The oil tanker is heading for the iceberg

It will be interesting to see the share price of Sports Direct in the coming days. Even though it was a low gas, lukewarm “grilling” by the Business Select Committee, Ashley’s performance hit the zeitgeist as he played it like Trump. It’s now over to the city to see how they will react.

The Great Vinyl Rip-Off

A slogan posted on the wall of HMV stores proclaims, in a hubristic paraphrase of the famous Buggles song “Vinyl is killing mp3s”.

Vinyl might be a murderer but it has definitely revived the fortunes of the ailing music industry. Every man, woman and his dog is flocking to HMV to buy vinyl. It’s back in Vogue and Fashion and Stylistics. The shelves are cluttered with black plastic again. A recycled Sevenfold Nightmare. I don’t understand this nostalgia trip. While disagreeing with FEEG over the hi-definition rip-off I have to admit that the CD format is superior to vinyl.

The re-emergence of vinyl is a record industry attempt to stop the file-sharing pirates that download music for free. Seeing those record covers again and reliving Glory Days is Nirvana to a lot of soul sisters and brothers, so it’s a Gimme, Gimme ,Gimme Rush for the needle players. Me, I gave most of my LPs away while retaining the coloured vinyls, bootleg albums and rare promotional issues as family heirlooms. It pays to have a Record Collector guide book handy. Like Yazz, the only way is up for these beanstalks.

While old-timers are taking longer to Knock on Heaven’s Door maybe other brands will seek to fleece the Old Sheps from their Money and Time. Betamax could tape us to the future. Sodastream might teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Another big lift-off and we will be Fooled Again by Ground Control putting another Man on The Moon.

The vinyl revolution won’t last but it has brought a memory revival of all things past; Melting tar on the road, running through clothes lines, eating blackjacks then sticking out your tongue, footie in the street, chapping doors and running away, climbing trees and falling out of trees…

A quick press about monetary matters

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The British monarchy has a full house (Royal Flush?) of Kings waiting in line to succeed the Happy and Glorious Queen Elizabeth II. As a counterpoint to this surge of manliness the Bank of England has decided to put Jane Austen instead of Winston Churchill on the new £10 note. Suffragettes everywhere can start rejoicing. Me, I don’t really look at the mug shots on the dosh, it’s just money, isn’t it? They could put Steve Austin on there for all I care. However, maybe he’s on the American six million dollar note.

Fractures in the US/Saudi alliance

There was a report in yesterday’s The Times (sorry no link, Times Online is a pay site) regarding the soaring production of shale oil in the US. BP forecasts that this year the States will overtake Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of oil, most of it from rising shale output. Understandably, OPEC is not amused and will have to cut production to avoid a collapse and keep prices steady.

The loss of hegemony for OPEC in the oil market can only be good for consumers. Analysts predict that the price of a barrel of oil will drop by 20% in the next decade. Europe seems to be lagging behind in the development of shale reserves because of environmental concerns, fracking bans and lack of infrastructure.

The shale revolution has thrown on its head, for the time being anyway, the general consensus that global oil production is in decline. While welcoming the fact that the Arabs are squirming, the Middle East might become a more volatile place in the upcoming years.

Homes under the Hammer

The Conservative Chancellor of the coalition, George Osborne, has delighted the Tory Party faithful by ruling out wealth and mansion taxes. “This Party of home ownership will have no truck with it” he said. High value property owners that have never set foot in a truck breathed a sigh of relief. Mr Osborne is in charge of the purse strings of this country and he can play any melody he wants with them. This time it’s music to the ears of the wealthy.

Into the chamber enters the spectral figure that is the government’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable. This latter-day Robin Hood is promoting a petition for a fairer tax system. “I want a new ‘mansion tax’ on the most valuable properties – we propose 1% of the value of over £2million. This will be paid by the wealthiest 0.16% of property owners. If you agree, add your name to our campaign now.” This juggernaut statement struck a discord with the better off while those in the poor seats clapped approvingly. Continue reading “Homes under the Hammer”

The housing market will rise from the bunker

The party conference season gives MP’s a chance to play rough and have a swing at existing arrangements. At last week’s excellent Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, Vince Cable, business secretary in the coalition government, made proposals to increase the stock of social housing. As well as introducing regulated Mortgage Rescue Schemes to allow families struggling with repayments to sell all or part of the equity in their house and rent it back from a housing association or private firm to help keep them in their homes, Mr Cable said.

“After years of this Government’s apathy, which allowed the housing market to boom hopelessly out of control, millions are now feeling the painful consequences of a market in freefall.
Now is also the time to allow councils and Registered Social Landlords to borrow against their assets to buy up unsold properties and sites from building companies in order to replenish the social housing stock, to deal with the current 1.67 million households on social housing waiting lists.” Continue reading “The housing market will rise from the bunker”