Alpha bites...bite sized pieces of financial information

Forward-looking statements

20 May 2024

“It is not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages.” – poet William Carlos Williams. Management teams must sometimes be puzzled by the share price reaction when they announce results to the stock market. For example, occasionally ‘record’ results can be rewarded […]

China’s Goldfinger

13 May 2024

Gold has recently hit an all-time high and finished last week at $2,360, but what has been driving the price higher? It is a far cry from 1999, when Chancellor Gordon Brown announced his decision to sell half of the UK’s gold reserves when gold was standing at a 20-year low. That decision came to […]

China has that sinking feeling

7 May 2024

Just when you thought China’s property woes could not get any worse, a report from a group of Chinese universities suggests that nearly half of the country’s major cities are sinking! The study covered 82 Chinese cities, each with a population of over 2 million, using radar observations from Sentinel-1 satellites to measure vertical land […]

Pothole Politics

29 April 2024

It is estimated that there are over a million potholes on UK roads. In the Autumn Spending Review of 2020, when Rishi Sunak was Chancellor, he announced £1bn of additional funding to fill in potholes. On the 15th January 2021 he then heralded ‘enjoy National Pothole Day before they are all gone.’ Will these words […]

Electric Shock

22 April 2024

The ‘AI’ induced ‘Magnificent Seven’ produced an average return of over 100% in 2023, compared to the S&P 500 returning 24% and have dominated markets over the last twelve months.* The seven in question are Nvidia, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Tesla, and Meta, but they have so far enjoyed a very mixed 2024. The momentum […]

Geo-Political Tectonics

15 April 2024

The recent earthquake in Taiwan is a reminder that the Earth’s tectonic plates are continually shifting. However, as earth plates shift, so do political landscapes. The US appears to be strategically re-positioning itself, in the face of the potential threat to Taiwan from China. This is being reflected in both a shift in its military […]

Dangerous Liaisons

8 April 2024

There is a global shortage of ammunition. Increased demand due to the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza has been compounded by a shortage of gunpowder. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a seismic event for NATO and defence spending. Years of under-investment, exacerbated by support for the global pandemic and energy crisis, […]

Greta Thunberg’s favourite person

2 April 2024

It was the world’s warmest February in modern times, according to the EU’s climate service, extending the run of monthly records to nine in a row. February 2024 was about 1.77C warmer than ’pre-industrial times’ according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The WMO blames heat-trapping greenhouse gases, which it believes are the main culprit. […]

A Taxing Problem

25 March 2024

The take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK is being driven by fleet buyers rather than consumers, and while market share fell last year, according to some estimates, by 2035 EVs could account for over 40% of the cars on our roads. This will create a fiscal headache for whichever party is in government, […]

Power Crunch

18 March 2024

Some good news at last for UK households, with energy prices expected to fall by over 12% in April. From 1st April 2024, the Energy Price Cap, which dictates what most households pay for energy, is set to drop by an average of £238 or 12%. However, the UK could face a power crunch point […]

FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out

11 March 2024

The total value of Bitcoin is now worth over $1.3tn, making it 50% of the overall $2.6tn cryptocurrency market. With a simultaneous rally in the price of gold, that has also reached a new all-time high, what messages are these sending out about the health of global financial markets? Both are a potential cause for […]

Size Matters

4 March 2024

The stock market does love acronyms and catchy names. It started with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), but has moved on to the largest US quoted stocks developing from the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Apple, Alphabet, Nvidia, Tesla). The latest is the ‘Trillion Dollar Club’ […]

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

26 February 2024

With the war in Ukraine entering its third year, a peaceful resolution looks as distant a prospect as one in the Middle East. Putin is seeking re-election – a guaranteed outcome, has put Russia’s economy on a war footing, and is hoping that Donald Trump wins the US presidential election. Over the weekend, President Volodymyr […]

America First – The Sequel

19 February 2024

Donald Trump is polling 11 points ahead of an increasingly frail-looking, 81-year-old  President Joe Biden. By the time of the November election, Donald Trump will be 78, and assuming Biden feels compelled to stand for re-election, it will be the first presidential election where both candidates will be older than the average US life expectancy. […]

Switching off

12 February 2024

The UK registered its one millionth electric car last month. However, a 16% drop in sales by private buyers, has added to fears that sales growth is stalling. The uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK continues to be driven by fleet buyers, helped by tax incentives as companies seek to hit environmentally friendly […]

A shrinking pool of talent

5 February 2024

The UK stock market has a problem: a shrinking in the number of listed companies. Research has shown that over the last decade, the London Stock Exchange coupled with the junior market, AIM, has seen a 25% decrease in the number of listed firms. The pace of companies leaving the market due to takeovers, principally […]

Lifting the lid on car finance

29 January 2024

The cost to the banking sector of the PPI (payment protection insurance) scandal is thought to have been in excess of £40bn. At least the compensation provided a welcome boost to UK consumer spending! Surely, lessons will have been learned, but there could not be another mis-selling scandal, could there? Well, yes there could, as […]

Red Sea Danger

22 January 2024

The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are one of the world’s most dangerous shipping routes. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and an alliance of eight other mostly Sunni Arab states backed by the US, UK, and France, began airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen. The Houthi Shia Muslim rebels seized control of northern […]

A piece of (yellow) cake*

15 January 2024

Oppenheimer, the movie about the father of the atomic bomb, recently cleaned up at the Golden Globes. How fitting therefore, that uranium was one of the biggest winners amongst commodities last year, with an increase of 86%, closing 2023 at a 15-year high. Despite accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear energy is increasingly being […]

Taiwan, living in the Dragon’s mouth

8 January 2024

The Chinese New Year 2024 will be the year of the Dragon, and will bring authority, prosperity, and good fortune, but for who? For many other countries, it will be the year of elections, particularly the UK and US. The first key election of 2024 is one that Beijing will be watching very closely, and […]

What’s in store for 2024?

2 January 2024

The Global Investment Outlook – 2024 Looking into the crystal ball – what is in store for 2024? Elections and interest rate cuts! Inflation is coming down, but for some economies, the last mile may prove more difficult. Encouragingly US PCE inflation fell below the Fed’s 2% target in November.  Central banks are expected to […]

Human V AI Christmas Challenge

18 December 2023

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ so as this is the last Alpha Bites of 2023, we thought we would try a festive experiment. We have two modern versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas, one produced by us and one by AI. We would love to know which you think is most festive. Ours […]

Don’t bank on it?

11 December 2023

UK banks are closing branches at an alarming rate. The latest bank branch closures bring the total number of high-street branches shut across the sector to 623 so far this year. This is yet another inevitable structural shift due to the growth of internet banking. However, branch closures have created angst in rural communities, especially […]

I’m afraid there is no money

4 December 2023

Former Treasury Minister Liam Bryne left a now infamous note for his successor when Labour left government in May 2010. It said, ’Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind Regards – and good luck! Liam.’ Given the recent success in local by-elections and with the Labour party 20% ahead in the polls, […]

China Crisis

27 November 2023

China recently recorded a deficit of $11.8bn in foreign investment in the three months to the end of September, the first time since records began in 1998. In essence, foreign businesses appear to be withdrawing money out of China at a faster rate than they have been putting it in. Big multinational companies are not […]

Deep Sea Resources Mining

20 November 2023

In the face of growing international opposition to deep sea mining, at the end of October, the UK government announced its support for measures designed to protect the world’s oceans and improve the conservation of marine biodiversity. Ahead of this month’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN […]

Isambard AI Brunel?

14 November 2023

Given the transformational nature of “AI”, we should not really be surprised to learn that AI has been named Word of the Year for 2023 by Collins Dictionary. PM Rishi Sunak recently hosted an AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park and wants the UK to be a world leader in the technology. The summit was […]


6 November 2023

US President Joe Biden recently warned China that the US will defend the Philippines in case of any attack in the disputed South China Sea. He said ‘I want to be clear – I want to be very clear: The United States’ defence commitment to the Philippines is ironclad.’  Biden added, “Any attack on the […]

A Sirius business

31 October 2023

An estimated 85,000 retail investors and a high proportion of those living in Yorkshire lost considerable amounts of money in 2020 investing in Sirius Minerals.   Sirius invested around £1bn to access the world’s largest known deposit of polyhalite underneath the North York Moors National Park near Whitby. As Sirius ran out of money, the […]

If you see me, then weep

23 October 2023

During Europe’s long, hot summer of 2022, river levels fell alarmingly. The hunger stones in the Elbe River at Děčín in the Czech Republic, are engraved with the words ‘if you see me, then weep’ which were a historic indicator of famine, were once again exposed. A year later and the Amazon River is experiencing […]

The Grey Zone

16 October 2023

War or at peace, or somewhere in between? Grey zone warfare tactics are aimed at weakening an adversary, over a prolonged period. Military analysts believe this is what China is trying to do with Taiwan. Last month, a record number of Chinese fighter jets crossed the unofficial border between them. By regularly crossing Taiwan’s Air Defence […]

Palm Oil. A sustainable solution is in hand

9 October 2023

Palm oil use is controversial – production is damaging to the environment and it is high in saturated fat, causing concerns about our health. It is used in everything from chocolate to pizza, shampoo, and deodorant to toothpaste. It is believed to be present in 50% of all supermarket items, across every category. It is […]

Rules of Origin

2 October 2023

Following Alpha Bites ‘Made in China,’ another challenge appears to be facing the European car manufacturing industry. The problem stems from the ‘rules of origin’, which come into force in January 2024, following Brexit. Rules of origin determine the ‘economic nationality’ of a good and were a key part of the UK/EU trade agreement. Rules […]

Not enough money in the pot

25 September 2023

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking of the war in Ukraine, said that Russia ‘has unleashed a nexus of horror. Lives have been destroyed, human rights abused, families torn apart, children traumatised and hopes and dreams shattered.’ The recent G20 meeting in India produced a watered-down statement regarding the war in Ukraine and incredibly Russia was […]

A blow for offshore wind

18 September 2023

The UK’s renewable energy strategy has been dealt a blow as no new offshore wind project contracts have been bought by developers in the latest key government auction. While there were no bids for new offshore wind farms, there were deals for solar, tidal, onshore wind projects and for the first time, geothermal. The UK […]

Made in China

11 September 2023

‘Gravity’ is to be built on the former Royal Ordnance Factory site near Bridgwater, Somerset, just down the road from Hinkley Point C and will create 4,000 jobs. The £4bn investment will make batteries for Jaguar Land Rover and will eventually provide almost half of the UK’s car battery production by 2030. While a positive […]

