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BigCo: Not rescuing Britain, yet

Robert Peston | 09:23 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

There were results from seven FTSE 100 companies this morning: Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Royal Dutch Shell, AstraZeneca, Reed Elsevier, British Sky Broadcasting and BT Group.

FTSE 100 displayThey provide some kind of picture of the health and prospects of Britain's biggest companies.

What they show is that BigCo has come through the worst recession since the 1930s in better shape than some might have expected: typically their indebtedness has been falling gently and is at bearable levels; sales and earnings are flat or rising gently.

There's a strong emphasis in their respective announcements on containing or reducing costs: Shell boasts of enormous $3.5bn annualised cost savings that it has made; BAE cut headcount by 3,300 in the first half of the year; all BT's profit growth came from reduced operating costs; AstraZeneca is closing two major research sites; at Shell, net capital investment is broadly flat; at Reed, the emphasis is all about generating cash in a climate where demand from business and professional users is flat.

And although they all talk the talk of investing for the future, in practice they are maintaining investment rather than increasing it: investment in research and development at Rolls-Royce was flat at £436m in the first half; capital expenditure at BT fell in the first quarter; at AstraZeneca there's very tight control of investment.

Now the one outlier or anomaly is British Sky Broadcasting, which happens to be the most domestic and the most consumer facing of all the businesses. What is striking about BSkyB is that its emphasis is on containing cost growth rather than cutting costs. It significantly increased investment in new programmes and content and it is putting money into new services (such as 3D TV).

So what does all this mean for the British economy?

Well it would be dangerous to draw firm conclusions, even from the results and expectations of seven such big companies, partly, of course, because all of them (except BSkyB and to a lesser extent BT) are very international, both in terms of where they employ people and where they sell their stuff. Arguably they're only British in the sense of where they have their respective head offices.

But their plans do pose something of a challenge to the government's hopes of a "balanced" economic recovery in the UK.

In a climate where public spending is being slashed and where British consumers cannot and should not be relied on to increase spending, because of the imperative of paying down their record debts, it really matters that BigCo invests more in the UK, employs more people in the UK and exports more.

At some point, all of that will of course happen. But it is not obvious from the results and expectations of these seven companies that the revival of business leaders' animal spirits will happen sufficiently quickly to prevent economic growth in the UK being anaemic to the point of non-existence for some considerable time to come.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What percentage of these successes will be contributing to the UK economy by hiring people, and if any are, then how many will they be hiring and when do they expect to begin the process?

    Or is it a jobless recovery that is being dreamed of?

  • Comment number 2.

    I can't speak for every company on the list, but having been made redundant by Elsevier recently, it's jobs that they are exporting. UK headcount is decreasing while offshore headcount increases, all in the name of cutting costs.

  • Comment number 3.

    The truth is - and it is proved by radionotome's experience #2 - British jobs are declining and foreign jobs are growing. Comapanies are quietly, but relentlessly, moving to foreign locations. Why? The answer is simple. There are so many taxes, imposts and levies in the UK, and so many restrictive employment practices and laws, from an employer's point of view, that there is every reason for them to leave and none to employ locally.

    In addition, of course, there are the siren screams for 'a fairer society' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'reduce inequality' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others. And just who are these 'others'. Why, the Government, of course, which will then be in a position to buy votes with their unearned largesse.

    Just who in Britain wants to slog his way to the top, set up a profitable company, and find everything is taken from him in the interests of this mindless socialism? Only a lunatic cubed.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is Big Business which is just the same as Big Government. It knows it is too big to fail so all it need do in difficult times is to address its costs, balance the books and not do anything silly like blow up an oil-well. There is no way any of them will help the domestic economy.

    My work is close to a BSkyB depot. What used to happen is that every six months new vans would be delivered for the installation crews. This doesn't happen any more so the factory at Luton is selling fewer vans. This is the reality of those cost reductions.

    I have said this before and will keep chanting the mantra that the solution to this economic crisis will be found in small businesses, either skilled individuals working for themselves or groups of like minded souls seeking to meet a payday.

    Big Business and Big Government are not to be trusted. The ordinary people only have each other and this is where you will find proper customer service, respect for employees, flat hierarchies, shirt-sleeve management, rewards for success and the knowledge and satisfaction of a job well done.

    I would put it to the Coalition that if they want to achieve the restructuring of the economy from government employment to the private sector it is their clear duty to facilitate this solution. If it means beating up the banks for investment in domestic enterprises then so be it: beat them up!

  • Comment number 5.

    Forget about recovery. It just ain't going to happen. The way forward is the way down. Get used to it. But then of course you can always let off steam on this blog.

  • Comment number 6.

    Not much happening at the small company level either.

    Four large contracts that we have been in the frame for since the beginning of this year have been put back time and time again, we'll be lucky to see any of them now until late autumn, which has left us with a flat/reduced turnover while trying to hold on to staff.

    Most are in the rail sector, but our utility customers are also very quiet.

  • Comment number 7.

    Robert - your last paragraph states ...

    "At some point, all of that will of course happen."

    Can I ask why you are so certain of this?

    I'm not.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Well it would be dangerous to draw firm conclusions"

    The most pivotal and important statement in the article. UK firms are increasing margins by increasing operational leverage and slashing costs. Whilst it is good to see that firms are operating in an efficient manner, this is in no shape or form a recovery for the UK.

    For example, look at the small but significant fall in house prices this month (although very much welcomed by myself). These indicators are a sign where the UK economy is heading.

  • Comment number 9.

    Once again we find that at the start of the ConDem government things are not as bad as they are claiming and are already bottomed out/recovering.

    Clearly anything happening up to this point is a result of the policies of the previous government.

    We now need to monitor how things progress as a result of all the cuts.

    If the very obvious start of recovery is reversed and huge increases in unemployment occur it is very obvious whos policies are causing the double dip.

  • Comment number 10.

    What does this mean for Britain? What does this mean for Sky customers who like me are now subject to a price increase of well over 5% and appear to be paying for the investment without having a share in the company's future. Who is for Freesat?

  • Comment number 11.

    It doesn't matter - everyone's on holiday.
    Sell in May & go away - hasn't worked so far this year. But bad news is just round the corner.
    Unemployment is the real problem but the people now being laid off are not those who just sit round on their backsides all day, they are part of the flexible workforce who will find jobs - maybe even set up their own businesses.
    The medicine is painful but there are signs of it beginning to work. Bigco will have to start reinvesting again soon or they'll lose out to their smaller quicker competitors.
    Come back politicians, all is forgiven.

