Latest Posts

I’m backing Bolland – Do I need a lie down?

I’m backing Bolland.. (Do I need a lie down?) Quite clearly this was a retailer in the dark ages, following as Bolland put it “20 years of underinvestment”..  It had 110 warehouse centres just for General Merchandise. Bolland has closed down some but still has 50 warehouses. Just for comparison Amazon has 8 “fulfilment centres” [...]

Can the City be Socially Useful?

Last night I took part in a debate in the City of London Festival looking at whether the City could be Socially Useful.  The majority of the audience were relatively pro the City, albeit with misgivings.  This was a welcome change from my experience at the Manchester Arts Festival last year where the audience was exceedingly left wing and loathed anything Bank [...]

Livin’ La Vida Loca…

Are European financial markets Livin’ La Vida Loca? Latin popstar Ricky Martin sang about living the crazy life in his breakthrough hit.  And it seems European financial markets are experiencing the same.  The Latin stock markets of Italy and Spain have had a crazy start to the year. At their peaks, Italy’s MIB was up [...]

A rubicon moment..

When Julius Caesar took his army over the River Rubicon in Northern Italy, he changed the rules of ancient Rome forever.  This morning we have seen a Rubicon moment for British banks and building societies. The announcement that the Bank of England is to limit loan to income values for mortgages is a significant point in this country’s [...]

Draghi as Mr Muscle?

At the beginning of this crisis, the Central Bankers hosed the world with cash – otherwise known as QE. But what we discovered was that a lot of it got stuck in the banks and wasn’t recycled out into the real economy.  For some groups lending rates stayed stubbornly high and credit was still difficult [...]

Tesco – Signs of George Orwell in its trading statement

“Political language.. is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” – George Orwell. With the exception of murder, I thought this was a suitable quote to comment on the language used in Tesco’s 1Q trading statement today.  Tesco sales performance was slightly better than expected with [...]

The City is from Mars and MPs are from Venus…

I made a speech to the City recently and thought I would publish a (cleaned up) version.. “I thought I would entitle this speech, “The City is from Mars and MPs are from Venus” referring of course back to the best selling 1990s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. It was supposedly one of [...]

Times: Picking stocks still got a long way to go to beat passive investing

Are the nation’s big-brained fund managers being marginalised? An increasing proportion of our savings and pensions is going into tracker funds that mindlessly follow indices such as the FTSE 100 or the FTSE 250. Traditional active managers in the City are being shunned: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/article4106941.ece  

Times column: Barlcays big bet seemed a sure thing but Barclays wants out.

Was the purchase of Lehman Brothers by Bob Diamond, the former Barclays boss, at the end of 2008 his greatest trade ever? Bigger even than the Soros trade on sterling coming out of the ERM? It is impossible to know exactly because the data is difficult to analyse, but it certainly seems that he made [...]

My first Times column: Dedicated followers of any fashion will always get left behind in the end.

Don’t confuse style with skill, Ron Surz, an investment adviser, says. Clearly, as this is a financial column, I am not referring to fashion, although I have recently taken to wearing red lipstick for the first time at the age of 43. What he is referring to is that investment styles (like lipstick) are faddy. [...]