Markets Stutter

The Global markets have has a broadly positive start to 2012, but they seem to have run into something of a speed-bump. The MSCI Developed Market Equity Index jumped by an impressive nine percentage points – but it seems as though the markets are now taking something of a step back while they wait to see how certain critical issues are developing.

One of the most important issues right now is Greece. Though the most recent bailout was able to go ahead, there are still some questions remaining. The short term solvency and liquidity menace has been dealt with. What remains is an economy that is in free-fall (not being helped by the forced austerity measures).

One of the big issues around Greece is how the rest of the Euro member countries are likely to approach the situation going forward. The key piece in this jigsaw is believed to be France, with the upcoming Presidential elections being talked up as a decisive factor.

There has been good news from Germany, and that has been one of the things raising optimism in the markets. Although Gross Domestic Product fell slightly last year, the fundamentals of a strong economy are in place, and the outlook for business is being predicted to remain favourable.

The UK has been showing a few optimistic signs of recovery as well. Progress is slow, but consumer spending growth during January has been one ray of light.

Oil is proving problematic. The ‘go-grease’ is presenting something of a hazard to investors. Brent oil has been nearing the prices it hit at its peak before the war in Libya. The price then was $127 a barrel. It is thought that if the price reaches $150 then that is a level which will cause severe economic consequences.

Trying times are ahead. No doubt portfolio management specialists will be keeping their eyes on the news.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Things For The New Year At Work

There are a number of new years resolutions that you should be making for yourself and your business. Here are a few of the top ones, but doubtless you will be able to think of many many others.

The first thing you should resolve to improve should be attendance and punctuality. This is a very important thing which could be costing your organisation untold sums in lost productivity. Important for yourself because everyone’s job is in danger nowadays and any excuse to get rid of someone will do, and important for your staff for the same reason.

Improving morale should be a must. These are times that can seem a little bleak, so anything that can be done to improve the way your staff and colleagues are feeling is going to be a step in the right direction. A humorous sign on your desk may help, or perhaps a classic office prank.

Safety is a big thing nowadays, and not just becasue of regulations. If someone dies or gets badly hurt at work it not only spoils the day, the consequences can go on costing the company money, and thats no good. Health and safety training exists for a reason.

Get healthy. It is already illegal to smoke inside, but why not go the whole hog and tell your employees that they are not allowed to smoke outside the building or in their cars as well? Carbon monoxide testing means that you can even stop them from indulging in the filthy habit on their own time and in their own homes! Sounds far fetched? Possibly, but some employers in the states have been doing just that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Beat Inflation

When your money loses its buying power due to inflation, is there anything that you can do?

Inflation is not just an abstract economical concept; it is a real thing that will affect your finances throughout your life.

Inflation is when your money loses its value, and it takes more money to buy the same amount of things. Over the years, our money becomes gradually worth less and less.

What is the cause of this? The first trick to understanding inflation is remembering that our money isn’t really inherently worth anything. It is simply a symbol which represents wealth, because everyone has agreed on it’s worth. However, sometimes the government decides that it needs to print more money. This doesn’t actually increase wealth in any way and it actually makes the currency worth less because, according to the laws of supply and demand, actual paper money is now less valuable.

How Does it Hurt You?

You might not realize that inflation is hurting you, but over time it can slowly erode the value of your wealth. The average yearly rate of inflation is approximately 3.4%. This means that every year the money that you own is worth 3.43% less. Although this doesn’t sound like much, it adds up over time. For example, if you have an investment that is making you a 6% return each year, you are actually only making around 2.6% when you factor in inflation.

How Can You Beat Inflation?

There are a few ways that you can protect your wealth against the long term effects of inflation:

Own a Home

Over a stretch of several decades, owning a house is a great investment to beat inflation. While house prices fluctuate from time to time, over a long period they are almost certain to rise. Not only is real estate one of the most practical and effective investments you can have, it will also allow you to earn income by renting out part of your home. If you are poised to buy a home at a moment when the market has dipped and the prices are low, you will be investing in a great asset that will give you long term financial security. Becoming a homeowner is a big step, but there are first time buyer mortgages available, which can sometimes make it a bit easier.

Invest in Precious Metals

During a period of recession, it can be a good idea to invest in precious metals such as gold or silver. The values of these commodities are not affected by how much paper money is in circulation, and so they are relatively safe from inflation. They can serve as a crisis hedge when times get hard, and owning some precious metals will make your investment portfolio more diverse and secure.