G- Force

4 September 2023

BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The term ‘BRIC’ was originally developed in the context of foreign investment strategies by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001 and evolved to include South Africa in 2010. BRICS has recently held its latest conference in Johannesburg. However, Putin attended virtually to […]

Dire Straits

29 August 2023

Over the past two decades, China’s economy has increased in value by a staggering six times! Far beyond the most optimistic expectations, propelling it into second place behind the US in the world rankings, with a GDP of c. $19.4trillion. China has been a big winner of globalisation and grew its economy through the development […]

Looking over the pond

21 August 2023

They say the grass is always greener on the other side or in this case, the other side of ‘the pond’. UK equities continue to trade at extremely low valuations by historic standards, while US equities remain close to a record high. No wonder, more quoted companies are mulling the idea of moving their UK […]

I got 89 problems

14 August 2023

Investment managers must assess their client’s attitude to risk, but in turn, must also consider market volatility and global macroeconomic risks. While markets act as a barometer of investor confidence and like to think they are pricing in the ‘known-knowns’ such as the path of interest rates, there can be sudden unexpected challenges such as […]

You only had one job…

7 August 2023

Andrew Bailey, Governor of The Bank of England (BoE), has stated there are ‘very big lessons to learn’, after failing to spot the current inflationary bubble. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is primarily responsible for keeping the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation close to a target, currently 2% per year. Having faced criticism for failing to act soon enough […]

A Latin love affair

31 July 2023

China has surpassed the US as South America’s top trading partner. China’s ties to the region date back to the sixteenth century, but today is it a partner or a predator?  It is also a major source of foreign direct investment and lending in South American energy and infrastructure projects, including through its Belt & […]


24 July 2023

The closure of the bank accounts of ‘politically exposed persons’ (PEPs) has made news headlines recently after several public figures, including Nigel Farage, complained their accounts had been shut without warning. City Minister Andrew Griffith is believed to have summoned nineteen bank chiefs to a meeting to discuss how customers can be protected from being […]

A Smoking Gun

17 July 2023

Last week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its member countries, agreed to a new strategy that will bring emissions down to net-zero ‘by or around’ 2050. However, environmental groups are furious, stating the targets do not go far enough. Wealthier nations and small island states had called for a 50% reduction in emissions by […]


10 July 2023

With politicians and even Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England accusing some retailers of ‘profiteering’ during the cost-of-living crisis, the role of UK regulators is coming under greater public and political scrutiny. This has fuelled fears of monopolistic greedflation. The water regulator Ofwat has already received considerable flak from the UK public over […]

A Great British Energy dilemma

3 July 2023

The politics of power. Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer is looking to tap into concerns about climate change. Starmer has announced that if his party wins the next general election, it would end new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. Labour is also proposing to support renewable projects such as onshore wind and […]

Inflation – Rocket Man

26 June 2023

What is to blame for inflation running hot? Central banks, Brexit, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine or Covid-19 and global supply chain disruption? Well, after a hot Glastonbury weekend, part of the blame apparently lies with the demand for music festivals and Beyoncé. The start of Beyoncé’s world tour in Sweden last month sparked such a […]

Feeling the Heat

19 June 2023

The hot weather is proving a challenge and we all seem to be feeling the heat! A news headline from last week ‘Britain fires up coal plant as solar panels suffer in hot weather’ has more to do with a spike in demand, due to air conditioning units, but the message is clear – we […]

Chess in the South China Sea

12 June 2023

While the war of attrition continues in Ukraine, a longer-term power struggle is developing in the Far East, between the US and its allies and China. In previous Alpha-Bites we have highlighted China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea, while the US has strengthened ties with Australia through the AUKUS agreement. Both military powers […]

G7 Chinese Takeaways

5 June 2023

Western leaders sent a strong message to Russia at the recent G7 meeting in Hiroshima by inviting Volodymyr Zelensky to attend. However, the G7 also had China in its sights. As the world’s second-largest economy and a key component of global supply chains, Western economies have become inextricably dependent on China but competition with Beijing […]

Facing Election Rejection?

30 May 2023

It feels an eternity since the UK European Union membership referendum in June 2016 and many of us will be scratching our heads trying to identify any positives. From a global investment perspective, it does also feel as if  the UK has been ‘wading through treacle.’ Following Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory in December 2019, […]

Bulking Up

22 May 2023

Many of you will no doubt be making car journeys over the summer. If travelling with children, you may like to know there is now another game to play to keep them occupied – spot the longer lorries! The government has approved the use of longer lorries on British roads, which it believes will make […]

AI – Rise of the Machines

15 May 2023

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently stated the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is the most important technological advance in decades. In a recent blog Gates called it as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone. “It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare […]

A slow boat from China

9 May 2023

Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns created considerable disruption to global supply chains and freight costs soared. As the world has emerged from lockdown, demand has normalised and supply chains constraints have eased. Thankfully, freight costs have also fallen back significantly from their peak which has helped both company profit margins and taken some of the pressure off […]

How do you like your chips?

2 May 2023

As readers will be aware, we are mindful of the ongoing tension building between the US and China and the potential impact the rift could cause on global trade. Increasing tensions have given rise to a significant shift in US government defence priorities, from counter-insurgency operations (Afghanistan, Iraq) to equipping forces for potential peer-to-peer competition […]

Bailouts on the Belt and Road

24 April 2023

Covid-19 then central bank interest rate hikes, the banking crisis and slower global economic growth has adversely impacted many smaller emerging economies. China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure finance programme is believed to have been hit by $78bn of bad debts over the last three years. No official data is available, but since 2013 […]

Return to Kernow

17 April 2023

Simon Reeve’s recent ‘Return to Cornwall’ on BBC2, provided an eye-opening look at why the county is one of the most desirable parts of the country and an iconic holiday destination, but also one of the poorest areas in England. In 2022, the average net household income was just £21,000 a year. This is well […]

A big bang or a pop?

3 April 2023

  In November last year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt proposed an overhaul of the insurance industry Solvency II rules. These require life assurance companies to hold a sizeable ‘buffer’ of assets on their balance sheets and dictates where they can invest these reserves. Should the overhaul go ahead given the current lack of confidence in global […]

The race to net-zero

27 March 2023

The European Commission recently proposed a Green Deal Industrial Plan. Within this, the Net-Zero Industry Act, will set a target for 40% of the EU’s clean technology to be built inside the eurozone by 2030. These include: solar, wind, batteries, energy storage and heat pumps – all low carbon technology manufacturing. The EU wants to strengthen […]

Watt – No charge?

20 March 2023

With 17 new wind farm projects planned for Scotland adding an additional 25GW generating capacity, the UK’s offshore wind power capacity is projected to more than double. In 2022, the government set an ambitious target to increase the UK’s offshore wind capacity to 50GW by 2030, so the planned wind farms are a major boost. […]

Diddly Squat

6 March 2023

Current shortages of some fruit and vegetables are a harsh reminder how fragile the UK’s food supply chain is. The ‘clock is ticking’ for the UK government to protect homegrown food supply, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president recently warned. Speaking at the NFU annual conference, Minette Batters said that farmers are being hit by […]

War, what is it good for?

27 February 2023

Last week marked the first anniversary of Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The worst war in Europe since 1945 has inflicted immense suffering on the people of Ukraine and created a humanitarian crisis. Ukraine and its supporters in the free world have risen to the challenge better than expected. However, European nations that have withstood […]

The Art of War

20 February 2023

Wars should be avoided at all cost. As we approach the first anniversary of the start of the Ukrainian conflict, we have learnt that modern warfare has evolved. Hybrid warfare does not involve actual traditional physical attacks with someone opening fire with a weapon. Hybrid refers to the use of non-conventional methods, that are non-attributable […]

You reap what you sow

13 February 2023

  The good news is that across Europe and the US, inflation is heading lower. This is key to central bank interest rate policy, with markets anticipating a slower rate of interest rate hikes as inflation eases. However, some components of the inflation data are proving ‘stickier’ than others. Clearly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has […]

A shellfish act

6 February 2023

Some 111 projects across the UK have recently won a share from the £2.1bn second round of the government’s Levelling Up Fund. Combined with first round results, announced in October 2021, the Levelling Up Fund has awarded £3.8 billion to 216 projects! This comes at a time when the government has been facing a major […]

Green with envy

30 January 2023

Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), recently warned that the world has entered a green technology ‘subsidy arms race.’ This followed news that the EU is to make ‘unprecedented’ investments in clean technologies in a bid to counter the Biden administration’s $369bn Inflation Reduction Act. The fear is that without government […]

Great Expectations

23 January 2023

We‘ve probably all experienced this. You look forward to something only to find that it does not live up to your expectations, particularly holidays. If you pay for a 5-star hotel then you want 5-star service and if the destination is overseas, you also expect cloudless skies and unbroken sunshine. The disappointment is therefore far […]

Blown away

16 January 2023

Outlook – hopefully mild and windy  Wind supplied almost 27% of the UK’s annual power for the first time ever last year. Wind also accounted for a greater proportion of UK energy generation than nuclear at 15.5%. However, gas also increased its share of power generation, reaching a three-year high at 38.5%. Indeed, the UK […]

Fog warning

9 January 2023

  Until the mini-budget mayhem of last September many of us will have been blissfully unaware of Liability-Driven Investment (LDI). This is a basically a strategy to enhance returns within some UK defined benefit pension funds from government bonds. Unfortunately, the mini-budget created a seismic shock within the LDI sector that, in turn, almost led […]

The Global Investment outlook – What do we see for 2023?

3 January 2023

  What did we highlight last year?   This time last year in ‘Catch-22 in 2022’ we highlighted the challenge for central bankers – would they be able to tame the inflation tiger as the global economy emerged from Covid-19 lockdown? In the event, they all proved to be too far behind the curve and […]

The twelve strikes of Christmas

19 December 2022

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas and not a train or postal van was stirring. Strike action continues to hamper the UK economy. Even Santa’s elves have announced they will be taking industrial action in the run up to Christmas in a dispute over ‘pay and conditions’. Although, this is not thought to be […]

Sitting on a gold mine

12 December 2022

  The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) forum estimates there is a global ‘mountain’ of electrical and electronic waste from washing machines to laptop computers and smartphones. The weight of discarded electronic devices could amount to as much as 74million tonnes by 2030. The average UK household is estimated to have about £600 of […]

Is meat no longer murder?

