Monthly Archives: September 2008

Jim Pickard

Lord Oakeshott, Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, was horrified by the idea that Tory donors might have short-sold stocks, HBOS in particular (see my previous blog).

But what of Paul Marshall, co-founder of hedge fund Marshall Wace, who has given the Lib Dems about  £162,000 in recent years? Guido alludes today to the fact that Marshall Wace likes to short stocks. Read more

Jim Pickard

Some readers may be excited by the fact that Tory donors have sold some equities short during the recent financial crisis. That may seem like a gift to Labour during these perilous times.

But this is a time for cool heads. Bear in mind that the last high-minded group to attack short-sellers – the Church of England – was revealed as hypocritical last week when it emerged that its own investment arm uses similar practices. Read more

If any of you are interested in seeing the football prowess of George Parker, the FT political editor, in the Tories vs Hacks football game this morning, take a look at this video. Note the late, slightly pedestrian break into the box, and the stunning free kick that misses the bar by just 20 ft. Final score: Press 4 – Tories

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown has just told the UN that the “age of irresponsibility” is now close to its end.

Raising the obvious question: if everyone was so irresponsible, why did the Chancellor of the Exchequer (G.Brown, 1997-2007) do so little about it? The silliness in the banking world was not confined to the US, whatever the prime minister might claim. Read more

Jim Pickard

Three hundred and fifty powerful women from around the world gathered in New York on Wednesday night on behalf of the White Ribbon Alliance, a charity which campaigns to prevent death in childbirth. They included the PM’s wife.

The surprise guest was Sarah Palin, Republican vice-presidential candidate in the US presidential elections. I’m told by more than one source that she was rather unfriendly and resembled a “rabbit in the headlights”. Read more

Jim Pickard

We were given a list of 19 attendees at Gordon Brown’s Wall Street breakfast this morning. At least one didn’t make it…being rather busy. I wonder how many were actually there?

Jim Pickard

The PM gave his backing to Bush’s $700bn bailout plan this morning and has now announced plans to fly to Washington tomorrow to meet the US president.

This follows reports (FT and elsewhere) that Gordon Brown was snubbed by Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, who has no time to see him during this week’s visit. Read more

Jim Pickard

Some excitement in Westminster (apparently…I’m in New York with the hack pack following the PM) about Labour’s new plan for an online rebuttal unit.

This idea was floated at a fringe seminar in Manchester in Sunday at which Derek Draper – along with myself and two people from LabourHome and Liberal Conspiracy - discussed how the party can use blogs to improve its communications. Draper (pictured) is now advising the general secretary and his ideas are at an early stage. Read more

Jim Pickard

The FT was among many newspapers this morning to point out that Hank Paulson, US Treasury Secretary, had not found the time to meet Gordon Brown on his visit to New York. The PM had suggested – at Labour conference - that he would be meeting US financial regulators.

This doesn’t mean he has been snubbed by everyone. Mr Brown has just emerged from a power breakfast with some of the top names on Wall Street. They include Steve Schwarzman, chairman of Blackstone, Anne Marie Petach, CFO of BlackRock, and George Soros – who needs no introduction. Read more

Someone near Rugby is running around taking pot shots at trains. We’ve no idea whether anyone has been hurt, but the sniper is doing no favours for those of us travelling back to London from the Labour conference.

The entire West Coast mainline appears to have ground to a halt while a police helicopter hunts for the gunman. Our train has been stationary for at least an hour. Apparently Andrew Adonis, the schools minister, is in the train behind, singing along to his Ipod. If the queue at the canteen is any sign, a run on the coffee and wine has already started. The staff are doing a valiant job of keeping up spirits.  Read more

Jim Pickard

The transport secretary is resigning to spend more time with her family. It is an old and familiar formula.

In fact Mrs Kelly, a devout Christian, has been troubled over the upcoming embryology bill. I predicted this move in a blog last week. Read more

Jim Pickard

I only ask because on the Today programme the prime minister explained “naked short-selling” as the practice of institutions lending stocks to hedge funds who then sell them in order to buy them back later.

Er, that’s normal short-selling. Read more

Jim Pickard

The City knows which way the wind is blowing and is concerned. Stuart Fraser, chair of the policy and resources committee at the City of London Corporation, warned last night at an FT fringe event:

“I understand the pressures the politicians will be under but as we go forward governments and regulators should resist the temptation to pile on excessive red tape for the sake of it. Act in haste and repent at leisure is a good watchword for all regulators.” Read more

Jim Pickard

True, George Osborne didn’t sound desperately sympathetic to the plight of credit crunch victims when he said on Newsnight last week: “Well look, no one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others, but that is a function of capitalist markets.”

But that is NOT the same as the quote attributed to him by the prime minister just now: Read more

Jim Pickard

Nothing here in Manchester to suggest that Brown’s cabinet is remotely united – despite the warm words.

A few snippets: Read more

Jim Pickard

It’s a serious question. We are set to hear a lot of words on this as Gordon Brown jets to New York tomorrow to discuss international financial regulation. “Supervision can no longer be national, it has to be global,” he has just said in his speech.

But how will a global regulatory monolith – based in Tokyo, or Wall Street for example – be able to monitor financial services more effectively than a national one? Read more

Jim Pickard

Last week was the week in which the “world spun on its axis,” says the prime minister. Except it does day in day out.

And did I just hear him use the phrase “Servants of the People”? An expression famously used by Tony Blair in the late 1990s (and the title of an excellent book) but rapidly discredited as nonsense.

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown has just punched David Cameron well below the belt in the opening remarks of his setpiece Labour speech. Read more

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown has been basking in the credit taken for the temporary ban on City short-sellers.

No matter that a] the FSA denies that he had any influence over the decison whatsoever and b] the collapse in share prices was more due to institutions dumping stock than hedge funds short-selling (less than 5 per cent of HBOS was being shorted last week, compared to 30-40 per cent for some retailers). Read more

Jim Pickard

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