Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hogmanay...

The most hated day of the year...it's the forced gladness that gets to you...after a while...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Further Proof Of India's Economic Advance

Some Thoughts On The Execution Of Saddam Hussein

So Saddam's been hanged today.

Some of the reaction's been quite interesting - for example, Kathryn Jean Lopez has revealed that she doesn't know the difference between an execution and a murder and the Rumpelstskin Of The Right doesn't get the idea that sometimes Iraqis will behave like, well, Iraqis.
His execution gives Saddam an unusual place in history - given that he only came before a court because of his failure to comply with UN Resolution 1441, he thus becomes possibly the first tyrant ever to be hanged for failing to produce evidence that he did not possess something he did not seem to have.
That's really the bottom line; and it says much for the rule of law in Iraq that legal nonsenses bordering on farce, such as the use of old constitutions, were needed to put an end to a farcical if genocidally bloody life.
Having overthrown and abetted Saddam's hanging we have also endorsed the use of Sharia law as a source for the new Iraqi constitution; thus handing Iraq to medieval Islam on a plate.
They're all really going to be free now, aren't they? When they stop killing each other, of course...
However, the Iraqis might one day have their fill of the mullahs; in which case they might just off their old pictures of Saddam, calling him their Charles I.
And at that point, the neos had better be sleeping with one way tickets to Mexico City under their pillows.

The Governor Of The Bank Of England Does Not Understand Globalisation

Dow Jones has reported Mervyn King as saying,
"Globalization will lower the real wages of unskilled workers in advanced economies with or without the free flow of labor between countries, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said Thursday.

King said the flow of labor from Eastern European countries to the U.K. has accelerated the growth of the labor force there.

However, a decrease in real wages in developed countries will occur regardless of efforts to cut back migration, he said.

"The impact of globalization, in terms of the impact on real wages, will occur anyway through the movement of free trade in goods and services, even if we limit migration," he told a Melbourne Center for Financial Studies luncheon in Melbourne.

"The downward pressure on the real wages of the unskilled in advanced economies doesn't require migration to bring it down - trade will do the same."
King's record on forecasting mass migration's economic consequences isn't the best, we know - he now can't do his own job properly as a result of not knowing how many people are in the country- but this latest effusion is first order, Grade-A, purest quality rubbish.
Globalisation is a policy, not a process, which requires mass migration for its success.
It is nothing more than an arbitrage of labour on a global scale, intended to achieve plutonomy, government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.
Only certain kinds of unskilled employments can be offshored, such as factory work and call centres - but how else are wage costs for the performance of non-tradeable services such as the building trades to be reduced other than by artificially increasing the labour pool?
If the only words of mine which are ever remembered are 'Migration is globalisation', then the hours turning into days turning into weeks spent at the keyboard will not have been in vain.
Hat tip - Randall Burns.

Dean Baker Rewrites Scottish Migration Policy

In a post entitled 'New Year's Resolutions for Economic Reporting', Dean writes,
"There is no fundamental problem with a country experiencing zero or negative population growth, as is the case for many rich countries. This scenario implies a rising ratio of retirees to workers, but we have always had a rising ratio of retirees to workers, and we have generally enjoyed rising living standards (on average). Productivity growth generally swamps the impact of demographics (it takes fewer people to make a car, handle bank transactions, or staff a retail store) so there is no problem associated with the fact that a smaller share of our population may be working in the future."
Woo-Hoo, Dean! You've got me convinced!
Now tell this clown and Scotland's other Parliamentary muppets that we do not need migration - and given that it was designed to tackle a non-existent problem the 'Fresh Talent' initiative is now as stale as last year's Hogmanay shortbread, fit only for filing in the administrative dustbin.
Out with the old and out with the new!
And never brought to mind,
Ye''ll take the bus to Poznan yet
For auld lang syne!"

Why The Global Labour Arbitrage Will Ultimately Collapse

The migrants are joining the unions.

Matthew Parris On Scottish Nationalism

Matthew Parris makes a brilliant case for the Conservative Party to 'embrace Scottish Nationalism', writing that,
"A Conservative vision of the Union could be of a deep and permanent alliance of equal nations within a common economy, each with the dignity of self-government, each raising taxes for what they did alone, and sharing taxes for what they did together. "
It is a great pity that although Matthew's vision is a very noble one, the paradigm of what Conservative Unionism should be, it would fail; and the reason for the failure can be explained in two words.

Let My People Go!













The BBC reports that,
"The Scottish Executive must use every minute of legislative time to improve Scotland within the union, the first minister has said.

In his New Year message, Jack McConnell stressed that nearly 10 years after the devolution referendum efforts could not let up to bring about change.

He pledged to improve school meals, address prisoner release conditions and boost Scotland's standing abroad..."
Given that Scottish public life is an unwholesome circus dominated by circus freaks and led by an authoritarian metrosexual ignoramus who wouldn't know the rule of law if it slapped him on the face with an Antosocial Behaviour Order, one would have thought the same ignoramus would have bigger problems to think about than school meals.
Big Power seeking to 'improve' Scotland...yes, we've heard that one before...

Bluefinger

Some Thoughts On British CEO's Contempt For Market Economics

The news that executive compensation has doubled over the last six years while non executive wages have stood still broke on the same day it was reported that council tax in England & Wales will need to rise again to cover the cost of outsourced services and that the Treasury anticipates that the tax burden will continue to rise for the next 50 years; and given that the council tax provides only a smallish proportion of local authorities' income, the vast bulk being provided by central government, the English council tax payer will thus be stiffed to pay for such services not one but twice for as far as the eye can see while the National Health Service, British municipal socialism's shibboleth and totem, frets over the cost of pills.
In fairness to 'The Times', within the last three days it has published two thundering editorials against the culture of executive greed - Patrick Hosking's 'One burden regulator should not have lifted' on the share option scam and David Bolchover's very insightful and quite daring 'The City bonus bonanza is bad for capitalism', on why a megabonus culture will kill entrepeneurialism.
Tim Worstall took a pop at it - my views on his reasoning's flaws can be found in his comments.
The great justification used for globalisation is that it 'makes us all richer' in the form of cheaper goods and services; however it's gratifying to see that those who actually bear the burden of managing assets are sufficiently level-headed to know that what's really important is how much money you have in your pocket, and haven't swallowed that garbage themselves.

