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Winter of discontent

Robert Peston | 07:56 UK time, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

I dread this time of year - because if you're in my trade, it's an exhausting season of parties hosted by chief executives, ministers, editors, ambassadors, even prelates.

You'll doubtless ask why, as an ungrateful and ungracious bah-humbug Scrooge, do I join the festive throng. Well, they are an excellent place to test the climate of opinion of those with the economic or political power to influence most of our lives.

And right now, the climate is grim - and the forecast is worse.

It won't surprise you that those who run our biggest retailers are utterly fed up.

What does surprise me is that those I've met recently are furious with the government for cutting VAT.

Partly it's the cost and hassle of changing all their prices that irks them.

But mostly it's that they don't believe the 2.5% cut in the VAT rate will increase their sales. I lost count of the number of times I was told that the £12.4bn cost to the Treasury of the change was "money down the drain".

Woman walks past shop sale signAll they see is an unstoppable trend of consumers spending less - and the big shopkeepers tell me they would have cut their prices, with or without the tax reduction.

They believe that a reduction in income tax or an increase in tax credits for those on lower pay would have been a more effective stimulus.

We'll see.

In my experience, retailers are always grumpy about something. But they are at the frontline of consumer spending, so it would be foolish to ignore them.

Only one group is more miserable than the retailers: the bankers and investment bankers.

The investment banks are as challenged and threatened as the coal mines in the 1980s. Those running them tell me they're planning to make further significant job cuts between now and the end of January. "We've cut so much, we've become anaesthetized to the process" said one.

Another told me that the latest round of redundancies would be pretty indiscriminate: "it's about simply getting the numbers down now" he said.

There is one common theme to the shrinkage at these leading investment banks. They are massively cutting back the businesses that provide services and funds to hedge funds - which has the knock on effect of wreaking havoc on the hedge fund industry.

"We're going to see the closure of well over half of all hedge funds" a banker told me.

Which brings me to the professional investors, who are the most dazed and confused of all those on the party circuit.

"Where oh where do we put our money?" said one.

That's not what you want to hear from someone who manages the pensions and retirement savings of many thousands of us.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Of course retailers always complain, so would you if you had to deal with the general public everyday! However this time it is with good reasonthe dynamic duo of GB &AD were told ad nauseum that a 2.5% reduction in VAT was useless in the face of retailers already offering up to 50% discounts, but did they All it did was increase retailers costs, disrupt the xmas selling period and offered no increase in consumer spending...well done AD. This government is at the stage of self denial, they ignore the real world and just try to hang on to power at any cost.
    So "where do we put our money" is obvious, stop throwing good money after bad in the pursuit of even more debt and even higher house prices...put interest rates up to a level that gives a real return and see the money flow into the banks..... There are more savers than borrowers so the efffect will be positive for the economy.

  • Comment number 2.

    I have a NATO-standard safe cabinet. It's slowly filling up.

  • Comment number 3.

    I believe it is a false assumption to think that our pension money in the hands of a pension fund manager who invests in the stock market, will necessarily grow. As if by magic.

    If you consider inflation and the competing pension funds, who is going to be the loser on each transaction, for your pension fund manager to be a winner?

    The only reason stock markets go up is because of our regular and unstoppable stream of monthly pension payments. Not because the underlying industry really creates any value.

    If pension plans were not allowed to invest into the stock market, then we would see the true face of stocks and shares.

    And perhaps a more honest and simple stock market.

  • Comment number 4.

    ''where oh where do we put our money?''

    With sterling here, UK assets are exceptionally cheap.

    Bank shares are cheap, especially for those too big to be allowed to go down.

    It's obvious, they should buy LLoyds/HBOS and RBS shares.

    They won't do it yet, though, because fund managers are sheep (that's how they got into this mess).

    They will wait until UK bank stocks have doubled in price, which will happen when the hedge funds buy their shorts back. And they'll also wait until sterling's back to 1.3 to the Euro (which will also happen as soon as the hedgies try to take their profit).

    No, before you ask, I do not hold any UK bank shares.

  • Comment number 5.

    Investors should put their money into Property but expect low returns as opposed to losses in the stock market.

    Who cares about the hedge funds the term hedge means to limit risk, but these hedge funds have done exactly the opposite and geared up to incredible levels on the back of cheap money good riddance to them I say. They arte a prime cause of the problems we now have.

    Retailers need to use some common sense exactly how many flat screen telly’s do we all need the over manufacture and supply in our economy and the world as a whole is a disgrace!

    Any retailer who has not built-in some contingency is a fool and the same goes for the average John.

    Will we ever return to any form of common sense?

  • Comment number 6.

    Its the fundamentals dear boy.

    Britain's economy has been in an unstainable position since 2004.

    International investors will shun the attempts to borrow some much more.

    When bank rates fall to 1% I suggest all UK depositors withdraw their funds from the banks as they will be safer and more useful in safe deposits.

    Save Britain not Brown.

  • Comment number 7.

    The excessive charges on our pensions and investments made by the financial industry are another Disgrace.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm surprised that you're surprised by retailers who are 'furious with the government for cutting VAT'. It seemed obvious from the start that it would have minimal impact and be accompanied by significant disruption.

    Think also of the many businesses who sell to other businesses (BtoB). For them, the VAT change has been all pain and zero gain. They're even more unhappy!

    The fact that (so we're told) the PM and chancellor were at one point considering _increasing_ VAT smacks of desperate men shooting from the hip.

    All things considered, the VAT change was a bad move.

  • Comment number 9.

    How do we get the economy moving again?

    Certainly not by just pouring money into it.

    We might ask ourselves why people invest money; for surely if we are to get the economy moving we must have people in productive employment.For productive employment investment is needed. People must not just be units of consumption which is how Brown Darling sees them.

    People or businesses invest money because they see a profit at the end of the exercise. When a low risk is perceived and the economy is motoring then a small profit is acceptable: however when times are hard and the world is a dangerous place it is only worth investing if the potential profit is large.

    Imagine that you have a couple of million in cash and everything around you is uncertain.

    If you invest and make a profit the Chancellor has made it clear he will hit you hard with tax. If you employ people and then have to stop employing them, you will face an employment tribunal who will fine you unless you are very carefull.

    Or you can find the safest place that you can think of and stash the money away, put your feet up and wait for the storm to pass.

    Which would you do?

    If the goverment wants the economy to move it must make risk taking worth while and at present it is not.

    If it was worth while thousands of risk takers would come out and invest to get the economy moving again.

    Stop giving everyone money to consume with no purpose, give a tax holiday to those who try and build something to support the economy.They will reward you with action

  • Comment number 10.

    The 2.5% vat reduction is certainly doing one thing and that is getting us talking about minor rather than major financial issues a red herring anyone?

  • Comment number 11.

