Blog Archive

Page 34

In the December’s meeting of the Bank of England MPC it was agreed to keep Interest Rates at 0.5%  and to keep 200 billion pounds limit on quantitative easing

In the November 2009 meeting QE had been voted to be increased by 25 billion pounds , an increase from that agreed in March 2009, at the time when Interest Rates were reduced from 5% to 0.5%

The Bank of England Act 1998  gives operational responsibility for setting interest rates to meet the Government’s inflation target to the Bank of England, whilst operational decisions are taken by the MPC ( Monetary Policy Committee). In the unlikely event that a Mr Frank Pickle were Committee Secretary for the MPC,  the minutes, precisely indicating every nuance, would likely still be being written especially as increases in QE have not been ruled out for 2010, after the November 2009 extension to the program of asset purchases is complete by the February 2010 meeting.

If, like David Horton CBE, you would never want to miss a Committee meeting, the Committee meets monthly, and minutes of its meetings are released on the Wednesday of the second week after the meeting takes place.

Our point of interest is much simpler. We’d like to know if there is an Owen Nesbitt amongst the Committee, with his list of implausible but frighteningly possible excuses for being late… and is there a Jim Trott to brighten things up a bit?   ” N…n…n…….. Yes, no ” ?

(Image credit: Rich Kang   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

And so another year and another decade starts in which all good intentions are there, in the beginning, but what risks lie ahead and what gambles will be taken?  How achievable are objectives?

We have a distraction at SUF headquarters which we won’t be giving up as our New Year Resolution: Buzzword Bingo.  The objective is to discover the next buzzword or phrase in terms of finance or the economy before it becomes popular and, after claiming it, see how many times it occurs within a week or so in the media. No big prizes, the winner just gets to choose their next word first. It could be said that a seasoned betting person might have the upperhand in such a game, especially if big prizes were involved, and going for the underdog in the hope of their long-shot netting a win.

A whole myriad of words and phrases became part of everyday language last year; credit-crunch, bailout, meltdown, bankster, quantitative easing, subprime, toxic, stimulus package, housing bubble, green shoots, recession, depression, our-Government-says. Finding the rank outsiders became a test in itself and we think even the professional gambler might have struggled, especially as some of our claims managed a second blooming as the financial lexicon became a bubbling cauldron with words and phrases almost overflowing and the long shots being few.

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes had a different game going by running odds on the 25 candidates for the Nobel Prize in Economics. The long-shots came out on top for their work which, although hadn’t been considered pure economics, was topical as it focused around ‘economic governance’ and was given to Elinor Ostrom  and Oliver Williamson.  Ostram, apologies at this point to anyone who understands her work in detail, claims that when a market fails it doesn’t necessitate government regulation as the only solution; there are other ways beyond free market or regulation. Williamson, apologies again, was cited for his studies on how organizations are structured.

Economic concerns have ‘Gambling with our Future’ as a phrase that could be on many a buzzword bingo card so who will see the pitfalls and have the confidence to air reservations?

Being in place to have access to relevant information that results in an optimum outcome, including where appropriate, accessing external advice, to avoid or reinforce resolves is always a challenge but never a game.

(Image credit: Danielle Myers  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

A genuine thank you to all our colleagues in business and to those who have allowed us to present their business models over the past year.

 Thank You, we not only enjoyed writing them but learnt something from you all, especially:

Fraser Doherty  –  SuperJam

Ali DeeganCV Cafe

Bernadette Farrell –  Sullivans

Carl HortonHorton Welding Supplies

Michael PritchardLifeSaver Systems

Mick and Kate GloverCuckoos Nest Pottery

Matt and Claudia WallerHawthorn Heavy Horses

Eve and Alex Rutherford- DoakDog and Bone Public House

Liz Lee Fantastic Funerals

In our final Outside the Box we talked about being able to sing out I Did it My Way, an anthem for many, not least amongst the ranks of self-employed. As this year closes on a particularly challenging year, in the economy, we’d like to suggest in the spirit of entrepreneurism:

Some things in life are bad, They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle,
And this’ll help things turn out for the best, and……

 YouTube Preview Image

Not a new philosophy but one we enjoy – hope you do too.

