Last Updated October 20th 1998
This page lists various personal arguments for which this Web Master has absolutely no responsibility for (only joking). This page lists various satirical (and other) comments relating to worldly events. We hope you find them interesting. Please send your comments or thoughts here

Comments and Ramblings (but first a photo):
Dad and me in the US
Spring (my birthday) 1997

October 20 1998 Foreign banks in China have stopped new lending and are calling in loans to state-backed investment companies as fears have grown that the collapse of one of the most prominent of them may mark the start of a wave of closures.

SAP, the German business software group, reported third quarter pre tax profits up 50 per cent to DM376m ($230m) on sales 43 per cent higher at DM2bn.  The companies stock has fallen 43 per cent since July on fears of a slackening in demand for it's products.

David Coulter yesterday became the highest profile casualty of the hedge fund crisis be resigning as president of BankAmerica, the largest US bank.  The announcement followed last week's revelation that BankAmerica, the result of the merger of BankAmerica and NationsBank, had been forced to take a write-off of $400m on a loan it made to DE Shaw, a New York derivatives specialist similar to a hedge fund.

Gerhard Schroder's hopes of giving his new German government a modernizing face were floundering last night after Jost Stollmann, the former computer entrepreneur, unexpectedly refused to serve as economics minister.  Mr. Stollmann, an outspoken free market advocate, said he as "full of worries" about the impact of the new Red-Green coalition's tax plans on job-creating, family-owned businesses.

October 19 1998 The US has pressed the EU to take more responsibility for reviving global economic growth by removing restrictions on imports of Japanese cars and Russian steel.  Fat chance!

The long march of the Italian left to the summit of power is nearly over.  Last night, Massimo D'Alema, leader of the Democrats of the Left (DS), looked set to become the country's next prime minister, ending 50 years in which the Communists and their heirs have yearend for, but never held, the top job in Italy.  Ending the last great "taboo" of postwar Italy, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, asked D'Alema, who started out as a young pioneer in the pro-Soviet Union Italian Communist Party (PCI), to form Italy's 56th government since 1945.

October 16 1998 The US Federal Reserve cut interest rates 0.25 per cent, the second cut inside three weeks.  This stimulated sharp rallies in the US bond and equity markets.  This was also the first time since 1994 that the Fed cut rates outside of the normal sitting open markets committee schedule.

October 14 1998 A rescue package for Japan's weakest banks - backed by Y60,000bn ($500bn) of public funds - was passed by the lower house of parliament yesterday.  But bankers and analysts questioned whether the measures would ease the country's credit squeeze.  The bill allows the government, by buying newly issued preferred or common shares, to inject public funds into banks whose capital adequacy ratio falls below certain levels.

October 11 1998 Italy was yesterday plunged into a new period of political instability after Romano Prodi the prime minister unexpectedly lost a confidence vote just three months before his country joins the European single currency. He has been in power since April 1996.  He was the principle architect of the financial reforms required to achieve membership if the single currency.  The Lira took a bashing on the news.

October 9 1998 World financial markets were yesterday shaken by the extraordinary volatility of the US dollar, which at one point dipped below Y112 against the Japanese currency - an unprecedented slide of Y20 since Tuesday.  This drop was said to be due to hedge funds "unwinding their currency positions to cover losses in emerging markets".  Some said this was "Volatility with a capital 'V' ".  And there would be more to come....  And in Japan, what looked like for months a one-way bet has turned into a financial carnage.  Many speculators, traders and even ordinary industrial companies have been unable to resist the chance to borrow in battered yen at record low interest rates to finance investments in the supposedly invincible dollar.  They now have been caught out by the spurt in the yen.  Julian Robertson's Tiger hedge funds group, one of the world's largest with about $20bn under management earlier this year, has lost about $1.8bn so far this month!

October 8 1998 Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave a somber warning that the outlook for the US economy had deteriorated significantly as a result of global financial turmoil.  This news came as a shock - a week after a reduction in interest rates, and sent the dollar plummeting in foreign exchange markets.  His comments were seen as hints to further rate reductions.

October 1 1998 The International Monetary Fund called for looser monetary or fiscal policies for 90 per cent of the world economy to ward off global recession. The IMF welcomed the recent Federal Reserve interest tare reduction.  Canada and the UK were called on to follow suit to prevent local conditions worsening beyond country boundaries.  The Fund predicted the world economy would grow 2 per cent this year - less than half the rate it forecast a year ago.

Gerhard Schroder, Germany's chancellor-designate, yesterday reaffirmed the special relationship with France, calming fears in Paris that his new government would weaken ties through a closer alliance with Britain.  On his first trip aboard since winning last Sunday's general election (beating Khol) Mr. Schroder endorsed French plans to set up a commission to work on joint plans to prepare for the imminent launch of a single currency, institutional reform in the European Union and its enlargement to the east.  He also threw his weight behind a French blueprint to reform international financial institutions and improve monitoring of worldwide capital flows in response to the global financial crisis.  
"We think the French plan is an excellent idea," Mr. Schroder said after talks with the President Jacques Chirac.

Mr. Schroder nevertheless gently insisted both in public and in private that Britain needed to be encouraged to play a bigger role under prime minister Tony Blair.  He endorsed recent UK proposals aimed at giving new shape to the arrangements set in place at Bretton Woods, in the US, where the IMF and the World Bank were founded. He said the British proposals had points in common with the French plan.  Mr. Schroder said Mr. Blair's government had given positive signs of Britain's desire to be drawn closer to continental Europe.

Statistics published yesterday added to fears that the Japanese economy was in a dangerous downward spiral, with production cutbacks leading to lower overtime and take-home pay - which in turn undermined retail sales, causing higher inventories and further reducing reductions in output.  Manufacturing sector overtime fell 16.5 per cent in August year on year, while average pay declined 4.8 per cent, the biggest fall since January 1971.  Department store sales fell 4.3 per cent and housing starts dropped 11.4 per cent. Industrial output dropped 8.5 per cent year on year, the 10th month production has fallen.  