    On a more serious plane, the news from the US is that the credit system still isn't working. There are a number of reasons for this:
    1. The Rating Agencies have failed. Their continued survival must therefore be blackmail.
    2. The regulators have failed. Although the FSA has created a number of new posts, they're all jobs for the boys from the banks: Lord David Lipsey's resignation last week as head of the Financial Services Consumer Panel sums it up, the promises made to him to allow him to promote the cause of the consumer inside the FSA haven't been kept.
    3. HMG obviously has lost its grip. Darling's doing too little too late, and is following, not leading the way out of the recession. As a result, Sterling's now around the lowest it's been in my lifetime.
    4. The international governmental collaboration which should have been a priority has been put on the back-burner. The original Bretton-Woods was set up by people who were workers and who got stuck in. The meeting a couple of weeks back was of total straw men, figureheads rolled out to suit the need of the moment, spouting a few remarks which we now see were inanities because nothing has been done since to put them into action.
    5. The rational man therefore asks why we put up with this. We're possibly too hidebound to actually do anything about it, such as happened in 1648, "away with this bauble". The bauble's still there, and the rigmarole with it which allows the supposed forces of order to create more dissent than they will cure in a month of Sundays. I suppose they were running out of work to do, so this makes some more for them.
    6. And therefore why should anyone hope for a way out? The difference between recession and depression isn't statistical, it's moral, and this is how one moves from the first into the second, by destroying not only peoples' lives, but their very will to live. That's what drives bankers off the sixth floor at Wall Street, depression, systemic and entrenched.

  • Comment number 12.

    Bert - it will only be a winter of discontent if you choose it to be and you are making a hell of a stab of depressing everyone

    what is your trade btw?

  • Comment number 13.

    VAT reduction of 2.5% helps a tiny bit. I am scanning the web for bargains and they are there. Coffee maker, Comet, Argos, Amazon all around £124. I got the excat one for £92 with free delivery. The fact is, retaliers are not making their usual profit on what they sell but they can lower prices alot more and still have a markup. Of course web retailers do not have shops, lots of lighting and displays with staff hovering. Just wondering when there will be a higher seperate VAT or business rates for internet sales.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree the stock market is a very unstable place to invest, over the long term it has struggled to keep pace with inflation.
    It is worth remembering that despite un- remitting bad news the UK housing market has only fallen a modest 10-15% not the 50% the FT 100 has fallen in the same period
    The three fundamentals for survival are food, water and shelter for this reason land and property will always outperform the stock market.
    Put your money in tangible assets based on land.

  • Comment number 15.

    "they don't believe the 2.5% cut in the VAT rate will increase their sales. I lost count of the number of times I was told that the £12.4bn cost to the Treasury of the change was money down the drain"

    That's the whole point, isn't it ? And we're only one day into the new VAT regime.

    Furthermore, at the very same time they told us deflation was coming: so it's hard to figure out how they ever imagined otherwise.

    But now these fiscal geniuses have shot their bolt. Whatever else can they do - and how would they spin it ?

  • Comment number 16.

    ''where oh where do we put our money?''

    The answer, in times of recession, is in sensible start-ups.

    Business angels who invest in companies with their feet on the ground, respect for the economic climate and a tangible, easily understood concept, will reap the benefits as their investments come to fruition 3-5 years down the line during the recovery.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Where oh where do we put our money?" said one.

    If I were they I would make sure it was tucked away very safely and they have a very good hiding place.

    To say its going to get grim is understated. This nation is going to go bankrupt under the weight of welfare payments and housing support added to the idiotic bail out of the banking system.

    Discontent? I doubt it, more like revolt.

  • Comment number 18.

    "I dread this time of year - because if you're in my trade, it's an exhausting season of parties hosted by chief executives, ministers, editors, ambassadors, even prelates."

    Who do you normally socialise with then; Kings, and PM's? - this must be such a come down...

    Or name dropping!

  • Comment number 19.

    I am heavily involved in the commercial property and finance sector and for the last month i have heard more doom and gloom that i ever remember and i can remember a fair way back.......... That said i have a challenge for you Robert. I challenge you to give us ONE positive blog over the next week, be it outlook, sections of the market , anything, i dont care.........give me positivity!

    Those of us in the financial and property markets know its melt down out there but it will get better, maybe not to what it was but better. Give me something to go to the Christmas party and get drunk on..........I dare you!

  • Comment number 20.

    The previously high levels of spending were fuelled by high pay and high risk lending. Construction and home improvement are dead in the water, and these tend to be big-ticket, requiring savings or more commonly borrowing to drive them. The latter is stagnant/non-existent, the former people are hanging on to because its now beginning to sink in.... the P45 is coming.

    So, it is not a case of giving the lucky still employed a minor tax break in the hope that they will spend more, but of directly stimulating investment in new jobs across a broader range of industry sectors.

    The potential 1m extra unemployed will take at least 30 bn pounds out of the economy. Add that to the 12bn cost of the VAT reduction and you have an awful lot of cash to finance that stimulus.

    It would have been far better to authorise major infrastructure upgrades/energy conservation measures to this value of 42 billion pounds back in August, because by now they would be kicking in, the surveys underway, and money cycling round and back into the treasury through taxes. Yes there has been some attempt to do this but it is half-hearted, and too late and too slow.

    That way we all get something long term for the tax pain to come. What we've got now is trivial reward for long term tax pain, and lots and lots of unemployed

  • Comment number 21.

    Frankly at the moment I think i would rather have a coal mine than an investment bank.

    There again what do I know, probably as much as an investment banker.

  • Comment number 22.


    ''Imagine that you have a couple of million in cash and everything around you is uncertain.

    If you invest and make a profit the Chancellor has made it clear he will hit you hard with tax. If you employ people and then have to stop employing them, you will face an employment tribunal who will fine you unless you are very carefull.''

    You only pay 18% capital gains tax on such profits. That is among the lowest in the developed world, hardly being 'hit hard' by the Chancellor (aka us taxpayers). That's also on clear profit, after your accountant has had a go at employing your allowances, expenses etc. The Chancellor is unlikely to see anything much of your profit for a while.

    You can fire people very easily up to the end of their second year in employment.

    Basically, what you appear to be saying is that it's best to stick your cash in a safety deposit box- even lending it to a bank or the Government carries a degree of risk.

    It's certainly a plan, and sounds a bit like Cameron's 'man with a plan' speech.

    Shame that those without 2 mill in cash can't do likewise.

  • Comment number 23.

    The vat reduction actually cost the people and business money - the 12 billion could and should have been paid in cash to everyone so that they could spend it and the vat rate should have been left alone.

    What they did is daft as it cost business perhaps a billion and gave nothing to the consumer as the effect of continuing 'panic' moves is to depress the pound and so force up the price of imports. It is these products that people would have spent their money on.