Islam - Where Vanity Trumps Hygiene

The Muslim bigot, unethical journalist and apologist for kidnapping Osama Saeed has linked to a report in 'The Sun' alleging that Muslim hospital visitors are refusing to use alcohol based handwashes provided to help prevent the spread of MRSA.
That Muslim radicals would presumably hold no qualms about using their germs to infect kuffar with athlete's foot if they could get away with it, the lowest of low grade biological jihads, should be taken for granted; but that they should have so little regard for the lives of the Muslims they are presumably in the hospital to actually visit says little for their sanity.
If they have no reagrd for the patient's health, why visit the patient?
Saeed writes,
"It would have been a good idea for the Sun to actually ask some Islamic scholars for some rulings on the matter. It is forbidden to consume alcohol, but there is no such prohibition on its external use."
Well, that's not quite what Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, of Leicester's Darul Iftaa, has to say on the matter -
"In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

It is permissible, rather recommended (mandub) to dye the hair of the head (and beard for men) provided the ingredients used in the hair dye are Halal.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Change the old age (white/grey hair), and do not imitate the Jews” (Sunan Tirmidhi & Sunan Nasa’i).

He (Allah bless him & give him peace) also stated:

“The best dye to change your old age is Henna (a red plant dye) and Katm (type of grass)” (Narrated by many Hadith Imams).

There is a difference of opinion between the scholars on whether the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself dyed his hair. However Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with them) did dye the hair of their head and beard, thus it will be classed as recommended (mandub), if not Sunnah. "
A very comprehensive account of which adornments and beautifications are considered haram and halal can be found at Witness Pioneer.
In respect of dyeing the hair, it notes that,
"Another aspect of beautification relates to dyeing the gray hair of the head or the beard. It was reported that the Jews and Christians refrained from dyeing the hair, regarding such beautification and adornment as contrary to piety and devotion, and not befitting rabbis, priests, and ascetics. The Prophet (peace be on him) forbade Muslims to imitate these people or follow their ways, in order that Muslims might develop their own distinctive and independent characteristics in appearance and behavior.

Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) as saying, "The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so be different from them." (Reported in al-Bukhari's chapter on "Dyeing the Hair" in his book Clothing.) This is, however, not a command but only a recommendation, as is evident from the actions of the sahabah, such as Abu Bakr and 'Umar, who used to dye their hair, while others, such as 'All, Ubay ibn Ka'b, and Anas did not.

The question now remains as to what type of dye is to be used. Should its color be black or can there be other colors? Or should black be avoided? If a man is of a very advanced age, with white hair and beard, it would hardly be appropriate for him to use black dye. On the day of the conquest of Makkah, Abu Bakr brought his aged father, Abu Qahafah, carrying him until he had seated him in front of the Prophet (peace be on him). On seeing Abu Qahafah's snow-white hair, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, "Change this, but avoid black." (Fath al-Bari, in explaining the above mentioned hadith (in the chapter on "Dyeing) However, if a man is not of such advanced age or feebleness as Abu Qahafah then was, there is no harm in his using black dye. In this regard al-Zuhri said, "We dyed our hair black when the face looked young, but discarded it when the face became wrinkled and the teeth decayed."(Reported by Ibn Abu 'Asim in the book on "Dyeing the Hair.")

Some of the early Muslims, including some sahabah such as Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, 'Uqbah ibn 'Amr, al-Hassan, al-Hussein, Jarir, and others permitted the use of black dye. Some scholars, on the other hand, do not consider the use of black hair dye as permissible except during time of war, when the enemy might be impressed by the fact that all the soldiers of the Muslim army look young."
Of course Islam is now a religion of peace, so all historic references to Muslim armies or Islam even acknowledging the concept of enemies must be viewed as quaint anachronisms akin to the medieval Christian debates concerning how many angels could dance on the head of a needle; but hopefully those ranks of the pious and humble who refuse to use disinfect themselves with alcohol based handgels before they enter buildings full of sick people are similarly scrupulous where their hair dye's ingredients are concerned.
And Osama Saeed needs to start boning up on his Koran.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Blogger Lacks Energy This Evening...

so apologies for the largely 'Cut 'n Paste' nature of today's posts.

Polish Notes



According to The Beatroot, the sieg heiling Santa on the left came from the desk of Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski.
Love to see how that one would go down with the outsourcers.
After all, they're coming their way...

Statistic Of The Week

From the BBC -
"The amount spent by Scottish police forces on interpreters for foreign suspects and witnesses has increased by more than a third, it has emerged.

At least £256,000 was spent on translators during 2005-06, up 43% from £179,000 two years ago.

Tayside Police showed the biggest rise, with costs almost quadrupling from £12,785 to £44,491.

The increase came as EU expansion has increased the number of Eastern European immigrants to Scotland...
Strathclyde Police, Scotland's largest force, spent the most on translators during the last financial year, at just under £70,000.
Although Strathclyde's costs dropped year-on-year, down from £74,000 in 2004-05 and £85,325 the year before, the number of translation uses increased to 1,481 in 2005-06, compared to 864 occasions two years ago....
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, also showed that Grampian's costs increased nearly three-fold from £13,500 in 2003-04 to £37,695 for 2005-06.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said that providing translators was an "absolute necessity" for the police.

"If someone doesn't speak English and they are accused it is vital for the rule of law to find out what they are saying," a spokesman said."
The rule of law would be better served by keeping foreign criminals out.

Israel's Irreplaceable Ally

"Israelis routinely assume that Europe's pro-jihadist policy towards the Palestinians is a result of anti-Semitism or anger over Israel's military victory in 1967. But the EU's treatment of Ethiopia and the TFG indicates that Brussels' hostility towards the Jewish state is part of a much further-reaching policy. Europe's pro-jihad position toward the war in Somalia indicates that its support for jihad is over-arching rather than limited to specific battlegrounds. "
"Israel allowed a shipment of arms yesterday to reach troops in Gaza loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, threatening to stir fresh fighting between Fatah and Hamas. It consisted of 2,000 automatic rifles and two million rounds of ammunition with 20,000 magazines.

...Israel's permission was needed as the shipment had to pass through an Israeli cargo terminal that controls goods from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Israel normally stops all arms reaching the occupied territories in case they are used against Israeli targets.