  • Comment number 12.

    The big companies are doing basically what we are all doing, paying off their debts. Living in the 'on the never never land' was always a mistake and the people who are suffering in this recession include the good guys and the bad guys.

    The good guys are the savers, the low interests rates that are now being payed, make the banks really just secure biscuit tins for people who put money away for a rainy day.

    The bad guys of course are the people who maxed out on the credit that was thrown at them and lived way above their means. They are not entirely bad because the deliberately manufactured housing shortage gave people no options than to become debt slaves.

    The (rather amateur ) point I am trying to make, every body now both companies and individuals are trying to distance themselves from the banks, thrift is the new cool.

    The government maybe skint but the big companies are not and nor are most individuals. Maybe we are about to witness a financial revolution. If Tesco or Sainsburys banks can offer better interest rates for savers because of their other business's, watch the punters flood in.

  • Comment number 13.

    A fair analysis to which could have been added that companies entering a period of static or reduced sales are able to increase net income in the short term. With such a narrow range of data, any generalised conclusion is questionable. BSkyB shows the possibilities of returns to investment, as does Astrazeneca with approval of a new blockbuster heart treatment that appears almost certain to receive final FDA approval in September. The company’s announcement of a massive share buyback appears inappropriate because when more cash is needed there will probably be a bond issue which will further strengthen the City influence over them.

  • Comment number 14.

    A FALL in capital expenditure of £436 Million from BT is nothing short of a fundamental managerial disgrace. This alone MUST spell corporate failure on behalf of the Directors of BT. It's they who need to lose their jobs not the people below. A capital expenditure fall of that magnitude with the cashflow they've got should get the Ofcom regulator protesting at them from the rooftops!

    How are we going to compete on the Digital front globally if BT are failing to pull their weight, by providing shareholder dividends ahead of infrastructure? Really, really poor!

  • Comment number 15.

    Its all just window dressing before the real Eurozone show begins....

    http://nbyslog.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 16.

    #3. newProtectorCromwell wrote:
    "... siren screams for 'a fairer society' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'reduce inequality' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor'..."

    I can see where you are coming from and I agree up to a point. I used to live in a "mindless" socialist country and I know for sure this is not the answer. But the laissez-fair Anglo-Saxon way is the other extreme.

    I do agree with you that some "lunatic cubed" people who today set up a profitable company work hard and should be rewarded for that. They should definitelly earn more than the footballer (or footballer agent / manager), or pop star, or stock broker... The problem is that the paying levels of those "professions" fuelled by our consumer society has gone through the roof. And that is because we sell too much "circus" and not enough "bread" as history teaches us about any empire disintegrating.


  • Comment number 17.

    Profit should not be celebrated, but abhored. Personally, I think it should be criminalised.

  • Comment number 18.

    "What they show is that BigCo has come through the worst recession since the 1930s in better shape than some might have expected: typically their indebtedness has been falling gently and is at bearable levels; sales and earnings are flat or rising gently."

    Does it?
    ...or does it mean that the QE money has found it's way to the top thereby exasperating the top heavy system.

    When they printed money and lowered rates it did a number of things. It allowed banks to borrow at very low rates and then use their prop trading to purchase higher yielding equity shares - epsecially as so many listed companies were using this as a way of circumventing the frozen credit markets (remember when all those corporate bond yields were sky high?)

    At the same time the squeeze at the bottom forced out thousands of SME's - which mean the big boys sweep up that trade as they are not having the same funding problems. In addition, any smaller fish can be acquisitioned by the sharks further enhancing their market share.

    The increase in market share is demonstrated by the top end companies Centrica, BT, B-Sky-B all posting giant profits whilst their revenue remains about the same.
    This is for 2 reasons, 1 is the increased market share means you can charge what you like and find that people really don't have much choice about moving (I mean when you don't like your existing mortgage provider - you try finding another company that will accept you on the same deal) - or the cost of doing so make it prohibitive....and I mean the most valuable commodity of all - time.

    The second reason is that there have been some declines in costs - mainly through staffing reductions or falling wholesale prices. This picture is very fluid, but the rate at which foreign currencies are falling (faster than ours) has produced a widening of margins - and with energy the outlook was for lower usage pushing down the costs (British Gas) - oh but don't expect them to pass that saving on by the way!

    So this actually shows we're in a worse position now than previously. There is going to be less and less choice in the market place as competiton rules are overlooked in favour of 'a recovery' - however all this serves to do is make the imblance between big and small worse.

    This is why QE hasn't worked - and why they will try it again. The problem is more QE produces more imbalance - and I don't know about the rest of you but I'm not too keen on a world where there are only 5 brands of shop and 3 brands of banks.

    If only the BoE realised the folly of their ways - this is what happens when you tilt the market in favour of the big boys and allow all the small fellas to go to the wall.

    It will end in tears.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 2. At 09:49am on 29 Jul 2010, radionotme wrote:

    > having been made redundant by Elsevier recently, it's jobs that
    > they are exporting. UK headcount is decreasing while offshore
    > headcount increases, all in the name of cutting costs.

    That's right. BAE Systems is outsourcing Hawk production to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). They don't help British people - they are therefore pursuing an anti-British agenda.

  • Comment number 20.

    #3. At 10:39am on 29 Jul 2010, newProtectorCromwell wrote:

    ...siren screams for 'a fairer society' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'reduce inequality'...


    What do you want - an *unfairer* society? Strange.

  • Comment number 21.

    I see that house prices have dipped for the first time in over six months.

    I guess that there are many millions of people who are not going to buy a house (or a car, or a new kitchen etc) when they don't know if they will have a job this time next year.

    Cameron best be able to suck up to enough foreign countries to get some trade as the rest of the world comes out of recession, because it may not be happening here.

    Double dip, here we come.

  • Comment number 22.

    I am contracted to a major oil company operating in the UK. They moved many jobs abroad over the last 18 months and took £30m out of the local economy here. And they are not about to put that back in any time soon.

  • Comment number 23.

    #16 ReformNotRevolution

    "I can see where you are coming from and I agree up to a point. I used to live in a "mindless" socialist country and I know for sure this is not the answer. But the laissez-fair Anglo-Saxon way is the other extreme."

    -----------------------------------------------

    I'm not sure it's extremism of an anglo-saxon kind....