    It seems to me that with the best will in the world these people who change policy will force the slump/depression to be deeper and longer than it might have been if they had done nothing. Perhaps this is as inevitable today as it was in the thirties. It is partly a social phenomena that impacts on the ruling class at the time of economic paradigm change - they take a long time to change their ways (The view is generally that they will hold a view for as long as they have already held it.) They are just poor ignorant cogs in the wheel of the economy - they pretend not to be, but history shows that they are.

    The upshot of this, if I am right, is that none of the present generation of politicians in parliament (on all sides) and none of the Civil Servants are capable of understanding what to do and these people will continually make the wrong moves until we replace then through natural wastage. We need a regime change in the civil service, in advisers, in business and in politics and that will take time. The 'facts' of the economy will have little impact on these people, not because they are not trying to do the right thing, but because they are incapable of distinguishing the right thing from the wrong thing to do. Let us hope that these people recognise their own failings and quit before they damage the country any more!

  • Comment number 24.

    "What does surprise me is that those I've met recently are furious with the government for cutting VAT." It only surprises you Mr Peston because you are a Labour apologist, and when the Prime Mentalist or Lord Mentalson says it is the right thing to do, you unskeptically accept every word.

    I may be an old cynic, but I'm more tempted to believe the commercial insight of our top retailers, rather than the latest propaganda from the Brown Bunker.

    But you can't quite see it yourself, can you ? "We'll see" is the nearest you'll ever get to criticising the New, or is it Old, or is it New again Labour machine.

    Still, it's only money eh ?

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree house prices are still very high, but these are asking prices. There are no sales to back these prices up.

    On the issue of investing, land and property may seem basic and fundamentally safe. But if you look on an aerial photo you will notice VAST expanses of "green belt" "agricultural land" "farm land" and so on surrounding tiny little enclaves of houses.

    The only reason house prices are what they are is because the councils and government do not allow more land to be developed.

    However, we are just a council man's pencil stroke away from redeveloping a lot of land and thereby increase the supply of housing.

    In other (EU) countries land is cheap as chips, you pay for the house you are buying (and the quality of its construction) and perhaps an extra 10% for like 1/4 of an acre of land if present.

    In the UK you pay millions to buy shoddy old houses, reconstructed barns and 1930s shambles. Which you call "character".

    That is another bubble just waiting to burst.

  • Comment number 26.

    Just a thought to stimulate the economy without borrowing any money.

    Allow those with PPPs to withdraw their saved pension funds (tax free) now at any age - to do with what they like. Yes they will have a reduced pot or none at all at the end but many people are going to need the money now.

    Those with a final salary scheme - and particulary in the state sector, could be encouraged to do the same if they wish (but of course they then loose the final salary benefits wth all that implies for government debt).

  • Comment number 27.

    Ah well consumers don't see extra money in their hands.

    So they won't spend it.

    Besides the high inflation of household bills, mines running at 11% does rather slow one down if ones income hasn't grown.

    Be nice to see a proper pay rise for the Public Sector, say ten percent.

    The Inflation is there, pretending it doesn't exist will just increase the suffering of the lowest paid workers.

  • Comment number 28.


    Food Production is important.

    In Europe there is far more land available for building purposes.

    Europe is a lot bigger than the tiny isles of Britain.....

    Fewer people own their own homes in Europe, a lot more rent.

  • Comment number 29.

    How is Santander coping with the Spainish property crash ?

    Just curious as to whether Abbey etc are safe for my money.

  • Comment number 30.

    And this is only the start! The 1929 depresion took 3 years to reach its bottom in 1932. This Christmas will be looked back upon as one of the good ones.

    Where to put your money? Food. No mate what, people need to eat.

  • Comment number 31.

    Anybody who thinks that retail prices are set by adding a percentage markup to the cost then adding VAT is living in cloud-cuckoo land. Prices are set by what the market will bear taking account of psychological price points. There is no chance whatever that an item previously selling for £9.99 will now reduce to £9.74 for example. If this is what retailers have been trying to do then they are dumb. As Robert set out prices are being slashed anyway and they are settling at a level that the market will bear to match the point to where the demand curve has now moved.

    The significance of the VAT cut is that it puts £12.5bn back into the economy to help ease the pain of the slowdown, it will not cure it and neither will anything else – we are in for a bumpy ride. Some of the £12.5bn will end up with consumers through lower prices and some will end up with retailers. The part that ends up with retailers may, for example, help them to retain more jobs and those people still employed will spend more money than if they had been unemployed. The £12.5bn will help the economy but the way it trickles through will be far more complex than knocking 25p off a £10 Christmas present.

    Was it the best way to put money into the economy? Probably not – I would for example have preferred a significant increase in the tax thresholds and a big increase in the basic state pension (we will all be old one day), but we have what we have and it will help.

    Going forwards the government need to plan for a reduction in spending to bring the books back to balance. Ministers use of the word investment when they mean spending is a distortion of the English language. Sensible investment is good, profligate spending is bad and we have too much of the latter in the public sector.

    With respect to the pension funds I had a look at mine recently and the fund manager has lost 25% of the value in the last year. If this is the best that the professionals can manage then I would suggest putting some of my contributions towards their redundancy costs and employ just a handful of lower paid workers to buy Gilts, bonds and holding cash on deposit. Why do I need a pension fund manager when I am sure I could manage my money better myself?

  • Comment number 32.

    So, are you inferring Robert, that the banks lent to hedge funds so that they might bring them down? Hoist by one's own petard? No wonder the banks are unravelling their postions.

  • Comment number 33.

    > "Where oh where do we put our money?" said one.

    Thats exactly my question. Having missed the housing market boat I decided to sit it out, and wait for the inevitable crash. Which took about 3 years longer than I thought.

    Holding sterling is worrying the hell out of me. I believe we will see a brief period of asset deflation followed by rampant inflation.

    I plan to buy a modest house (to live in) once I can call the bottom of the housing market, or close enough.

    But the rest of my savings I fear will quickly become worthless, as the only way out of personal and government debt for the UK is inflation.

    So do I buy more property and rent it out, buy gold, buy dollars? Even with the pound this low I fear it has further to fall.

    This government is definitely not the savers friend. Prudence. Ha!

  • Comment number 34.

    Does anyone rember Bob Beamon? who was the financial guru on LBC radio in the eighties and nineties. His book on economics entitled the Wave Theory
    (i think) predicted this sort of financial behaviour. Well worth getting hold of a copy.
    With regards to retailing the one good thing about it all is may stop the high streets becomming cluttered with shops that sell stuff that frankly we could all do without. In my local town Woodbridge, we have lots of shops that actually are based not on retail good sense or a business model, but on the persons interests/dreams etc. At the moment these people are actually doing slightly less business than estate agents (Bottom of the barrel). A harsh lesson perhaps, but in hard times you have to sell what people need not stuff they could do without. Anyone at the moment considering opening a "niche" (shorthand for c--p you dont need) retail outlet needs their head examining.