But this was put to one side, outdone by Israel's desire to see Fatah, the relatively moderate Palestinian party, defeat Hamas, the hardline, anti-Israeli, Islamist movement."
"The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى) are a Palestinian militant group closely linked to the Fatah political party and one of the most active forces in the al-Aqsa Intifada. The group targets civilians and is thus a designated terrorist organization according to Israel, the U.S [1] and the European Union [2]. Named after the al-Aqsa Mosque, an Islamic holy site, the group's membership is primarily drawn from the ranks of Tanzim, a militant youth group within al-Fatah. Following the death of Yasser Arafat on November 11, 2004, the group announced that they will sign their attacks in the name Brigades of Shahid Yasser Arafat."
Glick might consider Israel to be America's 'irreplaceable ally'; however it would seem that others might consider Fatah to be Israel's.

Why Ethiopia Overran Over Somalia So Quickly

1. They didn't play by the Third Way's rules.

2. The Somalis have scattered and will regroup as an insurgency.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Poland's Taxing Question

It appears that Poland is at something of a crossroads.
Until yesterday, it levied domestic taxes on income earned by Polish citizens living and working in the UK.
"Poland's president on Wednesday signed into law a deal abolishing double taxation for the growing number of Poles working in Britain, a move that eases a financial burden that has discouraged some from returning home.

The agreement, which was struck in July between the Polish and British finance ministries, will free Poles working in the U.K. from having to pay both British and Polish taxes, President Lech Kaczynski's office said in a statement...
Amid the large-scale emigration, Poland has faced fears of losing its best-skilled citizens. There are hopes that many of those who have left will return to Poland with improved job and language skills.
But the rules on double taxation were believed to be pushing Poles to do just the opposite — break all ties with their homeland to avoid paying additional taxes in Poland on income already taxed in Britain."
It would be interesting to know by how much Poland's GDP has been boosted by such double-taxed income since May 1 2004; the pecculence and dishonesty of some Poles notwithstanding, it might have been a nice little earner - a mandatory remittance.
However, when Lech Kaczynski has been saying of his nationals that, "I only hope they will return after a few years abroad" and "I am always telling them that what you are doing is good for Poland, but if you never return it will be a loss”, then it might be the case that it is recognised that the long term losses Poland stands to make from the recent rate of outbound migration hugely overshadow whatever short term economic gains it might already have accrued.
By abolishing double taxation, Poland is taking something of a gamble - its existence has done nothing to stem the outbound tide up to this point; if its abolition is meant to be an incentive to get Poles to return home, then if potential migrants know that they're going to keep even more of their overseas earnings it might prove spectacularly counterproductive, encouraging migration instead.
If, within the next few years, Poland starts offering returners not just no tax but tax breaks then double taxation's abolition will have failed; meaning Poland would need to bribe its nationals to return.
It all depends on just how many Poles prefer the British way of life to the Polish.
The British? Who are they again?

The US Military's Recruitment Problem

Both Steve Sailer and Randall Burns have linked to this story on how the US military is considering overcoming its hiring problem by permitting the recruitment of foreigners on a fast-track citizenship program.
Without wishing to sound facetious, one potential solution that might be worthy of consideration could be scaling down the services' size. The same principles govern the hiring of soldiers as govern the hiring of hamburger chefs - if you can't hire from the available labour pool, you're in the wrong line of business.
Whilst foreign recruitment might solve the immediate short term manning problems generated by the neos' launching of one wholly unjustified ideological war in Iraq, and the botch they have made of Afghanistan, the longer term problems generated by mass overseas recruitment would be precisely the same as in the private sector.
A massive injection of foreign recruits would hold down serving soldiers' salaries - and the prospect of being sent to Iraq on stagnating wages would make selling enlistment as a career choice an ever tougher pitch in Dubuque than it seems to be at the moment.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God's Purser





















The man whose picture appears above is one of the most well-connected people on the planet; yet although few outside his homeland might know what he looks like, his career path has resulted in him probably wielding more influence over the lives of more people than many elected heads of state.
His name is Peter Sutherland, and he's an Irish national.
Born in 1946, Sutherland served as the Republic of Ireland's Attorney-General in the early '80's before being appointed European Commissioner for Competition.
After a brief spell as Chairman of Allied Irish Banks between 1989 and 1993 it was onwards and upwards for Suds, seeing him become the last director of GATT and the first of the World Trade Organisation.
He currently chairs both BP and Goldman Sachs International and also sits on the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Sutherland is Mr. Globalisation, the cosmopolitan elitist incarnate, adept at moving from place to place and job to job with consummate ease, his name and face largely unknown to the world public but his work still leaving a huge footprint on their lives.
He is reported to be an avid member of the Bilderberg Group and is European Chair of the Trilateral Commission.
Globalisation is a policy, not a process, which depends both on mass migration in one direction and the sending of remittances in the other for its success. In January 2006 Kofi Annan appointed Sutherland to be his Special Representative for Migration; and upon his appointment he was quoted as saying that,
"Migration can be an enormous force for good: one of the great drivers of economic growth, individual liberty and personal prosperity. As such, I am delighted to undertake this assignment for Kofi Annan. The goal is to maximise the benefits of migration and minimise potentially negative impacts."
In a November 2006 interview with the Inter Press Service News Agency which was specifically marked 'NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN AUSTRALIA, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, IRELAND, POLAND, THE UNITED STATES, OR THE UNITED KINGDOM', Sutherland was quoted as saying that ''remittances are private funds whose use should be determined solely by those who have earned them.''
That such funds are earned at others' expense through the reduction of native wages at all times and under all circumstances seems to have escaped him.
On November 22 2006 Sutherland delivered an almost comically pro-European integrationist lecture at the London School of Economics (.pdf) (he assumes its council's chair in January 2008), reading which makes one wonder just how deeply the concept of civic Irishness has taken root in his head; coming from a country's whose entire raison d'etre was the rejection of the British Empire, it seems absurd to advocate submission to the Belgian.
However, that's not the best of Suds' wee jobs.
On December 5 2006 he was appointed 'Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See' - and sure, for the gurriers back home in Ireland there was an interview on RTE.
Pope Benedict XVI should rest assured that if Sutherland does not know the answer to any financial question he will know someone who does.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

So What Is The Government Doing To Curb Immigration...

Let's All Start A War With Russia!

