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Starbucks disses the UK

Starbucks disses the UK

It’s almost become a science-fiction staple to depict dystopian futures where corporations are running the world, as opposed to countries. Which doesn’t mean it hasn’t already happened.

Despite Starbucks seeming to own every other coffee store in London and Edinburgh, it’s still not doing very well. Which hasn’t stopped the Starbucks chairman from describing the UK economy as being in a “spiral”. As usual, like someone pointing out the Emperor is somewhat naked, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson defended what’s left of the British economy, apparently launching a tirade of four-letter words towards Schulz in private. But then (as any follower of British politics knows), he’s never been one for the calm timid retiring speech.

I’m personally getting somewhat tired by capitalists and economists bleating on about the media talking down the economy, and that if only we had some common faith we’d get past this recession into a bright sunny future. If the economy is doing so badly that the only thing stopping it falling apart is delusional talk, then the sooner we can reboot the system and start again, the better.

Just as long as I get to keep my job. Unemployment is no fun.

The stupidity of lowering interest rates

The stupidity of lowering interest rates

Admittedly, I’m not exactly a trained economist, but it doesn’t take one to spot that despite lowering interest rates four times to their lowest ever levels, banks still won’t put their own money into the system, and consumers won’t spend.

In the meantime, sensible consumers who didn’t buy huge houses they couldn’t afford during the good times and instead saved, are now being punished by interest rates so low they’re not worth bothering with. My tax-free savings account now attracts a woeful interest rate of 1%, which is a pretty useless rate – and the top-earning equivalent only gives you 3.6% interes – and even then, a previous bank kept “losing” my application for their ISA account.

It’s almost as if the government wants me to blow my savings on a wild spending spree in the economy – and then rely on the welfare state when the inevitable still happens and I lose my job. Because the banks certainly aren’t going to keep saving interest rates high, and mortgage rates low – so who else can pump money into the economy? Surely the only thing left to do is for the government to start actually spending its money on the country, providing jobs, instead of propping up an increasingly irrelevant banking system?

Almost a class warrior

Almost a class warrior

There is nothing like a bunch of screaming financial headlines to bring out the class warrior in me. Even though I own (half) my own home.

The headline in The Metro (a London freebie newspaper that accounts for a lot of the readership in London) screamed that house prices might drop by 30%. A small headline on page two talked about food riots caused by rising food prices. Another article in the anti-Ken Evening Standard (the only London newspaper you actually have to pay for) interviewed a couple who had to cut the selling price of their house by £100k to £400k. Even though the house only cost them £250k to begin with.

If the recent election results and screaming headlines are anything to go by, people are far more concerned about falling house prices denting the value of their investment portfolio – ie the money they could be making by doing nothing – and the inability to borrow more money than, say, rising food and fuel prices and job instability. Which says volumes about the insanely warped priorities in Britain today.

For heavens sake, a house is there to keep a roof over your head first. Sure its nice to know that its worth something but falling house prices are a good thing for all but selfish investors and those people who HAVE to move house having just bought a flat…

Then again I am (in lieu of getting broadband) trying to redecorate my slightly run down flat and can now mostly be seen in DIY centres or studying home decoration magazines and Ikea catalogues. Oh dear…

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