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It was all just a bad dream

So, that was it. The worst recession in living memory is, if you believe the latest government think tank reports, now over. The recession that Alistair Darling said would be the worst for 60 years (and he recently revised that estimate upwards to 100 years) has passed with nary a whimper in real terms. True, if you lost your job in the last year or so then you might not see it as being a particularly benign period of history, but really, as these things go, this has been ‘recession lite’, a recession for the generation that doesn’t dorecessions. Which, of course, makes me and Lance look a bit silly. Having correctly predicted that the recession would actually...

posted on: Jun 10, 2009 | author: Alex

Basic guide to Quantitative Easing

This is an article that I could have written a few months ago, when the Bank of England stated its intention to begin ‘queasing’. But it has become rather more relevant now that one of the pronouncements of the G20 summit is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will itself begin to ‘print’ additional SDRs (Special Drawing Rights, effectively the IMF’s own currency) which its contributor countries can draw down in the shape of dollars, euros, etc. Note my use of the word ‘print’ in the above paragraph. The days when first world countries used the printing press to increase the volume of money in circulation have long gone, assigned to eras such as Weimar Germany. Paper and...

posted on: Apr 4, 2009 | author: Alex

Is this the end for high interest savings accounts?...

It wasn’t so long ago that we saw UK banks advertising highest rates of up to 10% on their savings accounts – that almost rivalled the long term average rate of return offered by investing in the stock market, but with none of the associated risk. Those days seem far behind us now, with the Bank of England base rate currently at a miniscule 0.5%, the best savings rate you can hope for from a high street bank is the 4% (offered by the Halifax). To add insult to injury, the few banks offering the best interest rates are placing tough restrictions on their savings account; the Halifax, for example, insist on regular monthly deposits and absolutely no...

posted on: Mar 16, 2009 | author: Lance

Penny drops in Whitehall – some people like to ’save’ money...

There’s been a noticable change in the noises coming from our politicians over the past few days. Up until recently, they seem to have been largely preoccupied with helping ’struggling homeowners’ (i.e. baling out the simpletons who bought houses they couldn’t afford) and ‘restoring confidence’ (i.e. convincing people it’s safe to keep digging themselves into debt to by crap they don’t need, because it’ll probably all turn out ok in the end). But now there seems to be a slow, creaking realisation that all these proposed measures designed to encourage irresponsible borrowing and reckless lending might not be very helpful for the financially prudent members of society who cling to silly outdated notions like ‘living within their means’...

posted on: Jan 6, 2009 | author: Lance

Where to put your savings in today’s low interest rate economy...

I’ve been waiting to finish this article until the UK’s inflation figures were released. They show the CPI figure for November to be 4.1%, higher than predicted by the majority of economists. This figure is more than double the 2% target that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is supposed to aim for, yet the UK’s interest rates are falling rather than rising. (Incidentally, a fall in the rate of inflation doesn’t necessarily mean that prices are falling. That is one possible interpretation, but alternatively it could mean that prices are continuing to rise, just not as quickly as before. Newspaper articles rarely make this distinction, unfortunately.) Of course, the MPC would say that it is targeting...

posted on: Dec 17, 2008 | author: Alex

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