Browsing "Commentary / Editorial"

Worlds Apart: the Plight of British and Australian Banks

Jan 18, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts, Commentary / Editorial  //  1 Comment

British and Australian banks are worlds apart in terms of performance, yet both have been accused of ripping off customers by taking liberties with monetary measures designed to boost the economy.

By and large, British banks are in a mess. The methods they have used to scrape every penny out of customers – from aggressive sales techniques to decimating savings rates – are only drawing larger fines and increasing levels of ire.

On the other side of the equation, Australian banks are in increasingly rude health despite weakening economic performance, and it’s their flagrant profiteering that is starting to rile customers and business leaders.

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Train Fares Heading Up, But Whatever Happened to Service?

Dec 19, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Train Fares Heading Up, But Whatever Happened to Service?

We’re all bracing ourselves for more inflation-busting train fare rises in the New Year, but despite mammoth annual increases, there is little sign that service has got any better.

Before the recently announced strike action, the fight over train fares came to our doorstep last week. Rail unions staged protests at Leicester and at stations across East Anglia.

The TUC’s Action for Rail campaign showed that average fares increased by almost 27% between 2008 and 2012, far higher than the average increase in wages. And as we pointed out earlier in the year, rail has become the most expensive form of travel for the majority of long-distance journeys.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) said that this figure was misleading because the proportion of passengers travelling with ‘anytime’ tickets was relatively small. It notes that the average fare rise in the new year will be 3.9%

But the trick with ‘average’ fare rises is that companies can hike some prices much higher than others provided that they balance it out with smaller rises elsewhere. So, particularly where journeys into London are concerned, season tickets are seeing a hefty increase.

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Santa Claus: A Financial Analysis

Dec 12, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Santa Claus: A Financial Analysis

We all know the man by a different name; Santa Claus, St Nicholas, Père Noël… but Father Christmas is a character we all recognise. From his red jacket to his white beard, we all know Santa when we see him sitting in the local shopping centre.

But what if someone actually wanted to become Santa? What would the financial implications be of turning yourself into the most giving man on Earth? Well, we decided to answer this question (with a little help from our elves).

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The Autumn Statement: Highlights and Lowlights

Dec 7, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News, Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on The Autumn Statement: Highlights and Lowlights

Autumn Statement 2012

George Osborne has been rigorously defending himself from accusations that the poorest are the hardest hit by Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, insisting that the squeeze is fair and that there are measures for growth to improve the economy.

We’ve detailed the main points of the statement here, but let’s reaffirm them below.

  • UK economy predicted to contract this year. Growth forecasts down for forthcoming years.
  • Supported by OBR figures, Chancellor claims that borrowing and the deficit are down.
  • Welfare cuts, adjustments to the pension allowance, government efficiency, and a tax avoidance crackdown are all required to cut the deficit.
  • Rise in personal tax allowance to £9,940.
  • Working-age benefits capped for first time, at just 1%.
  • Annual tax-free pension contribution lowered from £50K to £40K.
  • 3p rise in petrol scrapped.
  • Business taxes to be lowered, while investment relief rises tenfold to support businesses trying to grow.

So, what did the chancellor get right? What did the chancellor get wrong? A few thoughts below.

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What Happened to Humanity? The Controversy Behind ‘Hardship’

Nov 16, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  1 Comment

A friend of mine, a soul musician, recently commented in despair that his Facebook feed had descended into massive ideological conflict over the US election.

CPMost of you should be ashamed of yourselves. Both sides need to calm the f**k down. Whatever happened to humanity – to loving your fellow man? It seems as though we are miles from resolve and have forgotten – at the end of the day we bleed, breathe & hurt the same. Though I am extremely relieved at the outcome, I am also saddened at the careless way in which we treat each other. DO BETTER AMERICA!!

In the heat of ideological battle, there’s barely even a concern for anonymity any more. Public fora become bear pits. Faces often glower beside churlish remarks.

On Easyjet’s recent decision to allocate seating rather than allow the melée of old, a commenter satirically suggested: “It was better the old way. At least Brits then had to talk to one another”. Judging by some of the insects that crawl the internet world, it’s probably safer if we don’t.

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Chocolate, Creativity, and Santander

Oct 26, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial, Home and Living  //  Comments Off on Chocolate, Creativity, and Santander

University of Leicester Ken Edwards Building

What trader cares about other people?
What banker cares about guilt or sadness?
Emmm… Maybe she does!?

A peal of laughter and rapturous applause echoed around the University of Leicester’s Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre on Wednesday night, as world acclaimed Latin-Amercian author Laura Esquivel made a remark about bankers, remembered that a representative from event sponsor Santander was present, and hastily excused herself.

The author of the 1990 prize-winning novel, Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), was giving the university’s second Annual Creative Writing Lecture during her first ever visit to the UK. Her speech, delivered in Spanish, pointed to the power of the individual and suggested how creative dynamism could inspire change.

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