5 December 2022

  The UK’s worst outbreak of avian or bird flu has led to a lockdown of all captive birds in the UK and there is concern that the availability of Christmas turkeys could be under threat. Half of the free-range turkeys produced for Christmas – some 600,000 birds have been culled or died. Bird flu […]

Renewable Energy – I’m a big fan

28 November 2022

  In a last-minute deal, COP27 established a pooled fund for smaller nations most affected by climate change. However, for many countries the last hours of negotiations represented a real step backwards in the fight against rising temperatures. Last year’s decision to ‘phase down’ the use of coal did not progress to the ‘phasing out […]

Alright me old China?

21 November 2022

  Ream Naval Base is a facility operated by the Royal Cambodian Navy on a peninsula along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. However, Cambodia is believed to have signed a deal with China that will allow the Chinese PLA Navy exclusive access to the base for at least 30-years. China may want to […]

Triple Dip

14 November 2022

The COP27 conference in Egypt has again focused our minds on climate change and extreme weather. It is noticeable that the leaders of the three of the biggest polluters – China, India and Russia, have not attended. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently announced that the weather phenomenon La Niña, has formed for the third […]

Robots at your Service

7 November 2022

Robots are being increasingly used in the fields of manufacturing, logistics, medical and defence, but are now starting to gain traction within the customer facing service sector. Big Table Group, which runs the Bella Italia brand has recently trialled robot front of house waiters. Early signs are that ‘BellaBots’ are proving a hit with customers […]

The Beast from the East

31 October 2022

  Could a looming recession in Europe actually be good news? In one respect yes, for gas prices and household energy bills. Gas prices soared in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s frantic scramble to store gas for winter and to reduce its dependence on Putin’s gas supplies. However, gas prices have […]

A Restless Dragon

24 October 2022

      If Ukraine is the storm, then is China the climate crisis? In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping refused to rule out using force to unify Taiwan with mainland China, but will strive for a peaceful resolution.  Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State suggested China is pursuing reunification with […]

Dear, oh dear

17 October 2022

      When former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng stood up to deliver his mini-budget, little did he realise what mayhem he was about to unleash. The Bank of England (BoE) had to launch emergency support to avert a self-reinforcing sell-off in the long-dated part of the gilt market as pension funds with LDI (Liability Driven […]

Keep the home fires burning

10 October 2022

Log sellers have reported a 60% jump in demand compared to last year, pointing to a significant increase in the use of domestic wood stoves. Not surprisingly, this has been driven by the UK energy crisis, although given that stoves that use solid fuels are not great for air quality, would suggest that for some […]

What a Carry On

3 October 2022

‘Infamy, Infamy they’ve all got it in for me’ The classic line by Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in ‘Carry on Cleo’, but no doubt how Kwasi Kwarteng is also feeling today. Given their calamitous start, the pressure is building on Kwasi and PM Liz Truss. However, it is not ‘Carry on Kwasi’ as he […]

The Bear and Trident

26 September 2022

Short of friends, President Putin and China’s Xi Jinping recently met in Uzbekistan and while the former lauded the friendship between Russia and China, it is clear that the latter has ‘questions and concerns’ about the situation in Ukraine. While Europe is re-pivoting away from Russian oil and gas and trying to cut energy usage, […]

Chips with everything!

20 September 2022

  The recent, elevated tension in the Strait of Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s visit has again highlighted the tension between China and Taiwan.  As a result of the global pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which disrupted supply chains, governments and companies have been reviewing where key components are sourced from. Taiwan stands out within […]

Russian Roulette

12 September 2022

Japan has recently announced its intention to re-start some of its nuclear power plants. These were shut down following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 when the earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at the nuclear power plant. The decision to re-start has no doubt been driven by spiralling energy costs as Japan has been a […]

Where do I start?

6 September 2022

  Where do I start? The energy crisis and its impact on UK households has dominated headlines recently, as it has added to the squeeze on consumer spending. An energy crisis risks turning into a national crisis, without urgent and appropriate action from Liz Truss’s new Government. Businesses, investors and consumers have understandably become more […]

Vertical Farming

30 August 2022

Climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have exasperated issues within the food supply chain. Food security has greater importance at a time of rising food price inflation. At the same time, more consumers are aware of the impact of their shopping habits on the planet, while the businesses that supply them look to offer […]

The Battery of Europe

22 August 2022

  Norway generates over 90% its electricity from hydro-electric power stations and as a result is known as the ‘battery of Europe.’ While the UK heatwave has recently made headlines, most of Europe has also experienced record temperatures and more disturbingly drought conditions. Water levels in Norway’s hydro-electric power station reservoirs are a third below […]


16 August 2022

  The recent heatwave has seen many winners, from pubs with outdoor gardens, to ice cream sellers. Businesses selling fans and air-conditioning systems must have had record sales. No doubt it’s the same across Europe. The problem though is generating enough power to keep us all cool. EDF recently shut down the Hinkley Point B […]

Don’t Rush to Pull the Flush

8 August 2022

With parts of the country still in desperate need of rain, and temperatures set to climb this week, there is speculation that further measures will be required to reduce water usage.  Those of a certain age will recall the heatwave of 1976 lasted much longer and led to serious water shortages, with standpipes on street […]

Taking our foot off the gas

1 August 2022

Russian gas re-started flowing through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline last week following a maintenance shutdown. However, it is operating at just 20% capacity. Kadri Simson the EU’s energy commissioner called the move as “politically motivated”. It is no surprise that European gas prices have jumped back close to the earlier all-time high after […]

The ‘Nam

25 July 2022

Sadly, there currently appears to be no end in sight for the war in Ukraine. Many, at the time, may have thought the same about the Vietnam War. Yet approaching 50-years later and Vietnam is now seen as an opportunity for many businesses to invest in and to enter the South East Asia region with […]

Belt Up!

18 July 2022

Sri Lanka is in state of emergency. It recently defaulted on its $51bn of international debt in May. A culmination of years of heavy borrowing and tax cuts by the government, plus the damaging economic impact from the Covid. China has received criticism from the West over its ambitious Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), launched […]

Time for Big Sam?

11 July 2022

You can’t beat a leadership contest for toxic smears – there is even more intrigue and back stabbing than in ITV 2’s Love Island! The Conservative leadership race is well underway and already the smears are coming thick and fast.  Rishi Sunak forced to deny links to former No.10 adviser Dominic Cummings while Nadhim Zahawi […]

Taking a Break

4 July 2022

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) believes the UK economy is likely to face a permanent financial drag post the Covid-19 lockdown, after hundreds of thousands of mature workers have retired early. The IFS estimates that some 270,000 people aged between 50-69 left work during the pandemic, the vast majority deciding to retire early, as […]

Reinventing the Wheel

27 June 2022

Pneumatic tyres were first used on vehicles in the 1890’s. Technology has advanced to create it to be near indestructible and therefore not easy to recycle. However, tyres can suddenly fail, potentially leading to death or serious injury. At Goodyear’s track in Luxembourg, a Tesla Model 3 is currently undergoing tests – turning through tight […]


20 June 2022

New Zealand has unveiled a plan to tax sheep and cattle due to them burping methane gas. This will make it the first country in the world to charge farmers for their animal’s emissions. The country is home to just 5 million people, but has 10 million cows and 26 million sheep.  Around half of […]

Chicken Nuggets

13 June 2022

  The cost-of-living crisis affects all of us, but more so lower income households. Energy costs have jumped due to the war in Ukraine and this is having a spill over effect on food prices. Chicken is the UK’s meat of choice for the dinner table and is a good example of how higher input […]

Left in the Dark

6 June 2022

Six million homes could face power cuts this winter if the war in Ukraine continues and sanctions remain in place against Russia. This grim picture is set out in a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ prepared for the government. If Russia cut off all gas supplies to the EU, then contingency measures could see energy rationing for […]

Who’s Swimming Naked?

30 May 2022

Central banks did a great job protecting the world economy in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis and again during the global Covid-19 pandemic with interest rates cut to record historic lows and through Quantitative Easing (QE). However, central banks probably left QE in place long after it was prudent to do so.  With […]

Hollow Mountain

23 May 2022

Recent global developments highlight the importance of energy security. The recently published British Energy Security Strategy, states it is “the lifeblood of the global economy”. Boris’ ‘Ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution’ highlights the need to accelerate the shift from fossil fuels to renewables. After all the debate about offshore wind and nuclear power, it […]

Could we all be Hank Marvin? *

16 May 2022

*Cockney rhyming slang – starving Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s major wheat exporters and together account for about one-third of global annual wheat sales. Some soft-commodity prices were already at a ten-year high even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because of global harvest issues. Russia’s invasion is likely to have serious consequences […]

Opportunity Knocks

9 May 2022

While the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be behind us, unfortunately it is now time to address the financial consequences of the crisis. This basically means inflation and higher taxes to cover the cost of government support. The bad news is that the overall UK tax burden on households is now forecast to […]


3 May 2022

China has always been highly sensitive about the origins of the global pandemic – but has always denied it was the source. Nonetheless, having spread from China around the world, it has come back to haunt the Chinese authorities with cases now recorded in Beijing. Unfortunately, as the world’s second largest economy and a major […]

The Wisdom of Solomon

25 April 2022

The White House has warned the Solomon Islands that it will “respond accordingly” if a security pact with China leads to a Chinese military presence in the Pacific Island nation. The Solomon Islands are strategically located off the North-East coast of Australia and details of the agreement with China have not been made public. The Solomon […]

Bringing Home the Bacon

19 April 2022

The war in Ukraine has highlighted how reliant the world is on various Russian commodities. Western governments have had to quickly re-think energy security plans, given their dependence upon Russian oil and gas. The UK government has already unveiled a new energy strategy, but perhaps it also needs to re-think the UK’s food strategy? We […]

Turning Down the Thermostat

11 April 2022

The government has announced a new energy strategy focusing on UK-produced energy supplies. This could also see 95% of Britain’s electricity being’ low carbon’ by 2030. The US has been warning Europe for a number of years about the reliance upon Russia for energy.  It has taken the unexpected jolt of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine […]

The Eagle, the Bear and the Dragon

4 April 2022

The White House is becoming increasingly wary of ever closer ties between Beijing and Moscow. Shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin met President Xi Jinping at the Beijing Winter Olympics to announce a ‘no limits’ partnership. Did Putin tell Xi his plans to attack Ukraine? Regardless, China’s premier will have been surprised and […]

Feeling the Pinch

28 March 2022

Just in case you hadn’t realised, there is a cost-of-living crisis. Who remembers the rampant inflation of the 70’s and 80’s? Half of the UK’s population will not, as they are too young! Inflation is at a thirty-year high and there is the largest squeeze on UK consumer disposable income since the 1950’s. Households are […]