    The Anglo-Saxons were of Nordic, Germanic origin, and so were most of the Wall Street banks. Lehman and Goldman-Sachs are not, however, Nordic names. One has to be careful with class contrasts on this matter. Search Google for 'Masters of The Universe September 17 2007 Newsnight' as the same demographics changes which were wrought there, are now happening in London, and with the same subterfuge. Just look at the figures. A few years go, the London Mayor's office projected that over the next 30 years that 99% of London's population growth will be in BME groups. Have a look at NYC and how its demographics have changed (post #5 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2007/09/wednesday_19_september_2007.html%29.

    This was all been about encouraging markets, i.e uncritical (sub-prime) consumerism, and it's been right-wing (i.e free-market libertarian, aka anarchistic) political correctness which has tried to stifle discussion of this, because airing it is deemed bad for the markets (consumerism).

    Most people have got this all wrong as a consequence, even bright people.

  • Comment number 24.

    "What they show is that BigCo has come through the worst recession since the 1930s in better shape than some might have expected"

    Umm, Mr P., how do you work that out. Your following comments indicate continued retrenchment, reducing costs by closing branches, major R&D departments, reducing staff etc. This doesn't sound like a climb out of recession to me it sounds more like battening down the hatches for the next storm. Still if you are only looking at it from the shareholders point of view and in the short term it looks good. Maybe one day these companies will realise that the people they are putting out of work are their customers (directly or indirectly) as well as employees. So if all companies continue to reduce their workforces to the logical conclusion ie very small ones that's precisely how big their customer base will be, very small.

    Jasp27 has it right, I see no certainty at all. Whereas jon112uk must be living on a differnt planet cos it certainly isn't this one.

    Recommendations? Well I would get yourselves some practical manual skills because shortly thats the only way things will get done and you will probably need to do them yourself. Oh, and learn to grow your own food.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi All,

    I am going to address 2 points here;
    Delayed Basle111 and the rescue of the UK.

    1) Banks and Basle - The Bankers have won again. This should be introduced in not more than 24 months. The banks will cry but if it stops another meltdown their tears are worth it. If as I expect this is delayed we will have another melt down shortly.

    2) Rescue of the UK - This will happen in approx. 5 to 6 years time. As noted above;
    a) Big business will not contribute they are "buttoning down the hatches" just like you and me.
    b) Unemployment will increase over the next 2 years with an additional 2 million people out of work. This despite those hundreds of thousands who will get work or set up as self employed. Where from you ask; 1) 600K civil servants, 2) 1.2 million from contracts stopped, cut, reduced by the government, 3) 500K to 1million from private industry cutting costs or relocating work overseas, 4) I dont know the number but unemployed graduates.

    Is the above pessimistic, maybe but as you can see I am expecting a double dip recession. I do not believe the Private Sector is in a position to take up the slack and re-balance society in the near future.

    And in addition the architects of this whole crisis are again being let dictate the terms of our recovery....

    We have a lapdog government who will slash and burn to reduce the public sector and those who will suffer is anyone who is not in Banking, Finance, Media or Big Business.

    I so, so hope I am wrong but I have watch all the crisis since the seventies and we are about to repeat then and more.


  • Comment number 26.

    I find it very sad that some of these companies are so unpatriotic that they are quite prepared to shift jobs overseas simply to keep the City happy.

    We know the banks are completely unpatriotic, greedy, self centred and plainly of little benefit to anyone but themselves but I expected more of some of our companies.

    Are they all run by people with MBAs perchance?

  • Comment number 27.

    3. newProtectorCromwell
    The truth is - and it is proved by radionotome's experience #2 - British jobs are declining and foreign jobs are growing. Comapanies are quietly, but relentlessly, moving to foreign locations. Why? The answer is simple. There are so many taxes, imposts and levies in the UK, and so many restrictive employment practices and laws, from an employer's point of view, that there is every reason for them to leave and none to employ locally.

    In addition, of course, there are the siren screams for 'a fairer society' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'reduce inequality' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others, and 'narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor' i.e. take from the rich and profitable and give to others. And just who are these 'others'. Why, the Government, of course, which will then be in a position to buy votes with their unearned largesse.

    Just who in Britain wants to slog his way to the top, set up a profitable company, and find everything is taken from him in the interests of this mindless socialism? Only a lunatic cubed.


    > Here we go again! The solution to the problem is… Exactly the same neo-liberal medicine that got us to where we are now!
    Have you been re-reading your Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand books again? Are you Alan Greenspan by any chance?
    Don’t you understand that ‘the rich/ the profitable’ already own ‘the Government’? They’ve decided democracy is far too dangerous towards their ‘interests’ and so they’ve infiltrated all the mainstream parties. They’ve long since decided that they don’t really want any challenge to their lofty position.
    Right now it’s the era of ‘every one for themselves’ if you’re an employee and ‘socialism’ is actually readily available for those who are ‘rich/ profitable’ (you have heard of too big to fail?).

    The gap between rich and poor has never been wider too! Thatcherism and neo-liberalism has been very effective in seeing to that…

    Anyway if you want to be ‘profitable’ and not pay any tax towards the upkeep of the community/ society you live in then here’s a couple of suggestions: -

    Move to Somalia and become a pirate... It’s a failed state I believe! So whatever you can ‘earn’ you won’t need to pay any ‘dues’ Good eh? That’d really put us so called civilized nations to shame eh?

    Or perhaps you can go to one of those nice South East Asian countries where they have numerous authoritarian regimes that make sure there’s plentiful supply of low wage labour that will not provide any resistance to your delusions of profitable grandeur. You might not need to pay ‘tax’ as such but you’ll probably need to participate in the deeply engrained corruption there of local officials. Also make sure not to upset any other already established ‘businesses’ there either… That could really be very costly…
    Also you’ll probably need a fair amount of start up capital to begin with for all this but I’m sure you’ve got a couple of hundred grand lying around, just like most other ambitious English proles, waiting for an opportunity to be put to profitable use to allow you to show your entrepreneurial talents!
    Best of luck!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    It is interesting that the evaluation of the big companies basically is of little use because of the international off spring. Big companies exercise great incfluence in tax policy and governmental regulations but in fact have only a small role in the overall economy. It all reads good but in reality the middle class consumer drives the economy but of course has little influence in the political areanas. The problems will presist because the wrong groups are being addressed and those who could change the situation have received no benefit from governmental efforts or policy, in fact that have been further burdened by the debts they must pay for the bank.

