Blog Archive

Page 34

Wondering, after an unexpected sunshine filled Saturday, what the weekly weather forecast held, we were slightly worried when 19,400,000 pages for Heavy Rain in February came up on a Google search; but relieved that Kagouls and sandbags wouldn’t be the ‘must have’ item for the coming weeks instead,  a Playstation   for a new game.

Rainfall was made newsworthy during the 19th Century by those eager to dispel rumours that the so labeled Great American Desert couldn’t be farmed.   An idea that planting trees contributed to a higher rainfall was investigated then extended to include cultivation in general. The spin of laying telegraph wires and railway tracks to increase rainfall was used to attract settlement and rail links into The Plains, whilst The Homestead Act   made land cheap; with the more fertile land, as priority, given over to the railroad companies or Government.

Land speculator and enlightened climatologist Charles Dana Wilber’s book (1881)   laid the phrase down and an unusual few years of rainfall followed to cement the idea. The realistic and scientifically authoritative unconvinced Geologist John Wesley Powell  was commended by Easterners in Congress, whilst  Westerners took the opposite stand, one from Kansas is supposedly to have said, ‘ Whilst you’re out there acting in the interest of science and in the interest of professional bug hunting, leave the settlers upon our frontier alone’

Consumed by the railway construction crews and the wagon trains moving across the plains, buffalo herds shrank from some 40 million to about a thousand.  Enthusiastic homesteaders fenced in their land and towns developed. Seeds arrived along with farm machinery and the global marketplace opened up via the rail system. But, an ecological imbalance showed up when the droughts began and the Plains turned into The Dust Bowl at a time of The Great Depression.

But we all understand spin now … don’t we?  And lessons have been learnt … haven’t they?   Cue the tumbleweed.

Oh! Here comes the rain again…. No! it’s snowing!

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

American icon, embodiment and symbol of a pioneering, wild and free spirit with a choice of four wheels  or four hooves ; the Mustang is doing very well.

Ford, the Company behind the four wheeled version has shown profitable growth and, the feral horse contributor to alluring imagery of the Wild West, also has booming numbers. But the one that had been granted federal protection as ‘living symbols of the historical and pioneer spirit of the West’ is galloping towards controversy. 

Only a few decades after the cattle industry, started from the famous cattle drives following The Texas Revolution,  reached its height, the cowboy and his horse were confronted with changes to their culture; including  ‘in any colour so long as it’s black’  and the emergence of the motor industry.

It’s interesting that only a couple of years after the Model T gave way to the Model A,  the Great Depression came about and, not only did the price of cars drop, many people couldn’t afford the fuel to run them. So, with a pioneering attitude horses were returned to pull engineless cars.

Following the most recent depression, recession, downturn or whatever, horse – power and horsepower is been explored again by artist Jeremy Dean’s project Back to the Futurama.  

Could a Hummer  and a Horse illustrate the beginning and end of imagination, all at the same time?  

 (Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Market Recovery
A 100% commercial mortgage has been launched for the Medical Sector. This includes surgeries, pharmacies, opticians, care homes and nursing homes. Rates are comparable to residential mortgages so it is encouraging to see further movement within the marketplace.
The Enterprise Finance Guarantee
This continues to be expanded with one high street lender announcing that a further £88m is now available – Multiple bureaucratic hoops to jump through but this finance could assist where a lender cannot fully take a risk on a business proposal.
Tax Relief extensions
The pre-budget report announced that during 2010 – 2011 empty commercial properties will have tax relief, with those having a rateable value below £18,000 being exempt from business rates. There is also a deferral of the increase in corporation tax for smaller companies along with the Time To Pay Scheme being extended for `as long as is needed’. 
(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Any fool can make things complicated, it requires a genius to make things simple, or something to that effect said E.F Schumacher.  As layer upon layer of complexity is added to spice up a story, be used as spin or just remind us that common sense isn’t so common, it’s a reasonable adage to be reminded of in seemingly complicated times.

Another complex story to get an update is Alice in Wonderland. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll, Maths Don at Oxford, writer of mathematics books and author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass has been translated to film again.

As the finance lending marketplace is increasingly competitive, it’s no news that, tightening up of lending criteria is an affect. The complexity of finding appropriate funds can evoke many responses including the feeling of falling down a long dark hole. It’s very understandable to feel alone when the fall is long and the bottom opens into a world of curious characters and, in fiscal terms, the metaphors don’t stop there as the world of money and business can be confusing, frightening, unfriendly, chaotic, nonsense and madness.

Alice’s adventure begins because she is curious.

Without asking questions she follows the white rabbit, falling down the rabbit hole only to find herself alone with her curiosity in the confusing Wonderland. Instructed to drink from a bottle she shrinks, told to eat cake she grows, is given a mushroom to eat but no advice how to eat it; too small, too big. She talks to a mouse who’s frightened by what she’s telling him and is left holding the Duchesses baby which turns out to be a pig. Cheshire Cat asks questions then disappears and the smoking blue caterpillar repetitiously states, “Who are you?” With plenty of chairs at the Mad Hatters tea party she’s told there’s no room. When offered wine she is given tea and with his watch limited to telling the day of the month, the Hatter and his friend perpetually move around the table to new cups instead of washing the used ones. The gardeners paint the (planted by mistake) white roses red, in the hope that The Queen won’t notice and give out her “Off with their heads”.