Holding Europe Over a Barrel

21 March 2022

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted how dependent the world is on Russian energy, but particularly Europe. The EU relies on Russia for 40% of its gas. Targeting Russian oil exports, as the US and the UK have done, has proven to be divisive. This week, in classic EU policy paralysis, its foreign ministers couldn’t […]

Dig for Victory

14 March 2022

The imposition of sanctions on Russia has highlighted how important a supplier of key natural resources it is. Oil and gas prices have spiked. However, besides an energy crisis, could the world also be facing a food crisis? Russian and Ukraine are leading exporters of wheat and prices have jumped by about 35% so far […]

Russian for the Exit

7 March 2022

The Ukraine crisis is a reminder that the world is a dangerous place! Governments are having to U-turn on defence spending after years of under-investment. China has just announced an increase in defence spending despite lowering its economic growth forecast for 2022. Even Germany is now going to materially increase defence spending and intends to […]

Dangerous Liaisons

28 February 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the relationship between President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Xinping. The latter was reported to have asked Putin not to invade Ukraine until after the end of the Winter Olympics! However, while Russia and China appear to be growing closer, things do not appear to be as cosy […]

Jet Fusion

21 February 2022

At the time of growing energy concerns, it is welcome news that scientists at JET (Joint European Torus) based in Oxfordshire, have recently made a major breakthrough in their quest to develop practical nuclear fusion – the energy process that powers the stars. Nuclear fusion works on the principle that energy can be released by […]

PPE – Pointless Pandemic Expense

14 February 2022

Given the growing number of news headlines, you will be aware the UK is facing a cost-of-living crisis. From the new tax year, an increase in national insurance contributions will add to the burden faced by many households. It is galling therefore, to learn how much money has been wasted by the government during the […]

War Games

7 February 2022

Despite the latest peace moves by French president Emmanuel Macron, a Russian invasion of Ukraine is still a risk. Clearly, President Vladimir Putin does not want Ukraine to join NATO. No wonder he is fretting, as since 1997 some 14 eastern European countries have joined NATO including Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – former Soviet republics which […]

Careful What You Fish For

31 January 2022

Mother Nature can be frightening. This was demonstrated by the power of the recent underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga. The blast is thought to have been 500 times as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the height of the ash plume that scientists estimate reached 35 miles above the earth’s surface.  A […]

Creating a Stink

24 January 2022

Staycations and hot summer weather in 2021 saw more people visiting rivers -fishing, picnicking, paddling and swimming. Unfortunately, many may not have realised the health risk this carried. Environmental campaigners have, for some years, been highlighting the issue of sewage spills into many rivers. This prompted the Environment Agency and water industry regulator OFWAT to […]

What Can You C?

17 January 2022

Richard Moore, Chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in his first speech since taking up the role of ‘C’, warned that another ‘C’ – China is the ‘single greatest priority’. Specifically, he warned that China’s intelligence services are conducting large scale espionage operations against the UK and its allies. This includes targeting those […]

High Five

10 January 2022

President Joe Biden is making a record $1.2tn infrastructure commitment to stimulate long term economic growth. According to the World Economic Forum, America had fallen to 13th in the world for the quality of its infrastructure. High speed internet is seen as key to US competitiveness. However, Boeing and Airbus only recently called on the US […]

Catch-22 in 2022?

4 January 2022

Last year markets took encouragement from the scientists as vaccines took the fight to Covid-19. The US led the way and notably the major technology companies, but the UK also enjoyed its best year in five years. Christmas 2021 saw the global emergence of the Omicron variant and with it a return to some lockdown […]

Under Attack

13 December 2021

Companies are becoming the targets of cyber criminals and ransomware attacks. In the UK, Tesco recently saw its website and smartphone app crash after attempts to interfere with its systems. UK engineer Weir Group recently announced it had been the victim of an attempted ransomware attack and that although its cyber counter-measures were working well […]

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

6 December 2021

US and UK investment bankers and corporate broking firms have enjoyed bumper times since Brexit with a very high level of takeover (M&A) activity and new stock market listings.  In the UK, the value of flotations is thought to have trebled so far in 2021 to over £50bn with the likes of Darktrace, Deliveroo, Trustpilot […]

A Punch in the Face

29 November 2021

Omicron is making all the headlines but inflation remains in the spotlight. Central bankers are starting to U-turn on their transitory message, including the US Federal Reserve. Clearly, global supply chain challenges have added to the inflationary spike. However, there is a growing risk of inflation becoming more entrenched as wage expectations rise with skills […]


22 November 2021

Has Vladimir Putin been watching the 2013 film ‘Gravity’? Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut whose Space Shuttle Explorer is destroyed by a cloud of space debris caused by the Russians shooting down a presumed defunct Russian spy satellite in low Earth orbit. Last week, the US condemned Russia for conducting a ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ missile […]

Toxic Power Games

15 November 2021

Sadly, COP26 was a stark reminder, if ever one was needed, not only of the challenges to our planet from global warming, but also getting everyone to agree on to the scale of the issues. The landmark closing climate deal was watered down, no doubt with polluted water, due to two coal powered countries – […]

Sleeping Lions

8 November 2021

Just under a year into his presidency and Joe Biden, or ‘Sleepy Joe’ as Donald Trump called him, has seen his popularity plummet in recent polling. The Democrats are struggling to get key policies passed and his public image has not been helped by images of him nodding off at COP-26. In a recent press […]

Digging a Hole for Ourselves

1 November 2021

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published its latest World Energy Outlook and outlined their hopes for decarbonising power generation. One of the odd messages is that we need to build more mines or the greener energy transition will slowdown. The world will need greater amounts of key natural resources such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, […]

COP26 – a cop-owooooot

25 October 2021

Spookily, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, starts on the 31st October. COP26 is due to be the largest climate change conference since Paris in 2015, but uncertainty about the attendees is concerning. Last week The Queen was overheard to say “I’ve been hearing all about COP and I still […]

Transitory Times

18 October 2021

At the start of the year economists were predicting the UK could enjoy a 21st Century version of the ‘Roaring Twenties’. However, economists are now warning of the risk of ‘stagflation’ – persistently high inflation and stagnant demand. The Bank of England (BoE) appears to be shifting from its ‘transitory inflation’ message and acknowledging that […]

China’s Magic Weapon

11 October 2021

The US recently said it was ‘very concerned’ by China’s ‘provocative’ actions after Taiwan claimed a record number of Chinese military aircraft had flown into its air defence zone. However, China has a more subtle strategy in a new ‘Cold War’ against the West. BBC2 recently broadcast a documentary about a Chinese Communist Party department […]

Not Now, I Haven’t the Energy

4 October 2021

The UK’s fuel crisis is showing signs of abating and the army have now been deployed to ease tanker driver constraints but to add to motorist frustration, prices at the pump have been increasing as oil has soared to a three-year high of over $80. As we highlighted in ‘Who Turned the Lights Out’ – […]

Silent But Deadly

27 September 2021

Submarines can be extremely effective, but costly warships. Those watching Vigil on a Sunday night might have been shocked by the scale of modern submarines. On April 20th, the Royal Navy’s latest nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine, HMS Anson was launched. That same day, the S201 made its debut. This is an Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) […]

Who Turned the Lights Out?

20 September 2021

The UK’s sixth-largest energy company Bulb is apparently seeking a bailout to stay afloat, amid surging wholesale gas prices. The UK has also enjoyed one of its least windy summers since 1961. Wind energy power generation had accounted for 24% of total UK electricity generation in 2020. Gas prices have soared by 35% in the […]

Three Wheels on my Wagon*

13 September 2021

‘Three wheels on my wagon and I’m still rolling along’ –  a song from the sixties that sums up the UK’s current predicament. The UK economy has re-bounded strongly following the exit from lockdown and with the release of pent-up demand. Global supply chains and just in time delivery were always going to struggle to […]

Space Command

6 September 2021

The UK’s armed forces first combined command centre, aimed at protecting the country’s interests in space has recently opened. Space Command is based at RAF High Wycombe and will be jointly operated by the Army, RAF and Royal Navy. When fully operational it will also provide command and control for all of the UK’s space […]

The Final Cowntdown

23 August 2021

US scientists have stated that July was the Earth’s hottest ever month. The combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 0.9C above the 20th Century average of 15.8C – yet more evidence of global warming? We are due the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. Members have plenty to ponder but what […]

The Final Cowntdown

23 August 2021

US scientists have stated that July was the Earth’s hottest ever month. The combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 0.9C above the 20th Century average of 15.8C – yet more evidence of global warming? We are due the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. Members have plenty to ponder but what […]

Has The Day After Tomorrow Arrived?

16 August 2021

Last week’s ground breaking U.N. environment report delivered a grim warning on climate change, stating it’s ‘code red for humanity’. The 2004 disaster movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ depicts catastrophic disruption to the North Atlantic Ocean circulation. A series of weather events brings about extreme global cooling and leads to a new ice age. Disturbingly, […]

Classic Belgian Waffle

9 August 2021

For anyone under the impression that Brexit was done and dusted – think again! Besides the Northern Ireland protocol, long-term agreements on data and finance and Gibraltar border security guard issues, there is also the Lugano Convention. The Lugano Convention 2007 is an international treaty negotiated by the EU on behalf of its member states […]

20,000 leagues under the sea

2 August 2021

The global Covid-19 pandemic and working from home has made us all even more dependent upon reliable internet connection. Whilst 5G is being rolled out, our access to the internet actually relies on thousands of miles of cable crossing the seabed of the world’s oceans. Some 98% of the world’s internet traffic relies on these […]

Truckin’ Nightmare

27 July 2021

  An increasing number of UK companies are commenting on the pressures related to the serious shortage of HGV drivers. The Road Haulage Association estimates there is currently a shortage of 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000. The ‘pingdemic’ is emptying supermarket shelves and the problem could get […]

Fight Club

19 July 2021

Nearly 20 years on from 9/11 Afghanistan remains an ongoing battleground. It is strategically located on the main land route between Iran, Central Asia, and India. It has become known as ‘the graveyard of empires’ due the number of periods of foreign invasion and withdrawal. Over the centuries, Alexander the Great, Britain, Russia and now […]

Too Big For Their Boots

12 July 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the long term-structural shift underway in many markets and technology giants have been amongst the global stock market winners. China has also seen its technology giants ‘make hay while the sun shines’ with 24 Chinese companies raising over $12bn in the first half of 2021. Amongst the latest to do […]

It’s Coming Home (with a fair wind)

5 July 2021

Aside from the football, the weather is the Nation’s major talking point. Over the weekend, many parts of the UK experienced exceptionally heavy rainfall and flash flooding. This was almost akin to tropical conditions, thereby dashing a few BBQ’s and outdoor celebrations. The northern jet stream* is a key determinant of Britain’s weather. In winter, […]

Hot Rod

28 June 2021

While wind and solar power generation capacity is expanding rapidly, in order to plug the hole left by the demise of fossil fuels, more countries have been building nuclear power stations.