  • Comment number 29.

    18 WOTW
    "If only the BoE realised the folly of their ways - this is what happens when you tilt the market in favour of the big boys and allow all the small fellas to go to the wall."

    I agree with your conclusion, however the QE thing is a misunderstanding. QE means swapping bonds for reserves of equal value - no new money created, not even High Power Money. QE does not work because it assumes that forcing banks to have extra reserves does not mean they will lend money. We are seeing this now, they have reserves (or access to reserves) coming out of their ears if they want it, but they won't lend. The BoE has never had proper control of the money supply, it is the banks that have that control, and the banks are behaving pro-cyclically.

    The problem is that without the ability for SMEs to grow their businesses through credit from banks, they have to do it 'organically' through strong sales funding expansion. These strong sales are not happening, because their is little aggregate demand. Therefore defict spending by the government is the only obvious way to boost aggregate demand in the economy - injecting money into the economy at the level of the consumer by increasing tax credits, job creation etc.

    Banks and large businesses behave pro-cyclically during a recession and so make the recession worse (or at least prolong it) - only the government can reverse this with counter-cyclical policies. The current government are also behaving pro-cyclically, and the last government were not counter-cyclical enough.

    Kind Regards
    Charlie

  • Comment number 30.

    18. At 12:21pm on 29 Jul 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:

    The problem is more QE produces more imbalance - and I don't know about the rest of you but I'm not too keen on a world where there are only 5 brands of shop and 3 brands of banks.

    -----------

    I'm confused. I thought you weren't a big fan of capitalism. Yet you're saying you want MORE competition. How would there be competition in a world without capitalism or profit? If nobody could make a profit or get a return on investment then where would be the incentive for anyone to compete with anyone else - what would they be competing for if not profit? I'm trying to understand, I really am, but you're not making it easy.

  • Comment number 31.

    10. At 11:24am on 29 Jul 2010, watriler

    Why are you paying for Sky? There is more to life than telly. Cancel the Sky and read a book, listen to a play on the radio, go for a walk, chat to the neighbours, or come along here more often.

  • Comment number 32.

    26. At 1:21pm on 29 Jul 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    "I find it very sad that some of these companies are so unpatriotic that they are quite prepared to shift jobs overseas simply to keep the City happy. "

    There's no loyalty in business - they will sell their own Grandmothers if they thought there was a killing to be made.
    You must stop expecting corporations to act like reasonable people - they are not people, just faceless giants who feed on profit at the exclusion of everything else - including sanity and self preservation. (i.e. they're so greedy they would damage their own ability to make profit in order to make profits)

    ...as someone pointed out above - they are putting their own customers out of work (indirectly)

  • Comment number 33.

    Let's look a bit closer at what these Big Companies actually do for society, and how we all benefit.

    Rolls Royce - Large defence arm, portion of income from wars.
    BAE Systems - Ditto
    Royal Dutch Shell - Draining the earth of natural resources, at huge cost to future generations
    AstraZeneca - Overpriced drugs destroying the health service
    Reed Elsevier - Publisher offshoring jobs
    BSB - Services everyone used to get included in the licence fee
    BT Group - Telecoms, offshoring jobs

    Where is there any benefits being provided here to the general public? How is society being improved by any of these? If this is the route to recovery god help us.

  • Comment number 34.

    29. At 1:45pm on 29 Jul 2010, Charles Jurcich wrote:

    "I agree with your conclusion, however the QE thing is a misunderstanding. QE means swapping bonds for reserves of equal value - no new money created, not even High Power Money."

    They have increased the type of money in circulation - removing sticky assets (bonds) with highly liquid assets (cash) - increasing the M1 measure?

    Secondly - the money the BoE uses to buy these bonds was 'made out of nothing' - or ex nihilo - i.e. printed.

    If the money already existed at the BoE then the use of it would not be stimulating.

    If you think the BoE hasn't printed money under QE then you're reading the wrong papers.

    You may have identified the cyclical nature of the Economy, but you need to ask why those cycles happen. I believe it's the build up of surplus value in the Economy which eventually saturates the Economy and causes overproduction - I presume you have a different argument for that?

  • Comment number 35.

    30. At 1:54pm on 29 Jul 2010, davidbrent wrote:

    "I'm confused. I thought you weren't a big fan of capitalism. Yet you're saying you want MORE competition. How would there be competition in a world without capitalism or profit? If nobody could make a profit or get a return on investment then where would be the incentive for anyone to compete with anyone else - what would they be competing for if not profit? I'm trying to understand, I really am, but you're not making it easy. "

    You're right, I was being confusing - the point I am hoping to get across is that if we want a 'free market' then you need competition - which is the opposite direction we're currently heading in - we're getting less competition.
    The idea is that in this situation the big fellas fail and the small fellas pick up the pieces and we get recovery. As the opposite is happening we're going to get less and less competition.

    I don't mind 0 competition, but only if the people own the entities. 0 competition with private owners is something quite different - and not very nice for the rest of us.

    As for competition itself, well I don't need to compete with someone to get out of bed in the morning and be productive - it seems only entrepenuers have that difficulty and it should be seen as the 'exception' rather than the 'rule'. Competition works in sport because the end result doesn't matter - but have you noticed as the result does start to matter more and more (football, athletics etc.) the level of cheating and deception increases - just as it has done in business.

    I'm all up for building that solar power station in the Atlantic - do I need to compete with you to get you to come along? - or will you join me for the good of the human race? It will be a laugh, I've got a rowing boat and we can take some sandwiches and do some fishing in our lunch break.

    This is how we need to think, not the "what's in it for me" attitude we're used to - "What's in it for US" instead - otherwise the human race won't be going anywhere fast.

  • Comment number 36.

    26. At 1:21pm on 29 Jul 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:
    I find it very sad that some of these companies are so unpatriotic that they are quite prepared to shift jobs overseas simply to keep the City happy.

    We know the banks are completely unpatriotic, greedy, self centred and plainly of little benefit to anyone but themselves but I expected more of some of our companies.

    Are they all run by people with MBAs perchance?


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Problem is, who should these firms be patriotic to? The article by Robert itself states that they are merely british by name and have large operations overseas.

  • Comment number 37.

    31. At 1:56pm on 29 Jul 2010, copperDolomite wrote:

    "Why are you paying for Sky? There is more to life than telly. Cancel the Sky and read a book, listen to a play on the radio, go for a walk, chat to the neighbours, or come along here more often."