Liam Fox, the East Kilbride-born GP who serves as Shadow Defence Secretary, has been quoted as saying that,
"While the West has been focused on the Middle East, we have seen the resurgence of Russian nationalism and a willingness to use natural resources as a political weapon...
"Given the nature of Russia's political leadership, this is hardly surprising. Following events in Ukraine, and now Georgia, it is high time for a wake-up call to western politicians. We have been warned."
In Fox's hometown, when the Calderwood Boys rumble with the St. Leonards' Team everyone keeps the last bullet for themself, so resurgent Russian nationalism should hold no fears for a native son of Scotland's gyproc jungle, a study in municipal greyness and uniformity that only a Stalinist could love; but apart from his comments alerting us to the presence of a Lanarkshire blowhard within the Conservative Party's senior ranks, precisely what his remarks are supposed to be 'warning' us of is anyone's guess.
What are we going to do to the Russians? Stop buying the gas?
I don't think so.
What are they going to do to us? Nuke us?
They don't have to.
Perhaps a good New Year resolution for all parties would be to restore a measure of calm to Anglo-Russian relations; meaning that Brenton should be sacked immediately and Fox should perhaps think of returning to his medical vocation.
After all, Russia is not a boil to be lanced; and Fox seems unable to tell the difference between them.

The Legal Subsidy

According to 'The Daily Telegraph',
"Hundreds of high street solicitors face closure as a result of Government plans to reform legal aid and break their monopoly on providing legal services, the Conservatives warned yesterday.

Oliver Heald, Tory constitutional affairs spokesman, said many local solicitors were likely to go the way of Post Offices, bank branches and shops, by shutting down in market towns and suburbs.

Changes to the legal aid system could lead to about 800 high street firms going to the wall in England, according to the Law Society."
We live in a market economy in which no business should be subsidised; and given that Legal Aid's a subsidy which has bloated the legal profession for nearly sixty years it would be better for the profession and for society if it were to be abolished altogether.
Of greater concern is the possibility that,
"The Government's Legal Services Bill, which has just come before Parliament, would increase the problems faced by high street solicitors by permitting non-lawyer ownership of firms...."
If the legal profession's independence from the state is critical to the rule of law's operation then so too is its independence from manipulation by commercial interests which only observe the law when doing so is the most profitable course of action.
A lawyer's duties to their clients are not the same as a director's dutes to their shareholders; at all times and under all circumstances they are higher and more onerous than having to maximise profit and file returns.
For a government headed by a barrister to even suggest that they might be equivalent, or open the door to the possibility of a lawyer being placed in a conflict of interest between duty to client and duty to shareholders, is absurd.

Off The Buses

UK North and GM Buses Ltd are off Manchester's streets because its directors could not tell the local Traffic Commissioner how many of the 100 Poles on its driving staff of 130 can speak English.
These sort of numbers give the lie to any talk of 'skills gaps'. The directors of UK North and GM Buses want to have the benefit of British prices without the hassle of paying British wages.
They should never be allowed back on the road, if only because they shouldn't be on the road if they can't operate profitably with a full complement of British staff.

A Grim Milestone

This morning, the US death toll in Iraq exceeded the number of fatalities on 9/11.
Congratulations, Mr. President.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Present From The Chief Executive Of The Libertarian Party Of The USA

Shane Cory, the former editor of 'The Washington Dispatch' who once retitled an article called 'A Christmas Carol for Neocons' as 'A Holiday Carol for Neocons', now serves as CEO of the Libertarian Party of the USA (motto, 'The Party of Principle').
Shane has recently published a thundering reply to the savaging Bruce Bartlett doled out to the party in 'Human Events' entitled 'Why The Libertarian Party Is Worthless'.
I woke up this foggy Christmas morn to discover that all my principal TWD articles are once again offline.
Just as well that I made copies the first time round.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Merry Christmas

to all readers.

Back late on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

No Blogging Today...

That distant scream you can hear is coming from a Scottish blogger with an Irish fiancee... wielding a shillelagh... two days before Christmas...

Friday, December 22, 2006

The International Health Service

Chalk up another triumph for Baroness Thatcher.
The Daily Mail reports that,
"In 1981, the then Conservative government abolished a language test for doctors from elsewhere in Europe and doctors have not had to prove an ability in English since then. "
This is a matter in which extreme libertarianism, namely government of oneself by oneself and for oneself, is wholly appropriate.
Anyone proposing to tamper with my insides or prescribe me controlled drugs had better be able to speak English to my satisfaction.

Crocodile Tears

The Hyphenated Canadian links to the sad story of a builder who says he has no choice but to displace British workers if he wants to stay in business.
The heart bleeds.
One wonders if he's maybe thought of taking a pay cut.

The British Citizen Is Getting Stuffed

According to the BBC,
"The British economy's performance has been "impressive" and it should continue to grow, the International Monetary Fund has told the Treasury.

The report, which looks at the health of the UK economy, predicts "continued strong growth" and inflation on target.

However, it warns that government borrowing could be too high, and wages need to be kept in check to counter the need for interest rate rises. "
Given that the IMF is one of the 'stewards of globalisation', a protector it would need if it were a process and not a policy, its call for wages to be kept in check might have as much to do with the advancement of the global labour arbitrage as with any genuine interest it might possess in the UK's economic health; yet there is some evidence that the economy is not totally off track.
Although it's not clear whether it's inward or outward, investment seems to be increasing.
According to 'The Independent',
"Analysts said the squeeze on households' finances was further evidence consumers would tighten their belts next year following signs of a bumper Christmas spending spree.

House disposable income grew just 0.2 per cent between the second and third quarters of the year to leave annual growth at 1.3 per cent, the slowest since the winter of 2004.

The amount of their total available resources households put aside for a rainy day also fell, implying consumers had dipped into savings to fund shopping.

"Households had to resort to running down their savings even to fund modest expenditure growth in the third quarter, which serves to highlight concerns over the sustainability of consumer demand," said Ross Walker, UK economist at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Rises in utility bills and petrol costs have eaten into households' spare income. Yesterday the AA Motoring Trust said the impact of fuel price rises had cost drivers £50 over the year.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at Global Insight, said: "There are significant headwinds facing the consumer - higher interest rates, an increasing tax burden, rising debt levels and serious pensions concerns."

Research by Asda, the supermarket group, showed that, after paying housing costs, rates, transport and food, the average family had just £150 a month to spend.

"That's an incredibly tight budget," said John Longworth, an executive director at the company. "So if you can buy something £50 cheaper that makes a huge difference."
It would seem that Gordon Brown's aggressive globalisation is not making us any better off.
And if productivity in 2006 is up 2.3% from the same quarter of 2005 yet net wages have only risen 1.3%, we're getting stuffed.
Somebody's getting rich - but it's not the average British family.

