Both world leaders are effectively fighting over 5G -the fifth generation of mobile networks. 5G […]


Going up in Smoke

2 December 2019

Scientists at Cardiff University recently published a study which suggests that global wind speeds have increased substantially since 2010. Heating of the Earth’s surface has changed ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns which, together with a change in land surface roughness has increased wind speeds. Technical innovation was believed to be the main driver of increased […]


Having Trouble Taking Off Captain?

25 November 2019

“Having trouble taking off, captain?” A question once asked of me by a policeman who had pulled my car over. However, ship captains may also need to watch their speed in the future. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has been discussing the speed of ships following a study and campaign undertaken by Seas at Risk […]


Cyber Storm

18 November 2019

Wall Street hit a fresh all-time high last week as the US and China announced that they had held ‘constructive discussions’ in phase one of their trade talks. However, we are mindful that phase two, covering intellectual property and technology is something of a more challenging long-term goal. In the meantime, tension between the two […]


Satan 2 Trump 1

11 November 2019

The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, the New START Treaty, is due to expire in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy. In a ramping up of its nuclear deterrent, Russia has successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile […]


The JEDI order

4 November 2019

  Not a new chapter in the film series Star Wars but the saga surrounding the award of a new cloud-based computer contract in the USA, involving no less than President Donald Trump and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The Pentagon has recently awarded a $10bn cloud-computing contract to Microsoft, following a heavily scrutinised bidding process […]


Dark Fate – Rise of the Machines

28 October 2019

The latest film in the Terminator franchise, Dark Fate starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently in cinemas, so this week, we return to one of our past themes, the ‘Rise of the Machines’. The Terminator film franchise spans 35 years and like Arnold, might be getting a bit old in the tooth but reality does appear […]


Rip it DUP and start again

21 October 2019

The challenge with any new technological development is making it commercially viable. While many investors have been getting very excited about the development of electric vehicles and associated technology such as batteries and the raw material components, there have been a few high-profile setbacks recently. For example, Dyson, best known for its vacuum cleaners, has […]


Extinction Rebellion or Extension Rebellion

14 October 2019

Flygskam – ‘flight shame’ appears to be spreading. High-profile environmental campaigns led by Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg, has helped push the climate crisis up the political agenda.  Separately, a report out today commissioned by the government’s climate change adviser, the Committee on Climate Change, has called for an end to ‘air miles’ incentives for […]


Adapting to Change

7 October 2019

Will we drop the green baton? The IMF has called upon governments to pick up the baton from central banks and undertake fiscal stimulus. Central banks remain in supportive mode providing stimulus for the global economy. However, while the US Federal Reserve has a bit more scope to cut interest rates, it does feel as […]


He-lp

30 September 2019

Helium (He), is an inert gas with one of the lowest boiling points of any element. It is therefore used as a cooling medium in a range of applications from satellites to medical MRI scanners, as well as the Large Hadron Collider. A mixture of helium and oxygen is also used by deep sea divers. […]


You Cannot be Sirius*

23 September 2019

With apologies to John McEnroe* Last week, Sirius Minerals announced it had been forced to cancel plans to issue a $500m bond to help partly fund a £3bn mining project it is developing in the North Yorkshire moors. The shares fell by over 50% on the news. The Sirius Minerals project was set to be […]


Goodbye PPI and Spam

16 September 2019

The total PPI claims bill has still to be finalised, but is now expected to be well in excess of £50bn! A staggering amount of money and a major windfall for consumers. The FCA’s PPI claims advertising campaign in the run up to the final deadline of 29th August 2019, appears to have worked too […]


Skyfall

9 September 2019

Russia’s weather service, recently reported that radiation levels had spiked sixteen times higher than normal in the far north of the country. This appeared to follow a fatal explosion in the port city of Severodvinsk where Russia’s state nuclear agency, said a nuclear-powered engine was being tested. Western military experts believe that this could be […]


Bananas!

2 September 2019

An estimated 30% of food consumed in the UK comes from the EU. However, in the case of some products such as spinach and olive oil, the EU is practically the UK’s sole supplier. This has raised concerns about product availability in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Fortunately, British food producers supply about 50% […]


North South Divide

27 August 2019

On June 30th 2019, President Trump made history by becoming the first serving US President to step into North Korea in a meeting with Kim Jong-Un at the demilitarised zone. Trump said he had ‘developed a great relationship’ with the North Korean leader. However, just a few months later and tensions have resurfaced. North Korea […]


No Man Is an Island

19 August 2019

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 […]


Zandmotor

12 August 2019

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 […]


Talking Rubbish

5 August 2019

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 […]


Gone Phishing

29 July 2019

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 […]


Boiling Point

22 July 2019

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 […]


Hijacked

15 July 2019

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 […]


It’s not rocket science

8 July 2019

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 […]


Europe Reaches Boiling Point

1 July 2019

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 […]


Turkey Shoot

24 June 2019

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 […]


Take That Back

17 June 2019

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 […]


Rogue Waves

10 June 2019

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 […]


Jakarta has that Sinking Feeling

3 June 2019

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 […]


This cloud has a silver lining

28 May 2019

  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 […]


End of the Road for PPI

20 May 2019

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 […]


Food of the Future

13 May 2019

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 […]


A Swine to Deal With

7 May 2019

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 […]


A Job for Life?

29 April 2019

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 […]


A Tale of Two Cities

23 April 2019

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 […]


Problems Without Passports

15 April 2019

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 […]


Brexit Under Water

8 April 2019

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 […]


Brexit Cancelled

1 April 2019

…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 […]


Turning Back Time

25 March 2019

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 – Outlook Uncertain

18 March 2019

‘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 Swinging Sixties

11 March 2019

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 […]


Getting Lost

4 March 2019

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 – Avoid Getting Hooked

25 February 2019

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 […]


A Safe Pair of Hands

18 February 2019

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 […]


Going Ballistic

11 February 2019

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 […]


Reversing the Flow

4 February 2019

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 […]


A Barking Idea

28 January 2019

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 […]


The Chinese Way

21 January 2019

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 […]


Frozen Out

14 January 2019

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 a dog’s breakfast. What does the future hold?

7 January 2019

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 […]


No Way Huawei

17 December 2018

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 […]


A Warmer but Wetter Outlook

10 December 2018

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 […]


Spotlight on Auditors

3 December 2018

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 […]


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