Thursday, 30 July 2009

US "fails" to sell its debt

No, not really, but yesterday the US Treasury auctioned off $39bn worth of 5-year debt, just to cover a couple of days of government spending, and there were fewer than 2 bidders for each bond. Unless you have two bidders it's not an auction, it's a giveaway! For fact fans the coverage was 1.923.

Thanks to the American primary dealer system they at least managed to sell the lot - primary dealers are contractually required to buy. (In the UK of course we can have genuine no-bid failures.)

Tomorrow the US Treasury is going to try to sell some 7-year debt.

Good luck with that!

Link: Market Ticker

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Esther Rantzen has decided to stand as an MP

Esther Rantzen, a BBC careerist, has decided she will stand as an independent MP for the constituency of Luton South, because she "fell in love with the place." The incumbent Labour MP, Margaret Moran, with a majority of 5,560 has decided to stand down after being caught using her parliamentary expenses to decorate a house several hundred miles away.

Expert opinion has it that Rantzen has no chance of winning, despite the unwarranted and largely uncritical coverage by the BBC which I have railed against in previous posts. It is quite unacceptable that the BBC should attempt to propel one of their own into parliament using public funds to enhance her status.

Link: Yahoo!

Immigration rules too lax, says Judge Trigger

Judge Trigger had himself a little rant from the bench at Liverpool Crown Court when sentencing Lucien McClearley, 31, an illegal immigrant from Jamaica, for drugs offences. McClearley was jailed for two years after being found in possession of £7,200 worth of cannabis.

Judge Ian Trigger: Immigration too lax

The judge said, "Your case illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy that exists ... in this country. People like you, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people like you, come to these shores from foreign countries to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits that exist here.

"In the past 10 years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central government has wasted billions and billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments.

"For every £1 that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes in this country, nearly 10 per cent goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this government came to power.”

McClearley, of Edge Hill, Liverpool, arrived in Britain in 2001 on a visitor’s visa.

He was arrested the following October after staying beyond the term of the visa but sought asylum and was released while this was pending. The application was rejected in 2004, but he was only arrested in February.

To the good judge's remarks this blog can only add: hear, hear!

Link: Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Jurors quizzed over BNP membershp

Three muslims found guilty at Leeds Crown Court on 28 counts of sexual offences against an underage white girl have been sentenced to a total of 18 years in jail.

So far, so normal.

The unusual aspect of this trial is that the judge demanded to know the jury's political affiliations; each was quizzed to find out if he or she was a member of, or otherwise associated with, the British National Party. And worse, the judge ordered that this political vetting could not be reported by the national media!

This would seem to place a legitimate political party in some kind of legal isolation. Would BNP members have been kicked off that jury? If so, can a BNP member being tried insist there are no muslims on his jury? The precedent would seem to have been set.

And why was this part of the proceedings, and only this part - excluding the victim's identity naturally - barred from being reported. This has a flavour of the judge knowing he was doing wrong but doing it anyway.

Link: BNP article

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Bank of England hits inflation target at last

The BoE has been striving to hit their 2% CPI target and has missed with the last 20 shots - not since August 2007 has inflation been under 2%. But in June they finally hit the target again: CPI 1.8% and RPI was -1.6%.

RPI is now the lowest ever recorded (records began in 1948.) However RPI isn't very interesting at the moment because it's mainly a function of the low base rate.

It remains to be seen whether the BoE just got lucky or will hit the target every month from now on.

Link: BBC

Friday, 10 July 2009

Heretical Two jailed but still heretical

In case you haven't been following this story, first meet the Heretical Two:

Simon Shepperd, Steven Whittle


More than a year ago these two were prosecuted for inciting racial hatred online. They had written various anti-black, anti-female and anti-Jewish tracts and published them on the internet using a US-based server, and hence were protected by the Americans' First Amendment right to free speech.

When hauled before Leeds Crown Court their "free speech" defence didn't work and they were convicted. While on bail, before sentencing they both fled the country, going first to Ireland and thence on to Los Angeles where, despite having been freely admitted to the USA, they found an immigration officer and asked for political asylum. They were duly incarcerated and spent a year in jail before being deported back to the UK. Today they appeared once again at Leeds Crown Court for sentencing: Shepperd got five years and Whittle, two and half.

The true irony is that, because they used an American web server, their "illegal" publications are still available - you can read them all here: www.heretical.com. And it looks like these documents, serious enough to warrant a five year jail term, will remain freely available to all through-out the jail term and afterwards. That's somewhat bizarre.

(If you intend to read the heretical website be aware that Steven Whittle writes under the penname "Luke O'Farrell".)

Link: BBC

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Property problems in Northern Ireland

Property in Northern Ireland is down 40 percent from peak, compared to "only" 20 percent in the UK generally (Nationwide index) and now a new threat rears its head. The Republic of Ireland has established a "toxic bank" (much like the UK and USA keep mooting but never quite making) called the National Asset Management Agency, or NAMA.

Unfortunately during the boom Irish banks were very active in lending on property developments in Northern Ireland and across the Irish sea to Liverpool. NAMA now has a lot of these defunct developments on its books and is threatening to dump them into a falling market, on the grounds that the longer it waits the more it loses.

Meanwhile British banks are being pressured by the UK government not to dump assets into the market in order to put some kind of floor under prices. The deal seems to be: suck up the pain and we'll make sure you don't run out of money.

But NAMA could upset this applecart. And if NAMA breaks ranks the other banks may feel the must also sell while they can. There will be buyers; there are vulture funds just waiting for prime assets to drop into their laps - at 50p in the pound! They've actually been complaining that the UK government is stopping them from profiting by its bank rescues.

Currently we're in a "phony war" with asset prices held up by the politicians. It remains to be seen how long they can keep the show on the road.

Link: BBC