A Country Where Journalists Are Murdered For Trying To Find The Truth

That would be...the United Kingdom.
Oddly, one can't recall the same level of outrage being expressed at Martin O' Hagan's murder as welled up when Anna Politkovskaya got popped.
One awaits Charles Krauthammer's analysis of how O' Hagan's murder signals the decline of the British state into tyranny and anarchy with interest.

The Incredible Power Of Britain's Banks

What is really astonishing about the undignified spat between HSBC and Threadneedle Investments is that it reveals that even although its return on capital to shareholders has increased by 154% since 2003, HSBC has been the second worst performing British bank over the same period.
For an entire sector to show such phenomenal growth over such a short period is startling.
One wonders if having been allowed to behave like governments, they're starting to think like them.

Columnists In Cuckooland

Polly Toynbee wonders at the lack of public outrage over Iraq when '(the) streets of Iraq run with blood. The Lancet suggests well over 600,000 dead; twice the number of all British civilian and military fatalities in the second world war. "
The absence of rationing, mass conscription or the Luftwaffe bombing us every night might have something to do with it.
Yes, Polly, The Blitz, Coventry and Clydebank - those were the days...
Meanwhile, in 'The Times' Gerard Baker writes,
"All year in Iraq, Sunni and Shia Muslims have been busy replaying the message that Christians have so effectively articulated through the ages — that intrareligious intolerance can be more bloody and murderous even than that between the followers of the great Abrahamic faiths. "
Baker is a screaming neo, blind to history and a stranger to regret; but he overlooks a couple of tiny, unimportant wee points that might have some bearing on his analysis.
The first is that Europe's intra-Christian religious wars ended in 1648.
Christians have been out of the business of killing each other in Christ's name for many a moon.
The second is that those Christians who did kill each other in Christ's name before 1648 did not possess a sexual motive for doing so - their bishops promised them eternal contemplation of God's essence, not 72 non-menstruating virgins in a lush oasis.
Now if the 72 virgins had been the carrot on the stick, subsequent generations of Catholics might not have had so many hang-ups about sex; but The Lord works in mysterious ways, and we are not to know his purposes...
And the third is that a peace was possible between the intra-Christian factions - no such peace between Sonny and Cher, sorry, Sunni and Shia is possible in Iraq.
That, I'm afraid, is a fight to the death.

Jeb Bush's Contempt For America

If Jeb Bush wished to announce that he doesn't plan to run for the presidency, he could at least have done it in English.

Osama And Simone

Following upon the allegation in yesterday's 'Guardian' that Simone Clarke, the English National Ballet's prima ballerina, is a member of the British National Party, the rest of the press have had their predictable field day - without applying much thought as to what possible reasons Miss Clarke might have for joining that outfit.

'The Times' breathlessly reports that,

"The Sugar Plum Fairy in English National Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker had to confront angry colleagues before yesterday’s matinee performance after she was revealed to be a member of the British National Party.

Simone Clarke, 36, was named by a newspaper that had infiltrated the party and obtained a membership list...

Clarke said she believed that immigration had “really got out of hand”. She added: “If everyone who thinks like I do joined, it would really make a difference.”

Her opposition to immigration is a sensitive issue at the ballet company because nine of her ten fellow principal dancers — including the father of her child — are immigrants.

Yat-Sen Chang, who has been Clarke’s partner for five years, was born in Cuba and has a Chinese father.


Only one other principal, Sarah McIlroy, is British. The rest are Cuban, Estonian, Georgian, Russian, Czech or Japanese.

The dancers were instructed not to comment yesterday, but Clarke said in a recent interview that she does not mix with the other performers outside working hours. “I don’t socialise with people in the company,” she said. “It’s all too much.”

Although the fact that her long-standing partner is not 100% white and a foreigner might indicate that Miss Clarke is very unlikely to be starry-eyed where any issue concerning race, culture or nationality is concerned, it would also seem to give the lie to the ideas that she is either a racial nationalist or a xenophobe; and if not wishing to mix with ones' colleagues outside of the workplace is an irredeemable solecism then one must stand shoulder to shoulder with her in ostracism.

Regardless of how your shift's end is signalled, whether it be by the final encore or the blowing of a steam whistle on a factory wall, after that point you're on your own time, meaning that you're free to think what you like and associate with whomsoever you like - ancient British liberties whose existence 'The Times' seems to have temporarily forgotten.
However, 'The Times' does provide some clues as to why Miss Clarke might feel some inclination towards immigration restriction.
For a start, she spends her working life around foreigners who don't seem to grasp the idea that British people don't have to justify their beliefs to anyone but themselves.
The idea that their behaviour and attitudes might have informed Miss Clarke's opinions in some way will no doubt not occur to them.
If she has been reported accurately, Simone Clarke is concerned that immigration 'has got out of hand'. That's a statement of fact; facts can never be contentious.
And even in the unlikely event of Miss Clarke being a raving Nazi, what would be the difference between her private beliefs and the public ones espoused by Muslim bigot, unethcial journalist and apologist for kidnapping Osama Saeed?
Yesterday, Saeed wrote the following words on his blog -
"Salma Yaqoob has written in today's Guardian that the MCB should attend the Holocaust Memorial events on January 27th. She's not out to lynch the MCB and clearly isn't an Uncle Tom. As such the words need to be taken seriously."
That Saeed doesn't know the difference between an Uncle Tom and an Aunt Jemima is to be expected; his writings indicate that he is either an excellent actor or an ignorant fool.
Yet the very fact that he should feel himself free to label those of his own race or faith who do not subscribe to his views as 'Uncle Toms' shows that he possesses precisely the same uncivic, race/faith based group mentality as the BNP.
Saeed is a former parliamentary candidate for the Scottish National Party, whose leader has no qualms about being seen with him in public.
Why isn't the Guardian knocking at his door?
Are they scared of being labelled Scotophobes?
Do they find some nationalisms more palatable than others?
Or is a white ballerina considered to fair game but a South Asian Muslim politician, someone who aspires to gain, wield and hold power, somehow isn't?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bah! Humbug!

I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone whose journey has been disrupted by fog at any British airport - none whatsoever.

Being unable to do what you want when you want and go where you want when you feel like it is not an 'ordeal'; in this instance it's a consequence of being on a North Atlantic island in the middle of December.

