Archive for August, 2011

ICM Petition and quite right too

There have been proposals to exempt businesses under a certain size (I think its £5m a year) from filing accounts at companies house. Now i’m all for keeping unnecessary paperwork to a minimum but I think this proposal is plain stupid. The accounts will have to be prepared anyway and filing them for public access is hardly onerous.

The simple fact is that the more information that is available, the easier it becomes to make confident credit decisions which in turn surely keeps the wheels turning. There are no realistic alternatives to a set of audited accounts (please dont mention bank and trade references), so is the government completely oblivious to the extent of credit risk in the market and the need for most sensible businesses to make the right discreet enquiries?

Please sign now….

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Paul Krugman

Credit management is naturally linked to economics. The economic situation at any one time will affect different sectors in different ways and of course this has to be part of the decision making process. Now not every credit manager needs to be able to write long papers on quaniative easing and relative GDP’s but it would be amiss to be completely ignorant of whats going on out there.

Paul Krugman is a famous economist who writes for the New York Times. Hes very readable and is generally left leaning (by US standards). The piece i’ve linked to highlights the possible (maybe likely) Republican candidate’s claims of economic success in his home state of Texas. If you haven’t heard of Rick Perry, you soon will do so and there is a possibility that his “vision’ will affect us all sometime in the future. He’s not exactly “tea party” but not far off. Worth also noting that the previous Texan (sort of ) president, George Bush cannot stand him and hes been called an “idiot” by senior Republicans for his “treason” remarks (Google it)

Also there is this cracking piece on Standard and Poor, the rightly maligned crerdit rating agency

Which includes this perfect summary..

Let’s start with S.& P.’s lack of credibility. If there’s a single word that best describes the rating agency’s decision to downgrade America, it’s chutzpah — traditionally defined by the example of the young man who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.

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Insolvencies stabilise


Nothing really to report from this piece that is particularly striking other than the comments that “record number” of firms are ceasing trading rather than going through the insolvency route

David Chubb, an insolvency partner at accountants PwC, said in his experience many firms were experiencing increasing difficulty.

“It seems that there may be a lot of businesses closing down without the need for an insolvency process, because they are making the conscious decision to cease trading before the business reaches the point of no return,” he observed.

Perhaps some of the insolvency experts who read this blog could explain why? Is this a reflection on the service?

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Black September?


Storm clouds gathering? Being an optimist by nature, I like to think not, but this is that time of year

September is traditionally the month for an economic crisis, which is a lovely thought to return from a bank holiday with. Not just economic of course, but political too with 9/11 being a prime example

One particular day stands out. 16th September was the day of Lehman’s collapse and Black Wednesday in back in 1991. It was also the day of the Battle of Britain and is also my birthday…….

So why September? I sense it is because like so many thinks in life, economics (and war) are driven by a mix of sentiment and hard facts. Throughout the summer the mood is optimistic and cares can be shunted to one side, but sooner or later the darker side has to raise its ugly head

Simplistic? Maybe but often its the simple instincts that are the most significant. Take for instance the little reported (i’m struggling to find the link) news that businesses are paying pay loans at a faster rate than at any time for over 20 years or so. What do we conclude from that? Some might say its good news and quite right too that they are doing so, but it is in fact quite the opposite. What it suggests is that businesses have the cash (in some cases) but not the confidence to invest.

As I suggested, sentiment over facts.

As for the coming month? My punt is that that the markets have reacted strongly enough to the dithering in the eurozone and the issues in the US (of which Standard and Poor’s downgrading was the least significant) and with luck we will see some calm. Lets hope so

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Ken and Boris. Clowns?

I try to avoid the overtly political on this blog, but i am sure i am not the only one in our great city that was a little underwhelmed by the response of the mayoral candidates to last weeks events. I will say no more other than to direct you to a fine article linked above

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London and the best tenner i’ve spent

During this difficult week for our great city, two things have crossed my mind. Firstly i am too busy to have a proper break this year (I can feel the sympathy now) so whilst you are on some boring beach in the Seychelles, I have been continuing to explore the city

Not an ideal time to do so many may think but over the past year I have been working my way through the 30 cycle routes in Tom Bogdanovich's genuinely superb guide. The beauty of these routes is that traffic is miraculously avoided and the unfolding scenes continue to surprise, even to someone like me who believes I now the city well. At 15 miles a time too, its a nice way to get fit too…

The book is beautifully presented and easy to follow but cleverly doesn't give too much away so it feels like a real exploration. I have completed about half the routes so far (some more than once) and highlights have included South london Commons, Hackney and Islington and Notting hill Chelsea (perhaps the best , especially on a Sunday morning).

In this week of negativity, its easy to think the worst of the metropolis but frankly i have found energised Peckham (on the excellent Lambeth and Dulwich route), regenerated Stratford (surely once the bleakest spot in the metropolis) and the beautiful side streets of Chelsea and south London quite engrossing. Thats not to mention my local haunts of the magnificent Richmond Park and the thames side

Ive been to many great cities but does any have the sheer variety and hidden surprises of London. No

So lying on some dull beach. No thanks. Get on your bike. Beats looting anyday

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Seaside rock

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, i thought i would have a look at a seasonal sector. And what could be better than seaside rock? Rather than poring over balance sheets and fretting over financial ratios, a brief history and summary is more of a read for the deckchair. Maybe…


Although “pulled sugar” with letters running through it seems to have been available at fairs throughout the country in the early 19th century, it took the efforts of one-time miner Ben Bullock to make it a seaside staple. Bullock was the first confectioner to put the name of the resort through the rock, in the late 1880s. Bullock, though, was based in Dewsbury, nearly 70 miles away from Blackpool. Blackpool Rock was not made in the town itself until around 1902. Today there are still twenty or so manufacturers there, producing both rock to meet the ever-buoyant-seeming local demand, as well as a curious array of other sugar novelties – sugar pasty and chips springs to mind as one bizarre example. The “authentic” Blackpool rock has a pink outer layer, mint in flavour, and the words “Blackpool Rock” running through the centre; though there are now many other flavours (with their associated nerve-jangling E numbers), the pink mint version is the marque. The manufacturing process is familiar to any child of the 1970s raised on BBC TV’s Play School, where a film sequence showing it seemed to be a fixture for many years. Some companies have deep roots in Blackpool. Coronation Rock began production in 1927. RD Blackwood bought his Blackpool factory in 1944 and remains in operation as a family firm, with a shop in the town centre. Others, such as Baxter Brothers, are more recent, appearing in the late 1980s, but demonstrate that demand can support them. Sugar boiling is a skill which takes time to learn, like brewing or baking, so the best are much sought after – a textbook is no substitute for ten years’ “hands on” experience.

The rock companies have weathered post-war sugar rationing and later shortages, as well as the caprices of taxation, healthy eating regimes and food legislation, but still have a product that has changed little in over a century and remains popular as an icon of the seaside holiday.

Another distinctive rock belongs to the Isle of Man – they prefer theirs with a square section, and the three-legged Manx symbol running through it.

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