September 30 1998 The US Federal Reserve yesterday nudged interest rates lower for the first time in nearly three years in response to the deepening international financial crisis.  The central bank's open market committee reduced the target for its Federal funds rate - its main lending rate - by a quarter of a point to 5.25 per cent.  The Fed said the action had been taken "to cushion the effects on prospective economic growth in the United States of increasing weakness on foreign economies".  It added that policy makers were concerned about tightening credit conditions in the US.

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Henry Shelton, said the armed forces were showing "increased signs of serious wear" and there was evidence that their long term health was in jeopardy.

The effort to rescue Long-term Capital Management, the US hedge fund, has been broadened to include about 35 other financial institutions.  These firms are to extend credit terms to the fund along with an injection of funds.

September 22 1998 A national effort by the Japanese government to stabilize the troubled banking sector crumbled after disputes between ruling groups split the focus and direction of the nature of the support.   Woolworths, founded by Frank W. Winfield in 1879 which became the worlds largest retailer, finally closed it's last Woolworth's door. The last US Woolworth's was sold off in 1997 and the UK branch had already been sold to Kingfisher in 1982.  The German company is now known as Venator and is a specialty retailer.

September 17 1998 IMF predictions for world growth this year have been cut to 2%. A year ago the forecast was 4.25%.

September 7 1998 Better late than never - or perhaps after the horse has bolted: Victor Chernomyrdin, acting prime minister, today said the country's deepening economic crisis required "extraordinary measures" and warned opponents not to "tie his hands" lest political infighting led to total economic collapse. And interesting news on the single currency: The trend in sort-term interest rates among countries taking part in the European economic and monetary union has been towards divergence.  Some analysts say that could reflect a belief that full short-rate convergence will not happen by the year's end.

September 4 1998 Guess what - the rouble fell again today to 13.46 against the $, less than half its rate three weeks ago.  The Russian economic crisis has already brought the government down and the rest may soon follow!  International banks and other financial groups have reported losses suffered in Russia of almost $9bn in recent days. But much worse could be in store as the knock-on effect of Russia's devaluation and other emerging market turmoil looks likely to dent investment bank revenues severely until the end of the year.  And the Malaysian government reacted to the Russian introduction of exchange and currency controls with the introduction of their own.  The walls are gradually going up and as every wall goes up, global trade goes down, world wide GDP suffers long term, and the root of the real problem does not get excised.

And Japanese steel makers yesterday issued profit warnings. Another core industry begins to shrink. The signs are startling.

September 1 1998 The Dow plunged more than 500 points today canceling out its gains for the year. This equates to just over 6% of its value. The Nasdaq fell over 8%. The FT fell to a seven month low the day before.

August 27 1998 As the Russian government defaults on bonds, investors are facing losses in excess of $33bn according to some reports.  Meanwhile, Victor Chernomyrdin, Russia's acting prime minister, yesterday held emergency talks with the IMF as the rouble plummeted again on currency exchanges.   Likely outcomes include a debt restructuring. And the crisis continued around the world as world markets continued their slide. Japanese stocks hit a six year low down 357 to 8,166; Germany's market fell 5.5%; the UK FT fell 3% - it's second largest fall for all time. And the worst of it is that Russia's people blame capitalism for their governments failure to rebuild the economy fast enough. This is the greater risk.

August 26 1998 The rouble fell another 9% on gloomy economic fears. And Boris Yeltsin and his acting prime minister struggled to rule the "oligarchs" and bring about a new government.  Some reports say that 70% of all people associated with the financial sector are out of a job within a two month window due to the crash....where will they get the money to feed themselves?   And news that three of Russia's largest banks are to merge to avoid individual internal combustion. Note - the banking sector is on the verge of collapse!

August 20 1998 The biggest news yet!  Russia spent all the $4.8bn additional support loan disbursed by the IMF last month in the failed defense of the rouble, Sergei Dubinin, the central bank governor said today.   The IMF is expected to disburse the second trenche of its $11.2bn loan in September to help replenish the central bank's reserves and control the slide of the rouble.  And remember, the IMF is not lending its own money because it itself is broke.   This is money loaned to it by the G7 industrialized countries.  So if Russia just throws the cash to the markets, all we are doing is lining the pockets of those few rich currency speculators who bet against the rouble and end up doing nothing for Russia and worsening the world wide economic situation.

August 18 1998 Russia's government today bowed to market pressure by freeing the rouble, freezing its domestic debt market and imposing currency controls on foreign commercial debts.  This is a startling departure from the government previously published economic policy who vowed again only a few days ago that the rouble would not be devalued.  Recent reports suggest the rouble has lost about 34% of its value before the crash started three months ago.

August 20 1998 It was reported today that the Japanese government appeared to be drawing up plans to pump $6.9bn public funds into rescuing the ailing Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, as well as transferring the bad debts to government institutions.  And Russian has spent all the $4.8bn IMF additional support loan last month in a failed defense of the rouble, the central bank governor said yesterday.  The IMF is expected to issue the second trench of $11bn later next month. Something tells me the apocalypse is here and we do not even know it!

August 14 1998 Russian markets plunged today as investors feared the government might soon be forced into a devaluation or a domestic debt restructuring. while the central bank moved to shore up the stability of the banking sector.  Trading was suspended on the Russian stock exchange after falling 15 per cent. And US productivity declined in the three months to June by 0.2%.

August 7 1998 Japan's economic woes could trigger a global stock market crash unless the country rapidly reforms its banking sector, the president of the Toyota motor group warned today.  This our spoken alarm was voiced when he presented to Japan's Employers' Federation.