    I agree - if there is one thing I will never get it will be SKY. At first I was concerned about missing premiership football, but you don't need Sky to watch that - either the pub of the PC will do the same job.

    The TV is currently 'under notice' in my house too - with the expansion of Iplayer and other on demand services - who wants to continue paying for a TV license?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/iplayer_does_not_require_a_tv_1.html

    It's the same principle I apply to gadgets and cars - why be a sucker and buy everything when it's first out - wait a year and it will be a fraction of the price and in the case of gadgets - work better. I've lost count of the number of movies I'm glad I didn't go to watch at the cinema and waited for on TV!

  • Comment number 38.

    We have been trying to get our local MP to rethink the increasing legislative burden and costs on our small business from central Government, so we can expand our business as we see fit.

    It sticks in my throat the way that the banks can have more regulation delayed but small business is still legislated up to the eyeballs and we are now being forced to invest in ways that will keep large manufacturers, suppliers (generally non UK)and bureaucrats in business.

    Apparently we will be able to make efficiency savings that will help with this compulsory investment and monitoring. These rules will make no improvement in the delivery of our services or increase our chances of employing more staff and expanding our business.

    I have been informed by the Minister in charge that the processes used in developing the new guidance were exhaustive and fit for purpose. These are new meanings to exhaustive and fit that I have not yet come across.

    It was comforting to read in his most recent letter to us that some of the advice/guidance may be impossible to implement in certain business locations.

    Yours still in business
    Dillers

  • Comment number 39.

    Rolls Royce is owend by BMW and B Sky B is Rupert Murdoch's.
    There aren't many big British ones. Reed Royal Shell are half Durch.
    Robert, you wrote it in your own book, Britain has been sold out by Thatcherism and Brownism and
    most profits go overseas.

  • Comment number 40.

    I find a lot of 'BI-GCO' are cashing in some of their assets* or reducing capital expenditure as the best way forward.

    For these companies, repairing the balance sheet has come first before jobs.

    With the BOE admitting that there could be extremely low interest rates for some time, businesses are in no hurry to expand.

    Even the government is encouraging the recovery of 'the bottom line' rather than the fitness of employment figures.
    Their mantra is that your on your own, although now and again, the PM likes to look both ways when he says '' we're all in this together''.

    IT'S NOT ABOUT PEOPLE.

    Is it ???

    [These assets are taken up by smaller businesses who either are to wary to commit firther investment, or don't have the clot to borrow much from the banks.

    Hence the economy is losing out twice.

    You can see this in the poor mergers-and-acquisitions market numbers.

    Weather report.
    Business:
    'Foggy for a fortnight from Friday.']

  • Comment number 41.

    19. At 12:24pm on 29 Jul 2010, Jacques Cartier wrote:
    @ 2. At 09:49am on 29 Jul 2010, radionotme wrote:

    > having been made redundant by Elsevier recently, it's jobs that
    > they are exporting. UK headcount is decreasing while offshore
    > headcount increases, all in the name of cutting costs.

    That's right. BAE Systems is outsourcing Hawk production to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). They don't help British people - they are therefore pursuing an anti-British agenda.
    =========================================================================
    Not quite true. The Hawk parts are all manufactured here as they have always been, they are then shipped in kit form to India. This is not the first time this has happened they did the same with Australia.

    It is part of an offset deal and there will be Brits involved in the assembly as there was in Australia.


  • Comment number 42.

    We can have a recovery if we want one.
    Its a state of mind.

    Don't tell Vince or he will ****er it up

  • Comment number 43.

    You can't export more if all the world is doing the same. That is a fallacy of composition.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 39. At 3:06pm on 29 Jul 2010, metalray wrote:

    > Rolls Royce is owend by BMW

    He's on about the other Rolls Royce, who make jets.

  • Comment number 45.

    It has been a while since I last contributed, so time for a change.

    Lots of people don't seem to like the idea of large companies sending jobs off-shore and cutting their UK workforce.

    Now my question, to you all, who is willing to pay that extra n% to have the same item or service supplied by a UK workforced company? I suspect the answer is very few if any.

    Do you see the hypocracy? We all want jobs and to make a living, but we want everyone else to pay for it.

    Live free or die!

  • Comment number 46.

    WOTW, I have been following what you have to say for some time now, and have to ask.

    Are you an advocate of Project Venus?

    http://www.thevenusproject.com/

    A lot of what you have to say seems to fit in with that world view. I am just curious.

  • Comment number 47.

    33. At 2:23pm on 29 Jul 2010, Jasp27 wrote:
    Let's look a bit closer at what these Big Companies actually do for society, and how we all benefit.

    Rolls Royce - Turnover £10,414 million Employ 39,000 staff
    BAE Systems - Turnover £20,374 million Employ 107,000 staff
    Royal Dutch Shell - Turnover £56,705.54 million Employ 101,000 staff
    AstraZeneca - Turnover £5,650.66 million Employ 36,000 staff
    Reed Elsevier - Turnover £3,211.56 million Employ 32,000 staff
    BSB - Turnover £4,383 million Employ 17,500 staff
    BT Group - Turnover £20,859 million Employ 147,000 staff

    Where is there any benefits being provided here to the general public?
    Other than jobs and contributions to the treasury paying for hospitals schools Etc Etc Etc
    How is society being improved by any of these?
    RR also makes turbines for power generation and water pumping Etc Etc
    BAE - well known benefits from R&D
    Shell - produces oil that we all need and use even you unless you are totally self sufficient but then you should not have a PC as it was made with byproducts of oil.
    AstraZeneca - develops new drugs to treat various conditions including aids Etc
    Etc Etc Etc Etc
    If this is the route to recovery god help us.
    For obviously we have so many other companies who can assist us in regaining control over our economy.

  • Comment number 48.

    This really weird.

    At the top of my screen it says I'm logged in as Jasp27, but I'm not Jasp27.

    How can this be?

  • Comment number 49.

    32. At 2:20pm on 29 Jul 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    26. At 1:21pm on 29 Jul 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:
    "I find it very sad that some of these companies are so unpatriotic that they are quite prepared to shift jobs overseas simply to keep the City happy. "
    There's no loyalty in business...


    Not true. There is a great deal of loyalty, admiration and respect in both directions where you have genuine business leadership.

