Friday, 20 February 2009

And The Winner Is...

'If it bleeds, it leads' seems to be the principle strategy of all our media. Never report the good and always exaggerate the bad. Last night's BBC Ten O'Clock news was a classic example.

Huw Edwards announced smugly that Sir John Gieve, the Deputy Governor of The Bank of England, had stated that the UK was destined for a Japanese L shaped depression lasting 10 years or more.

Small snag. He didn't actually say that. Even Stephanie Flanders, the BBC Economics Editor, who was doing the two-way had to concede it was just an off the cuff, light-hearted quip in response to a question at the end of a presentation. So much for responsible reporting.

But the wider issue here is that everyone is looking for the daily roll of bad news. No one is looking for the good, the light at the end of the tunnel. So let me be the first to pick some of the winners of our current economic woes:

1. David Cameron - No, really. Putting aside that frankly he could go on holiday for a year and with the drip, drip, drip of shit news for Brown over the next 12 months he'd still win the 2010 election, he really is going to be the winner here. Why? Because he is going to own a large chunk of the banking industry when the markets have improved enough to sell them back to the private sector. There will be massive windfalls for the Government of the day which will make the 3G licences bonus and previous Government flotations look weedy by comparison.

2. HSBC and Barclays - Again, no really. They have not had so many problems. They have not had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. With all the NuLab/union/media hype about bashing bankers and capping bonuses, in a year or two's time when things are considerably better, all the talent at RBS and Lloyds group will quietly slip off to HSBC and Barclays, where they will be able to be paid well. RBS and Lloyds will suffer the 1970s brain drain all over again.

3. Cash - 'Cash is King', now more then ever. If you have some of it, then you are laughing. What's that I hear you say? No one has any. Think again. If you are a public sector worker, working for example in the NHS or the education sector or in a Whitehall department or the military or the police and so on, is there any threat to your job? None. Zero. Null. So they have a steady income, not huge but some of these guys are not badly paid, and commodities have gone down, the mortgage has gone down. They have cash.

4. Property entrepreneurs - Those that are either cash rich because they sold assets at the right time or timed their rights issue well are going to win big. Right now those companies are rubbing their hands with glee. Land prices have tumbled so property is comparatively cheap, sites that were not viable for development in the last few years because the margin was not there now look attractive and there are many distressed assets that companies in trouble are/will be falling over themselves to sell off. My guess is that sometime around Easter we will see the really entrepreneurial companies hoovering up cheap assets. These guys don't make their money at the top or bottom of the market. They buy just before the bottom and sell just before the top. And then buy a new yacht.

5. Sir Phillip Green - He must be laughing himself silly at how little he is going to be able to pay for all the brands owned by Bauger, the Icelanders who have failed so terribly. Bauger owns House of Fraser, Whistles, Oasis, Karen Millen, Warehouse, Principles, Coast, Iceland, Mappin & Webb, Goldsmiths, Hamleys to name but a few. I predict it now: another £ billion bonus for Sir Phil in 2011.

6. Those of us with Middle Eastern wives - At last, I am a winner. You see, Mrs C likes to haggle. No, really she likes to haggle. A lot. Sometimes just for fun. It's in the genes. And she is saving Cragsbury plc lots of cash. She's haggled on the mortgage. She haggled on the new car purchase. Actually she has haggled on everything and anything really. She even haggled in Harrods the other day to get another £10 off a coat that was already marked down by 40% in the sale. And right now, if you are a haggler, your time has come.

No comments: