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It Was Never About Ukraine

It Was Never About Ukraine

In his March 21 press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price told the gathered reporters that “President Zelenskyy has also made it very clear that he is open to a diplomatic solution that does not compromise the core principles at the heart of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.” A reporter asked Price, “What are you saying about your support for a negotiated settlement à la Zelenskyy, but on whose principles?” In what still may be the most remarkable statement of the war, Price responded, “this is a war that is in many ways bigger than Russia, it’s bigger than Ukraine.”

Price, who a month earlier had discouraged talks between Russia and Ukraine, rejected Kiev negotiating an end to the war with Ukraine’s interests addressed because US core interests had not been addressed. The war was not about Ukraine’s interests: it was bigger than Ukraine.

A month later, in April, when a settlement seemed to be within reach at the Istanbul talks, the US and UK again pressured Ukraine not to pursue their own goals and sign an agreement that could have ended the war. They again pressured Ukraine to continue to fight in pursuit of the larger goals of the US and its allies. Then British prime minister Boris Johnson scolded Zelensky that Putin “should be pressured, not negotiated with.” He added that, even if Ukraine was ready to sign some agreements with Russia, the West was not.”

Once again, the war was not about Ukraine’s interests: it was bigger than Ukraine.

At every opportunity, Biden and his highest ranking officials have insisted “that it’s up to Ukraine to decide how and when or if they negotiate with the Russians” and that the US won’t dictate terms: “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” But that has never been true…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

UK Food Inflation Hits Record High As Discretionary Income Evaporates Ahead Of Dark Winter

UK Food Inflation Hits Record High As Discretionary Income Evaporates Ahead Of Dark Winter

Brits have watched double-digit inflation wipe out any wage gains in one of the worst cost-of-living crises in a generation. Many have gone into debt, paying for things such as food, energy, and shelter. Others have been left with little or no discretionary income ahead of a very dark and cold winter.

Research company Kantar published a new survey Tuesday that revealed startling food inflation numbers for October that soared at the fastest pace in 14 years.

Kantar said annual grocery prices rose to 14.7% last month, the fastest since the research firm began tracking prices.

Consumers are expected to pay an additional £682 in their annual grocery bill if they continue buying the same items. 

The survey found that 27% of all households are “struggling financially,” double the amount from last November. Nine in ten respondents said food inflation is a top concern, while energy bills were second.

“So it’s clear just how much grocery inflation is hitting people’s wallets and adding to their domestic worries,” Kantar said. 

Kantar revealed consumers are switching from name-brand items to cheap private-label store brands to save money:

Own label sales have jumped again by 10.3% over the latest four weeks, as shoppers adopt different strategies to manage their budgets. The branded goods market grew far slower at 0.4%.

In a separate study, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found a whopping 7 million families have given up on heating, showers, and toiletries this year due to the cost-of-living crisis squeezing discretionary income.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research, which publishes the Asda tracker, found that after paying taxes for housing, heating, and food, 20% of earners in the second lowest income have nothing left to spend, according to Bloomberg.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Russia Accuses British Navy Of Nord Stream “Terrorist Attack”

Russia Accuses British Navy Of Nord Stream “Terrorist Attack”

Russia’s defense ministry on Saturday issued a statement charging that the British Navy blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month, in what marks the first formal and direct accusation leveled against the UK over the major incident which put Europe’s energy supplies in doubt.

“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year – blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” the ministry said, though without specifying any evidence.

AFP/Getty Images

The Kremlin earlier in a more broad accusation pointed the finger at NATO countries, including Britain, saying that NATO forces had conducted military exercises around the exact location the undersea explosions occurred. The accusation follows a Russian Foreign Ministry claim that NATO conducted a military exercise during the summer, close to the location where the undersea explosions occurred.

“In July, there were NATO drills with the use of deep-sea equipment in the area of the island of Bornholm,” a foreign ministry briefing said days after the Sept.26 blasts. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharovathe said the region “was crammed with NATO infrastructure” at the time of the sabotage attack.

In follow-up during his annexation of the four Ukrainian territories speech on Sept.30, President Putin mounted this attack on the West:

Putin claimed that the “Anglo-Saxons” in the West have turned from sanctions on Russia to “terror attacks,” sabotaging the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in what he described as an attempt to “destroy the European energy infrastructure.”

He added that “those who profit from it have done it,” without naming a specific country.

UK Grid Operator Offers Households Money To Stop Using Appliances Amid Energy Crisis

UK Grid Operator Offers Households Money To Stop Using Appliances Amid Energy Crisis

The National Grid warned Britons of winter power blackouts earlier this month if it can’t import enough natural gas and electricity from other parts of Europe. According to Daily Mail, the grid operator developed a new scheme to prevent the worst-case scenario of power outages by offering households equipped with smart meters to turn off appliances during peak demand times.