August 4 1998 The Japanese currency and stock markets fell yesterday on fresh signs that the new government would stop propping up asset markets. The recent fall in the yen has reached the June levels that brought concerted action from the US authorities. The basic point is that the position is worsening.

August 2 1998 The Japanese yen hit a six-week low against the dollar and a five-year low against the D-Mark yesterday, continuing to suffer from comments made by the new Finance Minister.  His subsequent attempt to temper his comments failed to stem the decline. Other news: Daiwa Securities, Japan's second largest broker, got smaller when it announced a reduction in people and offices in New York, Hong Kong and London.  The implosion continues....and Daimler put on hold expansion plans in Asia.

July 31 1998 "Putting it very simply", Kiichi Miyazawa said at his first press conference, "whether it is the yen or stocks, we should rely on the markets to move on their own."  His comments prompted the yen to weaken almost Y1 against the dollar, to Y143.70. China has already said that a weaker yen would force them to devalue. The new Japanese government has pledged $71.4bn extra budget but has not said when and how it will be used.

July 30 1998 Kiichi Miyazawa, one of the grand old men of Japanese politics, yesterday agreed to become the country's finance minister. He will be 79 in October, and is a former ex-finance and prime minister.   The country is at present in the midst of its worst recession in 50 years.  The Yen weakened on the news, although Washington seemed to like the announcement.
Russia plans to sell surplus military land, aircraft, ships, oil storage facilities and scrap metal to earn up to $65m this year. I wonder who the buyers might be?   Human rights activists said Chinese authorities have arrested a young computer engineer for providing 30,000 Chinese e-mail address to a US-based pro-democracy Internet magazine.  A ground-breaking agreement between employers and unions in France's engineering sector has undermined a central aim of the Socialist-led government's new law introducing a 35-hour working week. The deal avoids any attempt at job creation but focuses on how to accommodate overtime after the legal working week is reduced from 39 to 35 hours in 2000.  This is directly contrary to the spirit of the scheme. The minister responsible for the implementation of the revised working week limit called the agreement "invalid". A good sign that French politics is in line with economic and social concerns.  Does anyone around here know what is going on?

July 28 1998 Russia's rollercoaster financial markets lurched downwards again yesterday, wiping out a large part of the gains they had recorded since the International Monetary Fund announced a support package two weeks ago.  The RTS index of leading Russian shares fell 9 per cent, while yields on short-term domestic government debt (GKO's) again climbed above 55 per cent.  Peter Boone, co-head of research at Brunswick Warburg, the Moscow stockbrokers, said confidence had been knocked by the continuing weakness of emerging markets around the world and doubts that the Russian government can deliver on its tough austerity package. And Asian equity markets fell yesterday in reaction to the election of Keizo Obuchi as prime minister of Japan due to concerns about who become the next finance minister.
And as if more importantly, Tony Blair, UK prime minister, reorganized his cabinet as follows:
   Prime Minister: Tony Blair (of course)
   Deputy Prime Minister; Secretary of State for the Environment, transport and regions and longest title: Blithering open Socialist John Prestcott
   Chancellor of the exchequer: Tony's enemy, Gordon (what's the difference between a cooker and fridge?) Brown
   Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Stephan Byers (new)
   Foreign Secretary: The dangerous and philandering Robin (I declared having an affair and therefore it's OK) Cook
   Lord Chancellor: Lord Irvine
   Trade and Industry secretary: Peter Mandelson (new), was Minister without portfolio
   Home Secretary: Light weight but intelligent Jack Straw
   Education and employment secretary: Useless, evil and completely red Socialist David Blunckett
   Leader of the House of Commons: Ultra secret red Margaret Beckett (new)
   Minister for the Cabinet Office: Jack Cunningham (new)
   Secretary for Scotland: Donald Dewar
   Secretary for Northern Ireland: Mo (out of her depth) Mowlam
   Secretary for Wales: Ron Davies
   Defence Secretary: George Robertson
   Health Secretary: Frank Dobson (subsequently resigned after this cabinet announcement)
   Chief whip: Ann Taylor (new)
   Secretary for national heritage: Chris Smith
   International development sectary (what?): Evil lefty Clair Short (new)
   Social security secretary: Alistair Darling (new)
   Minister of agriculture, fisheries and food: Nick Brown (new)
   Leader of the House of Lords and minister for women: Baroness Jay (new)

July 26 1998 Keizo Obuchi, Japan's foreign minister, is almost certain to become the country's next prime minister after winning, by a comfortable margin, yesterday's election for president of the ruling Liberal Democratic party.

July 24 1998 Moody's, the US credit rating agency, yesterday said it was considering downgrading securities issued or backed by the Japanese government.  A decision to take away Japan's Aaa status, the highest awarded by the agency, would deliver a blow to the nation's prestige. It would make Japan, the world's largest creditor, the only member of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations not to have an Aaa rating.

The UK courts yesterday acted to protect companies from Internet "pirates" who register famous brand names as world wide web "domain" names and then try to sell them on for a profit. Good luck!

July 23 1998 Stock markets around the world slipped back further from their recent record highs yesterday as cautious comments from Alan Greenspan, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, put a chill on global equities markets.  "Greenspan has told investors it looks as if growth is slowing because of Asia, but inflation is picking up due to domestic conditions," said Ian Harnett, pan-European equity strategist at BT Alex Brown, the stockbroker, in London.   And Deutshe Bank chairman Rolf Breuer said the UK and German stock markets could build on their recent alliance and extend the link to their respective derivatives exchanges.