(Image credit: Vistamommy)


And now the end is near, the end of the year and the end of a decade, also the first line to one of the Nations favourite pieces of funeral music: Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

Being as we are always, in financial terms, bringing up the need to plan for best effect, we thought it might be worth looking at some others who think, although probably not the most sensitive turn of phrase on this occasion, Outside the Box, when it comes planning for endings.

The business model, it would appear from personal experience along with limited knowledge gained from viewing both the amazing series Six Feet Under and Richard Wilson’s Two Feet in the Grave, is that time is of the essence in the event, often under circumstances when clear thinking isn’t at the forefront of actions, of a funeral.  An event which, for some includes celebration and needs someone with not only a myriad of organisational skills but the experience and knowledge to bring out as many of the stops that one might not be aware of, but might be available.

A broker of sorts is required, to be there for the person who isn’t, someone who will negotiate on their behalf and Liz Lee is such a person with The Fantastic Funeral Company being such a place to go offering consultancy and advice for such end-of-life issues.

Their business model is one in which the client is accommodated and choice is available.

One in which, when life comes to an end, it can be celebrated. Whether traditional, or alternative, it’s possible to use a Wish List to truly sing out “I did it my way”

Life is ever changing and, as this Company proves; when life comes to an end our choices shouldn’t stop.  There is more beyond the flowers.

UPDATE: 2013 – Liz has moved to pastures new, and regrettably, her business has ceased trading.

(Image credit: qthomasbower

As main thoroughfare for towns, the high street reflects the history of a place and its people, with its social habits and economy reflected in the shop windows. We were therefore intrigued by a recent talent show for various occupations, entitled Young (Whatever) of the Year, with the first episode finding talent from the world of butchers.

We thought we’d have a butchers at what such an occupation, that has seen its numbers dwindling well before the enforced changes businesses are currently seeing, can tell us about business, other than it`s not only Michael Jackson who can lay claim to the steel glove.

Master butchers require precise skills, as does any successful business, but the metaphors don’t end there. Good butchers know every vertebrae and joint of their carcasses and how to get the best cuts, not only for their customer, but for their benefit in terms of profit.

Watching the butchers` shop can be a reflection of current market forces as so-called cheap cuts are taking centre stage of the butcher’s display. Cuts of meat, never until recently, seeing the shop front are now proudly displayed. It seems that, in a downturn, customers are turning to their local butcher’s knowledge for less expensive cuts. Not only in finance is the word economy being used; watch any celebrity chef.

Tidy butchering, with precise cutting,  is as necessary to the butcher as is efficiency with an accurate approach, and relates to many other businesses along with not too much fat or wastage. Working with the whole product a butcher has to be adaptable to their market conditions. If it’s hot - it`s BBQ cuts. If it’s cold - it’s the trimmings. It is no different for other businesses in order to survive. Nothing is wasted. What butchers use for displays and what they keep ‘out back’ alters along with their costing yields; reflecting customers demands they baseline accordingly.

A walk down the high street can show more than which businesses are coming and going, however, as for the young butchers, we can’t offer any comment on what making a Viking boat from a saddle of lamb and a cabbage leaf could mean for business and don’t think we’ll hear the phrase “I have confidence in my sausage” can be adapted for too many.

(Image credit: David Armano  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

YouGen’s Cathy Debenham recently asked the question “How many cyclists does it take to boil a kettle?”  Her Blog included fascinating numbers, and debate followed at SUF Headquarters about Business Cycles.

How many employees does it take to maintain a Company? How many regulations does it take to manage a Company? How many entrepreneurs does it take to start up a Company?  It’s all a bit chicken and egg.