  • Comment number 35.

    I understand from talking to the helpdesk of a software company which supports around vehicle hire companies, that only one of its 500 clients have dropped prices with the VAT change - everyone else has just kept the same retail price points and increased margins.

    The VAT decrease was simply a giveaway with no positive effect in terms of increasing demand, and reduces consumer prices at a time when deflation is the next big worry.

    Very poor thinking, I believe.

  • Comment number 36.

    Can we please please have a blog on Britain joining the EURO? I've said in a previous posting that this would be one way to mitigate the UK consequences of the debt / house price bubble and that entry would make sense, to me as a non-economist, when GBP:EUR exchange at 1:1. Surely this is more significant than a smallish bank in Manchester going belly-up?

  • Comment number 37.

    #27 supercalmdown

    "Be nice to see a proper pay rise for the Public Sector, say ten percent."

    No chance! We are broke! Do you not understand?

    Large numbers of public sector people will get the chop. There is NO CHOICE.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have yet to find anybody, apart from Brown and Darling who thinks the VAT cut is anything other than a costly inconvenience which will do no good in the short term and cost us all in the long term.

    The lack of common sense and thought beyond the sound bite in this Government is staggering.

    I am currently reading a book by Professor John Seddon.

    "Systems Thinking in the Public Sector", published earlier this year, shows graphically how and why the current fad for target driven command and control management in central and local government is leading to waste and cost for us all, as well as demoralisation in the public service.

    I am tempted to use my VAT saving to buy a copy of this book for GB and team.

    Oh, I forgot. There is no VAT on books (yet) so there is no VAT saving to spend!

  • Comment number 39.

    The UK needs things to get a lot worse in order for things to improve in the long run. The best solution is for there to be massive migration from the UK due to lack of jobs. The decrease in population would improve things greatly. Let market forces dictate the future.

  • Comment number 40.

    hell mend the hedge funds - they seem to have forgotten the "hedge" bit!! too much good time and not enough long time

  • Comment number 41.

    Please tell us, Mr Peston, if you have anything to drink at all when enjoying such august company ?

    And what is it that you drink ? And who pays for the drinks ? DO YOU ?

    Think over this question and you might just grasp how fed up the general public has become of the incompetentence, selfseeking, and bad manners of the UK's governing elites....the BBC's brilliant journalists included.

    Merry. merry Christmas.

  • Comment number 42.

    #36 HousePricesWillFall

    "Can we please please have a blog on Britain joining the EURO?"

    There is no doubt that behind-the-scenes (back stabbing?) discussions are taking place. JM Barroso said he was talking "with the people that matter", that is not you, BTW.

    Someone on another blog said we could not qualify because of our debt.

  • Comment number 43.


    Bricks are falling from the sky.

    The economy is in freefall.

    The Government has Bust the finances.

    People in some cases choose to have light/heat or food.



  • Comment number 44.

    36 HousePricesWillFall

    You've raised the old chestnut about joining the Euro. Do you think that any of our Euro partners would allow us to join at 1:1?

    This would give British industry a permanent advantage over their domestic producers. Using the other extreme they may want us to join at 2 Euro to the pound to lock in their own advantage.

    Tell you what, lets call it quits and say 1:1.5

    So all we need to do is stabilise at that figure. Joining the Euro may prove to advantageous to the future of the UK. If this country ever decides to do it, it must be from a position of both stability and strength. I just cannot see it happening at the moment.

  • Comment number 45.


    Most sensible comment so far.

    The VAT change was done to help the WHOLE economy immediately not wait for the alternative, personal tax changes, to adjust incomes marginally over the remainder of the financial year.

    Not everyone pays personal tax and the poorest would have missed out altogether.

  • Comment number 46.

    What does surprise me is that those I've met recently are furious with the government for cutting VAT.

    Partly it's the cost and hassle of changing all their prices that irks them.

    But mostly it's that they don't believe the 2.5% cut in the VAT rate will increase their sales. I lost count of the number of times I was told that the £12.4bn cost to the Treasury of the change was "money down the drain".

    I dont know why it surprises you.

    If you had any nous and read your blog responders or the comments of the German chancellor or any number of others you would already know this

  • Comment number 47.

    The VAT cut may not make me spend more, but I think it will stop me from spending less. The fact that my latte was 5p cheaper this morning made me feel just a little bit better off, over a year that's about £12.50.

  • Comment number 48.

    the recent fall in sterling has brought the Euro debate back into focus.....dont even think about it!
    the pound is weak against the euro but next week the euro may well weaken, the exchange rate is not something one should base economical decisions on, it is regulated by the same guys who put petrol up to $150......the speculators. Do you really think the euro is a strong currency? just look at the eurozone economies....are they any better than the UK? I can even see the time when the germans say enough is enough and go back to the Deutschmark! And anyway do you really think any UK politician is brave enough (apart from mandelson!) to even suggest it to the British people?

  • Comment number 49.


    "Large numbers of public sector people will get the chop. There is NO CHOICE."

    Not until after Brownstuff calls his "Saving UK" election call.

    Dominoe effect comes to mind every day.

    You ain't seen nothing yet!

  • Comment number 50.

    As we are posting our alternative economic packages this is mine:

    The Govt should have suspended all housing stamp duty with a commitment to a phased reintroduction so the longer house purchases are delayed the more it will cost in tax.

    The Govt should also provide banks with cheap mortgage indemnity insurance for new mortgages (obviously subject to certain underwriting criteria).

    The Govt should offer to purchase all repossessions at marker value and rent back to the current owners at a small mark up to the cost of the capital to the govt and give the current owners the option to buy back at any time at the price the govt paid plus inflation.

    This should 'fix' the housing market which would 'fix' the banks as they would no longer need to make huge write downs against their mortgage books thus making them less risky which would in turn restart interbank lending and thus allow credit to flow to the rest of the economy.

    Housing caused the problem, prices are now close to long term norms so if the 'undershoot' can be prevented then fixing housing will fix the economy.

    Longer term I think stamp duty should be scrapped and replaced with scrapping the CGT indexed exemption but it would be very bold to do this now.

  • Comment number 51.

    #38 qwerty

    If Seddon's latest book is anything like his earlier work "Freedom from command and control", then I can imagine it will go down like a lead balloon in front of ministers.

    The target and inspection regime espoused by the Gvt is central planning at its most pernicious (don't get me started on hospital waiting times).

    Regrettably the private sector in this country as well as the public sector are stuck in an 18th Century factory style mentality. One that built the empire, but then has slowly eaten it away for the last 100 years or so (why can't we mass produce cars anymore? read Seddon and you understand why).