July 22 1998 Bill Gates handed the presidency to his long-time second in command, Steve Ballmer, so that he can focus on "break-through" products and technologies. He remains chairman and CEO of the company he founded 23 years ago.
Anyone looking for the next mega-merger or international corporate restructuring might cast an eye on Japan's automobile companies. Few makers - indeed, few manufacturers of any kind - have bigger problems, or a greater need to consolidate.  Two big trends are converging on the industry. The first is the consolidation that is affecting carmakers around the world; since Daimler-Benz astonished its rivals with plans to buy Chrysler, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive.  The other is the restructuring of the Japanese economy. Although production and exports are up recently, they are well lower than the peak in 1990 for production and 1986 for exports.

July 20 1998 Pakistan took emergency measures at the weekend to shore up its economy after disclosing its foreign exchange reserves had fallen to $600m, intensifying doubts about its ability to service its $42bn external debt. As part of the measures, petrol taxes were increase by about 25%. Hafeez Pasha, deputy chairman of the planning commission, the government's chief economic policy body, was heard to say "We are going to shore (the reserves) up in days but I can't tell you how". Oops.
Oxford University is to offer degree courses over the Internet under plans which could transform the prestige of distance learning. Oxford's first online degrees will be offered to postgraduate students in medicine, computing and software engineering.

July 18 1998 New accounting standards have increased the official estimate of the bad-debt burden plaguing Japan's banks and other lending institutions to Y35,000bn ($250bn) from Y25,000bn reported earlier, said Japan's new financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Agency.
The Asian crisis took a heavy toll on US trade in May with the deficit for goods and services hitting a record $15.75bn, the Commerce Department said. Exports fell 1.3 per cent from April to May to $76.2bn, while imports rose 0.5 per cent to $91.5bn. The Economic Policy institute said the numbers show the US "well on its way to a $100bn increase in the trade deficit".

July 16 1998 Gordon Brown, Chancellor, goes for broke as the economy drifts into recession. He announced the largest increase in investment of the social services ever. This is a report from the Telegraph.

The US Internet music market is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years to reach $1.1bn in 2002, according to research published by Jupiter Communications. I think they underestimate the potential for music and all other Internet-bound products.
Having a bad day? Down load this movie clip and see a disgruntled Manugistics user "losing it" with his PC. The file is 500K. A "Manugistic User" is a person that mistakenly purhased a software product from a company that recently fell under the spot light for insider trading - not a good moral image to portray! And a little something my dad sent me to remind me what it's like when I get old.
July 14 1998 International financial institutions yesterday hauled Russia's financial markets back from the brink by promising an emergency support package of a staggering $12.6bn this year. Where does it come from?  The International Monetary Fund said it would provide an additional $11.2bn to Russia this year, with the World Bank and the Japanese government contributing an extra $1.4bn.  This size of the deal means that the IMF will have to use a credit line from 11 industrial countries that has not been called upon for 20 years. The IMF has to borrow money because its rescue packages for Asia last year have left it short of cash.   When existing programmes are taken into account, Russia is likely to receive $22bn of international financial support before the end of 1999 and may also tap the eurobond market for additional funds as early as September.  To say the least, I am a little nervous about this. Something tells me an implosion is possible - indeed likely at this rate. What happens of the plug fails, Russia defaults, and Asia collapses?  A world wide recession like never seen before.  Too many houses have rotten foundations at this time.

Demand for steel, that bellwether of economic fortunes, in the troubles Asian economies is expected to fall 0.7 per cent this year and to grow only 2.6 per cent in 1999, following 1997 growth of 5 per cent. Mmmmm.

And this graphic is from Heretic II - coming this fall! As is Tiberian Sun.

July 13 1998 Ryutaro Hashimoto, Japan's prime minister, will resign shortly after a drubbing in the polls. The governing party needed 69 seats for a majority in the upper house - it started with 61 and ended on 45 or so. Hey bud - your outta here! Other Asian news: Chain's retail prices fell 3 per cent in June compared with the same month a year ago, the steepest monthly retreat since a deflationary trend began nine months ago. More signs of weak economies in the East.
Nearer home, UK business confidence collapsed to a five-year low in the aftermath of the decision of the Bank of England last month to raise interst rates.  Since Labour came to power, Interest Rates have only gone up (about 6 times) and most mortgage rates have followed suite - to the tune of about 8 hikes. Of course, Our Leader blames it on Tory policies.  Oops, I forgot, Labour is in power - and has been for over a year. Did Our Leader say recently that "stop go" was dead?

And more news on the baby-like performance of the French financial institutions.  Upset at not being involved with London and Frankfurt in the recent stock exchange partnership, the French had a tantrum in public.  Rolf Breuer, chairman of Deutshe Bank, sought to sooth the French (tantrum) outrage over the partnership, by saying Paris could join with a significant minority stake. "This is not a closed shop or a London-Frankfurt axis against Paris (Heaven forbid such a thought) or all others, but the nucleus of a working party with an open invitation to all who are interested," said Mr. Breuer, who also heads the supervisory board of Deutsche Borse, which runs the Frankfurt securities exchange. The reason the agreement had been between the UK and Germany was that past experience over negotiating bourse alliances had shown the danger of collapse.  "Things get talked to pieces, as in the United Nations, and no solution emerges," he said. If the French had been smarter, they would thought of it themselves - or at least been more grown up about asking to join rather than scream like a spoilt brat.
And France (would you believe it) beat Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup Final. And here is a summary of all England Soccer matches.

July 10 1998 South East Asia will experience its strongest demand for rice and other cereals over the next two decades due to growing population and poor supplies - the International Rice Research Institute said in it's latest report.  This could be a sign of mass starvation. The French financial establishment attacked the way the Frankfurt and London stock markets concluded their ground-breaking agreement to trade equities. The French did not like not "being their".  I guess they can work out why not.
And peace on Northern Ireland? What peace! Our Leader is desperate to keep the lid on the disaster. Police foiled an apparent bombing attempt in London after arresting three men with explosive devices intended to be used "within minutes".   Not much peace here I feel... In their hearts, they do not believe it. The unionists of Ulster do not believe peace has come, nor will come, this side of Irish unity. They have for 30 years withstood a terrorist campaign bent to secure that - the aim of the most patient and subtle of nationalist movements this century. They resist still, but lack hope that resistance will secure reward.  One extreme liberal unionist was heard to say "we won't get an end to this until the IRA get what it wants". Tony Blair, Our Leader, is blind to these facts.

