Archive for September, 2011
Finally — a quarter century too late – the facade is being stripped away from financial advisers and the appalling fee-creaming funds they continue sell. When the FT homes in with a headline ‘Outrage over pension fees’ — they should realise the game is up. Secret fees have amounted to almost 40 per cent of some pensions. A policy I took out in 1994 with Friends Provident has lost ten per cent in nearly 20 years — despite the funds chosen having been picked by four different ‘financial advisers’. Another with Hansard is losing value despite my putting it into cash three years ago. The fees far outstrip the fixed term interest.
Even with the mis-sellng scandal of the 1980s, the boom and bust of the 1990s and the recent financial turmoil, this dreadful system has blithelybeen allowed to carry on with its advertising as brash as Vegas casino – without any attempt by the regulating authorities to produce check, balances and transparency. Little wonder the British as so bad at saving.
The most senior US military officer has accused Pakistan’s spy agency of supporting the Haqqani group in last week’s attack on the US Kabul embassy. “The Haqqani network… acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency,” Adm Mike Mullen told a Senate panel. Some 25 people died in last Tuesday’s 20-hour attack on Kabul’s US embassy and other official buildings.
PLA authors describe preemption as necessary and logical when confronting a more powerful enemy. Chinese doctrinal materials stress that static defenses are insufficient to defend territory based on the speed and destructive power of modern forces. As a result, PLA operational concepts seek to prevent enemy forces from massing and to keep the enemy off balance by seizing the initiative with offensive strikes. According to PLA theorists, an effective defense includes destroying enemy capabilities on enemy territory before they can be employed.
From the FT, on alleged rogue trader Kweku Adoboli and how a big bank protects our pension funds:-
“About two and a half years ago they got rid of a lot of senior people and promoted young people with not vefry much experience from the analyst support roles in order to save money,” recalled a former employee.
Why is it possible to board a plane with a piece of paper from our home printers, yet to board a train today, I needed, seven (I am not joking) SEVEN different tickets? Is this because some half-dead remnant, clinging onto a pension, sits in a gate-keeper’s box inventing blocks to efficient trade and travel.
I just found this Ciao review on Third World War:-
Hawksley’s books, at least the ones that I own, are not your average works of fiction. I am a big fan of Tom Clancy, but this kind of writing is in a class/category of its own. Although you have your standard cast of characters, the way he’s constructed it, doesn’t quite make you feel like you are reading a fictional story. It’s more like a string of news items, which almost give a real-world feel to the things that are going on in the book. Very unique style of writing indeed! But I should tell you that it’s still up there with the rest of the superb works of fiction!!
And if we thought Asia was OK…..Fitch Ratings has warned that it might downgrade the credit rating of China within two years and there was a greater than even chance of a downgrade of Japan’s credit status. So in the past couple of months, big warning signs over the world’s three biggest economies — America, China and Japan.
Eric Komfel alerted me to a DFID funded study Working with the Grain? Rethinking African Governance, and published earlier this year. Eric cites an excerpt:-
Excerpts: “Should the governance of poor developing countries mimic what works in advanced capitalist democracies? Of course not. Yet for 20 years ‘good governance’ has meant exactly that. … Democracy … depends on social and economic conditions that are not yet enjoyed in most developing countries. … Many young democracies are not particularly developmental … In many settings, clientelism (vote-buying in its various forms) is cheaper and more reliable … What poor developing countries really need are leaders who … are able to show that they can ‘get things done’. … It is important, therefore, that external actors such as donors are capable of: recognising developmental leadership when they see it, by becoming more attuned to the variety of types of regimes and how they work”.
Europe’s financial crisis has underlined a tricky truth. Power among the 17 sovereign Euro states may have to be more centralised if monetary union is to work. The United States discovered this in the 18th Century, when the loose confederation between 13 states failed to work without a strong central authority.
It may not be high idealism but grubby reality that leads to the creation of the United States of Europe.