    Perhaps the City was merely a modern day manifestation of this feudal arrangement (lots of "bright" and "talented" people who were nothing more than battery hens in the financial instrument production factory). We deplore those who question authority, yet our mass scale compliance would give North Korea a run for its money (look how easy it is for us to be trained to spend our money voting to evict / retain non-celebrities on our TV).

    There are none so enslaved as those that think they are free.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think people are missing the point of the VAT reduction.

    2.5 percent off will not make people rush out an buy now, but when the 2.5 percent goes back on next year when there are hopefully some signs of light at the end of the tunnel and most of the redundancies have happened, then the threat of an imminent price rise will persuade those who have money to buy sooner, rather than wait for VAT to get back to 17.5%.

    The stimulation from the VAT change will come then, not now.

    However, its still not the right thing to do. Everyone who owns property is frantically trying to save so they do not get reposessed. If the government want to get people spending they MUST guarantee that no-one who is made redundant will have etheir house reposessed to repay the mortgage.

    As soon as people are sure their house is safe they willk spend their savings.

    There need to be some safeguards to prevent abuse but that is not difficult for anyone with common sense to work out, which probably means its impossible for civil servants and politicians who see to have a collective iq in the order of 2 when it comes to finances.

  • Comment number 53.

    The only solution is to blame the messenger. I vote for imprisoning "Bert" for 2 years.

  • Comment number 54.

    #33 swatts1000
    "So do I buy more property and rent it out, buy gold, buy dollars?"

    NOT DOLLARS! Really not!

    #48 jolo13

    "just look at the eurozone economies....are they any better than the UK?"

    You are absolutely correct. The whole Euro thing is a stack of cards and the table is about to get an almighty knock.

    Things have been very quiet about Eire and Italy.

  • Comment number 55.


    Why would you rather have a coal mine than an investment bank... ?

    That bloke Turner says coal is nasty, dirty smelly stuff and despite the fact that we've got oodles of it we have to stop burning it in power stations because the world is getting too hot... ( We had snow last night in Scotland) ..

    Worryingly though this is the same Turner that's now Lord of everything at the FSA...

    Doesn't bode well does it?

  • Comment number 56.

    "You dread this time of year Robert - because in you're trade, it's an exhausting season of parties hosted by chief executives, ministers, editors, ambassadors, even prelates"

    Im pleased to hear it Robert.

    At a time when many people are losing there jobs Robert this is the most arrogant crass opening paragraph I think you have made [and there are many].

    No thought at all for the countless who have been made unemployed or soon to be. No its look at me im Robert Peston lording it up.

    Personally I hold this remark at the same level of contempt as those who complained about the antics of messrs Bland and Ross.

    I hope this post draws the same attention but sadly your not that popular.

    I demand an immediate appology and yes I will be forwarding my thoughts to your controlling bodies.

    I urge any one else who feels the same to do likewise.

  • Comment number 57.

    As i have said earlier the GB dream team has run its course, to inject some hope into the markets needs new faces.

    Unfortunately,we wont see that for a while as MP's have pension pots to fill and allowances to claim so there will be no early election.

    So we can look forward to 12 months of uncertainty in the markets.

    i notice not many other people think we are a good bet with the pound dropping like a brick.
    I think Gordons hopes of being seen as a world leader in economics have taken a bashing.

  • Comment number 58.

    re RobKirton @ 44.

    Thanks for picking up my thread on joining the EURO (@36).

    I don't understand why everybody assumes that Britain would not be allowed to join the EURO at a 1:1 exchange rate. In terms of purchasing power for quality of life (not the same as purchasing power for a flat screen TV) I think 1:1 is about right. This would also immediately correct the still inflated valuation of the UK housing market, and it would reduce the debt of those who are struggling to pay crippling mortgages, and it would create some room for growth. What British industry are you referring to? Do others in Europe really have anything to fear from British exports? If they let Eastern European countries join, why not Britain?

    Surely, this is all far more significant than Darling cooking the books with VAT.

  • Comment number 59.

    I guess that 2.5% reduction could be explained as a subtle subsidy, evading normal EU rules, for large ticket items such as new cars. Whilst the high street retailers lose because it has a negative impact on their cashflow,since they buy with credit and sell with cash while temporarily holding the tax. Just don't expect tears for Tesco.

  • Comment number 60.

    To those who are still urging us to invest in housing because of a fundamental shortage I recommend a stury of Japanese house prices. In Japan, land is even scarcer and development more restricted than in Britain, yet house prices have fallen for every one of the last fifteen years. Rather than invest in Sterling denominated houses in this miserable country it’s surely better to follow Wemmick’s advice and get hold of portable property.

    And it’s really no use looking to Alasdair Darling and Gordon Brown to fix this mess. They are politicians and their first concern --- like all politicians --- will be to do whatever they can to hold on to the perks of office. Rather, each of us has to look to our own best interests and those of our families, and try to arrange our affairs so that we’re as little reliant on the political classes as possible.

  • Comment number 61.

    Dear Robert

    Thanks for enlightening us about the good and the great in their festive cups.

    I share you stoicism about the VAT reduction. But I worry about the Tories' 'kitchenomics' and scaremongering about national bankruptcy.

    As for the investment bankers wondering about where to invest, why not start to expose the obscene rates of return previously being sought by some of these people, and explore their role in the near collapse of the banking system?

    Peter Kenyon

  • Comment number 62.

    "They believe that a reduction in income tax or an increase in tax credits for those on lower pay would have been a more effective stimulus [than the VAT reduction, at an equivalent fiscal cost].

    We'll see."

    How will we see, Mr Peston? The VAT's happening, the income tax/tax credits isn't. We won't have anything against which to compare what actually happens, will we?

    This is another quaint little Labour trick. Deny that best estimates should be given more credence than any other estimate, so allowing the backing of irrational outsiders if these are more in tune with the unannounced political agenda.

    New Labour! Old Labour without the honesty.

  • Comment number 63.

    Anybody else here believe that we continue to see the tip (ie 10%) of the iceberg right now? The 90% lurking beneath the surface will become evident in the first of half of 2009, after the Christmas euphoria and natural desire to hang-on-in-there falls away. Then there will be a succession of financial and economic shocks that will ripple around the world in waves, each wave taking us a notch further down the prosperity ladder.

    We shouldn't be surprised. We've been living on the never-never for so long now, that a dramatic correction was inevitable. Pity our politicians are doing everything possible to make the end result much worse by trying to delay the inevitable. They're wasting their time and our money, of course.

    As before, I add my usual rider that the end of mankind's era of cheap energy will pretty much coincide with the trough of this global economic slump; we're about to live in interesting times.

    Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of (economic) war!

  • Comment number 64.