Hinkley C plant in Somerset is currently one of the biggest construction sites in Europe. However, Britain’s investment in nuclear power generation is dwarfed by China which is now one of the world’s largest producers of nuclear energy.

Unfortunately, we know that nuclear power comes with risk and Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima all involved human error.  So, what happened recently at Taishan, in China and should we be worried?

Cornish Gold Rush

21 June 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has already driven a gold rush in Cornwall with booming property prices, as many looking to relocate to the South-West with a pandemic driven re-evaluation of lifestyle and ability to work from home. However, could a second ‘gold rush’, or to be accurate, a Cornish lithium rush be about to get underway?

Oil giants – don’t become a dinosaur

14 June 2021

In a landmark case, a court in the Netherlands has recently ruled that oil giant Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 45% by 2030 compared to its 2019 levels. Acknowledging the ruling, the company has pledged to ‘rise to the challenge’. Ben van Beurden, Shell’s Chief Executive, has responded that the company would fast-track its plan for the energy transition. “For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy.”

Protecting the Amazon

7 June 2021

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of investment in a company or business. It was pleasing to see true ESG in action recently with the news that 40 UK food businesses have threatened to stop sourcing products from Brazil over proposed land reforms. Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Greggs, the Co-op and the British Retail Consortium are among the major organisations to sign the open letter.

Ice Station Zebra

1 June 2021

Russia has again been flexing its muscles, this time to challenge for control of the Arctic. The Russian Northern Fleet put on a show of strength earlier this year when three nuclear submarines smashed through the ice simultaneously at the North Pole while two fighter jets flew overhead, re-fuelling in mid-air on the same Arctic exercise. Such posturing, which is reminiscent of the 1968 film ‘Ice Station Zebra’, has made the US and NATO wary as Russia’s military presence in the region expands to a level not seen since the Cold War.

Life on Mars?

24 May 2021

The US recently recorded a record goods trade deficit. The American dream – buying cheap goods made in other countries, but balancing out trade by exporting software, films and financial services – has failed.

The Power of the DarkSide

17 May 2021

The US has recently suffered the worst cyber-attack to date on its critical infrastructure from cyber-criminals ‘DarkSide’. The US government was forced to issue emergency legislation after the largest fuel pipeline in the US was hit by a ransomware cyber-attack. The Colonial Pipeline carries 2.5million barrels a day – 45% of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. The emergency legislation relaxed rules on working hours for drivers of fuel tankers to help in moving fuel up to New York.

Ark at ee Sports

10 May 2021

One of the global success stories to emerge from lockdown is the computer gaming sector, which has seen continued strong growth in gaming activity with more of us at home. The UK is actually at the forefront of gaming software developmentThe UK gaming industry is estimated to have reached a record £7bn in 2020, an increase of 30% from 2019 and is forecast to grow to over £10bn by 2023. A number of very successful console gaming software companies are quoted on the UK’s AIM market and the sector has become a major employer.

A New Old Arms Race

4 May 2021

‘We have won the war, America has lost’. This was claimed by members of the Taliban in an interview with the BBC following the news that American forces are to leave Afghanistan later this year.

Killing the Chicken to Scare the Monkeys

26 April 2021

China’s technology giants have been caught squarely in the cross-hairs by the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese regulators. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has recently been fined $2.8bn -4% of its 2019 turnover for abuse of its market position. Furthermore, Ant Group   a digital payments business and an affiliate of Alibaba had its much-anticipated stock market flotation suspended last year and is now being forced to behave more like a bank than a technology business.

Greenland’s mine!

19 April 2021

Greenland has attracted international interest because of its rare earth mineral assets. A potential mine at Kvanefjeld, in the south of the country could become the most significant western world producer of rare earth minerals. This is claimed by the sites owner’s, an Australian company, Greenland Minerals. Unfortunately, the news has resulted in the shares being suspended.

Everything Remains on the Table

12 April 2021

Pubs and restaurants reopen, shame no one booked the weather. To say the BBC is not China’s favourite broadcaster would be an understatement, particularly given its investigation and allegations into the treatment of the Uighurs. The BBC has upset the Chinese authorities further through its excellent, but chilling documentary series ’54 Days’. The first programme […]

A Helping Hand

6 April 2021

The vaccination roll-out has enabled the government to lay out an exit path from lockdown. As Boris reiterated yesterday, the path is in place and all of us are looking forward to things returning to normal. However, there is a big question for many UK companies – just what will be the new normal when […]

One Man and his Dog

29 March 2021

Covid-19 and lockdown has changed life in many ways and in the UK one of the biggest changes has been the increase in pet ownership, particularly companion animals such as cats and dogs. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) estimates that 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, which […]

Nuclear Reaction

23 March 2021

The distressing footage of the flooding in New South Wales and notably Sydney, Australia, are a reminder, if we needed one, of the damage and power a floodwater disaster can cause. This month also happens to mark the tenth anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. […]

Amazon Tax

15 March 2021

The UK vaccination roll out continues to gain momentum with over 24million having received a first jab and 1.6million a second dose. For once, the UK is ahead of the game. This has hopefully enabled the government to set out a realistic roadmap for England to exit lockdown, which should drive a strong bounce in […]

The Tip of the Spear

8 March 2021

The British Army is the smallest it has been in 400 years. At a time when morale has been reported as being low and suffering a manpower crisis, it could be about to suffer further cuts in the next defence review due to be announced next week. As recently as November, the government set out […]

Rare Earth Shootout

1 March 2021

Rare earth metals are a highly coveted class of minerals that form key components in the production of smart phones, electric vehicles, wind farms and defence weapons. Around 80% of these rare earths are found and refined in China. China has recently tightened its stranglehold on rare earths and potentially other scarce commodities. China passed […]

An Ultra-Cold War?

22 February 2021

Quantum computers are the next big thing to happen in computing. Quantum computers use ‘qubits’, components that exploit quantum mechanics which put simply means they can do many things simultaneously. Their power and speed are almost unimaginably faster like the speed of a supercomputer compared with an abacus. ‘Ultracold quantum matter research’ is a new […]

The Roaring 2020s

15 February 2021

Some economists are predicting the world could enjoy a 21st Century version of the ‘Roaring Twenties’. Perhaps more aptly this could be described as the Roaring 2020’s, as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic helped by vaccines and economic stimulus. While it might not feel like it currently, we could be about to experience an […]

Buy Now, Pay Later

8 February 2021

Covid-19 and extended lockdowns have been the nail in the coffin for many traditional high street department and clothing stores. Consumers have in many cases been forced to migrate in ever increasing numbers to online shopping and home delivery or ‘click and collect’ offerings. This rapid structural change is reflected in the demise of the […]

From Russia with Love

1 February 2021

“But what makes you think that M will oblige you by falling in with your plan? …For the simple reason that this is so obviously a trap.” Admiral Lord West, former chief of the Royal Navy has warned that Britain is ‘one mistake away from a war with Russia. Vladimir Putin wants to show he […]

A Percy Pig in a Poke

25 January 2021

A pig in a poke is an offer that is accepted without being examined first, or literally, ‘don’t buy a pig until you have seen it’. In law it is also known as ‘caveat emptor’ – Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’. A guiding principle of commerce in many countries. In essence, if you buy […]

Can we Survive Without Amazon?

18 January 2021

By acting as a carbon sink, the Amazon has played a pivotal role in slowing down the pace of global warming. However, Brazil’s space agency has recently been reported that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has surged to its highest level since 2008. At one time it was said that an area of forest the […]

Noisy neighbour

11 January 2021

Under the cover of coronavirus, China appears to be flexing its muscles within the Asian region and against its neighbours. There has been a long running dispute between India and China over the Kashmir border in the Himalayas which escalated last year after twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed. Talks […]

Hot Air

4 January 2021

Ever hopeful of a change in sentiment, it feels the New Year has started the same way 2020 ended, with everyone’s daily lives seemingly governed by Covid-19. Despite the vaccination programme now underway, it will be some time before life returns anywhere close to normality. This is much the case for office workers and many […]

2020 – Finishing Off With a Whimper

21 December 2020

It would seem an understatement to suggest that 2020 has been a far from a normal year. It has been a year of many challenges that have tested us all. Most will not have had to live under the cloud of a global pandemic before. It is possible that it will take a few years […]

We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday

14 December 2020

This is the last Alpha Bites of 2020 and what a year it has been – certainly one we will never forget, but equally one we would rather not remember. Looking back, little did we know then to what extent Covid-19 had been covered up by local officials in Hubei and how it had started […]


7 December 2020

Australia’s economy has boomed in recent decades. Fuelled by China’s insatiable growth in demand for commodities and food it has grown to become Australia’s biggest trading partner. However, recently Australia has suffered a form of austerity from China which has imposed bans on a range of Australian exports. While Australian’s sweat under record breaking temperatures, […]

Respect RCEP – TCB*

30 November 2020

*(Taking Care of Business) with apologies to Aretha Franklin What with Covid-19 and lockdown tiers making the headlines it is easy sometimes to forget the bigger global economic picture. Fifteen countries have recently formed the world’s largest trading bloc, accounting for about 30% of global domestic product (GDP) and 42% of global manufacturing.  The Regional […]

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]

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 […]

UK Power Vacuum

26 November 2018

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 […]

Transforming Construction

19 November 2018

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 […]

Lest We Forget

12 November 2018

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 […]

Golden Dragon

5 November 2018

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 […]

That Sinking Feeling

29 October 2018

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 […]

Red October

22 October 2018

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 […]

When Autumn Becomes Fall

15 October 2018

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 […]

Final Countdown

8 October 2018

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. […]


1 October 2018

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 […]

Enter the Dragon

24 September 2018

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 […]

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

17 September 2018

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 […]

2p or not 2p, That is the Question

10 September 2018

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 […]

For Whom the Bridge Tolls

3 September 2018

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 […]

Latte Levy

28 August 2018

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 […]

The Caspian Sea – Agreement, at Least on the Surface

20 August 2018

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 […]

Debt by Another Name

13 August 2018

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 […]

Under the Influence

6 August 2018

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 […]

Hotting up

31 July 2018

    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 […]

What a waste

23 July 2018

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 […]

Disruption Ahead

16 July 2018

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. […]

A Taxing Challenge

9 July 2018

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 […]

Cashless High Street

2 July 2018

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 […]

Summer C Oh2 Crisis

25 June 2018

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 […]

A Game of Two Halves

18 June 2018

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 […]

Vanilla Ice

11 June 2018

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 […]

Lightning Strike

4 June 2018

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 […]

Bright Sparks

29 May 2018

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 […]

Four Candles or Fork Handles?