    It is the greasy pole climbing MBA bean counter, deficient in competence and life skills, that harms the national interest and earns the contempt of the workforce. They make lousy managers, but spread like a nasty disease thanks to the fake success of the fake finance sector.

    Do they care about the chinese workers throwing themselves off the rooftops? Or is it the bad PR they are really concerned about?

    A lot of contributors work in finance and bigco. Things aren't quite so bad in the real world, although I admit it is getting worse.

  • Comment number 50.

    39. At 3:06pm on 29 Jul 2010, metalray wrote:
    Rolls Royce is owned by BMW - Rolls Royce cars are owned by BMW Rolls Royce Group PLC is not. It is in fact a British based company.

  • Comment number 51.

    WOTW:
    "Secondly - the money the BoE uses to buy these bonds was 'made out of nothing' - or ex nihilo - i.e. printed."

    I stand corrected M1 money is created, but regular money supply only expands if the banks choose to lend. QE does not force this to happen - that is my point, and if it doesn't then the regular money is not expanding any more as a result of the QE - perhaps I'm wrong again.

    As far as what has caused this I think we agree, if what you mean by 'surplus value' is the hoarding of profits.

    If we assume for a moment that capitalism is not likely to disappear anytime soon, then the only way it can continue without a mass uprising, is for government to have access to the 'discount window' of the BoE at a zero rate and issue (larger) benefits and tax credits to working people and the retired, as if the Treasury were a bank issuing loans that do not have to be repayed. The money will filter up the economy to finance people's desire to hoard profits. A job guarntee scheme should also be funded this way. Excess money is withdrawn through taxation.

    Savings do not contribute to inflation per se so savings won't cause hyperinflation or anything. And while the money is changing hands, high inflation only sets in if industry cannot match supply to demand. This is not likely soon as there will be over-capacity for some time, but when it does, the government simply removes excess money through higher taxes at the top end of town.

    Kind Regards
    Charlie

  • Comment number 52.

    43. At 3:33pm on 29 Jul 2010, Neil Wilson wrote:

    "You can't export more if all the world is doing the same. That is a fallacy of composition."

    Nooooooooooo - that's the only plan they have!

    I think Economists think the world is a giant game of pass the parcel - as long as the parcel keeps moving the game will continue. The fact that the parcel is now empty and the 'prize' has already leaked out, doesn't matter - so long as nobody stops to look inside the game can continue

    The problem is some nations are trying to look inside - to see what they're playing for. When they discover it's empty - they will stop playing and the parcel will move no more.

    "Don't worry - as long as we can find new investors to join we can get over this short term problem"

    Insanity

  • Comment number 53.

    The Hot Dog Story
    A man lived by the side of the road and sold hotdogs.
    He was hard of hearing so had no radio.
    He had trouble with his eyes and so didn't read newspapers or blogs.
    But he sold good hot dogs.
    'Buy a hotdog mister' he said and they bought his hotdogs.
    He bought a bigger stove (capex but he didn't know that)
    His son home came home from college (he had a degree you know).
    His son said 'Father haven't you read the blogs - there's a recession on. Unemployment is terrible - we're heading for a double dip'.
    Well his son had been to college.
    So he sold the bigger stove and bought a smaller one, cut down on his marketing costs, and didn't bother to open long hours to save on costs.
    And, lo and behold, his sales fell overnight.
    'You are so clever son - that was money well spent on your education'.
    and thereby hangs a tale.


  • Comment number 54.

    The goal of each nation is that exports will exceed imports. With every nation having the same goal...how can that be.
    The slight of hand presented by financiers understood that this can only be achieved with debt and making them rich. The cost has been the neglecting of internal economies. As business chases cheap labor the result has been jobs are shipped to third world or developing countries while unemployment remains high at home. The development of a sustainable national economy is an act of national secuirty but the bankers have bought the politicans and the policies reflect a selling of national interest for the accumlation of wealth by the few. Historically, this eventually means trouble as the result is always a reduction in the standard of living for the middle class..

  • Comment number 55.

    45. At 3:56pm on 29 Jul 2010, MMXXII wrote:

    "Now my question, to you all, who is willing to pay that extra n% to have the same item or service supplied by a UK workforced company? I suspect the answer is very few if any. "


    ...and my question is should we run a system where the pressure to maintain the diminishing profit ensures that the earners of this world are forced to make such choices - which naturally takes them towards the 'low-cost' alternative - which as you say is often supplied from abroad - potentially by slave labour.

    You see it's no good attacking the problem in the middle - you must get right to the beginning - or you're wasting your time.

    It's all well and good talking about paying that little extra when you're well off - but it's not the same for those at the bottom. I'm sure every poorly paid worker would love to buy local organic food for example - but because of market failure the true costs of imports are not reflected in the price - making them unfairly cheaper. Imported goods do not reflect the cost to the environment of shipping them here - if they did then they would be crippilingly expensive and the choice would already be made.

    That is why the only solution for Government is to devalue - i.e. bring down the costs of exports to ensure that we're competitive - at great expense to the country in the long term.

  • Comment number 56.

    46. At 3:59pm on 29 Jul 2010, MMXXII wrote:

    "Are you an advocate of Project Venus?

    http://www.thevenusproject.com/

    A lot of what you have to say seems to fit in with that world view. I am just curious."

    I'll try anything once!
    ...but seriously - there are many capitalists who say 'this is the best system around' and already the Venus project shows there is a better alternative.

    I made my family watch the 90 minute video - I did not comment - I let them decide for themselves.

    The over-riding view is "this is a good idea, but how do we make it happen?"
    For me, we must first rid ourselves of those who are preventing it.

    I do however believe the Venus project is still a centraly managed system (like communism) - but that technology has made it a real possibility. Market run economies have had their day and they are now hindering our development. We could be building wonderful things right now - but because of some tally system we're running - we can't, we're forced to sit around and do nothing (well 3million of us are)

    If we don't trust humans not to take advantage (as those who believe in original sin are adamant is the case) - then we should take humans out of the equation.

  • Comment number 57.

    48. At 4:08pm on 29 Jul 2010, rbs_temp wrote:

    "This really weird.
    At the top of my screen it says I'm logged in as Jasp27, but I'm not Jasp27.
    How can this be?"

    Could it be Jasp27 paid off your mortgage with the RBS trade and not you then?

  • Comment number 58.