Joseph Schumpeter contemplated boom and bust cycles, adaptation to new market conditions and economic circular flows and cycles with someone who is willing to be innovative, the entrepreneur, as key.

Keynes has especially been much talked about throughout the last twelve months,  but with current market conditions and recent history we’re wondering if Schumpeter will be the next decades flavour.

IT  innovation is altering all manner of business therefore perhaps the defining question for economist to consider should be the cyclists and boiled kettle because without sustainable energy both business information, and business in general, might be left in the Dark Ages when it comes to transforming opportunity.

(Image credit: WizPip)

It has emerged  that the Bank of England was lender to RBS and HBOS in autumn of last year, for the sum of £61.6 billion on top of the taxpayer bailouts.

Revealing the bailout to the Treasury Committee, Bank Governor Mervyn King said “confidence can best be sustained if the Bank’s support is disclosed only when the conditions that gave rise to potentially systemic disturbance have improved to a point where the disclosure itself should not be a cause of such disturbance.”   The Bank had decided that for its Annual Report, published 18 May 2009  ‘ to limit the extent of disclosure in its financial statements’ .

It has now decided that all danger has passed and disclosure made. If it wasn’t so serious it could be an episode from a classic British comedy.

Setting: Chaotically organised Institution

Plot: Repressed, miserly person in charge gets a betting tip which he asks his disorganised and confused employee to place without his effective Second in Command knowing.  The bet comes through and the winnings are handed to a second employee so the effective manager isn’t aware. (This employee seems willing to do the most bizarre things to keep their job.)   When the one in charge decides to take his winnings a partially-sighted and selectively-deaf guest of the Institution, whose trait is to believe they are always right and won’t listen to others, announces they have money missing and is convinced someone has stolen it. Chaos ensues between staff as to who saw what and who claims to have seen what; meanwhile the money has been given to a senile old gent, who forgets what he did with the money. Eventually the money is produced and given to the very demanding character. Soon after, further money is handed over after being mistakenly lost.  Chaos ensues again as each character tries to protect the other, eventually the truth is blurted out by the senile gent but an expensive vase is dropped and the lost money is given over to the very demanding character in lieu of the expensive accident.

What is the message from those in authority? “There is nothing that can be done” or “We know nothing!”

Questions will be doing the rounds again such as who made the decisions to keep things quiet, who takes responsibility, why now and are we to expect continued communication problems?

………And when can we expect to hear “Don’t tell them your name , Pike?”

(Image credit: thermionic)

Making No Bones About Being a Pub Landlord

There is far more to running a pub than chatting with the locals and pulling an occasional pint. With notoriously long hours, a determination for your business is a necessary requirement for a landlord’s business success.

So, in one of Britain’s best known industries, how does a pub landlord respond to customers’ needs other than pool, darts and big screen sports to create a successful business?

Eve Quinn and Alex Rutherford-Doak have managed to do exactly that at their Lincoln pub The Dog & Bone.

A country pub in a city, real ale, locally sourced food, beer garden, coal fire and traditional pub games instead of TV, pool table, and juke box or games machine.

In our view, even without brilliant offerings such as live music, arts exhibitions, an artist in residence, poetry nights, and events such as Summer and Winter Beer Festivals complementing their cask ales and menu, but purely because they have a book-swap facility, they’re probably the best in the world (as a certain larger brand might announce) and most deservedly winners of their many Awards.

In the Nursery rhyme of Old Mother Hubbard, reference to the cupboard being bare and her dog going without a bone could, it is said, be referring to poverty at the time. We don’t think Eve and Alex, as landlords will ever have to sound like OM Hubbard as their cupboard is well and truly stocked with Outside the Box ideas and proving that traditional doesn’t have to be boring.

With a Knick-Knack Paddywhack, give your dog a bone. This old man would come rolling home very happily from such a place and can’t wait for them to roll out into other counties.

(Image credit: AdmlCrunch  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

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