    I have stated on Roberts blog many times throughout this year that we were heading for a melt down. This is worse now, and will not get any better any time soon.

    Stop the spending by Government NOW and stop the bully boy tax credits system of Brown confiscating hard earned wages and handing the booty out to his choosen few (Usualy the NON working classes) Put money in peoples wage packets NOW by increased personal allowances and also take thousands of hard working people out of the tax pay completly.
    Brown and his useless cabinet must go now and bring some stabilty into the Country. A stability that Brown, and he alone, has trashed.
    We are in difficult times but no doubt PMQ time will have no answers and no help to the British Public. A shambles of the highest order.

    Had Enough

  • Comment number 65.

    go shopping near the border in northern ireland they are already doing 1:1 on the euro/ pound

  • Comment number 66.

    "We're going to see the closure of well over half of all hedge funds" a banker told me."

    Happy Days are Here Again......

  • Comment number 67.

    #2 "I have a NATO-standard safe cabinet. It's slowly filling up."

    For a long time now, the Spetznez have been trained to crack open NATO-specced safes to get any secrets kept in them !!

    Just thought you'd like to know !! :-)

  • Comment number 68.

    Increasing tax credits for the lower paid would only have boosted Tesco profits. Reducing the tax paid by young, childless people in work (who don't get tax credits), would benefit clothing retailers, mobile phone companies and restaurants, arguably more at risk than Tesco. The main problem with the VAT decrease is that it is not targeted. the economy needs targeted help.

  • Comment number 69.

    How can you avoid bankruptcy when stuck in a bent family law system:
    1. Lawyers learn your children's name and then say you can not see them unless you spend a couple of years in court, (so they can get a BMW)
    2. Property and assets are transferred by Judges
    3. Legal Costs are charged against the property

    Might as well stop working now because you know they will get rid of you when they have finished using you.

    When they say "Jump" you have to jump as high as you can, (which is not enough)

  • Comment number 70.

    VAT change had a massive effect on my business-I had to log into my accounts system, add the new rate as default and add a new VAT category for the old rate in case I need to do anything with invoices/purchase orders from ore change. Oh, and train my accounts staff on the changes to the system. Took all the time it takes to have a cup of coffee!

    Had a VAT inspection yesterday, and whilst chatting, I pointed out that we'd changed the rates and he was shocked-because he'd forgotten about it!

    My companies are not high street retailers, and many other businesses are the same. All our quotes have VAT added afterwards.

    In short, the change has and will make a negligible impact on my businesses. The good thing is that we supply large format printing to many companies, including the retail sector. It is possible that the VAT change may well cause them to use it as an advertising tool-then they'll need more print.

    There are many winners out there from this, if not directly, but from the knock on effect. I don't think this is what AD wanted however!

    As Alex C states-UK plc is so broken, 2 paracetamol and a cuppa won't fix it.

    The expertise to sort this mess out is right in front of their noses-but asking for help is too humble for those who are arrogant headless chickens with jerky knees!

  • Comment number 71.


    As AD and GB have never had a real job in their lives (Scottish solicitor and College lecturer) it is hardly surprising that their efforts to stimulate spending will fail. The retail profit margins in the UK are usually at the 100 percent mark and sometimes higher - hence the 50 percent discounts on the high street. In the US margins are lower but volumes higher.

    Ever since VAT came in at 17.5 percent, I have viewed it as a parameter not a variable. Income tax had to come down and to make disposable income go further. AD and GB have to crack down on the electricity and gas suppliers prices which are disgracefully high. These utility companies are TERRORISING the population - where are the Anti Terrorism police when you need them?

  • Comment number 72.

    The Chancellors VAT cut has not achieved its purpose; retailers are NOT passing it on. (EG Tesco Fuel: no change in price).
    Hence private consumers see no benefit while business such as mine which use a lot of fuel see a 2.2% rise in costs. I calculate that in the case of Tesco fuel sales ONLY, this brings a windfall of £21m per day to their P&L account. And we all know about Tesco's ways with corporation tax. Did the Giovernment really want this to happen? Of course not, and they could easily have predicted it. The rest of us did.

  • Comment number 73.

    Why would anyone invite Robert to a function? The tedious delivery, the emphasis on the wrong part of every word, talking to the audience as if they are 5 year old kids. Plus he doesn't want to be there. Don't invite Darling's mouthpiece and have a better party I say.

  • Comment number 74.

    joining the euro?

    I'm totally agnostic over that-but most importantly, it is so contentious it should be referendum issue.

    My concern is that a 'back door' adoption of this currency will cause massive dissent - if the government do it without going to the country first they obviously have no idea of the proportions of the ensuing backlash.

    If the comments from Juan are to be believed, then someone is big headed enough to think they speak for the nation AND has a big mouth. Now who is arrogant enough to do that?

    We're spoilt for choice!

  • Comment number 75.

    The point of the VAT reduction is not to make people spend now but more importantly to make them spend just before it goes back up-- just before the next election.

  • Comment number 76.

    I never met Robert Peston, but he seems to think he is good at his trade and deserves to keep his job and be be a "have" instead of "have not". Get rid of him so he can learn what it's like to be in the half that's never been told.

  • Comment number 77.

    Robert I hope that when you've retired from one or more of these celebrity Christmas ding dongs you control yourself as you walk home. Too much good living my friend'll take it's toll on you. Be warned. You may end up on the front page of the Sun or God forbid the Sport pictured in a rather poor state as you pull yourself off the pavement. So take it easy at these parties they have a way of turning the mild and the meek into rampaging monsters. Oh, by the way, if you do bump into Gordon and his merry band of woodentops tell them thanks for bankrupting the country and recklessly expanding the nations debt. Just the sort of Christmas present we all wanted.

  • Comment number 78.

    Re 72
    Fuel duty was increased to negate the VAT cut so no change in fuel prices for private users - business users are a different matter as it effectively went up for them.
    (Ditto alcohol and tobacco duty.)

  • Comment number 79.

    #58, #44

    The OECD publish Purchasing Power Parity values for countries. If I'm reading their numbers right, it looks like the Pound is actually "worth" around 1.3 Euros or 1.5 Dollars, so the current exchange rate is about right.

    Personally, I'd prefer to peg the Pound at purchasing power parity against the Euro, rather than actually adopting the Euro. If that could be done we might get the benefit of Exchange Rate stability while maintaining some independence regarding fiscal policy. Failing that, adopting the Euro is the best bet - the past few decades of an independant (and over-valued) Pound have done this country no good at all, though I'm sure the currency traders have done very well out of it.

  • Comment number 80.

    #12 "The meeting a couple of weeks back was of total straw men, figureheads rolled out to suit the need of the moment, spouting a few remarks which we now see were inanities because nothing has been done since to put them into action."

    This is certainly true of Britain but, then again, what else is expected of Gormless Gordon and his incompetent crew ??