It's cold. It gets foggy sometimes.
Any caught up in the 'chaos' who consider their Christmas to be in 'tatters' are little better than children.
And any who vent 'anger and frustration' at another human because of an act of God should get 50,000 volts from a taser.
Right in the chest.
They can then reflect on their petulance as they lie writhing and spastic.

How The Media Works, Part The Millionth

Guest blogging for Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Finkelstein, 'The Times' comment editor, recommends that Sullivan's readers should,
"Read Spiked.

One of the joys of the British web scene is Spiked Online. This web magazine provides a daily assault on fashionable theories and media obsessions."
Oddly, Finkelstein doesn't mention that Mick Hume, Spiked's editor, is a 'Times' columnist.
Sullivan might not like having a Marxist journal touted on his blog.
You can let him know about it here.

The Hugely Resistible Rise Of The BNP

The BNP would not be on the march had the Conservative Party and the Labour Party not abandoned their core supporters.
And it is very telling that the report by Ian Cobain linked to above should say,
"In an attempt to achieve the degree of political legitimacy which it believes it needs to win more votes, the extreme rightwing party is attempting to establish itself in affluent areas of the capital such as Belgravia, Chelsea and Knightsbridge.

The BNP already has significant numbers of members living in those areas. They include Peter Bradbury, a leading proponent of complementary medicine who has links to Prince Charles, Richard Highton, a healthcare regulator, and Simone Clarke, principal dancer with the English National Ballet.

There are also dozens of company directors, computing entrepreneurs, bankers and estate agents among the 200 members and lapsed members living in central London. One member is a servant of the Queen residing at Buckingham Palace, while a number are former Conservative party activists."
For non-UK readers, the areas listed above are the most affluent in the country - where those who really gain from immigration in the form of cheaper household services are most likely to live.
Those who believe most firmly in a policy are usually those most likely to receive real benefit from it, whether financial or otherwise; so one would expect the majority of opinion in those areas to be in favour of mass immigration.
But perhaps the BNP senses a shift in the wind; perhaps a sense that some now feel London has become too crowded, or that it's changing into a foreign city before their eyes and they don't like what they see.

The Limits Of Religious Multiculturalism

Writing in today's 'Guardian', Timothy Garton Ash avers that,
"...in free countries every faith must be allowed - and every faith must be allowed to be questioned, fundamentally, outspokenly, even intemperately and offensively, without fear of reprisal. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist, must be free to say that God is a delusion and Alistair McGrath, the Oxford theologian, must be free to retort that Dawkins is deluded; a conservative journalist must be free to write that the Prophet Muhammad was a paedophile and a Muslim scholar must be free to brand that journalist an ignorant Islamophobe. That's the deal in a free country: freedom of religion and freedom of expression as two sides of the same coin. We must live and let live - a demand that is not as minimal as it sounds, when one thinks of the death threats against Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists. The fence that secures this space is the law of the land."
Hopefully, Garton Ash would also agree that the desire to live and let live must have limits.

Submarine Syndrome

On Tuesday the BBC reported that,
"Ministers have been warned by MPs that the skills base for building a new generation of nuclear submarines in the UK is at a "critical level".

The Commons defence select committee said the shortage of engineers was a "cause of serious concern"....
Committee members said the UK must work to keep its "world-class" skilled workforce.
They added that any future decisions must be based on the "strategic defence needs of the country, not on industrial and employment factors".

Replacing the current Vanguard submarine would be a "huge undertaking" and require a "uniquely skilled and specialist workforce".

Committee chairman Conservative James Arbuthnot said: "If we are to build a new generation of Trident submarines here in the UK, as the government's white paper suggests, we will have to work to sustain our manufacturing and skills base.

"The skilled workforce we have at Barrow, Devonport, Derby and Aldermaston are truly world class.

"If we lose them, we will lose our capability to design and build nuclear submarines."

A number of Labour MPs oppose the government's plan, but the Tories say it would be "crazy" not to have UK nuclear weapons. The Lib Dems want a decision put back to 2014....
Critics believe the estimated £10-25bn cost would be better spent elsewhere and that Trident belongs in the Cold War era, not a time of threats to the UK such as international terrorism.

The Ministry of Defence said the committee's report would "provide a useful contribution to the forthcoming debate and vote in the House of Commons".

Defence procurement minister Lord Drayson told a meeting of the committee that it was "important that we ensure we have confidence" in the supply of submarines.

It was necessary to encourage scientists to have careers in the defence industry "so that we get greater expertise in the technology", he added. "
That there is no skills shortage in British engineering is a fact I have recorded not once but twice; what does exist is a vacancy list and a group of engineering employers unwilling to spend the time on others which was spent on them when they were newly qualified enginners - but no actual skills shortage as such.
The Barrow facility is operated by the greatly relieved BAE Systems, while Devonport is operated by KBR - 81% owned by Halliburton.
If this project is to go ahead then it should be completed by British engineers; BAE Systems and KBR will make money from it one way or the other, but there is no need for their costs to be padded by screaming their need for imported labour and the subsequent imported labour's only interest being a wage; not the defence of their country.
This project is necessary, if only because the world's great predators are taking to the waters; and once the knowledge is lost it's gone for good.

The Thoughts Of T. J. Bonner

Yahoo! News quotes T. J. Bonner, the US Border Patrol's union rep, thus -
"T.J. Bonner, head of the National Border Patrol Council, the union which represents most of the country's 12,000 border patrol agents, says neither a high technology virtual fence nor border walls will stop Mexicans as long as American employers give them jobs. "
'Give'; an interesting choice of verb, standing in stark contrast to 'can't or 'won't'.
One wonders what Bonner would think the government teaching migrants how to find work.

Daniel James And The Official Secrets Act

Coproral Daniel James, a fluent Pashtun speaker of Iranian extraction, is being prosecuted under Section 1(1) of the Official Secrets Act 1911.
According to 'The Times', the section states that,
"...if any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State obtains or communicates to any other person any sketch, plan, model, article or note, or other document or information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy”, he shall be guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for not less than three years and not exceeding seven years."
The Telegraph's report linked to above is slightly disingenuous in that it states that,
"Cpl Daniel James, 44, is charged under the 1911 Official Secrets Act with "prejudicing the safety of the state" by passing information "calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy".