July 9 1998 A report in the Financial Times says that US banks are swamping customers with "irresponsible" credit card offers leading to rising levels of personal bankruptcies.  This is what burst the UK economic miracle in 1986 when, after inflation had been slain, Nigel Lawson (Chancellor) unleashed a recession he (and the Conservative Government) were to regret. The US had better beware! Other news: The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were reported to be struggling to secure $6bn in new loans for Indonesia, raising concerns that Jakarta may have to declare a debt moratorium to keep its budget deficit under control.

System Software Associates (an ERP provider), the loss making Chicago-based software group, will take a one-time restructuring charge of $120m to cover job cuts up to 12 per cent of the total 2,500 staff. Bad luck!
A recent IDC research program estimated that the global software industry in 1996 (3 years ago) was around $95bn. Piracy was thought to be around $13bn in the same year.

July 8 1998 Indonesia's gross domestic product fell 12.23 per cent in the first half of 1998 compared with the same period last year, marking what one World Bank official called the most dramatic economic collapse anywhere in 50 years.  The forecast for the year is a reduction of 13.06 per cent - the first fall since 1963. Also today, Beijing seemed to be retreating from a commitment to balance its budget by 2000 as officials considered a big spending increase.   And Pakistan said yesterday in the news that if western sanctions go on for another three months the government may be forced to declare a debt moratorium.
And so Labour is squeaky clean? The government yesterday struggled to shake off allegations that Roger Liddle, a member of the Downing Street Policy Unit, had helped a lobbyist to woo a potential client.  Former Labour party advisers, now working as lobbyers, are also accused of leaking confidential government information to clients.  When will people realise the real issue here. Our Leader and his troops are just normal people.  They are no better or worse then the previous administration.  And yet for this simple fact that was ignored and yet has since been proven, Britain is being raped by the destructive forces of social market reforms - whatever that means (socialism for short).

July 7 1998 Factory output in Britain is on a falling trend for the first time since the economy pulled out of recession in 1992.   The Office for National Statistics revised away the modest production increase it had estimated for April and said output fell 0.4 per cent in May, as the strength of sterling undermined competitiveness in world markets.

July 6 1998 China's largest shipmaker, Dalian New Shipyard, has said it needs a 20 per cent devaluation in the Chinese currency to regain the competitive advantage it has lost to rival shipbuilders in South Korea and Japan.  The shipyard's vice president, Yin Mingrong, told a press meeting that there would be a risk of worker unrest and economic instability unless steps were taken to restore the competitiveness of Chinese exporters.  This is so fascinating since this is a natural evolution of how the third world competed against the first world - and now the battle has moved on.  The UK used to devalue Sterling ever 3 years during the 1970's to stave of the consequences of inefficient industry - until monetarism was born.  Let's hope China does not follow the Labour example of the UK.

And even though peace has broken out all over Ireland thanks to the "miraculous" efforts of Our Leader, it turns out that petrol bombs, truncheons and normal streetfighting is al part of the "norm". The Orange parade has been blocked by the new "peaceful" union. So much for peace.

July 3 1998 Shares in Netscape Communications and DoubeClick, two prominent US Internet companies surged yesterday for the second day running in the latest dramatic demonstration of Internet investment fever.   And Windows 98, Microsoft's new personal computer operating system introduced last week, greatly surpassed market projections. Microsoft tried to play down the launch of '98 as a "minor upgrade" but Windows 98 outsold Windows 95 in the first five days of retail availability. Today Microsoft ownes about 95 per cent of the dekstop, 40 per cent of the server (the only growing OS as UNIX falls) and 12 per cent of the database market.  In other news the Federal Reserve policy makers left interest rates unchanged amid new evidence of a sharp SLOWDOWN in US economic growth over the last few months.

June 30 1998 At 6.00pm GMT Uncle Ted Jones passed away and joined Auntie Jean Jones. Ted was a kind man who married my Mum's sister. We spent many fun times down in Barry, Wales, on holiday.  Fishing, swimming, playing, running around the cement works ground, and doing the "beach thing". We all miss Auntie Jean and Uncle Ted but are reassured that they are, at last, together. I last saw Ted in Aylesbury on New Years Eve 1994 to celebrate my Mum's 60th Birthday Party. We will all remember him and now think of Jean and Ted whenever Wales is mentioned, or beaches, or fishing, or cement works, or Measles. Other times, we shall just remember them.
Here is an extract from a recent speech by Margaret Thatcher to the American Enterprise Institutes' conference June25th 1998.