Get a Raise

Work hard and do things that get you noticed in your career, because getting a raise can be important to beating inflation. When you earn the same salary every year, with the effects of inflation you are actually earning 3% less every year. If you can convince your boss that you have taken on more responsibility and deserve more pay, it is a good idea to ask for that raise!

These are just a few things that you can do to avoid feeling the squeeze of inflation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EU In Doing Something Worthwhile Shock

For years farmers have been pumping their animals full of random antibiotics. the problem with this is that it has contributed to the development of infections that can not be treated with these antibiotics. Some people had speculated that it was only a matter of time before all antibiotics stopped working and we would take a massive step back medically. It is easy to forget how many infections would prove fatal in the days before penicillin. It would be a true disaster to go back, so any measure to prevent this from happening must surely be a good thing.

Amplify’d from

A quick post, because I’m on a ferocious deadline, but still can’t let this news go by. In a vote that’s non-binding but high profile and influential, the European Parliament has resolved to end “prophylactic use” of antibiotics in farming, and to prevent any “last resort” antibiotics from being used in animals, in order to keep resistance from developing so that the drugs will still be effective in human medicine.

This is a significant development. The European Union has already banned “growth promotion,” the use of micro-doses of antibiotics that cause meat animals to fatten more quickly. What the Parliament is doing here is asking the European Commission, the EU’s law-making body, to add “disease prevention” use to the ban. That’s the delivery of treatment-strength doses of antibiotics to all animals on a farm in order to prevent their becoming ill as a result of the confinement conditions in which they are held. It accounts for a substantial portion of the antibiotics used in agriculture, and is a major driver of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Clocks

If you have problems being on time, then this might be a nightmare. We already have our lives enriched by nuclear weapons, now the awesome power power of nuclear is could be directed at a new foe – time itself!

Amplify’d from

ATOMIC clocks are the basis of GPS devices, they define the official length of the second and recently played a role in tracking subatomic particles that seemingly travelled faster than the speed of light. Now this “ultimate” timekeeper has a rival: a new method for making nuclear clocks suggests such devices could be 60 times as accurate as their atomic rivals.

A nuclear clock has not yet been made but the idea would be to use the atomic nucleus like a tuning fork. A nucleus will jump to a higher energy state, then fall back down, and jump up again, only if it is hit with a very specific frequency of light. Tuning a laser so that it prompts these jumps is a way to set its frequency with a phenomenal level of precision. The frequency can then be used like a clock’s tick to keep time.

A similar method is used in atomic clocks, except it is the electrons orbiting the nucleus that make the energy jump. The most accurate atomic clocks drift by an amount equivalent to just 4 seconds since the big bang. In principle, a nuclear clock could smash that. Ambient electric and magnetic fields affect electrons in atomic clocks, causing errors, but they would influence the tightly bound particles in the nucleus much less.

While nuclear clocks made from thorium atoms, which can be excited with relatively low-energy ultraviolet light, were first proposed in 2003, whether they would actually be more accurate than their atomic rivals was unclear. The exact frequency needed to excite a nucleus depends on the configuration of its orbiting electrons, which can vary, introducing uncertainty.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Health and Safety Training Important?

Health and safety training is often overlooked. However it is of the foremost importance in the work place – here’s why?

Over 200 people are killed every year because of accidents at work and at least one million people are injured with two million suffering illness due to work. This makes the whole idea of health and safety training a very important one in the eyes of the government, employers and employees. Anything to reduce such an incidence of accidents is a positive.

The provision of Health and safety training has a number of benefits. The most obvious is to ensure that people aren’t injured in the work place. However there are other benefits that come with the provision of health and safety training.

Health and safety training allow you to develop a positive and respected safety culture in a company and it becomes second nature to everyone. This in turn is naturally passed on and creates a atmosphere that is passed on to everyone easily. Training also allows companies to see where they lack and how they could manage problems better, as well as this it allows practitioners to meet their legal duty and protect their employees.

This has other effects on the business and the companies. Health and safety training can result in a lower incidence of injury and so also means lower insurance premiums for companies. In many cases insurance doesn’t cover injuries so both the business and the person may be at a loss.  It can also mean taking a lot more stress off the company through ensuring that all employees are healthy and capable of doing their job to the full.

Health and safety training also prevents distress to other workers and ensures that people are confident to carry out their work to the highest possible standard, without being wary of any issues at hand.

In many cases injury can cause a huge loss of money to a business, through the lack of moral that may come about between injured people, the workforce and the leaders of the business. Damaged products or lost production can also cause a huge loss of money for business and creates numerous short and long term issues.