21 May 2018

  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 […]

Death of the Nile

14 May 2018

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 […]

Smart Applications

8 May 2018

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 […]

Living Like Sardines

30 April 2018

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 […]


23 April 2018

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

16 April 2018

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 […]

CoD – Call of Duty

9 April 2018

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 […]

Made in Britain

3 April 2018

‘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 […]

Trade War, What is it Good For?

26 March 2018

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 […]

A Toxic Atmosphere

19 March 2018

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 […]

Bring on the Clowns

12 March 2018

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 […]

Donald, the Pest from the West

5 March 2018

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 […]

A Taste of Things to Come?

26 February 2018

#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 […]

Political Own Goals

19 February 2018

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 […]

An American Dream or an 8th Wonder?

12 February 2018

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 […]


5 February 2018

‘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 […]

A Clear and Present Danger

29 January 2018

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 […]

Turning the Tide on Plastic

22 January 2018

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 […]

Pushing Buttons

15 January 2018

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…. What Does the Future Hold?

8 January 2018

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 […]

Reindeer, Gorillas & Unicorns

18 December 2017

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’.

50,000 Shades of Debt

11 December 2017

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.

Anti Social Behaviour

4 December 2017

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.

Making Tracks

27 November 2017

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

A Blue Planet, but for how long?

20 November 2017

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.

Magic Island Maker

13 November 2017

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.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

6 November 2017

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.

A New Age of Piracy?

30 October 2017

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?

Is Tax to Become a Generation Game?

23 October 2017

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.

In the Eye of a Storm

16 October 2017

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?

Don’t Bank On It

9 October 2017

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?

Putting the Wind up Nuclear

2 October 2017

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.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)*

25 September 2017

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.

Bye-Bye PPI

18 September 2017

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.

It’s an Ill Wind

11 September 2017

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.

Premier Stars

4 September 2017

One thing that caught our attention over the summer was the record amount spent by Premier League clubs during the transfer window. According to data from Deloitte, the 20 clubs spent a record £1.2bn on players.  Manchester United paid Everton an initial £75m for striker Romelu Lukaku, while Chelsea paid Real Madrid £70m for Alvaro Morata. Record broadcast, commercial and matchday revenues have enabled Premier league clubs to splash out on new talent.

Red Fire

29 August 2017

Japan is reported to be preparing to repel an invasion. Given the latest news on missile tests many of you might suspect from North Korea, but the Japanese are actually preparing for an invasion from red fire ants. The South American invader has been found in shipping containers at a number of Japanese ports. Red […]

Binge TV

21 August 2017

According to Ofcom, we are overdosing our TV viewing. However, technology is transforming how we watch our TV. Whilst we are spending less actual time watching live broadcasts, nearly 80% of us now makes use of catch up services like BBC iPlayer or streaming services such as Netflix. Watching our favourite programmes when it suits […]

Time to splash the cash?

14 August 2017

  Moody’s, the credit rating agency, estimates that non-financial US companies are holding record cash levels – over $1.8trillion in fact. This is about two-and-a-half times the level of cash held back in the financial crisis of 2008, unfortunately 70% of this amount is being held overseas. Technology companies such as Apple, Google owner Alphabet, […]

Real life Monopoly?

7 August 2017

While we haven’t seen a giant silver top hat, an old boot or a Scottie dog on the streets of London, are foreign investors playing a real-life game of Monopoly in our capital city? A number of trophy buildings on London’s skyline are now either owned by foreign investors or have recently been acquired by […]

To Boldly Go…

31 July 2017

As regular readers will observe, we love a good space themed story… Luxembourg’s asteroid mining law takes effect tomorrow. As a result, the first commercial mission to harvest mineral resources from asteroids could be launched within five years. Luxembourg’s government is working on a joint mission with two US space research companies, to prospect for […]

We Need More Power!

24 July 2017

Fans of the original Star Trek TV series will fondly recall Scotty’s reply to Captain Kirk, whenever he ordered the engine room of the USS Enterprise to increase speed: ‘I can’t do it Captain. I don’t have the power!’ Could we all one day end up like the Enterprise? Energy production from coal-fired power stations […]

Game of Drones

17 July 2017

  This week in ‘Game of Drones’ we are revisiting a previous theme of Alpha Bites, drones and it just happens to coincide with one of our all-time favourite TV series. The battle for the seven kingdoms is about to reach its climax as the premier of the new and final series of Game of […]

Hot, hot, hot

10 July 2017

  It’s not just us Brits that are becoming obsessed with the heat. The recent record-breaking heatwave in the UK, which saw the hottest day since 1976, made us grateful for an air conditioned office. Air conditioning was invented by a young American engineer, Willis Carrier in 1902. By 1980, America was using half of […]


4 July 2017

A British company has announced its intention to launch a new constellation of Earth observation satellites. Earth-i is planning to launch a prototype satellite later this year for testing, with the expectation of a further five platforms to follow in 2019. The satellites will deliver rapid high-resolution imagery of the planet in still and video […]

Rumble in the Jungle

26 June 2017

When an 800-pound gorilla has you in its sights, it is time to be worried. Amazon.Com was founded in 1994, but by 2015 had already overtaken the largest US retailer Walmart by market value. It is currently the fourth most valuable public company in the world and largest internet company by revenue. It is the […]

Nuclear fallout

19 June 2017

Three Mile Island, the power plant that was the site of America’s worst civil nuclear accident could be shut down in 2019 – 15 years before its operating licence expires. The planned closure is a sign of the increased competition from cheap gas-fired power generation as a result of the US shale oil and gas […]

Cloudy with a chance of some sunshine

12 June 2017

What a classic own goal! PM Theresa May undertook the gamble of an election to further increase her majority heading into Brexit negotiations and lost badly. The UK now has a ‘hung parliament’. Brexit talks are due to start on June 19th, but realistically nothing is likely to be addressed until after the German election […]

Mind The Gap

5 June 2017

  Politicians fighting for our votes later this week say they represent ‘ordinary hard working people’. With record numbers of people in work in the UK, we thought it was interesting to look at the current structure of the British workforce. About 30% are estimated to work in public administration, education and the health service. […]

Three Tenners

5 June 2017

On 18th July, the Bank of England will mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, by unveiling the new £10 note featuring the renowned writer. The new polymer £10 note will be issued in September 2017. Oddly, in a digital age with the rise of electronic payment methods, the value of notes and coins in […]

Can additive manufacturing help us win the America’s Cup?

22 May 2017

3D or not 3D? (with apologies to Shakespeare). That is the question; many manufacturers are no doubt currently asking themselves.  Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing could be transformational for supply chains globally.  AM appears to be on the cusp of moving from batch trial testing, into full-scale commercial production. 3D printing is progressing into […]

Brexit fallout

15 May 2017

Work has finally commenced in Somerset on the construction of the Hinkley C nuclear power plant. The £20bn project, will be the UK’s first nuclear power station built since the 1990s. While nuclear power is seen by some as a potential ‘green’ energy solution to the problem of generating sufficient non-carbon power, it does generate […]

Burying your head in the sand

8 May 2017

A historic weekend in France. Emmanuel Macron is their youngest leader since Napoleon. Local lad and renowned artist #Banksy, appears to have got the current political tone spot on, with his latest work on display in Dover. Talking of sand… Land makes up 29% of the earth’s surface, but of this about 33% is desert. […]

Mountains of wealth under the ocean

2 May 2017

Tropic Seamount. No, not a hot favourite running tomorrow at Ascot, but an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean, 300 miles from the Canary Islands, that is believed to contain rare earth minerals. The seamount is some 1,000 metres below sea level and has a thin coating of minerals across its surface. Samples recovered from […]

A greener shipping lane

24 April 2017

Sulphur dioxide is produced during combustion of fossil fuels and is a toxic atmospheric pollutant. ‘Ultra-low sulphur’ diesel has been available for road vehicles for over a decade. New global pollution rules are due to come into force in 2020, requiring shipping companies to use fuel with significantly lower sulphur content. Shipping diesel can contain […]

The magnificent seven

18 April 2017

  No, not Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen, but Emma Walmsley and Alison Cooper. The FTSE 100 now has seven companies with a female chief executive officer (CEO). The seven companies are EasyJet, Imperial Brands, Royal Mail, Severn Trent, Kingfisher, Whitbread and GlaxoSmithKline. However, four of these are relatively recent appointments since 2014. Furthermore, women […]

Size matters!

10 April 2017

  MV Hammonia Grenada was built in 2010 at a cost of £37m. Some seven years later, it is the youngest ever container ship being sold for scrap, with an estimated price of just £4.4m. Why? The globalisation of trade and central bank low interest rate policy of recent years led the container shipping industry […]


4 April 2017

  With the Brexit process now formally underway the Government is going to have its hands pretty full. Nonetheless, it still intends to press ahead with much of its existing UK legislation plans. One of these plans is the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (Sugar tax or Levy) on soft drinks. The UK […]

Who is driving things?

27 March 2017

No, not Brexit, but driverless cars. The introduction of autonomous vehicles has the potential to revolutionise urban transport and could be on the streets, as soon as 2020. US chip maker Intel has recently announced the $15bn takeover of Israeli sensor business Mobileye.

Are we missing the point?

20 March 2017

China is sending rockets into space, manufacturing high-speed trains and many of the world’s leading electronic products. However, until now, there is one bit of engineering that has eluded China: the tip of the ballpoint pen! Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, while appearing on national television, complained about the country’s inability to produce their own, quality […]

Lovely Bubbly

13 March 2017

  The UK’s thirst for sparkling wine continues to grow. Indeed, UK drinkers of Prosecco, are estimated to drink more than two and a half times the amount the Italians consume! Some will no doubt cheer the triggering of Article 50 with a glass of bubbly. However, Brexit will come with a ‘sting in the […]

Slap, bang, wallop…

6 March 2017

Are you a slapper, banger, walloper, shaker or squeezer? Admit it, whether its toothpaste, glue or sauce, we all like to get that last little bit out the bottom of the tube or bottle to get our money’s worth. However, no matter how much you try there always seems to be a small amount that […]

Feeling Battered?

27 February 2017

Ever since ‘Marmite-gate’, caused a dispute between Unilever and Tesco in October last year, food prices have progressively risen and has been a key ingredient in building UK inflationary pressures in the UK.