June 29 1998 Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic party yesterday stepped up efforts to tackle the country's economic problems, pledging a rapid decision on a proposed :bridge bank" to take over loans of failed institutions.  The move came as both China and the US again pressed Japan at the weekend to unveil more economic reforms to prevent the yen's weakness triggering a round of Asian devaluation's. Clearly, this is a required and yet fatal move.  No companies can behave more stupidly since they now have a "get out of jail" card.  But then again, it would appear that the whole economy is on the brink of melt down and we are just witnessing the final hopeless hapless attempts to save it.
Pakistan has become the latest country to be hit by the Japanese yen's weakness and other financial problems in Asia, devaluing its currency, the rupee, by 4.2 per cent at the weekend.  The Mexican peso and the South African rand fell last Friday to their lowest levels, while the Canadian dollar was close to its all-time low. Oops.
The European Central Bank will adjust interest rates as infrequently as possible, and will not tighten monetary policy merely in order to establish its credibility as a bulwark against inflation, according to Win Duisenberg, its president, who takes office on July 1 1998.  "Conducting an extra-tight monetary policy to make us more credible I regard as nonsense. This credibility must be earned."  Further, the appointment of Mr Duisengberg, former governor of the Dutch central bank, was hampered by France's attempt to install Jean-Claude Trichet, its central bank chief, in the post instead - and this when ALL other countries able to vote were in favour of the Dutchman!  In the interview Mr Duisenberg insisted there was "no question of a split term" between him and Mr Trichet.  He directly contradicted French President Jacques Chirac, who told the BBC earlier this month he had a personal undertaking from Mr Duisenberg that he would step down about halfway through the eight-year period.  Who on earth is running things around here anyway!
And in the UK the number of business failures is increasing (surprise surprise)! Smaller companies are suffering mostly.  A study of the country's business failures by D&B says that 10,051 business failed during the second quarter of the year - 4 per cent more than a year ago. More than 5,800 small businesses failed - a 25 per cent increase on the first quarter this year. So what is Our Leader doing wrong?  Further, employment growth prospects are going to slow in the third quarter of the year giving the "first indication of a turndown". I guess this is as a result of some recent Conservative policy.  Our Leader cannot be faulted for any bad news that may occur during his reign.
So why would the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi. travel to Iran next week?  The first official visit to Tehran by a European head of government for many years?  Arm sales?

June 23 1998 Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's chief executive, yesterday warned that the territory's economic faced a "very critical" situation and announced a HK$32bn ($4.1nb) stimulus package in an attempt to halt the decline.  In his starkest assessment of economic prospects, Mt Tung admitted that regional crises and the bursting of an asset-price bubble had pushed Hong Kong into recession. And disappointment that the weekend's meeting of G7 deputy finance ministers did not result in a detailed plan of action to reform the Japanese economy weighted on world equity markets yesterday.

Yeltsin: economy at risk of disaster - a report on the failling Russian economy.

June 22 1998 Japan's finance minister yesterday warned that the ruling Liberal Democrat party was unlikely to take firm action to clean up the country's ailing banking system until "the middle of next month".  The delay is likely to disappoint financial markets, which had been looking for rapid and concrete action to restore Japan's flagging economy after emergency talks in Tokyo at the weekend between the Group of Seven industrialized countries and Asian nations.  This will no doubt cause some friction between the US and Japanese governments.

June 19 1998 Asian crisis starts to take heavy toll on US exports.  The US trade deficit rose to 9.5 per cent in April to a record $14.46bn as the effects of the Asian economic crisis started to take a heavy toll on US exports, the Commerce department reported yesterday.  The rise was significantly above market expectations, and economists said it indicated that continued deterioration in Asian economies could lead to slower US economic growth over the rest of the year.

June 18 1998 The US joined forces with Japan today to help put brakes on death of the yen.  The two countries jointly stepped in to reverse the yen's rapid decline in an attempt to prevent Tokyo's economic troubles from worsening Asia's financial crisis. It was the first currency market intervention by the US since 1995 and followed an announcement from Ryutaro Hashimoto, Japan's prime minister, that the government would speed up a restructuring of its heavily indebted banking system and accelerate efforts to boost the domestic economy, which is now in recession. The yen, which on Monday this week dropped to an eight-year low against the dollar, responded to close in European trading at Y138.2 against the dollar, compared with Y144.2 the day before.  Dealers estimated that the Federal Reserve spent more then $2bn supporting the yen.
Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, the nation's second-biggest credit bank, yesterday called its second emergency press conference in two weeks after its shares lost more then 30 per cent of their value during the day before closing down 20 per cent at Y123.  The hurried move by the bank to try to quell persistent rumors about its health was supported by Hikaru Matsunaga, finance minister, who played down the risk of any imminent bank failures.  "Among large financial institutions...there is none that is close to failing. At this point in time I believe there is no bank in danger," Mr Matsunaga told a parliamentary panel. Mmmmm.

June 17 1998 Japan steelmakers cut production. Two of Japan's leading steelmakers are cutting production for up to two days a month to reduce mountain inventories amid falling demand.  NKK said it would introduce two additional holidays a month at its Keihin and Fukuyama plants in Japan from this month. Kobe Steel is considering similar action in July.  The production cuts highlight the increasingly difficult trading conditions facing Japanese steel companies amid a downturn in demand, particularly in the domestic market. This is a real highlight since this refers to core industrial problems which will only 'filter through' the rest of the economy later. The net net is that Japan Inc. is in real trouble.

June 15 1998 Japan appealed for concerted global intervention to support the yen today, which yesterday weakened against the dollar to an eight-year low of Y146.15.  Koji Tanami, vice-finance minister, said: "We need to take decisive action against an excessive weakening of the yen in co-operation with other nations." In other news, the Government's Economic Planning Agency revised the April industrial production data down from a monthly decline of 1.1 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

June 15 1998 England defeats Tunisia 2-0 in her opening World Cup game in France. Germany also beat the US by the same score line. Also, Japan slips into official recession as economy shrinks 5.3%!  The world's second largest economy, is technically in recession for the first time since the oil shock of 1974. GDP contracted at an annual rate of 5.3 per cent during the quarter ending March, the second consecutive quarter of negative growth.  Analysts had forecasted the economy, representing about 70% of Asia's GDP, would shrink only 1.4 per cent. Japanese government officials refused to use the word 'recession' and maintained that the economy would still achieve it's goal of 1.9 positive growth. However, should the year end with negative growth, this will have been the countries worst post-war recession. The Yen continued to weaken to Y144.72 to the dollar. It was at around 134 to the dollar in the middle of May.