And so the story continues until Alice realises it’s a dream.

Just as time is central to Carroll’s story as it is with finance. The Hatter’s unusual watch is unusual in that it has days on the face as; “it’s always six o’clock and tea-time” (we wish), but time and timing is essential in placing finance; especially if ‘growing up’ is the objective. Alice asked for help in the strange world of conflict, but never got any: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” …. That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

Notes you might want, incidentally, whilst writing this, we discovered that Mad Hatter is a CEO or other major executive who is not trusted and whose ability to lead is being questioned and the 10/6 sign on the Hat of the Hatter is it`s value not his worth and, ironically, the rabbit fence around Antony, the location for much of Burton’s movie, had to be removed during filming.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Medical Sector

For those in or contemplating Medical sector businesses, we now have 100% commercial mortgages designed specifically for your market expansion, consolidation or purchase. For other businesses looking to similar plans we have a range of products of up to 100%  loan facility.


Interest Rates

Although the  Office of National Statistics had recently revealed that inflation has increased to 2.9% , it was surprising to see the recent reaction of Skipton Building Society being the first to break rank and increase its Standard Variable Rate (SVR); causing disconcertion for its mortgage holders.  Another followed; Nationwide is to increase their SVR on its mortgages by up to 0.5% from 1 February. Inevitably others will follow suit.


Rateable Values

Every 5 years the generic Rateable Value  (RV) of all licensed, leisure and commercial property is reviewed. April 2010 is the date for the latest RVs and have been released from Valuations Office Agency (VOA).  Initial read through shows that there will be many reductions, however pubs have risen by 23% and hotels by up to 33%.  The Uniform Business Rate, which, when multiplied by the RV calculates Rates Payable, will also change.  Large and small properties will go down to 41.4p/£ and 40.7p/£ respectively.  Transitional Relief will continue to be applied.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Lots of choice would seem to be a good thing but if, according to Sheena Iyengar  and Mark Lepper’s   experiment, involving jam tasting in California, it would seem that it makes people less happy and showed that lots of choice makes people less likely to choose anything.

Iyenger and Lepper offered either 6, or 24, varieties of jam at a tasting in a supermarket. The tasters were offered a discount voucher to buy the jam. The big display attracted more customers but fewer buyers. The lesser display made more sales; statistically 4,000%  better as only 3% of the 24 choice used their vouchers whilst 30% of the 6 choice used theirs.

So, what of choice?  This experiment involved the same product with more choice amongst that product  – which is different from offering entirely different products.

They experimented again with displays of chocolates. Participants were offered to choose one chocolate to eat from either six or thirty options. Those choosing from the lesser amount were more satisfied and more likely to purchase chocolates again. Illustrating that dissatisfaction is likely more prevalent when choice is larger.

 The Executive Summary of Financial Capability: A Behavioural Economics Perspective  states many interesting things and includes lots of such experiments.

To which market is limiting choice directed at, and how limited does choice become before there is no choice? 

(Image  and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Free as a Bird

As businesses operate from one business cycle to another any economic uncertainty results in change and, as business models change, reorganization occurs which can further fuel economic uncertainty. Enter the Freelancer, the person who doesn’t want, to or can’t risk being, the employee that is laid off.

 The fields in which freelancing occurs vary greatly as do the skills necessary to survive in business, therefore we thought we’d introduce a freelancer who illustrates (literally) the creative use of the diversification business model for freelancing. Clive Byers is one of Britain’s leading bird artists  but his skills are further extended to maintain his focus of self-employment.

Defining the often blurry lines of art isn’t a problem for Clive. His abilities are recognised as artist, photographer and specialist illustrator. Known for his ability to seek out the important minute details in natural history and, from his extensive experience in the field as Environmental Surveyor, he’s a true expert in bird identification.

Both expressive art and illustrating  demand fine observation from the artist but, as anyone with even the slightest interest in natural history will be aware, accuracy is imperative for the field. A skill that shouldn’t be underestimated, for both a changing world and the world of business.  Skill combined with expert knowledge are two elements that make Clive stand out, add his business being both service and product based he naturally illustrates that his success as a freelancer is his diversification business model.

He just put his wings to the test……

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

A recent game of Trivial Pursuit and a newspaper article  (which incidentally has some very interesting comments attached) prompted the question, how did the Roman Empire manage to decline when they had so much at their disposal?

From our limited understanding, we’d believed that Roman society was built on its strengths of lateral thinking and being organised, which was supported by a bloodlust and the odd war. A seemingly strong society, so what brought the changes?

The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization is a recent addition to our bookshelf, in which Bryan Ward Perkins  makes comparisons about our current economic climate with that of the post-Roman Empire’s. It appears that it might in Perkin’s viewpoint, of material terms, be the weakened economy through lack of economic growth; necessarily  sustained through trade and investment.

Disconnection or connections?  Their decadence and corruption from within, or attacks from outside?  With examples of industry, such as pottery shrinking, coins disappearing and secure trading routes becoming dangerous, he may have a point.

It would seem that we’re back to balancing out the order and chaos.

(Image credit: Seier+Seier+Seier  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

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