Cornish Li

20 February 2017

In the popular BBC series ‘Poldark,’ Ross Poldark tries to build his fortune on copper and tin mining in Cornwall. Sadly, for him he was potentially sitting on something that today is far more valuable, lithium (Li).

An anti-social order

13 February 2017

Love him or loathe him, controversial US President, Donald Trump continues to dominate our media.

Just another brick in the wall

6 February 2017

One of Donald Trump’s election ‘pledges’ was to build a wall between the US and Mexico, thereby provoking a major diplomatic spat with Mexico. Openly mocked at the time as shock politics, it is hardly surprising the arrival of President Trump has created market jitters. He can’t be so controversial, surely?

Who cares?

30 January 2017

The annual ‘winter crisis’ in the NHS, has once again highlighted an underlying problem – the nation’s age demographics.

Sea power or ‘C’ power?

23 January 2017

Last year, PM Theresa May gave the go ahead to the construction of the new Hinkley C nuclear power station. Now, plans for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay are to be backed in a government-commissioned review

Take it to the piggy bank

16 January 2017

Those savers of a nervous disposition may need to buy a safe, larger mattress or perhaps start using a piggy bank!

Feeling a little bloated?

9 January 2017

Britain is quite adventurous when it comes to eating and drinking, at least according to Waitrose. In its food trend predictions for 2017, Waitrose expects us to be drinking more ‘alternative’ waters based on demand last year for birch, bamboo and cactus water.

What a goal

19 December 2016

China has a strategy to become a ‘world football superpower’ by 2050 with plans to get 50 million adults playing the game by 2020.

Food for thought

12 December 2016

It’s getting towards that time of the year with many households beginning to panic over the most important meal of the year, the Christmas meal. An estimated 10 million turkeys will be eaten in the UK this Christmas.

In a bit of a squeeze?

5 December 2016

Accident Exchange, which loans courtesy cars estimates that there has been a 35% rise in parking accidents since 2014. It estimates that the number of crashes and scratches incurred while parking is now costing UK insurers about £1.4bn a year. Parking-related incidents now account for 30% of all traffic accidents.

JAM tomorrow

28 November 2016

When Theresa May became Prime Minister in July she pledged to do more to help families who are ‘Just About Managing’ (JAM). ‘If you’re from an ordinary working- class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise’. ‘The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours’.

The pound in your pocket

21 November 2016

Forty-nine years ago, almost to the day, in 1967, Britain was in the grips of a financial crisis. On 18th November, the British government devalued the pound from $2.80 to $2.40.

Hold on tight – it’s going to be a ‘Trumpy’ ride!

14 November 2016

Contrary to initial fears, equities initially reacted positively to Trump.  Bond holders however, have taken some pain where extreme yield levels, give little margin for error

Wasn’t Halloween last week?

7 November 2016

US voters are facing an election day ‘trick or treat’. Nobody has known a US election campaign like this.

A dividend Bonanza?

4 November 2016

Brexit – more twists and turns than a soap opera.

The Battle of Heathrow

31 October 2016

As an island nation, the United Kingdom remains highly dependent on the free movement of goods. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of World War II. The Axis powers sought to gain a strategic advantage by strangling Britain’s supplies. Over seventy years after the end of the War, air travel has transformed the ‘free’ movement of goods or cargo.

A tax by any other name

24 October 2016

Rates are a tax on businesses.  Broadly they are based on the rentable value of the commercial property in question, then adjusted by the ’multiplier’. In England, some 1.85m properties are affected by the current review.

Staring into the abyss

17 October 2016

The Cretaceous period extinction event caused by an asteroid strike, in what is now the Gulf of Mexico some 65 million years ago, wiped out most of the dinosaurs. This is perhaps the most well- known mass extinction event but there are believed to have been five mass extinction events in earth’s history.

Hacked off?

10 October 2016

Yahoo recently confirmed that user details for half a billion people, including names, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers and security questions were taken from the company’s network in 2014.

Trouble with wind?

3 October 2016

One of the reasons for the UK Government’s decision to push ahead with the Hinkley Point nuclear plant was no doubt due to the need to address long term international carbon emission standards. Green campaigners have been pushing for greater investment instead in wind power, although onshore planning issues or ‘not in my back yard’ (Nimby) have possibly restricted expansion. Instead the UK is therefore seeing sizeable investment in offshore wind production.

Trouble brewing?

26 September 2016

North Korea is an enigma and continues to make the headlines, for all the wrong reasons.

On a more positive note, North Korea recently opened its doors to its first ever beer festival. Tourists from the West sat on the banks of the Taedong river drinking Taedonggang beer, named after the river. There were seven beers on tap: Beer 1, Beer 2, Beer 3, Beer 4, Beer 5, Beer 6, and — you guessed it — Beer 7. Why should this interest us here in the UK?

Heading North or South?

19 September 2016

According to press reports, George Osborne remains committed to the ‘northern powerhouse’ dream and will chair a new body imaginatively titled, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. A lot has been written of the apparent North / South divide in the UK post the EU referendum, are there any themes emerging?

An unhealthy outlook?

12 September 2016

One of the greatest achievements from the last century has been the introduction of antibiotics. However, England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has re-iterated globally expressed concerns over the catastrophic threat posed from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to antibiotics.

A lack of interest

5 September 2016


An increasing feature arising from global stimulus measures by central banks has been negative interest rates and negative bond yields. Indeed, it is estimated that there is now over $13 trillion of Government bonds globally offering a negative return to redemption.


30 August 2016

One of my favourite TV adverts is for Specsavers. This shows a vet working on what he thinks is a cat but is in fact a furry hat which prompts the strapline ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’. The US space shuttle crew landing at Luton airport by accident is another of my favourite ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ adverts.

Great Britain

22 August 2016

Wow! Congratulations to Great Britain’s Olympians, who have delivered in spectacular fashion in Rio 2016.

Size matters

15 August 2016

Some of us may be a little bleary eyed this morning. As we write, ‘Team GB’ is second in the overall Olympic medal table. An inspiration to us all!

Read all about it!

8 August 2016

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.  Last year to mark its centenary, Ladybird Books released a series for ‘Grown-Ups’ using the original Ladybird style artwork alongside tongue-in-cheek text.

On the go

1 August 2016

It’s the story of Summer 2016 – no, not Brexit but Pokémon Go.

A crowded house

25 July 2016

According to the United Nations the World’s population is expected to grow by about 83 million a year to 8 billion by 2024 and 9 billion by 2050.

Happy as Larry

18 July 2016

After one of the most ruthless Cabinet ‘reshuffles’ ever witnessed, one member of 10 Downing Street was at least breathing sigh of relief last week. Chief Mouser to the Cabinet, Larry the cat is to remain at number 10.

Food for thought

11 July 2016

Eton mess is a traditional English dessert that typically consists of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream.

An emotional week

5 July 2016

However you voted, just over one week on, how do you feel?

United Kingdom?

27 June 2016

UK voters have chosen to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. However, there are clear fault lines across the UK between remain in and leave.

Tossing a coin

20 June 2016

No, not the means of deciding whether the UK remains in or leaves the EU, but what is on the reverse side of Britain’s coins.

Tunnel Vision

13 June 2016

Euro 2016 has ‘kicked off’ in France and the EU referendum debate continues to rage. In the meantime, other parts of Europe are getting closer.

Are we having a mid-life crisis?

6 June 2016

Age is just a number, or so the saying goes. Some say life begins at 40, others are in denial. However there’s no denying that when you hit 40 these days, retirement is now getting further away than ever.


31 May 2016

Goldfinger, the seventh novel in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Originally titled The Richest Man in the World it sees gold obsessed Auric Goldfinger planning to contaminate the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. Compared to the US government, which stores its gold bullion on a fortified army base, the UK’s gold is stored in […]


23 May 2016

As many Bristolians will testify, Bristol’s traffic and particularly its traffic light system can drive you ‘up the wall’.

University Challenge

16 May 2016

For decades the US had the highest proportion of students attending university and reflecting this, among 55 to 64 year olds, almost a third of all graduates in the world’s major economies are US citizens.

‘Douze points’ or ‘Doze points’?

9 May 2016

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson could both be up in arms again, with yet another example of the Eurozone’s porous border ahead of the EU referendum on 23rd June. So, what is the latest scandal?

Long live the king

3 May 2016

Congratulations to Leicester City and fans. Leicester City are now set for a potential £150m boost for winning the Premier League title according to some sport data and marketing agencies

Water, water, everywhere

25 April 2016

Water is unlike any other commodity on earth. It covers 71% of the planet and without it life on earth couldn’t have started.

A lot of hot air!

18 April 2016

No, not the current EU referendum debate but a massive natural gas leak which happened last year near Los Angeles.

Loo roll out

18 April 2016

Contrary to popular belief, Victorian plumber Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, but he did much to increase its use


4 April 2016

It is some 34 years since the Falklands War. The UK has maintained a military presence in the Falkland Islands although due to Russian naval activity closer to home and engine problems with the Type 45 destroyer, the Royal Navy has not despatched a warship to the South Atlantic in 2016.

Basket Case

29 March 2016

Given that everything from rail fares to pensions are linked to inflation, it is always useful to keep an eye on just what the Office of National Statistics (ONS) includes in its basket for measuring inflation.

Can we still afford to be open all hours?

21 March 2016

Napoleon Bonaparte is believed to have described Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. Will this still be true by 2025?

You’re no spring chicken

14 March 2016

Medical advances and greater health awareness mean that Britons are tending to live longer. With over 85’s expected to double by 2032, it is the fastest growing age group, as a result the UK is going to have to devote more resources to the care of the elderly.

Reading the signs

7 March 2016

In the final quarter of 2015 there appeared a distinct divergence in central bank interest rate policy. In December, the US Federal Reserve announced its first rate rise in seven years and flagged a progressive gradual tightening of monetary policy through 2016.

United We Stand

29 February 2016

The House Divided Speech was a defining address given by Abraham Lincoln before he became president in 1858 and just three years ahead of the start of the American Civil War. The best known passage of the speech includes the line ’A house divided against itself cannot stand’

A Euro vision?

22 February 2016

Possibly the most important vote since 1975? No, not the EU referendum but changes to the way voting will be undertaken in the 61st Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2016.

In it for the long haul

15 February 2016

Driving on Britain’s roads it’s difficult to escape the number of lorries, especially when you are in a traffic jam behind one. Subconsciously I tend to track brands I see.

Put that light out!