June 12 1998 Japanese bonds, currency and equities fell sharply yesterday as US Treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, said that the economic situation in Japan was extremely troubling. And yesterday Alan Greenspan warned that the booming US economy would not last for ever and speculated an interest rate rise in view of recent wage increases.  And secretly the Russian Government has borrowed $200m from western banks to stave of a financial crisis. The IMF knows about it and warned Russia about over extending itself.  And Britain launched the worlds first terrestrial digital broadcasting service showing - what else - the World Cup!

June 9 1998 The Yen sunk below 140 to the Dollar for the first time in seven years on the eve of a G7 meeting. The fall sent shudders through Asian markets. China called for Japan to act as Asian crisis mounted.  Dai Xianglong, governor of the People's Bank of China (nothing to do with Tony Blair), the central bank, said the influence of east Asia's crisis on China was "getting bigger and bigger".  He said that "the economic adjustments in east Asia and the sluggish Japanese economy, in particular the depreciation of the Yen, are having a very unfavorable effect on China's exports and ability to attract foreign investment."  Not to be outdone, Intel (the other US "monopolist) got itself sued by the US Federal Trade Commission. Joining Microsoft, Intel is supposed to be using it's hard won success to influence market activities. Also the Australian Dollar sank further to a 12-year low.

June 4 1998 Lawyers in NY yesterday filed a class action law suit against Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank over allegations that they received assets looted by the Nazis during WWII. I bet they were not the only ones. On another front, so to speak, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey supplied vital war material to the Nazis. US Holocaust report urges them to pay for the looted gold.  Also, the Bank of England wrong-footed financial markets by raising interest rates for the first time in seven months.  The increase, by 0.25 per cent, came as a result of the Banks increasing worries over inflation and the recent increases in wage demands. And Netscape announced more moves to reduce reliance on failing browser revenues with new products.

June 2nd 1998 Russian stocks fall 10% over lack of support from IMF - Russian economic management is looking suspect again and the rouble is falling fast. This market still poses huge perhaps insurmountable problems for the IMF and G7. Further news from the UK; Manufacturers are experiencing their sharpest fall in orders since 1995 as sterling's strength hits export demand. Activity fell in May for the second month running, a survey shows.

June 1st 1998 Bill Clinton (President of the United Sates) tries to calm Russian Markets with verbal support for aid to the troubled country. Likely IMF support is to follow….and Ginger Spice girl leaves word record making band - but the remaining spice less girls will continue.

May 30 1998 Japan jobless rate hits 4.1% amid fears of inflation, the highest level of unemployment since 1953. And this is at the same time that German unemployment rates are also at a record high since WWII. Odd that.

May 27th 1998 US heads for $39bn surplus on soaring tax revenues. Soaring tax revenues will increase this year's projected budget surplus to #39bn, well in excess of Whitehouse forecasts. This will be the "best" budget for about 40 years. Asia fears hit world stock markets. Most leading stock markets stumbled amid fears of the failing eastern economies. Also, Russia tripled interest rates to 150% as rouble stumbles in it's own death throws.

May 23/24 1998 Irish turn out in droves in historic peace vote. The "yes" vote won the day which means the so called 'peace' initiative which frees (in time) killers and lets Sin Fein keep their weapons. Is this really as good as it gets or is there more?

April 12th 1998 European Union steps close to single currency as Greece enters ERM and Ireland revalues punt before member states fix conversion rates. Ireland revalued by 3%.
Also - did you know that having an affair in the government is good for your health but having one anywhere else might get you out of a job? First Sea Lord was due to appear in court marshal over an alleged affair when our Foreign Secretary dumped his wife and within a month of the divorce, married his bit on the side. Whatever happened to Cecil Parkinson. He resigned. Odd that.....The ugly among you will say that he tried to hide and Robin Cook admitted it before he got caught. Someone has forgotten the point that "doing it" is the real issue - not if you get away with it. In this New Labour is like Old Tories. So what's new?

April 10th 1998 Did you spot the number of senior members of the Bank of Japan that have recently been arrested for corruption? Also, did you hear about the senior business leaders of Japan who say that the Japanese economy is about near to collapse? This last point is far more significant than most press reports have accepted. A crash in Japan will cause a tidal of change around the world. Japan is the second largest foreign investor in the UK; much of European (mainly UK) manufacturing is owned by Japanese companies; the Yen was the strongest currency in the world - now the dollar is back in front and the pound sterling is stronger compared to the Deutshmark due to uncertainty over Economic and Monetary Union. Goods news for Britain.

Also - 25 of the most valuable Internet companies have a combined value of $37bn. The market has chosen to ignore the fact that 20 of the 25 companies are loss-makers.

April 6th 1998 Headline: The European Commission was reported to announce it is pressing ahead with legal action against eight member states, including the UK and Germany, which have negotiated aviation agreements with the US. It claims their bilateral agreements with the US undermine the single European market and discriminate against other countries. Good to see governmental control getting involved in areas where business normally know more about what they do. I thought that socialism was dead? Perhaps this is socialism by another name.

April 2nd 1998 The following (for Arpil 2nd) is a Report of Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the press gallery lunch April 2nd
Jokes about the pretentions of the prime Minister, Lord Irvine, and Peter Mandelson are usually the domain of Tory politicians. But yesterday Gordon Brown jumped on the bandwaggon. He began with Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's press secretary who has been accused of branding Mr Brown as " psychologically flawed".  The Chancellor said that he had just received a fax from Mr Campbell warning that his speech must not overshadow other stories, reminding him that he should be entering pre-budget purdah for next year and telling him not to mention spin doctors. Mr Brown added to laughter : "I have to speak from briefing notes because we don't want any psychological flaws to be revealed".