National Grid’s scheme pays households up to £20 per day if they don’t use energy-intensive appliances, such as electric ovens and stoves, washing machines, tumble dryers, televisions, microwaves, and even video game consoles, between 4 pm and 7 pm or 2 pm until 9 pm over the next five months.

They will be advised to use washing machines, tumble dryers, ovens, dishwashers and other appliances outside those periods so boffins can measure how much energy is saved on the grid when it is at its busiest. If the entire proposed £3 per kwh rebate if passed on to Britons by their supplier, over five months this could mean around £240 off their bills in total. –Daily Mail 

The grid operator hopes the ‘demand flexibility service’ will save 2GW of electricity — equivalent to powering 1 million homes — during peak demand hours to thwart supply and demand imbalances that could result in power rationing.

“But the scheme relies on users having a controversial smart meter, a device which automatically transmits your energy usage to your provider,” Daily Mail said. 

Remember in the US, over the summer, when households in Colorado could not control their own smart thermostats after the local power company digitally seized them to prevent people from increasing cooling demand during a heatwave. There are risks when using anything smart.

This winter could be reminiscent of power outages experienced in the 1970s across the UK if power generators cannot get enough NatGas to operate.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Cash For Fracking: UK Households May Receive Payouts For Allowing Fracking

Cash For Fracking: UK Households May Receive Payouts For Allowing Fracking

  • The UK lifted its long-running ban on fracking last month.
  • UK households could soon receive cash payouts for allowing fracking in their neighborhoods.
  • Drilling companies could soon go door to door in Britain, offering money in exchange for fracking support.

UK households could soon receive cash payouts for allowing fracking in their neighborhoods, media reported on Monday.

The UK may have lifted its long-running ban on fracking last month, but its fracking industry still has one big hurdle that it must overcome: local opposition.

Fracking has been criticized for its reported ties to earthquakes and other environmental damage, and has fallen out of favor. The practice’s sullied reputation has led to its ban in several countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and until recently, the UK.

Despite its pariah status, fracking managed to make its way into the hearts and minds of Texans to eventually become the backing behind the United States’ rise to stardom within the global oil and gas industry. Fracking was able to make inroads in the U.S. shale patch precisely because locals benefited from the fracking activity by way of receiving money from the oil and gas taxes that the states collected, which then flowed into the areas that allowed it.

That those areas benefited greatly from the fracking dollars cannot be denied. Now Britain, too, is taking a page from the U.S. shale handbook: paying households £1,000 for allowing fracking in their areas. But the money will come directly from drillers rather than from industry tax revenue.

Drilling companies could soon go door to door in Britain, according to media reports on Monday, offering money in exchange for fracking support.

When the UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss removed the fracking ban last month, she did so with one caveat: it would only be allowed in communities that showed at least 50% support. Drillers must now gain half the residents over to the controversial practice in order to commence drilling.

Is the United Kingdom on the Road to Economic Collapse?

Is the United Kingdom on the Road to Economic Collapse?

There’s trouble across the pond and it’s only going to get worse as winter quickly approaches.

While it’s most fashionable to talk about the dire economic situation currently taking place in the US, the situation in Europe is so much worse.

There are talks of massive energy bill hikes and even the lights literally going out across Europe. This is the product of the toxic combination of a misguided sanctions war against Russia and Europe’s decision to transition towards inefficient green energy sources.

As a result, folks across the pond are going to be in for a rough winter.

If you’re an America, you should feel safe knowing that our situation could be much worse…at least for now.

Now for residents of the United Kingdom, that’s a different story.

The UK is now facing inflation levels that haven’t been seen in decades. On top of that, energy and food prices have been soaring lately.

Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister, is now tasked with trying to get the country’s economic house in order.

Truss is currently proposing a plan to cut taxes (good), while raising spending (bad). It’s basically a moderate form of Keynesianism, which does not resolve any of the UK’s structural economic problems.

Instead of cutting spending and red tape, while also getting the UK’s monetary house in order, Truss’s new economic proposal worsens the country’s fiscal situation and will only further ignite inflation.

What’s taking place in the UK is not unique to the island. Most economies in the West are over-taxed, over-regulated, and feature central banks who have no regard for monetary restraint.

It’s small wonder why these countries are in such dire straits.

Will the UK be one of the first high-profile victims of the economic doom spiral engulfing the West?

Check out George Gammon’s most recent video on why there’s nothing but bad things coming to the island nation.

P.S. – The West is experiencing an existential economic crisis.