It was said he had communicated with a "foreign power" in the incident on Nov 2, believed to be Iran."
In such circumstances there is a world of difference between 'an enemy' and 'the enemy'.
The Times and the 'Independent' also confirm that Iran is believed to be the nation to which James is alleged to have passed information; The Daily Mail, the BBC and Sky News omit those details.
It could be coincidental - but it might be a coincidence beyond the bounds of belief that James should appear in court on the very day that Tony Blair said,
"We must recognise the strategic threat the government of Iran poses - not the people, possibly not all of its ruling elements, but those presently in charge of its policy.

"They seek to pin us back in Lebanon, in Iraq and in Palestine. Our response should be to expose what they are doing, build the alliances to prevent it and pin them back across the whole of the region."
'Pin them back' is an uncharacteristically strong turn of phrase from Blair; even Anatole Kaletsky, a screaming neo, describes it as 'overtly bellicose'.
The incident involving James is alleged to have occurred on November 2. There seems to be no question if it being 'between July 1 and November 15' etc. It may be the case that having caught him at it once, the sppoks were waiting to see if he'd do it again; it could be the case that they might have, ahem, other sources who might have grassed him up after the deed was done.
One would certainly hope they do.
But the synchronicity of the two announcements appearing on the same day is startling.

Putin's New Assassins

Forget the oligarchs, the siloviki, the disaffected FSB elements, the KGB veterans, the Chechen gangsters and the Polonium-210.
These are the guys we should be really scared of.

Lembit Opik's Career Trajectory

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bearing The Risk Of Takeovers

This morning's 'Times' reports that,
"Foreign buyers snapped up more British companies in 2006 than in any previous year as volumes of European mergers soared to a record high boosted by strong markets and an ample supply of cheap debt, data released today show.

From BAA and ScottishPower to BOC Group and the London Stock Exchange, foreign companies have raided the UK this year, pulling off $339 billion (£170 billion) of deals.
In the past few weeks, CSN, of Brazil, and India’s Tata have made bids for UK steel company Corus, while Japan Tobacco has agreed an $18.8 billion deal to swallow Gallaher, the maker of Silk Cut and B&H.

“If you look at the consolidators in 2006 there have been bigger or more aggressive companies abroad prepared to take out UK companies and the UK is a much more level playing field than elsewhere,” said Kevin Smith, head of UK M&A, at Merrill Lynch...
Private equity has continued to be one of this year’s biggest M&A drivers; even though the cash-rich financiers have been a lot more successful in the US than in Europe.

Of the top ten deals in the US this year, half were driven by private equity firms but in Europe, while buyout volumes rose, just one of the region’s top ten deals, the acquisition of BAA, involved infrastructure funds. Bankers say that proportion is set to shift next year, with private equity firms sitting on $300 billion of cash to spend."
No British bank should be permitted to finance the takeover of a British company by any foreign entity; for not only does the asset pass out of British hands, but British savers and borrowers assume the ultimate risk for the bank's gamble that it will get its, or their, money back.
It's not only asking us to play against a stacked deck but to play against a sharp with an ace up his sleeve.

The Glasgow Employment Dichotomy

Two days ago, 'The Times' reported comments made by John Hutton, the Works and Pensions Secretary, thus -
"Mr Hutton says that there are 600,000 vacancies across Britain, yet areas where employment rates are low tend to have more vacancies. Many claimants lack skills — but there is no shortage of low-skilled vacancies: in Glasgow the number per person is more than double the national average.
This morning, the BBC reports that,
"More people are working and wages are rising, according to the Bank of Scotland's latest economic report.

The rise in Scottish employment figures during November was mainly led by the Glasgow labour market, economists said.

The report said that while the rate of growth was the fastest since July, Scotland was now below the UK average after "outperforming" for most of 2006.

The bank also said Scotland's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% of the working population.

The BoS labour market report claimed that permanent staff salaries rose, with about 28% of consultancies signalling an increase for the month of November...
Temporary and contract staff pay also rose, which may have been due to a recent increase to the national minimum wage.

Aberdeen registered the largest skill shortages and also the highest increases in wages.

BoS group economist Tim Crawford said: "Engineering and construction has been the best performing segment of the market in Scotland.

"Wages and salaries also continue to rise in Scotland with firms prepared to pay a premium to attract qualified staff in a tight labour market."
At first glance these two reports are irreconcilable.
Given that October saw a fall in unemployment and a rise in the level of non-bonus related pay across the UK, it could be the case that the rise in employment in Glasgow during November is indicative of a generally upward trend; in which case it's good news.
However it raises as many questions as it answers.
It mentions that pay has risen as a result of an increase in the minimum wage. It would be interesting to know what proportion of the overall increase could be attributed to both the type and nature of jobs created at the minimum-wage level.
If limited experience of hiring long-term unemployed is anything to go by, the imminent prospect of Christmas means that October is a time of year when some suddenly become employed.
Year in, year out.
Some businesses, such as retailers and whisky exporters, have higher staffing demands at this time of year for that very reason. Not having analysed previous years' figures, it might be the case that what is being recorded here are perfectly forseeable seasonal employment trends.
Similarly, the end of the year is a time when candidates register with empolyment agencies. Being registered with an employment agency is one thing - being placed by them quite another.
It could be the case that candidates are touching base with the agencies with a view to jobhunting in the New Year - a phenomenon not at all unusual in the dark and murky inhabited by recruitment consultants.
Rises in permanent staff salaries could indicate a tightening - on the other hand it would be an interesting to see a sector by sector breakdown. Do the figures include the padded public sector, for example?
The figures for January, which the Office of National Statistics will presumably publish in March, might give a better idea as to whether the employment market really is as tight as is being suggested.

The Death Of Sharon Beshinivsky

WPC Sharon Beshinivsky, God rest her soul, was clearly both a very brave and very conscientious officer; however she was permitted to join West Yorkshire Police at the age of 38, having borne three children.
Our streets are now war zones. Just as married mothers should not be permitted to serve in the front line of battle, married mothers, no matter how dutiful or civic, should not be permitted to police the streets. They have higher, more important duties to perform.
None of this is criticism of WPC Beshinivsky; she was a damn sight braver than I could ever be. Her family have my condolences, and I hope her killers' convictions bring them a measure of peace.
But what sort of culture pits its mothers, no matter how well-equipped and trained, against scum like Yusuf Jamma?

A Mass Execution In Iraq

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But this time round, it's in Technicolour.
Is it just me, or is it getting drafty in here?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Will Be Blogging Later Today...