In a sideswipe at Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor who has been criticised for spending £650,000 on refurbishing his official residence and over the loan of more than 100 paintings from Scotland, Mr Brown added "The fax said I had to talk about the big picture". He added, after a theatrical pause: That's going to be difficult because Derry Irvine has commandered it"
The Chancellor then mentioned being a neighbour of the Blairs. He said that all he could hear was the strumming of guitars and French lessons, a reference to the Prime Minister's speech in Paris last week, adding "and that's before the kids come home from school". He then moved on to Peter mandelson………….who has been mixing with royalty at Highgrove, Sandringham, and Windsor: "The only stately home he has not visited is Dorneywood (the Chancellor's official residence) and that is because I have not been there either".

March 30th 1998 Don't you think it's odd how people think and sometimes do? The German government reacted forcefully and with unusual anger yesterday (March 7th) to accusations from Mesut Yilmaz, Turkey's Prime Minister, that it was pursuing a policy of Lebenstraum for the German people in eastern and central Europe. Bonn rejected Mr Yilmaz's charge that German was blocking Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union. German government response concluded that this was "unprecedented among partners" and "an inexcusable defamation of German and European Policy". The Turkish government did not retract the words. Interesting that. Someone under pressure squeaked....

Also, March 9th saw new reports showing that Belgium and Italy undermine EMU success since their financial burdens should exclude them from joining. But will politics undermine economics? Yes - you bet.

March 28th 1998 Economic and Monetary Union set to go ahead with 11 members. However, despite the "headline" news, only FOUR countries actually fully qualify under the strict Maastricht rules; those of the UK, France, Finland and Luxembourg. The watering down of the meaning of the precise text last year now means that other countries can "get in" if they demonstrate a "convergence" towards the measure for which they currently are failing to achieve. Actually, the measure here is the national debt to GDP ratio at or below 60 per cent. Let's not go on about Italy's ratio of 121 per cent for 1997 and 124 in 1994 - not much convergence here you might think. However, political expediency will override good economic sense and the liberated, corrupt and broke Italians will enter EMU in the first wave.
But did you notice the Bundesbank report in Marc h that was to the German Government's greatest weapon in their up and coming national elections? The report was to have given their support to the German move to EMU and support for all the other countries entering. However the report noted the failings of France and Italy. From a purist economic standpoint, neither of these countries actually qualify and their actual joining will undermine the strength of the German based EMU. France failed under the rules for the Government deficit as a % of GDP - with 3.02 (actual) compared to 3% (goal) for 1997. Other countries who are likely to enter the first wave on January 1 1999 who clearly fail to qualify include: Austria (debt is 66%), Belgium (debt is 122%), Germany (debt is 61%), Ireland (debt is 66%), Netherlands (debt is 72%), Portugal (debt is 62%) and Spain (debt is 68%). The real funny thing is that GERMANY does not qualify!
If you really want to punish yourself, you can read my "Yesterday's News/Diary" here.

UK Political Situation
   Dispatches from the Front - a weekly update regarding Political life in the UK
   A review of some Red and some not so-Red Government Policies
   May98a: From the Daily Telegraph - The Kissing has to Stop! Labour is still a sweet smelling fragrance....
   March98a: From the Daily Telegraph - Further complaints regarding extravagance
   Feb98b: From the Daily Telegraph - Cabinet complaints continue to increase....
   Feb98a: From the Daily Telegraph - Our Leader continues Thatcher's stance with the US..of course...
   Jan98b: From the Daily Telegraph - Meanderings from No. 10 Downing Street!
   Jan98a: From the Daily Telegraph - about the difficulties of Our Leader on keeping the lid firmly shut!
   Deca: From the Daily Telegraph - Weekly update and overview of Labour News
   Novb: From the Daily Telegraph - Evil and undermining Blair uses the Monarchy when it suits him, and hurts them when it does not.
   Nova: From the Daily Telegraph - Labour Sleeze: 'hides' pre-election financial investment - and sex scandal - yet they stay in power and "all is well" - unless you are Conservative....
   Octa: From the Daily Telegraph - "Red" Ken Livingstone is on the National Executive Council - the Governments governing body.....turning water into wine was a miracle; turing red into blue is just good sales techniques...
   Sepd: From the Daily Telegraph - Our Leader turns down a Salary increase - so noble of him!
   Sepc: From the Daily Telegraph - The United Kingdom - no more...thanks Tony!
   Sepb: From the Daily Telegraph - Blair re-positions Monarchy and devolves Scotland
   Sepa: From the Daily Telegraph - While the cat's away....
   Aug 97d: From the Daily Telegraph - "Germans look to Blair to save currency project"
   Aug 97c: From the Daily Telegraph - Crisis - what crisis!"
   Aug 97b: From the Daily Telegraph - The first 100 Days of New Brittain....and a Nationalistic Vacation for Our Tuscany?
   Aug 97a: From the Daily Telegraph - You've seen this Leader come. You haven't seen him go
   July 97e: From the Daily Telegraph - The Welsh are like the Liberal Democrats - a people without a voice
   July 97d: From the Daily Telegraph - Gianni's murderer may well have been a smoker
   July 97c: From the Daily Telegraph - Our Leader takes on Denver and Greenwich
   July 97b: From the Daily Telegraph - Our Leader still runs Northern Ireland
   July 97a: From the Daily Telegraph - Dissidents - keep quiet or else
   June 97d: From the Daily Telegraph - Earth Summit and so on....
   June 97c: From the Daily Telegraph - Britain now leads Europe debate
   June 97a: From the Daily Telegraph - Our Leader eliminates Prime Ministers Question Times and England smashes the Aussies
   June 97b: From the Daily Telegraph - honest reflections from London and Clinton's visit?
   May 97: From the Daily Telegraph - a great message re the state of play after Tony Blair takes control
   A list of the Red Team / New Labour Government Staff

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