Revolution In Air As Brits Burn Power Bills Amid Historic Energy Crisis

Revolution In Air As Brits Burn Power Bills Amid Historic Energy Crisis

Energy prices for millions of households across the UK rose on Saturday. Soaring power bills amid the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation led to a continuation of growing discontent ahead of the dark winter.

Thousands of Brits marched in London and other metro areas this weekend in protest of being thrown into energy poverty while inflation is at forty-year highs.

There were countless videos on social media showing Brits holding signs about their dire financial situation. “Can’t afford to live,” “Freeze profit, not people,” and “Eat the Tories,” read some of the signs people held. 

The protest was organized by Don’t Pay UK, an anonymous group spearheading the effort to have more than one million Brits boycott paying their power bills this winter (the movement is nearly 200,000 strong).

“Millions of us simply won’t be able to keep our heads above water and many will freeze when the weather turns cold,” a spokesman for the campaign said.

The protest coincided with the new energy price cap that took effect on Saturday, increasing the power bill average per household from £1,971 to £2,500 annually. Without this government intervention, annual bills would’ve continued skyrocketing.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss said that the government’s support for households and businesses shields them from energy hyperinflation. Meanwhile, Truss’ support is already in turmoil. Labour leads the Conservatives by a stunning 33%, according to a recent YouGov poll, up from 14% when she assumed power just three weeks ago.

However, the price cap for a typical household has doubled since last year — the massive increase has sparked discontent among Brits who are crushed by a cost-of-living crisis.

The UK Misery Index is at its worst level in three decades. We noted that Half Of UK Households Will Be In Fuel-Poverty By January last week. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Futures Crash, Stocks At 2022 Lows; Yields, Dollar Explode As UK Stimulus Plan Sparks Global Market Panic

Futures Crash, Stocks At 2022 Lows; Yields, Dollar Explode As UK Stimulus Plan Sparks Global Market Panic

One week after stocks suffered their biggest drop since June, futures are in freefall on Friday with the dollar soaring to the now default daily record high…

… 10Y yields exploding higher, surging more than 10bps so far today…

… in what appears to be the latest bond market flash smash which has pushed 10Y yields to the highest level since 2010…

… and S&P futures plunging over 1.4%, and the S&P set to open at a fresh 2022 low…

… with futures set to drop nearly 5% (or more) for a 2nd consecutive week, and down 5 of the past 6 weeks!

Besides the soaring dollar, two other drivers contributed to today’s widespread market panic:

  • first, the shocking UK mini budget saw the country’s new administration slash tax rates by the most since 1970s at a time when the country is about to enter recession and is battling with runaway inflation which crashed UK bonds and sent the pound tumbling to a 37 year low as markets priced in a more aggressive pace of tightening to offset the government’s growth plan,
  • second, traders also freaked out over a Goldman research report which slashed the bank’s S&P price-target to just 3,600 from 4,300, making the bank one of the biggest bears on Wall Street.

In premarket trading, Costco shares declined 3.3% as analysts flagged that volatility may remain high for the company’s shares. Analysts mostly welcomed its report of modest improvements in inflation and supply chains. here are the other notable premarket movers:

  • AMD shares dropped 1.5% in premarket trading as Morgan Stanley trimmed price target to $95 from $102, citing a worsening PC end market and headwinds on the client business, including a collapse in gaming GPUs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Liz Truss warned of mass bankruptcies if firms left in limbo over energy bills

Prime minister to lead nation in a minute’s silence to honour the Queen’s legacy ahead of funeral.

Liz Truss is facing a political and economic baptism of fire this week with warnings of mass bankruptcies across the economy – even as the new prime minister prepares to lead the nation in a minute’s silence on Sunday night to honour the Queen’s legacy.

Before the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday and her burial at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Truss will appear on the steps of No 10 on Sunday night at 8pm as part of a final national “moment of reflection” on the monarch’s life and legacy.

Downing Street is hoping that people will take part in their homes and on their doorsteps across the UK. Sailors, soldiers and air crews from the armed forces stationed overseas will also pause, including on ships and in bases, in what government officials believe could become a global event.

But with the period of national mourning ending after the funeral, when Truss will fly to New York to attend the UN general assembly, and with MPs returning to Westminster on Wednesday or Thursday, the transition back to normal politics will be sudden and potentially bruising for a prime minister who had only been in office for two days before the Queen’s death.

On Saturday night, leading UK business organisations were renewing pressure on ministers for “absolute clarity” on what help government would offer them with their energy bills and warning of dire consequences if they continued to be left in limbo over the level of support in the medium term.

