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Snowflakes in the stratosphere

Monday 12th November 2018

Just to briefly take you away from Jeremy Corbyn’s Cenotaph clobber and Brexit generally – I’d been giving a talk about life and art to a bunch of academics re ‘uni’. We used to call it ‘university’ because we grammar school boys were so happy to have achieved a difficult transition from school to  further education at a seat of learning  , that we afforded our new institutions some verbal respect. I said  that the snowflake students of today  would grow up with no essential curiosity. They demand ‘safe areas’ where unpleasant challenges of discussion are excluded. For example a…

Taxing times

Thursday 23rd August 2018

I think Trump will escape impeachment. He’s not very nice – I struggle to find a leading international political that is or was ‘nice’. Trump promised to make America ‘great again’ and to cut taxes. He’s done the latter, which is one reason why the most representative stock market in the US is breaking records, and if ‘great again’ means a more independent American continent, self sufficient in food and fun, then who, among the ‘deplorables’ isn’t going to like that? The East and West coast commentariat can tootle a plaintive refrain, but the chorus of the US is its…

Cents of reality from the home of the dollar

Wednesday 30th May 2018

That funny old thing called The Wall Street Journal, more conservative than a Brooks Brothers’ shirt and famously captured by Rupert Murdoch from a bizarre American family – of which Google and have fun if you have the time  – anyway the good old WSJ has a curious news taster called “The 10 point”. So, does than mean ten news points in the bulletin? Well, not quite. But if you’ve been an inky fingered printer, you’ll know that the ’10 point’ refers to a size of printing type – and in the old days that was the size in which…

Kerrang gone kerrong

Wednesday 2nd May 2018

A week like no other for merger mania – not just the  £15bn tie-up between Sainsbury and Asda, and the much more massive US T-Mobile for Sprint – and then the $36bn deal between Marathon Petroleum and its rival refining group Andeavor. This orgy of deal making is typical of a market at the head of its froth. Cheap money, high stock prices. Flimsy partnerships with hope over experience. When will we ever learn ?  More broadly, what these big money marriages lead to is leviathan companies which begin to please shareholders with their cost cutting and the crushing of…

Lording the aisles is a cut price job

Monday 30th April 2018

The out of the blue Sainsbury’s and Asda merger will probably make sense once the regulator is placated with the sale of hundreds of outlets. Asda supplies the lower end of the markets while Sainsbury’s sells groceries to the better off. It’s also just finished digesting a £1.4 bn aquisition of Argos – which, in the Sainsbury view, increases the value of its floor space. Meanwhile, Asda’s parent Walmart is freer to concentrate on the bigger task of coping with online and Amazon, which have transformed the retail landscape. The gossip is that in these changing times Morrison and the…