Stuff to do...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Our New Neighbours

Pig killing in the street and underage arranged marriages.

Welcome to Romania.

Thirteen days to go...hang on for the ride of your life...

Bari Go Home

Muhammed Abdul Bari, the Bangladeshi head of the Muslim Council of Britain, is reported to have asked a group of MP's,
"What is the degree of xenophobia that tipped Germany in the 1930s towards a murderous ethnic and cultural racism?"
Given that Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, sometime Mufti of Jerusalem and Yasser Arafat's first boss, was an avid anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator, Bari's probably asking the wrong people.
One has encountered people like Bari all one's life. Whether they are aggressively anti-British Bangladeshi Muslims like him or the aggressively anti-British Lanarkshire loons who wave Irish flags at Celtic Park, they all demean this country by talking it down and expressing preferences for other cultures and ways of life.
Fine; but if this culture's so bad, then get out.

The United Kingdom Of Uganda

It seems that there was no British person capable of doing the job given to John Guma-Komwiswa.
This is actually a sacking matter, preferably at ministerial level.
Guma is alleged to have been advancing the interests of Uganda's government on British taxpayers' time. Someone hired him - was he a diversity hire?
Were his qualifications checked and proper references taken?
Has the Ugandan High Commissioner been called in for talks? If not, why not?
The word 'espionage' is one that evokes images of rainy nights on Checkpoint Charlie, or coded messages sent by shortwave radio - yet if Guma is guilty of determining applications for asylum in the United Kingdom according to the wishes of the government of Uganda then to all intents and purposes his activities amounted to espionage.
Just as the Iraqi insurgents have shown that 'Fourth Generation Warfare' is the only way they can successfully fight the United States, perhaps Guma's activities might have been 'Fourth Generation Espionage'; because just as the insurgents know they'll never get tanks or Black Hawks, the Ugandans know they'd never get anyone near a nuclear reactor site - so they concentrated their efforts in a softer area where they might be able to advance their interests just as successfully.
And why are foreigners determining whether other foreigners have any right of asylum in the UK?

The Labour Party's Hatred Of The People

Yesterday's 'Observer' and today's 'Daily Telegraph' and 'Times' report that Labour is planning a 'crackdown' on longterm welfare dependents.
The irony of such talk is that the welfare state was their creation - without the Labour Party such classes of long term welfare dependent would never have existed.
Every British government since 1945 has been socialist. Most have extended the welfare state for their own political purposes, and none have abolished British state socialism's most potent icon; the National Health Service.
For any government to then announce it is intending to 'crack down' on those individuals whose lives have been blighted by previous welfare policies shows that it hates such individuals bitterly.
They are walking, talking broken political dreams; as such they have to be stamped out.
The Times notes that,
"Many claimants lack skills — but there is no shortage of low-skilled vacancies: in Glasgow the number per person is more than double the national average."
But no politician dares say why that is the case; for they know that when they do, they will be branded as culturicides.

Economic Stuff

Over the past few days there has been a mass of economic data and comment all of which merits close analysis; yet for better or worse one has been unable to either find or make the time to give it the attention it deserves.

So as much as one hates vomiting out hyperlinks for no purpose higher than keeping the 'Favourites' list manageable, it needs to go in one big chunk.

The first question of interest is, precisely where is the British economy going?

Although Anatole Kaletsky recites the usual litany of Gordon Brown's failings, the most recent reports from the Office of National Statistics indicate that non-bonus earnings have risen slightly over the year to October 2006 and that unemployment has fallen.

These developments are both strongly against trend, giving the doomsayers pause for thought; yet by the same token Consumer Price Inflation is at a record high (.pdf) and the figures for both outward and inward investment are to say the least ambiguous (.pdf).

In 2005, outward investment fell by £3.7 billion to £46 billion from 2004; yet the return increased on outward investment increased by £15.4 billion to £77.9 billion over the same period.

There could be any number of reasons for this - an oil field coming on line after years of drilling holes in the ground, for example - but one would be interested to know precisely how those numbers reconcile.

But the inward investment numbers are scary.

In 2005 foreign corporations 'invested' £106.5 billion in the UK, an increase of £76 billion on the previous year. That is one heck of a year-on-year increase; and given one's natural suspicion that 'inward investment' is a euphemism for 'the foreigners know we're going broke', it isn't the most encouraging economic indicator I've ever seen.

One anticipates the figures for 2006 with a measure of trepidation. The Chancellor and the globalists don't seem able to grasp that foreigners' purchase of UK assets is not necessarily a sign of strength.

Yet retail sales are also growing, however modestly.

And the same air of uncertainty seems to hover over the American economy - the one that really matters. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's prognosis borders on the hysterical; Macroblog is much calmer; while James Hamilton has noted that November was a poor month for automobile sales but that employment seems to be solid, and his colleague Menzie Chinn notes that the compensation picture might actually be worse than reported and that although the trade deficit looks to be getting better there are acute problems in its measurement.

However, consumer prices seem to be steady while a slowdown in US growth has been read in the runes; and Dean Baker isn't too sure about inflation being out of the system.

And just why did Ben Bernanke change his speech? If he's serious about tackling global imbalances, he should just have said that one of their principal causes is the undervalued renminbi.
On the theory side, for all that Dean Baker is a very level-headed analyst, a numbers guy, one cannot fathom his obsession with opening high earning jobs to foreign competition, which is just grist to the mill for mystics like Russell Roberts. Perhaps one is old-fashioned, but going to see a lawyer should be expensive; the best possible argument for abolishing the Legal Aid subsidy.
Economist's View links to a fascinating article by Paul Krugman entitled 'The Great Wealth Transfer' in 'Rolling Stone'. Krugman the Princeton economics professor manages to cage the raging beast which is Krugman the leftist demagogue for a full three pages before briefly letting him out of his lair - yet his lapse into type doesn't negate the validity of his argument by any manner of means; indeed, headlines such as 'Murdoch tightens the family grip on NewsCorp' tend to back him up.
And lastly, on the executive compensation front Martin Waller and James Harding have debated the merits of seven digit bonuses (one doesn't really find Harding's comment that 'Goldmans’ partners save more and spend less as a proportion of their earnings than the average British worker' very persuasive - on a million pounds a year they bloody well should), while Economist's View carries an extremely interesting analysis of why CEO pay is so high.
And that, for the time being, is that...