8 February 2016

The recent release of the new Dad’s Army film got us thinking about the original BBC series. ‘Put that light out!’ is a classic episode from Dad’s Army but also became the catch phrase, during the ‘black out’, of Captain Mainwaring’s nemesis, air raid warden Hodges, played by the late Bill Pertwee.

Mind the gap!

1 February 2016

Those of you visiting London and using the underground will no doubt have heard the warning ‘Mind the gap!’ when alighting the tube train at the Bank or other underground stations. Which got us thinking.

No pain, no gain!

25 January 2016

Yes it’s that time of the year again where many of us change our diet, join a gym or take up running to get fitter. As many personal trainers and sports coaches say ‘there is no gain without pain’.

The terrible twos!

18 January 2016

No not North Korea and Iran, nor Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, nor Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini but very young children!

It’s a jungle out there!

11 January 2016

The Amazon rainforest covers some 7 million square kilometres and includes territory belonging to nine nations., Inc. the electronic commerce and cloud computing company is the largest internet based retailer in the USA. Both Amazons have one thing in common, they are massive!

Gold plated?

14 December 2015

Lord Alan Sugar has one: AMS 1. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drove away from their wedding with one that read JU5T WED and broadcaster Chris Evans has several. Personalised number plates are big business these days with the UK market worth an estimated £2.3bn a year.

A burning issue

7 December 2015

Some 147 world leaders are currently attending the COP21 UN conference in Paris to agree a new global approach to climate change. Fossil fuels and coal in particular are seen as the biggest culprit for global warming.

A less than healthy outlook?

30 November 2015

‘You are what you eat’ is the old saying. Healthy eating, or to be correct unhealthy eating presents a challenge to healthcare budgets, particularly in western developed economies. However, in the future, eating unhealthily may start to cost you more.

The enemy of my enemy

23 November 2015

‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is an ancient proverb that pretty well sums up the global political situation following the Paris terror attack. What short memories some politicians appear to have.

Black Friday or Bleak Friday?

16 November 2015

A bleak Friday indeed for democracy with the shocking terror attack on Paris although, in a sign of solidarity and that life goes on, #Parisisaboutlife, is already widely circulating on social media.

Can a robot do my job?

9 November 2015

The BBC recently presented a week long feature on artificial intelligence and whether people’s jobs were at risk of being replaced by a robot. Which got us thinking. Could our jobs at Alpha be at risk from robots?

No energy?

2 November 2015

What is going on with the weather?  The weekend saw record temperatures across parts of Britain. Usually November sees the onset of much colder mornings which, I find, tends to make it even more difficult to get out of bed. Am I feeling SAD?

I feel a disturbance….

26 October 2015

‘I feel a disturbance in the force’. Yes, it’s approaching faster than the Millennium Falcon. A trailer for the new Star Wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’ has just been shown two months before the film release. An analyst in the USA has estimated that new consumer products tied to the film franchise could bring in revenue of $5bn in the first year.

Sound nuts to you?

19 October 2015

We recently learned of a £37,000 project to make music from the sound of beech mast falling from a giant 100 year old beech tree in Bristol. The project has been funded by a grant from Bristol City Council from its 2015 European Green Capital fund.

Hard or soft landing?

12 October 2015

Its more than 50 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to venture into ‘outer space’. Throughout the five decades of subsequent space flight, just over 550 individuals have made the journey into space.

Taking the long term view

5 October 2015

Good news! The ONS has recently announced we are living longer. A new born baby boy could expect to live to over 79 years and a new born baby girl almost 83 years.

Storm brewing?

28 September 2015

Members of the public are to be given the opportunity to name wind storms affecting the UK and Ireland. It is hoped that naming storms will help raise awareness of severe weather conditions and ensure people protect themselves and their property before it strikes.

Flagging danger signals

21 September 2015

With the Rugby World Cup underway many fund managers will no doubt be out the office at various matches. Talk of rugby and thoughts turn to the favourites, the New Zealand All Blacks.

Reading the tea leaves

14 September 2015

As a nation, we are well known for turning to a nice cup of tea in a crisis. Which got us thinking. With all the recent financial turmoil arising from China, investors should have been drinking more tea, but apparently not so.


7 September 2015

Bristol street artist Banksy has recently opened the Dismaland Bemusement Park in the derelict former Tropicana lido in Weston-Super-Mare. The exhibition, which is a dark take on theme parks includes a dilapidated fairy castle and a boat pond where all the boats are filled with models of migrants.

The Great Fall of China

1 September 2015

The Great Wall of China actually comprises many different walls built over successive periods by the Chinese to control the migration of marauding hordes of invaders. Which got us thinking.

Game of drones

25 August 2015

Last year the CMA issued a record number of licenses to fly small drones in the UK, which was up a staggering 80% on the previous year. However, this could well be exceeded in 2015 as a drone is apparently the must have Christmas gift this year. This could well create challenges in itself from privacy infringement to aircraft safety.

Some like it hot

17 August 2015

Unfortunately not the classic comedy film starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis but office air conditioning! Our office is, no doubt, like many others in that there is usually a lively debate about the temperature.

Oh NO…2

10 August 2015

A recent ruling by the UK Supreme Court has set a deadline of the end of the year for plans to improve air quality in the UK and tackle dangerously high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Currently diesel cars produce less CO2 but emit much more NO2 and it is estimated that diesel road traffic is responsible for 40% of London’s NO2 emmissions.

Who has got the hump?

3 August 2015

To mark Bristol’s green capital status, a sculpture of two life sized whales has been made from Somerset willow and 70,000 old plastic bottles. The blue whale and humpback whale weigh a whopping six tonnes. The bottles were collected from the Bath half marathon and Bristol 10K race. The sculpture highlights the threat of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans, particularly from plastic bags.

It never rains but it pours

27 July 2015

In the musical ‘My Fair Lady’, Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) drills Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) with speech exercises such as ‘The rain in Spain, stays mainly in the plain’ to help drop her ‘mockney’ accent.

Gone with the wind

20 July 2015

Walking into work recently, past a tall building, I was almost blown off my feet by a sudden gust of wind. Apparently accelerated winds near skyscrapers is caused by the ‘downdraught effect’. This is where air hits a building and with nowhere else to go is pushed up and down and around the sides. The air forced downwards increases wind speed at street level.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

13 July 2015

No, not the Alpha Team, although some of you may have spotted a familiar looking Mexican moustache!  However, spaghetti westerns got us thinking about ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. In this case, perhaps the USA, Greece and China?

Time to get out?

6 July 2015

With all the negative financial news headlines on Greece, the glorious weather makes us look forward to the weekend and enjoying the great British countryside.

Lost in translation

29 June 2015

We keep hearing of the term ‘global market place’.  At a time when the fabric of the EU is being tested by the prospect of a Greek debt default, it is perhaps worth remembering the ability to trade freely in a ‘common market’ was one of the original pillars of the European Union.  Globalisation is changing the way business is being done. The EU is the largest economy in the world, along with being the biggest exporter and importer.

Finding the safest port in a storm

22 June 2015

The old sea-faring expression is ‘any port in a storm’. Which got us thinking. We suspect for financial markets, it is actually not a case of finding ‘any port’ but more importantly the ‘safest port in a storm’. This is because, we are currently sailing in unchartered waters.

Stuffed Turkey?

15 June 2015

Last week, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to win a majority in the parliamentary election.  This in turn led to considerable volatility in the Turkish stock market.

The struggle for power

8 June 2015

China has an insatiable appetite for natural resources to meet its long term economic growth ambitions and as a result appears to be putting its footprint down from the South China Sea to the Antarctic. The former sea has a number of countries contesting ownership of the potentially natural resource rich waters including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Things that go bump in the night

1 June 2015

It’s a curious thing. Why do some people like the feeling of being scared while others don’t? One only needs to consider the growing hype surrounding Halloween to see the commercial value we put on being scared.

A lack of liquidity

26 May 2015

According to the US National Atmospheric Administration, global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have reached a new monthly average record of 400 parts per million.  As a result, global levels of carbon dioxide are estimated to be at the highest level for over 2 million years!

Are they nuts?

18 May 2015

No, not politicians, nor Greece but pistachio nuts! We have been keeping an eye on developments in the Middle East, but had assumed that, when sanctions are lifted on Iran, it could lead to oil flooding onto the global market. Instead, it is likely to be pistachio nuts, as Iran is the world’s leading producer alongside the USA.

Between a Spock and a hard place

11 May 2015

Who’d have thought it? Now that the dust is beginning to settle, the post- election recriminations and investigations have begun. One thing for sure is that the new Parliament will have a very different look to the last.

Some assembly required

5 May 2015

With just a few days to go until the UK General Election the polls are suggesting a hung parliament with the likelihood that the Conservatives will just about win the most votes and seats, but not enough to form a majority on their own. In addition, the SNP continues to look the most significant minority party with possibly over 50 seats.

At face value – something to take note of?

27 April 2015

Some of the World’s leading global economies are being challenged to consider putting a famous woman on their banknotes. American bills have portraits of the country’s founding fathers and former presidents, Chinese notes have Mao Zedong and India have Mahatma Gandi, but none of them feature any women.

Survival of the fittest?

20 April 2015

We recently read that a rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants book was returned to the Camden Library in Sydney, Australia, after 122 years! The late fees were thought to be in the region of £22,800, but the book was astutely returned during the library’s ‘fine amnesty month’, although one senses that the library was just over the moon to get the first edition back.

Would you ‘Adam and Eve’ it?

13 April 2015

A new global code of conduct is being introduced in the foreign exchange market by the world’s major central banks. This is designed to stop traders and dealers sharing information and is part of efforts to head off abuses after two years of scandal over currency manipulation.

A storm brewing?

7 April 2015

We recently read that a keen eyed shopper had noticed that Unilever has reduced the amount of tea in its PG Tips tea bags, as a pack of 80 regular tea bags now weighs 232g, down from 250g previously.

A kite dancing in a hurricane

30 March 2015

Later this year see’s the return of Daniel Craig as 007 in the latest bond movie ‘SPECTRE’, an incredible 24th in the franchise. In the trailer, Bond is likened to ‘A kite dancing in a hurricane’. Which got us thinking. This seems like a pretty good description of Greece currently.

As safe as houses?

23 March 2015

The top end of the London property market has had a stellar run in recent years. This has no doubt reflected central banks printing money as well as supportive Government measures for the housing market.

Is someone taking the proverbial?

16 March 2015

Many of you will be aware that Bristol is currently European Green Capital. To reflect this a new bus service is being run between Bath and Bristol Airport using a ‘Bio-Bus’ which is powered by bio-methane gas generated from human sewage and food waste. Locally it has been nicknamed the ‘number two’.

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