The law requires that a business provides a person or its employees with whatever information, instruction and training that is needed as is reasonable practible to ensure that the health and safety of employees is met.

Everyone involved in a business needs health and safety training, from you, to the employers, to the employees. There is no escaping the fact that dangerous practices take place every day from all sides and people use equipment not suitable for the job at hand on a daily basis. Extensive training can help to eradicate this.

Health and safety training is not something to take lightly and is in fact an integral part of business, it can save your life, your money and legal issues in the future.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dehli’s Traffic Chaos

The roads in India really are something else. Just the thought of getting off a plane and into a hire car in Delhi is enough to make anybody who has seen it burst into a cold sweat.

To have roads that are that dangerous with no real recourse to the law is terrifying. In the UK we are lucky that there is a fairly robust response to road traffic accidents.

Amplify’d from
Traffic in Delhi

‘Lane driving’ is seen as an odd foreign practice. The result is gridlock

Delhi’s urban sprawl is now so extensive that entire satellite cities, where several million people live, have disappeared into the mass of the metropolis. Gurgaon, the new town to the south, is still separated by a thin belt of scrubby grassland, but Noida, the vast development to the east, is, to all intents and purposes, part of the city. If these satellites are included, the city’s population probably touches 25 million. This is set to increase further as economic growth sucks in villagers from across the country.

At 7am, in the cooler, clearer morning, driving over the crumbling flyovers, there is relative calm. You can look in one direction and see the pristine marble-tiled dome of the tomb of the Muslim Mughal emperor Humayun. In the other, the modern forms of a Bahá’í temple marks the horizon. Kites and crows wheel overhead. Dogs forage in the rubbish at the roadside. A few auto-rickshaws putter straight down the centre of the three- or four-lane carriageway, not much faster than the bicycles ridden by the night-watchmen returning from their shift.

By 9am this (relatively) bucolic vision is long gone. In 2008, a government report announced that the ring road had reached capacity with 110,000 vehicles a day and predicted the total would reach 150,000 cars, trucks, buses and bikes by the end of the decade. In fact, continuing economic growth, the new middle class’s demand for cars and the parlous, if improving, public transport system has meant even more vehicles than feared. Some estimates are as high as 200,000. As “lane driving” is seen as an odd, foreign practice, the result is gridlock.

This gridlock evolves, however. The buses are slightly less empty mid-morning, then refill with schoolchildren and students. The dreaded privately owned Blueline buses, badly maintained and driven as fast as possible to maximise profits, have gone. Those that have replaced them are marginally better, but still often flatten small cars and motorbikes. There is an opening around 2pm when the traffic eases, but by 5pm, the ring road is a strip of snarling, grinding vehicles. The buses, now with passengers packed against doors and windows, loom like ships full of refugees above a choppy sea of jerking cars. The air is black with fumes. The new cars – Audis, BMWs, huge imported SUVs – sit bumper to bumper. Labour is so cheap in India that a minor retired bureaucrat is likely to have a driver, even if the vehicle is a tiny, battered Suzuki. The really wealthy have a uniformed chauffeur.

After rush hour, there is a lull. The day workers have gone home. The buses even have empty seats. There is a new peril however: the minivans used by call centres. They race to get their passengers to their offices as fast as possible, hurtling up inside lanes, jinking between slower vehicles like a footballer dribbling his way through a pack of defenders. Part of their haste is explained by the approaching deadline that heralds the next phase in the life of the road: the trucks.

At 10pm, the police allow the heavy goods vehicles that need to traverse Delhi into the city. With no proper bypass, a small army of honking, overloaded, low-geared, multicoloured road behemoths gathers during the afternoon on all approach roads. These now clank forward, filling two of three available lanes with an apparently inexhaustible convoy carrying construction materials, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, from Udaipur to Chandigarh, from Agra to Amritsar, from Bareilly to Jammu.

By 1am most of the trucks are through and the final phase begins. Road deaths in India reach 140,000 a year. This means that every two years, more people died in accidents in the country than were killed in total in the 2004 tsunami. Most fatal accidents in Delhi occur in the small hours, when fast cars driven by young, wealthy and often drunk men hurtle across the city. These regularly career out of control to hit families sleeping on the pavement, insomniacs, nightshift workers, even traffic policemen. Hit and runs are the rule, not the exception. Those with the means bribe their way out of trouble. The casualties or their families may get some compensation, if the culprit can be traced.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment