Friday, April 25, 2008

The UK economy built on sand?

1. Personal debt in the UK is now a record £1.4 trillion. ( Personal debt pushing UK families to breaking point, warns CAP )

2. "Some years ago I was a guest at a charity lunch in Glasgow's City Chambers where Sir Fred Goodwin was the principal speaker and where he delivered his perceived wisdom on the world in general.

"One of the main thrusts of his speech was to question why anyone should be concerned about the loss of our manufacturing industries. His point being that at that time it accounted for less than 20% of the economy and was dwarfed by the banking sector.

"I wonder if the realisation has now dawned that banking, like the country's economy, cannot survive indefinitely on the shifting sands of ever-increasing personal debt;

"that the money loaned by banks needs to contribute to tangible growth in the economy and not just fuel an increase in the price of houses far beyond their true worth - a level where most new buyers will have little hope of ever achieving outright ownership..." - Gregor Egan, Barrhead. (Letters )

3. "The chairman assures the shareholders that no single person is responsible for this apparent catalogue of disaster.

"That may well be the case but, if so, the responsibility must lie across the board and executive management of the bank and be accepted by them all...." - Graham Mathewson, Stirling. (Letters )

4. "Britain's debt culture, the millionaire bankers who have profited from it and the ministers who have allowed it have all dangerously strained the fabric of society, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

"In a pessimistic analysis of modern British life and the economy Gordon Brown has overseen for a decade, Rowan Williams said the Government should impose tougher rules on lenders and demanded action to close the wealth gap between rich and poor.

"Dr Williams warned that an 'economy built on spiralling, more or less uncontrolled, credit' is leading to 'the erosion of family life and the erosion of self-confidence' for many people..." - Archbishop of Canterbury: UK debt culture straining fabric of society

5. "Collins Stewart rounded off what is likely to be the worst week in its history with another 9 per cent fall in its shares yesterday, closing at 379p. The brokerage, which specialises in small company stocks, has seen £208m wiped off its value since the start of the week.

"The dramatic slide in share value was the City's reaction to the emergence last weekend of a dossier alleging insider dealing, share ramping and biased research at the company compiled by one of its former analysts, James Middleweek.

"Mr Middleweek has gone from being a little-known media analyst to one of the most talked about figures in the City in the past six days.

"His claims include that the share prices of a number of companies, including Epic Brand Investments, Numerica and Millfield, were maintained at 'artificially high'.

"Mr Middleweek's former colleagues Paul Hodges and Jimmy Durkin are accused of being prepared to 'do everything possible to maintain share prices of companies in which their clients are involved, including withholding relevant information'.

"He alleges that he was stopped from covering Numerica, an accountancy group, and Millfield, which owns a chain of independent financial advisers, after he had been "too even handed". He was allegedly prevented from downgrading Numerica late last year." - Allegations prompt fresh slide in Collins Stewart - Business News ...

6. Barclays downgraded to "sell"


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