Monthly Archives: October 2013

Emily Cadman

It is déjà vu time for Sony investors as the Japanese electronics company revises down its income expectations again.

The profit warning is the latest in a slew of downgrades over the past few years – in 2011 Sony infamously downgraded its net income forecasts four times.

The red bars below are Sony’s net income forecasts for 2011 at various times, and the blue bar shows the actual net loss of Y456.7bn.

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Emily Cadman

The Financial Times has won two prestigious Eppy awards for excellence in online journalism.

The UK Austerity Audit, a data-led project investigating the impact of sweeping benefit changes on local economies, won in the best investigative feature category and the FT picked up a second gong for the best mobile website. Read more

Emily Cadman

Tim Berners-Lee (c) Getty

New research from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation and the Open Data Institute places the UK at the top of the league table for open data, ahead of the United States.

The report comes ahead of an open government summit in London where David Cameron is to announce a proposal for a public register of company ownership which will show who ultimately owns and controls businesses.

The survey of the state of open data in 77 counties, notes that 55 per cent of the countries surveyed now have open data initiatives, but reiterates familiar problems for all users of open data:

  • Valuable but potentially controversial datasets – such as company registers and land registers – are among the least likely to be openly released
  • When they are released, government datasets are often issued in inaccessible formats
  • Less than 7 per cent of the datasets surveyed are published in both machine readable forms and under open licences
  • Data is often released only in highly aggregated forms
  • Whilst countries might boast about releasing hundreds of datasets, if they aren’t the numbers demanded by citizens or those than can enable transparency or innovation there is little potential to deliver impact

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Wokingham is the top area in Great Britain for technology jobs, with the silicon sector accounting for more than five times as large a share of its labour market than the national average.

According to a report compiled by data firm Markit for KPMG, the south east of England is host to almost two in every five local authorities with technology employment location quotients (LQs) greater than 1.0, indicating that tech jobs comprise a larger proportion of the local job market than the equivalent figure across England, Wales and Scotland.

Sources: Markit Economics for KPMG, using ONS data Read more

The rise in US food prices accelerated in September and has continued into October, according to a detailed study of retail prices – though the US federal government shutdown has robbed financial markets of any official measures of the state of the economy.

These unofficial inflation figures, from a US start-up called Premise, highlight the growing use of massive data collection and analysis – known as “big data” – to supplement and in some cases replace official economic statistics.

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Government climate change policies will save the typical household £41 in energy bills by 2030 according to figures released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, although the same policies will increase the retail price of electricity by 41 per cent.

One of the ways DECC achieves its net savings figure is by assuming sizeable energy efficiency savings over the coming decades. By 2030, the document projects efficiency savings equivalent to 5 per cent of what the typical dual fuel bill would be were the policies not put in place.

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Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) today announced that its typical dual fuel energy bill will rise in price by 8.2 per cent in November.

SSE is blaming the price hike on increases in wholesale energy costs, network distribution charges and changes to the government schemes energy companies pay into. SSE’s own figures, however, show the biggest increase in any component of the bill comes under other costs at its end including profit margins.

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Keith Fray

Sachin Tendulkar, India’s greatest batsman, is to retire from all forms of cricket, after playing two more international matches (Tests) to take his total to 200.

This is the most Tests played by anyone, and over 30 more than the next two cricketers in line – former Australian skippers Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh.

Cricket fans – in common with baseball nuts – love lists. And Tendulkar sits at the top of most. Read more

Kate Allen

South Korea is perhaps the most over-educated country in the world.

More people are enrolled in its universities and colleges than are in the target age group for tertiary education. This is probably due to older people and foreigners. Read more

Kate Allen

Japan is set to raise its consumption (sales) tax for the first time since 1997.

The last time the sales tax rate was raised, the hike was blamed by some economists for the country’s subsequent slump into recession (though the Asian financial crisis was perhaps a bigger contributor).

Japan GDP Read more

Emily Cadman

Most of the US statistical agencies are facing near-complete closure during the governmental shutdown, raising doubts about whether the US government will be able to stick to the planned data release schedule in the coming weeks.

The non-farm payroll numbers in particular are crucial information for the Federal Reserve as it weighs whether to ease back on its QE programme. Read more