    54. At 5:02pm on 29 Jul 2010, ghostofsichuan.

    Funny, because I read that as though I were a poor worker in India. What you are saying then is that you do not believe in a fairer world at all, what you believe in is purchasing at 3rd world prices whilst maintining your high living standards.

    Not having a go at you, most of the so called socialist posts read exactly the same. It's all just a variation on me, me me.

  • Comment number 59.

    #23. #DebtJuggler wrote:
    >>>#16 ReformNotRevolution
    >>>"...the laissez-fair Anglo-Saxon way is the other extreme."

    I'm not sure it's extremism of an anglo-saxon kind....

    ---

    You took it too literally, by anglo-saxon way I didn't mean a certain gene. See "Anglo-Saxon_economy" on wikipedia.


  • Comment number 60.

    57. At 5:33pm on 29 Jul 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    48. At 4:08pm on 29 Jul 2010, rbs_temp wrote:

    "This really weird.
    At the top of my screen it says I'm logged in as Jasp27, but I'm not Jasp27.
    How can this be?"

    Could it be Jasp27 paid off your mortgage with the RBS trade and not you then?

    Blimey. I was wondering where that cash went.

    Sadly, perhaps a better explanation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Connection_Sharing

  • Comment number 61.

    47. At 4:05pm on 29 Jul 2010, Chris London wrote:
    33. At 2:23pm on 29 Jul 2010, Jasp27 wrote:
    Let's look a bit closer at what these Big Companies actually do for society, and how we all benefit.

    Rolls Royce - Turnover £10,414 million Employ 39,000 staff
    BAE Systems - Turnover £20,374 million Employ 107,000 staff
    Royal Dutch Shell - Turnover £56,705.54 million Employ 101,000 staff
    AstraZeneca - Turnover £5,650.66 million Employ 36,000 staff
    Reed Elsevier - Turnover £3,211.56 million Employ 32,000 staff
    BSB - Turnover £4,383 million Employ 17,500 staff
    BT Group - Turnover £20,859 million Employ 147,000 staff

    Where is there any benefits being provided here to the general public?
    Other than jobs and contributions to the treasury paying for hospitals schools Etc Etc Etc
    How is society being improved by any of these?
    RR also makes turbines for power generation and water pumping Etc Etc
    BAE - well known benefits from R&D
    Shell - produces oil that we all need and use even you unless you are totally self sufficient but then you should not have a PC as it was made with byproducts of oil.
    AstraZeneca - develops new drugs to treat various conditions including aids Etc
    Etc Etc Etc Etc

    So lets just say, by the magic of capitalism, all of these marvellous BigCos double these figures by next year.

    Ill end up with four times the warplanes
    twice the Gulf of Mexico disaster
    a cure for cancer only the wealthy can afford
    and heaven forbid twice the drivel spewed out by Murdoch
    etc etc etc

    I just don't accept the argument that the taxes generated by these companies will in any way enrich the lives of future generations, firstly because that money has already been spent supporting the banks, and secondly because it is in their best interests to avoid paying it.

    The jobs argument doesn't hold water either, because as they are currently demonstrating they will seek these from the cheapest - and most exploited - source.

    I would

  • Comment number 62.

    RP wrote:
    It really matters that BigCo invests more in the UK, employs more people in the UK and exports more…

    Unfortunately Robert these UK workers simply cost too much!
    Look how much they demand per hour in pay: -

    The current rates for National Minimum Wage are:
    • 16 & 17 years old (if no longer compulsory schools age) £3.57 per hour
    • 18 - 21 years old £4.83 per hour
    • 22 years and older £5.80 per hour

    This is simply scandalous! How is any self respecting profiteer... I mean entrepreneur supposed to cope with paying these outrageous levels of high pay?
    Not only that but they actually want to be able to retire and have a pension as well!
    It’s just not cricket… I mean capitalism…

  • Comment number 63.

    Re the "I would" at the end of post 61 - this is of couse a typo! A rather unfortunate one, but a typo nonetheless.

  • Comment number 64.

    re:43. At 3:33pm on 29 Jul 2010, Neil Wilson wrote:
    You can't export more if all the world is doing the same. That is a fallacy of composition.

    *********

    I came to this conclusion when I first started on these blogs: the world's money is a zero sum game - my profit is your loss.

    The great equation is that a countries cash+assets = bank lending + gov deficit + balance of payments.

    The only way forward is to get the balance of payments to = 0. This means that we have enough national industry so we don't have to import a lot (why do we import wind turbines etc?), and what we do import is balanced by what we export. Then the long term wealth of the nation comes down to how big the gov deficit is, and how affordable it is.

    Wierd, but true.

  • Comment number 65.

    On sacking UK wrokers, and moving abroad:

    The actual facts are that it's very difficult to sack somebody in mainland Europe, it's much easier to sack them in the UK. So a multinational corp, culls in the UK to save costs, and if there is work to be done, re-employs in Asia or eastern Europe.

    In theory, the UK should also be the first to be re-employed, but let's not all jump up and down with excitement just yet.

  • Comment number 66.

    #54 wrote: "I came to this conclusion when I first started on these blogs: the world's money is a zero sum game - my profit is your loss."

    Sorry but that is a fundamental misconception. Lets take a simple example.

    African coffee grower, grows coffee and sell at £2 a bag. Actual cost of production $1 a bag. African grower is making a profit.

    Starbucks takes said coffee and sells it to me at $5 a mug (that is supposed to refer to the coffee, but probably sums me up as their customer as well). Starbucks makes a profit.

    Me I really need coffee in morning. It is worth it to get the coffee in. I am happier as a result.

    Everyone is a winner. Of course African coffee grower might have been able to make more but you are confusing a lost opportunity with a loss they are not the same. In my example the grower might have been able to make more selling to me direct but how does the African grower exploit that opportunity.

    It is a bit like people complaining that on the stock market for every winner there must be a loser. Sometimes there is but most of the time that is a fallacy (both can be losers and both may be winners)

  • Comment number 67.

    #37 Skinflint. No Keynesian stimulus from your quarter then. Actually I agree. The TV is a sap to the kids in our house, and increasingly they use I-player and the like.

    I'm getting crabby on this stuff myself: for all the consumer choice out there it is difficult to buy exactly what I want at a price I want to pay. The latest "market failure" for me is zip-off navy blue trousers at about £25. Nada. Unless you're morbidly obese with very short legs.

  • Comment number 68.

    Re 66,

    Thanks for the comment, but you can't take a simple example because you need to look at the whole loop.

