Category Archives: Past the Post

Agitated activists?

In an article for Pinkers Post’s ‘Port for Thought’ on 25 April 2014 entitled Why CEOs should be paid less , Antonia Oprita of marketmoving.info summarises:

“Sure, CEOs can keep telling themselves that they are worth the huge sums they receive. Some may even believe it. But the truth is, most of them are not. And the sooner shareholders realise this, the better.”

Pinkers agrees. There are, however, a few exceptions: One is Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and the other is Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP.  Both deserve every penny they can get their hands on: Shareholder activism is all very well… but investors would be well advised not to bite the hand that feeds them.

And then, of course, there is the CEO of The Firm, HRM The Queen:

In a scathing attack on the Royal Finances, The Independent reports today that taxpayers pay 56p each annually for the upkeep of the monarchy. According to The Indy, “…campaigners said [that] … the Royal Family was badly out of step with public opinion… .” How right they are: Simply SHOCKING! After all, 56 pence could buy YOU, the cash-strapped taxpayer, one additional Cadbury Creme Egg (39g) every year! Just imagine what you are missing out on … simply too awful to contemplate! The Royal Family is robbing us of the very ingredient that would, without a shred of a doubt, massively enhance the quality of our lives! Surely, a full public inquiry into this completely unacceptable  state of affairs is now overdue. Pinkers has no option but to take up and support the Republican cause!

Regrettably, and much to Pinkers’s chagrin, Magda George, EIC of Pinkers Post and usually loyal to the Pinkers gospel, has the temerity to point out that her Majesty’s salary of £37.9m in the last financial year should be put into context: According to Magda, the annual economic benefits to the UK have been estimated at between £50bn – £100bn+. This almost certainly makes HRM Queen Elizabeth II the most underpaid CEO in the world.

Mark IV: The great conversion!

Pinkers would like to ask the reader to refer to the first two instalments of this saga:

And now it appears the Guv’nor has undergone a profound conversion and ditched the ideology behind the Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the former Soviet Union, first created in 1928. “Policy-driven” is replacing “forward guidance”. Phew… thank God for that! No more crystal ball gazing? Let’s hope so.

In his Mansion House speech Mr Carney said: “There’s already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and this decision is becoming more balanced.”

Hilarious… “great speculation”… Pinkers wonders who’s been speculating most? Not the Bank of England, surely!

How to appreciate inflation!

In today’s FT, a brilliant contribution by Luke Johnson: “Flood of cash needs to irrigate businesses”. Beautifully written and making a complex issue intelligible, largely refraining from dreaded and, indeed, unnecessary jargon. He really is such a good writer (and brilliant mind!). But is he perhaps treading a little too carefully?
He is right, of course: “The wall of hot money will not last forever.” This is a timely and, indeed, overdue reminder of the real threat facing the major economies: At a time when the majority of financial pundits worry about deflation and encourage the central banks to keep the printing presses rolling, it can only mean one thing: Inflation. Mr Johnson says the “Weight of money seems the principal driver of asset price appreciation”. Nicely put: “appreciation”! Well, Pinkers, perhaps a little on the old-fashioned side?, would describe this phenomenon as “inflation”. Hot money hitting limited supply and turning distinctly chilly?

Perhaps Pinkers is suffering from ‘conspiracy theory syndrome’… but Is it at all conceivable Mr Johnson doesn’t want to scare off his investors in CAKE (ticker for the recently floated Patisserie Valerie)? But then Pinkers argued at the time  ‘DON’T have this cake and eat it!’

Whatever, Mr Johnson has taught Pinkers a lesson: How to appreciate inflation!

Saint Terry and the King!

Pinkers is a huge fan of Ian King, former business editor of the Times and now presenter of the unmissable ‘Ian King Live’ on Sky News, a daily business programme that tackles the top corporate stories of the day.

After a rather tense first performance (fair enough!) Mr King, now into his second week, is clearly getting into the swing of things: Razor-sharp, confident and as cool as a cucumber, he makes daily business news entertaining without dumbing down. The hard hitting show is a complete antidote to his ‘gentlemanly’ and scholarly style of writing (FYI: He still writes a weekly column for the Times), perhaps revealing the ‘real’ King: The top-calibre economist.

Ian King belongs to that rare breed of financial pundits who have managed to successfully embrace both media. He understands the difference between ‘high-brow’ financial journalism and the medium TV, aiming to convey the message to a wider, less well-informed audience. However, that does not mean it’s not for the ‘expert’ – quite the opposite: It’s fun, refreshing, plain-spoken and no-nonsense in style (thankfully refraining from the dreaded jargon!) and, indeed, often by far more illuminating than the ever so sophisticated academic analysis in the specialist publication.

Last week he got Ed Balls on the programme: YAWN! (Balls, that is!). Yesterday, a bigger ‘catch’: Sir Timothy Leahy, the former CEO of Tesco. Despite Sir Terry’s ‘dry as dust’ performance (gosh… what a dull man!), this was rather interesting. Apart from pushing his own various business agendas, our retail saint moaned that he was “disappointed” with Tesco’s performance. Perhaps somebody should remind him of Louis Nizer’s famous quote: “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”

More on Tesco, posted on Pinkers Post 3 June 2014: Presto Tesco!

Happy-clappy?

Today’s ‘Face to Face’ column in the FTfm supplement features David Harding, the Cambridge-educated physicist and founder of Winton Capital Management. It’s a MUST-READ!

Turn to page 4 and it hits you straight away… well… in the FACE (to FACE!)… Hardings face, that is. The man clearly is well pleased with himself. Come on Pinkers… nothing wrong with a smug grin, surely? Anyway, could just be a happy smile and Pinkers likes a bit of happy-clappy! So let’s let him off the hook on this one.

However, simply unforgivably brainless are his statements, such as: “Paying tax buys you the option to live among the people you grew up with without too much anger being directed to you.” And perhaps topping it all: “People are frightened, intimidated and jealous of us”.

Mr Harding, let Pinkers reassure you: It’s all in your imagination. We are neither frightened nor are we intimidated or jealous of you. Indeed, we can only feel sorry for you: Your take on the purpose of taxation is, well…, terribly sad. Please, do us a favour… don’t wait for the 99% and become a tax exile at your earliest convenience.

Yours, dear Mr Harding, is the truly unacceptable face of capitalism… grinning at us from the venerable pages of the FT. No more of it.