    However, it is not true of some other countries at that meeting !! Both China and India have put in place infrastructure aimed at (1) creating more jobs and (2) improve and/or upgrade their badly depleted infrastructure !! China is planning a tax cut (actually a rise in personal tax allowance) while Gormless Gordon is planning MORE tax *RISES* !!

    The Asian countries are planning to *reduce* government debt as agreed at the meeting while dear Darling is going to *borrow* to the hilt !!

    All other countries at the meeting agreed to open up to fair international trade and investments while Gormless Gordon is punishing Barclays for accepting Arab money !!

    Where Gormless Gordon when to the meeting roaring like a lion and asking the rest of the world to follow *his* example, he came back meek as a lamb after being rebuffed for his, shall we say, less than workable ideas on how to solve the economic crises !!

    Therefore, the fault lies not in the failure of the G20 meeting but in our Glorious Leader !! It is our Great Helmsman who is steering us straight into the rocks !!

    But, of course, such things are never spoken of in the parties and functions of the great and the good, especially within earshot of any who might report them to the thought police of the Ministry of Truth !! They might get a highly undesirable visit from certain gentlemen of HM Constabulary !!

  • Comment number 81.

    A quick comment on joining the Euro.

    We couldnt afford the cost of the change before, what makes anyone think we can afford the cost of change now we are broke!

  • Comment number 82.

    58 HousePricesWillFall

    Providing that the Euro does prove to be a bedrock stable currency, I think if we were ever allowed to join the Euro at 1:1 we would be fools not to do so. Though as I said, I can't see it happening. Prices of everything in Britain (apart from still overvalued property) now seem wonderful to other Europeans. Imagine reducing them further and then locking them in i.e. at parity.

    Remember if it looks to be such an attractive option to us - it may not be to Eurozone members. What is in it for them?

    We must look beyond the current economic crisis. A currency is for life - not just Christmas

    In time, other European investors will want to snap up British businesses. That is investing in this country and providing work. There would be no reason why millions of French / Dutch / Belgians shoppers would not just flood the UK every day - bargain hunting. Come to Britain - everything is guaranteed to be cheaper. It would be great for us, but what about there own domestic economies? It doesn't sound like the professed level playing field of the single European market to me.

    Eastern Europeans were allowed to join the Euro - but only at hard fought and commonly agreed exchange rates. Likewise there was a period of stability in exchange rates for most countries, especially for the larger ones, prior to joining. Remember the ERM?

    It was disastrous last time we joined. We most likely would need to do something similar this time. Of course there may be a cunning plan to create high inflation here and low inflation in the Euro zone to equal things out in a few years. However fine tuning such things is beyond the realms of plausibility, when we couldn't maintain a degree of exchange rate parity for a few months last time we tried to grow closer to currency union

  • Comment number 83.

    Where should they put their money....? Wrapped up in that question is the myopia and greed of the investors. The answer is obviously gilts or bank deposit, not stock, not property. Gilts will give you a small return, probably not much else will, until the time comes to buy back into the market.

    They are still looking for a big return and the bonus from a trade when there is non to be had. Rather like WW1 generals who couldn't think of any other idea than sending troops over the top, because thats what they had always done.

    They clearly haven't grasped the idea that the landscape has changed for probably the next five years, and they should be thinking about survival and hibernation not trying to make a profit.

  • Comment number 84.

    "3. At 08:27am on 02 Dec 2008, AndyGreen44 wrote:

    I believe it is a false assumption to think that our pension money in the hands of a pension fund manager who invests in the stock market, will necessarily grow. As if by magic."


    It's simply inflation... Didn't you know?

    The money supply increases at 12% per year. "Official" inflation increases at 3% per year and the banks and businesses pocket the difference between the additional money and what you are willing to accept as inflation.

    Growth, is simply the devaluation of the currency through the expansion in credit. Your pay slip and savings are on a big downward elevator (normally).

    Anyone who says otherwise is a banker.

  • Comment number 85.

    #19 "Give me something to go to the Christmas party and get drunk on......."

    The price of booze is going to go up in the new year. So eat, drink and be merry for in the new year it will cost you an arm and both legs !!

    How's that for some cheerful season's greetings ??

  • Comment number 86.

    RE EURO??


    Herr Braun,Frau Smit ,lord m & the GANG

    are more likely to live on Mars than give us

    the plebs any choice.

    Like Decimalisation, if they do it it will be

    used to cover over the dire state of the

    Public Finances.

    Print a load of new money ,rampant inflation

    job done ,back to the 70's and the IMF.

  • Comment number 87.

    All for pumping money into the economy, but why on earth is the measly 2.5% VAT cut combined with a rise in National Insurance, hitting the lowest paid.

    The explanations that make most sense here are the cynical... Brown can't really be that stupid, tho?

  • Comment number 88.

    Its simple we need to start investing in manufacturing/technology shares and Venture Capital rather than debt and houses.

    All these comments about land etc assume that business is a zero sum game. This ignores the fact that people are intelligent and we actually do make progress.

    In the last 30 years:

    Personal Computers,
    Mobile Phones,

    In the immediate future:
    Electronic paper,
    Low cost solar power

    Further Out:
    Biotechnology - cheap food, massive improvements in medicine
    Nanotechnology - new materials
    Hydrogen economy

    In technology the basic rule is you invest in R&D in the down cycles and sales/marketing/production in the good times. The goal is to have the best products at the point of maximum demand. Unfortunately, the UK financial community in its wisdom has shut off pretty much all Venture Capital funding to technology companies.

    Equity investment in technology and manufacturing companies is the logical complement of a strategy of devaluing the currency to increase exports. Unfortunately, instead of following through on what could have been a reasonable strategy the money was wasted on a 2.5% VAT cut.

  • Comment number 89.

    "I dread this time of year - because if you're in my trade, it's an exhausting season of parties hosted by chief executives, ministers, editors, ambassadors, even prelates".

    .. and what trade is that Roberto? You're only as good as your current job, (I wanna be a Rasta DJ)

  • Comment number 90.

    Yes - the VAT cut is ridiculous, and displays Gordon Brown's worst tendencies..... to fiddle about tweaking this here and that there making much more work for all of us, when what we want is a much simpler tax system (....I say this running a few small businesses). This is the major delusion that Gordon Brown has - that being in charge of the Treasury (yes, still....) he is the only person that can do anything to help, and therefore has to design some ideal system of incentives/checks etc etc up and down the whole income/asset/tax spectrum to create a "fair" society.

    The National Insurance system is the worst of the lot (the most complicated system). The opportunity that this major crisis has presented to do something to simplify things has been wasted (..... like increasing personal allowances, removing the Cap - the Upper Earnings Limit on EE's National Insurance contributions, and then combining NI with PAYE to produce just one system - I'm sure these few changes alone could save the government many many thousands of employees pushing paper with money signs on around pointlessly - just like the banks have been doing, you could argue, believing that they have been doing something useful for the economy).