    A bit like every country can't export more than it imports ('cos who then is buying?), every company and individual cannot endlessly increase their wealth by profits or wages, unless extra money is being injected into the system. If this money is via loans, then the loaning bank has a debit as well as a credit, a balance. If it's via people using their savings, then their net worth is going down equal to the profits of the companies they use.

    Do you see what I'm getting at? Unless "free" money is injected into the system regularly, it has to balance with profit=loss.

    It does seem however that "free" money has been regularly injected, which is why the link between profit and loss (the balance) is obsured.

  • Comment number 69.

    Good post at #66 but I think it may not go down a treat with some who post here. Bank, bankers, profit, growth, trade, business are all dirty words!

  • Comment number 70.

    38. At 3:04pm on 29 Jul 2010, Dillers wrote:
    We have been trying to get our local MP to rethink the increasing legislative burden and costs on our small business from central Government, so we can expand our business as we see fit.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Good for you! This is what business really needs - an end to ridiculous taxes and costs that hit the SME's hardest. That sector now accounts for about two thirds of the economy by some estimates, although there are those who claim less and a few who say it's more like four-fifths.

    I hope GO & Co don't lose sight of the SMEs, a few more positive noises out of No.11 would be welcome.

  • Comment number 71.

    "In a climate where public spending is being slashed and where British consumers cannot and should not be relied on to increase spending, because of the imperative of paying down their record debts, it really matters that BigCo invests more in the UK, employs more people in the UK and exports more.

    At some point, all of that will of course happen."

    I wish I shared your confidence, because at the moment we have roughly a third of the working population without work, and roughly another third in marginal/casual/part-time work which only provides a living because it's propped up with benefits, tax-credits, or a husband/wife/partner who has one of the few remaining "real jobs".

    For three decades, the "solution" to all our economic woes has been that the majority in work must settle for less - less prospect for promotion, pay for your own training (aka "vocational degrees" and tuition fees), fixed or rolling contracts, flexible working (originally sold as a "willingness to retrain", now in practice "being really cheap to sack").

    Meanwhile, the "Bigco" you write of has benefitted hugely from government spending either directly thorough contracts awarded for development of eg defence equipment (BAe, RR), IT infrastructure (BT) or research grants to universities which required industrial collaborators(AZ). It would seem from AZ's decision that this is now seen as a substitute for its internal R & D, rather than a stimulus for it - which is unfortunate as the universities' research is "sold" to the scientists carrying it out as a training experience leading to opportunities in the private sector, presumably at those research centres AZ is closing.

    At some point we and our government have to find a way to make the "British" private sector (particularly the big corporates) actually deliver its side of the deal - ie real investment in real jobs here in return for taxpayer support. We've just seen our PM go looking for companies willing to invest in UK manufacturing. That he reached India before he found a receptive audience really does say it all.

  • Comment number 72.

    And the energy companies and chocolate companies? All now owned by foreign companies and are slowly hollowing out the well paid jobs from the UK and repatriating these to their own country because as a country Britain has been taking a very short view based around what the city wants - opportunities for excessive profit taking by hedge funds on the back of UK jobs eg Cadbury's.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Bald facts:

    Treasury leak predicted 1.2M jobs to go in the public sector.

    Building industry needs to create 350,00 new jobs just to replace the Olympic jobs (ending next year) and to replace the capital works programme Darling brought forward.

    Cornwall Council is making 1 in 6 redundant - across the country that's 250,000+ job loses.

    By the end of the parliament the ConDems need:

    2.7M new private sector jobs
    £400 Bn on new investment
    a 33%+ increase in exports

    If this doesn't happen we will see public borrowing INCREASE, not fall.

    At which point the £ will plummet, our credit rating will be downgraded and there will be no choice but to intervene more fundamentally.

  • Comment number 75.

    Sadly, although we tend to smile with some smugness at the unfolding Southern European economic tragedies, their problems are ours too. When will we realise that we are, as a nation, overpaying ourselves for our labour inputs? Social economic engineering, with minimum wages,a benefits culture amongst too many and absurdly high taxation (if one adds NIC to income tax) are a recipe for stagnation, and decline.
    Why are we such a high cost nation- perhaps a grinding process of internal deflation is the only way and will go a long way to deflate our costs, from labour to property and then we shall se competitiveness return and the start of new prosperity. We are essentially in the same boat as the Greeks without the Euro paddle.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    (73) Sorry guys been blocked by 'censorship' ... so I've retyped this with some of the details 'xxxxx' to appease 'censorship'

    ............................................

    Not rescuing Britain yet?

    Do you mean helping Britain's low paid, inactive and unemployed and British graduates ... getting their hands dirty actually interviewing these people and trying to help them with training and giving them preference over migrant worker xxxxxxxx opportunists... the 'xxxxx xxxxx effect' (N.B. 'xxxxx' name of a UK 'politician' who promotes UK immigration in preference to giving jobs to British workers)

    Have the Conservatives decided yet what 'vested interests' actually means in their election manifesto ... perhaps they think that more than half of the UK population who now have severe personal economic difficulties ... are the 'vested interests'.

    Mr Peston ... which planet are you on? You'll next be expecting the banks to invest their skimmed bonuses into the UK unemployed.

    Do you realise you're in danger of being branded 'patriotic and British'

  • Comment number 78.

    Multi-nationals will always go where the costs are cheapest and the skill levels are above the required level ....... hence, the reason we are now in Poland (from before recession) instead of at home in the UK.

    The only way any country can sustain it's economy is through small, local business growth; and through controlling the cost of 'production' to attract the multi-national investment.

    The UK has veered a long way from both of these common-sense routes over the last 13 years (and more) ..... so the SatNav needs to be radically re-programmed.

  • Comment number 79.

    All large companies, with the exception of John Lewis, are generally poorly managed and bloated with people.

    One leading Top FTSE25 company I know of has 14 regional service desks for 20,000 staff it is too profitable to be competent. The norm for this type of company would be to outsource this. In IT our business manages over 3m people through 3 global centres.

    Almost every large UK company could improve its performance and competitiveness.

  • Comment number 80.

    Does Big Co's really exist in the UK apart from the banks in London?

    Look at Cadbury's! The financial institutions and politicians have done a great job in selling off the best of British businesses. The UK is seen as the global shopping mall for buying companies - UK ones (because unlike the UK most countries sensibly take an interest in which companies are do the buying!).

 

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