2018 Jan 21 - Carillion & US Government Shutdown

Two big money-related stories this week, the collapse of the company Carillion in the UK and the shutdown of the US government.

Let's talk about Carillion first. The construction giant was one of the big contractors, along with the likes of Serco that the government went to when it decided to regularly capitulate to the demands of pesky voters to build roads or hospitals or the like. If you've ever seen a politician doing a photo op on a construction site in a neon vest and a hardhat then there's a good chance that it was a Carillion project and if you've ever seen that politician later walking onto a board of directors or lobbying in the construction industry, you can see why it all fell apart. The whole point of those PFI projects was that the private sector took on debts rather than the public balance sheet but 2 decades of that along with buying up all their competitors meant that their balance sheet was redder than Jeremy Corbyn as financially suspect as a forecast from Diane Abbott and when Boris Johnson floated the idea this week of spending £100 billion on a massive bridge to France it was too little too late. The company itself came about at the tail end of last century and the name "Carillion" is a corruption of the word "Carillon" as in a peal of bells in a clocktower. The government used a company whose branding was a spelling mistake to build schools.

Ok, to America where as of Friday midnight the government has shut down over failure to agree a spending bill. You'd think most people would be happy about the government closing but a lot of people are actually pretty pissed off it seems. Like many people waiting for the February paycheque after an expensive Christmas, the government has no money. The cause of all this is pretty simple: the Republicans have 51 votes out of 100 (a majority) but the senate requires 60 votes to pass the spending bill and President Trump's opponents won't vote for it unless the bill goes off on a tangent and includes guarantees for non-documented workers although they'd probably settle for the President apologising for his recent comments or maybe repaying the people who bought Trump Vodka from the famously teetotal businessman. The government shutdown frankly doesn't affect too many people for now although it's probably a pain if you need to get a passport renewed or if you work for the government and want to get back to work attempting to regulate the internet, ban things or scramble for something to pin on Russia and Paul Manafort. This is the US though so Government departments like the military and the FBI have big cash reserves to see them through for a while but this is going to be a protracted mess and we'll almost certainly be talking about this next week.
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2018 Jan 13 - Trump and S***hole Countries

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2018 Jan 06 - Fire & Fury

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2017 Dec 31 - End of the Year

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2017 Dec 23 - 2017 Dec 23 - Christmas

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2017 Dec 16 - 2017 Dec 16 - Brexit & Alabama

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2017 Dec 10 - Brexit + Trump Names Jerusalem Israeli Capital

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2017 Dec 02 - Markles & Spencer & Flynn

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2017 Nov 24 - Black Friday Brexit

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2017 Nov 18 - Coup against Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe's leadership is something that the news organisations seem to refer to as "controversial" which is of course a polite way of saying you'd trust him to manage your economy the way you'd trust Harold Shipman to manage your end of life care. It's like if the newspapers had described the Kray twins as "cheeky chappies" or the BBC were moaning that the ISIS leadership seemed "set in their ways"

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2017 Nov 11 - Trump, Asia & Saudi Arabia

This week President Trump has been off on a long trip to the Far East in order to bolster trade relationships, come up with a plan about how to deal with North Korea and of course to make a number of barnstorming speeches about how "crooked Hilary Clinton" failed to win any electoral college votes in that part of the world. The last big trip the president made was to Saudi Arabia in order to, amongst other things, finalise a multi-billion dollar weapons contracts and that part of the world has b ......

2017 Nov 04 - Kevin Spacey and Dodgy Politicians

There’s that old saying in show business: never work with children or animals, especially if it’s pornography. Kevin Spacey though - he’s one of those “do as I say, not as I do” kind of celebrities though. In the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, he played a ruthless criminal who brutally murdered people and did a lot of bad stuff but even Keyser Soze had lines he didn’t think appropriate to cross. Now the latest series of House Of Cards is on hiatus because HBO would rather keep the sho ......

2017 Oct 27 - Catalonia & JFK

Another week and it’s pretty much still the same shouting match from Spain. The central government in Madrid has said that it’s going to take back direct control over Catalonia, while the seperatists have declared that they’re going to prepare an imminent motion for independence. But nobody’s actually done anything, it’s like a nightclub bar at 9 o’clock and everyone’s waiting for someone else to go onto the dance floor first. I guess Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood would be the gi ......

2017 Oct 20 - Catalonia

Catalonia was back in the news this week, the Madrid government has triggered Article 155 to remove autonomy from he region and just like when the UK triggered Article 50, the EU doesn’t like this one much either. It would be true to say that Brussels has the same regard for these articles as Polly Toynbee does for Quentin Letts’ articles. Nonetheless, the powers that be are trying their hardest to make sure if there was any chance of reconciling with the Catalan separatists then it’s up t ......

2017 Oct 13 - Brexit Bill (again)


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2017 Oct 05 - Theresa May's Speech & Catalonia


The big story of the week was supposed to be Theresa May’s Conservative Party Conference speech which, let’s say “didn’t go according to plan” unless that plan was “let’s make a pilot for a political comedy show in the style of Frank Spencer” There was a coughing fit, a prankster, the sign behind her literally fell apart and by the end I was looking around the stage to see if anyone had put a bucket of wallpaper paste at the top of a strategically placed ladder.

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2017 Sep 30 - Labour & Conservative Party Conferences


So a few days ago saw the end of the Labour party conference and a fun time was had by all, just as long as you weren’t Laura Kuenssberg, or wanting to play ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ on the jukebox. Party conferences are always curious state managed affairs these days. Originally they were for the grass roots members and MPs to meet and discuss what direction the party should go in, in the case of the Labour party the centre ground, to the left, the far left or extreme left. But no nee ......

2017 Sep 21 - Florence and Boris

It’s been a pretty bad week again in Central America, more tropical storms, Mexico suffering a another major earthquake and the other day I turned on the 10 o’clock news and for a while it seemed as though there were now dinosaurs on the loose in Costa Rica but then I realised the clocks don’t go back until next weekend and it was actually just the last half hour of Jurassic Park. The film holds up reasonably well actually, although if I wanted to see an older bearded man introducing dinos ......

2017 Sep 15 - New £10, New iPhone, Grenfell & North Korea


Rather than focus on one main news story, this week we saw the launch of 4 new things so I thought we’d go through each of them one at a time:

Starting with #1, the Bank of England started handing out the new £10 note. Some journalists and campaigners were keen to point out that it’s first note produced in a while with a lady on it, while more observant commentators took the time to flip it over and look at the other side of the note where the Queen’s been sitting for the past 6 decades ......

2017 Sep 07 - Hurricanes and Jeremy Corbyn

Not content with the damage it’s already done to the ExxonMobil share price, the Caribbean has another three storms moving in; the latest one (Hurricane Irma) has pretty much wiped out Barbuda and Hurricanes Jose and Katia are forming out at sea. I suppose hurricanes come in 3 or 4s like busses, although if I was a cyclist I’d frankly rather take my chances with hurricane Irma than take on a Bendy Bus.

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