    And so, yes, moving on to the investment banks..... that's good news in fact, given we need to harness the talents of these intelligent smart people to do things that actually contribute to the economy (in science, technology, manufacturing, building, and teaching..... yes, teaching!). The City of London has hijacked just a huge amount of the talent within the UK and sold them a pup (and us at the same time) - the idea that out of money, you can produce all the things you need in life..... it was all just a chimaera.

    The model we need to get to is where investment banks have to change their names and are prohibited from using the word "bank" so become .... investment funds/arbitrage operations/hedge funds/holding companies/conglomerate investors etc etc and are not able to borrow from "banks" at all (yep.... I'll say that again, not at all). The proper "banks" become the only things that can take retail deposits, and which we then insist run "open book" banking i.e. have to display details of their loan book and funding book (realtime?), and also operate under decent capital ratio requirements (25%?). This would mean as an individual you can either put money into a bank where you know the capital ratios are huge and so it is very safe, or you could put it in one of the above funds - where indeed you might make a good return, but where you might lose it all (just like any equity investment that the majority of people in the UK understand). This would create a 'firebreak' in the system and most importantly would push down the decision on "appetite for risk" within the system to individuals (you and me) rather than leaving it to some stupid greedy banker in some massive organisation, who is on some huge one way incentive bonus scheme, to set the "systems" appetite for risk, by either a. making huge bets with borrowed money (.... our money!) and b. confusing themselves with financial products they don't understand and that they don't realise increases the systemic risk.

    It is important of course in a new system that the opportunity still exists for start ups/takeovers/buyouts to take place funded with large amounts of money, to ensure the "efficient allocation of resources" takes place that will promote economic growth that we all want.

    Just don't do it Mr Banker with the money I've put in my bank.

    Rather, let me decide if I want to take some of it out of your bank and give it to these other guys to go gambling.

  • Comment number 91.

    I suggest that RP dodges the mulled and mullered London circuit and goes off on a spree to California to report on the financial crisis there.

    I heard on the World Service this morning that CA is billions of dollars in debt and is close to bankruptcy. It was suggested that, as CA is the 6th (?) largest economy in the world, this could have serious global repercussions.

  • Comment number 92.

    In reply to #33:

    For what it's worth I am splitting my savings between gold and gilts. Gold is good if sterling goes down the pan and gilts are best to have if we get into a deflationary spiral.

    In my view you do not want to be touching equities or property with a bargepole for the time being. If and when things start to pick up oil majors might be a good bet.

    I have seen nothing to convince me that there is any hope for the UK economy. What little manufacturing we have is also suffering, due to lack of credit and overseas markets drying up.

    I honestly believe our only hope may be to go back to 'digging for Britain' to provide food and to try to become self-sufficient in energy and other basic items such as clothing.

    Short-term measures by Labour are just digging a deeper hole for us to get out of. They have also turned this into a police state so the sooner we have a chance to vote them out the better.

  • Comment number 93.

    #52 "then the threat of an imminent price rise will persuade those who have money to buy sooner, rather than wait for VAT to get back to 17.5%"

    If there is a choice between heating and food on one hand and saving a few quid from VAT increases on the other, I think I know what most people will choose !! Flawed thinking at best, lunacy at worst !!

  • Comment number 94.

    so who is looking to gain a European position if they leave british politics?

    There must be someone- after all, currying favour there must have an ego centric reason behind it!

    How dare that person presume they represent the UK!

    Like I said, push this through and see whathappens!

  • Comment number 95.

    The VAT reduction is a complete waste of time.

    RBS the state owned bank has just passed 1% of the 1.5% interest rate cut onto me.
    How can AD tell Banks to pass on the full amount when RBS does not. How about setting an example.

    Fuel bills have still not come down.
    Rip of Britain strikes again.

    Savings solution, buy property outside the UK. Until they find a way of taxing you on that as well.

    Save nothing, buy nothing in the UK.

    Scrap Council Tax. Why should we pay Tax on money already taxed.

    Scrap NI and just have PAYE.
    It's a stealth TAX that nobody understands

    This country is a joke

    Get out while you can before they Tax you on emigrating.

  • Comment number 96.

    If its any consolation, I'm even more miserable than the Bankers and the Retailers...

    Why ?

    Because the Bankers have created a right old mess and completely cocked up my plans, including my long-term investment in Woolworths which looked reasonable until the Credit Crunch...

    I hope they all have a rotten Christmas too...

    Particularly those retailers who were selling things for £5.99 last week, but they're still £5.99 this week because the reduction in VAT is going into their pockets rather than the consumers....

  • Comment number 97.

    #58 You seem to have mistaken the EU for Eurozone !! The Eastern Europeans are joining the *EU*, not the Eurozone (yet) !! Britain is *IN* the EU but not *IN* the Eurozone !! Neither is Denmark and Norway, for that matter !!

  • Comment number 98.

    Comment 70 : Tigerjayj

    "The expertise to sort this mess out is right in front of their noses-but asking for help is too humble for those who are arrogant headless chickens with jerky knees!"

    Yes. Banish these three myths, and the road to prosperity becomes clear again:-

    1. The only way the he can avoid being exploited to the point of misery is for the average man to control the entire political decision-making process.

    2. It's unquestionably the case that a decision-making process controlled by the average man is just as capable of making best-option decisions as one controlled by the intellectual elite.

    3. The quality of the decisions made is unaffected by the level of awareness and involvement of the general population in the political system, and of its understanding of the thought processes that are required for it to operate effectively.

    Silk purses cannot be made from sows' ears.

  • Comment number 99.

    88 tom_edinburgh

    I couldn't agree more. Good to see that there are others who can see above the speculative "investment" economy. i.e. not really investing, simply gambling on the the price movement of a commodity such as land or property.

    I always remember the Thomas Edison classic quote

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

  • Comment number 100.

    The demise of hedge funds is long overdue - they have caused havoc with their concerted short selling and played a major part in the destruction of investor confidence and wealth in the UK.

    Why is the selling of shares you do not own not banned?

    It would be very interesting for a journalist to investigate the contributions made to political parties by employees and managers of hedge funds, and who from Government, parliament or the Civil Service has taken up positions in the hedge fund industry.

    And also to investigate and explain why our pension fund managers lent shares to short sellers.

    Perhaps then we will see why the selling of shares you do not own is not banned.

    We have seen a taste of what the hedge fund industry gets up to with Rothschild "entertaining" Osbourne and Mandy in Corfu.

    I would not have trusted Mandy given his history - I now don't trust Osbourne.

    We need much greater regulation of this shady industry in order to protect our pensions and other savings.


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