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Bbc's New Business Editor

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Well, Jeff Randall certainly went out with a bang and his replacement has now arrived, it's Robert Peston, former business editor of the Sunday Telegraph and political editor of the FT, and Gordon Brown's biographer

Remember when that biography came out last year in which Brown bitterly told Tony Blair that he "could never believe a word he said in the future", yup, that was from Robert Peston's book

This guy is interesting because he very much has his finger on the political pulse not just a subdued business editor - "The former Financial Times executive is a respected figure in the business world, and unusually, is as comfortable in Whitehall as he is in the City of London. He is seen by the people who matter as a person they can do business with."

I refered to this article yesterday about the Blairs' questionable hand in property speculation :-

The Blairs are buying: time to sell

There’s good news for those praying for a property price crash: Tony and Cherie Blair have just bought a house, and for the last decade they have been one of the best contrary indicators of the market around. Cherie may have been pretty shrewd when she picked up their last house in Islington for just £375,000 after arranging a swap with the previous owners, saving them the stamp duty and estate agent fees. But her decision to then sell it for £615,000 in 1997 when a well-flagged housing market boom was just getting under way was disastrous. The house was back on the market in May, with an asking price of £1.69m. Cherie was reported to be furious at having missed out on a cool £1m.

Her next dabble in the market was just as poorly timed. Indeed, her purchase of two luxury flats in Bristol for £525,000 seems to have marked the absolute top of the boom in buying new-build two-bedroom flats for letting in urban centres. Now the Blairs are selling, but once the stamp duty and estate agent fees are considered, local agents say they will be looking at a loss of £50,000.

The Blair’s latest deal - the purchase of an unexceptional Bayswater townhouse for an amazing £3.6m - looks like it might not bring them much joy either. Basically, says Robert Peston in The Sunday Telegraph, they are “taking a punt on the market, and a pretty hefty one at that” at a time when the combined forces of the IMF, the Bank of England and much of the City are predicting an imminent price slide.

He appears somewhat of a contrarian writing the following for the New Statesman when Railtrack collapsed :-

But one of the characteristics of the City that never fails to astound me is its blind spots. It is the most powerful data-processing machine: numbers, words, facts and figures zap into the stock exchange at an astonishing rate around the clock. And somehow all this data is ordered in milliseconds and out pops rational information in the form of share prices.

Yet every now and then, the market cannot grasp a simple truth - such as that Railtrack might go bust. I can write with some authority on this because, since January, I have been arguing that this was a strong possibility. But whether I was communicating in print or in person, I was aware that my message was not getting through. Nobody believed me. I could always tell, in spite of their polite expressions of interest, that people thought I was bonkers.

This helps to explain why a number of senior figures in the City have reacted in such an emotional way to Railtrack' s demise. It never occurred to them that they would one day be called on to grieve for the snuffing out of up to [pound]1.4bn of shareholders' wealth.

Politics - Robert Peston locates Labour's cancer

Unless Blair averts the looming public services spending crisis at home, his achievements on the world stage will not help Labour at the next election. By Robert Peston

To elucidate, the rate of public sector investment will have to be cut back sharply within the next few years if the government is to avoid breaching its self-imposed rule that national debt should not exceed 40 per cent of gross domestic product. There's no space here to rehearse whether it is a sensible limit. There are arguments for and against. However, breaching the threshold or cheating to avoid a breach by raising the threshold are no-nos. Labour's economic credibility would be shot to pieces in either case - and it's that credibility that has kept it in office for so long.


In any other circumstances, the Chancellor would simply drive through the spending review irrespective of complacency in 10 Downing Street. But there is unpropitious history here. Back in the early 1990s, when he was shadow chancellor, it was his determination to end Labour's profligate spending ambitions that cost Brown his standing as Labour's leader-in-waiting - and handed the leadership to Blair. At a moment when, second time around, he is almost a shoo-in as Labour's next leader, he won't be keen to alienate the party's electoral college of members, MPs and trade unionists by torching public projects.

So Brown is once again being forced to choose, between personal ambition and his convictions about what is in the fundamental interest of his party. And I'm surprised, given that dilemma, that the stress is not showing on him.

By saying that he has fought his last election campaign, Blair has engineered a situation in which neither his interests nor those of his Chancellor are directly aligned with the interests of their party. He has created a cancer that will destroy Labour unless it is cut out - and soon.

On an unrelated note there is a programme on BBC Radio 4 tonight at called "The Greenspan Years", 8pm.


The Greenspan Years

Alan Greenspan, as Chairman of the US's Federal Reserve, has been one of the world's most powerful men for almost 20 years, but is about to retire. Sir Howard Davies, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and former Chairman of the UK's Financial Services Authority, presents a unique insight into the impact and legacy of Greenspan.

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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