The new business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, will make an announcement on support for business on Wednesday to be followed by a mini-budget by the new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Friday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nobody could have seen it coming

Nobody could have seen it coming

Eighteen months ago, the UK average annual combined gas and electricity bill was £1,287.  Later this week, we expect to learn that it will rise to £3,582 in October and to £4,266 in January 2023.  Not, in reality, that anybody is going to pay that amount.  All but those at the very top of the income ladder will instead cut back on energy use, with those at the bottom forced to self-disconnect.  The problem is far worse for business users, who are not “protected” by the price “cap” imposed by the regulator.  Energy is often the third largest cost – after wages and taxes – to businesses which have already been struggling with higher input and debt-servicing costs.  What this is pointing to is a major affordability crisis this winter, with growing concerns for public health and the likelihood of a recessionary wave of business insolvencies.

As with the 2008 crash, the Versailles-on-Thames establishment are keen to point out that “nobody could have seen it coming.”  After all, “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” coming just as the economy was staggering out of a two-year pandemic – itself arriving just months after the UK finalised Brexit – amounts to a combination of events which would have been considered outlandish in a work of fiction…  except that a work of partial fiction – a docudrama – accurately set out the main causes of the UK’s current energy woes eighteen years ago.

In 2003, BBC programme makers began work on a series called “If… ,” which aimed to explore the future crises which required political leaders to act immediately, using drama to make the point.  The three series, which were broadcast between March 2004 and May 2006, tackled issues like the impact of obesity on public health, the growing disparity between rich and poor, and intergenerational conflict between the boomers and millennials…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK “Passed Debt And Death Sentence On Millions” By Increasing Energy Price Cap By 80%

UK “Passed Debt And Death Sentence On Millions” By Increasing Energy Price Cap By 80%

The 80% rise in the U.K.’s cap for consumer electricity and natural gas bills this fall will drive millions of households into energy poverty this winter as the worsening cost-of-living crisis stokes fears of recession.

All the chatter today among British people is energy regulator Ofgem’s rise in the cap on power bills to a record £3,549 ($4,189) beginning Oct. 1 from £1,971 ($2,330) at present. That cap is expected to rise to £5,439 ($6,427) by January and £7,272 ($8,594) by spring — all due to skyrocketing wholesale NatGas and electricity prices caused by declining Russian energy supplies to Europe, made worse by Western sanctions that have backfired.

Source: Bloomberg 

“An increase of this much cannot be budgeted for by households with no wiggle room,” said Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy for the National Energy Action charity. “Come October, low-income households will simply not turn on their heating.”

Reuters spoke to one Brit, Philip Keetley, who said:

“The cost of living has increased and yet you’re still expected to live on the money provided for when there wasn’t a crisis … I either can have my heating on or eat.” 

Another Brit, Dawn White, who has kidney failure, fears the cost of soaring energy costs means she won’t be able to afford life-saving medical treatment:

“Without my (dialysis) machine five times a week, 20 hours, I will die,” the 59-year-old woman said. 

Soaring energy inflation has crushed real earnings for Brits, forcing many to pull back on spending.

Source: Bloomberg 

The higher cap rate could push inflation to even more elevated levels as U.K. economists at Citi warned CPI inflation could reach a mindboggling 18.6% print in January due to soaring energy prices.

The last time CPI printed above 18% was during the stagflationary years of the mid-1970s (more precisely, 1976) after an oil supply shock led to soaring energy prices worldwide.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Winter is Coming for the UK

Winter is Coming for the UK

The outlook for the UK looks increasingly grim. There are few reasons to hope a new government can reverse the mounting consumer fears, stagflation and the growing sense of decline.

“Tell them the North remembers. Tell them Winter is Coming.”

This morning. The outlook for the UK looks increasingly grim. There are few reasons to hope a new government can reverse the mounting consumer fears, stagflation and the growing sense of decline.

Yesterday was cold, wet and grey. The sudden end of the glorious summer highlights how dark and bleak the mood in the UK has become. UK Consumer confidence has collapsed to levels not seen since the 1970s. London has ground to a halt with tube and rail strikes. Its not just the cost of living crisis – which, to be blunt, has only just begun and will get much, much worse as winter deepens– but folk are losing confidence in the broken mechanics of the economy, the absence of leadership and a growing sense things won’t get any better.

The country feels like its sinking into a treacle of energy-sucking, suffocating despond. Everything in Britain feels broken: the NHS is too crowded to treat patients, excess death rates show untreated cancers, heart-disease and stokes from lockdown now far outnumber Covid deaths, the police are so overloaded they have stopped even bothering to investigate crime, while airports are blocked, trains don’t work, and it really doesn’t matter because you can’t get a passport or driving licence renewed. As the rains come down, we’re under threat of dire authoritarian punishment if we dare use a garden hose – although to be fair, who is going to arrest you?

Thank heaven we’re about to get a new prime minister – SARCASM ALERT.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Revolution Has Begun”: 75,000 Brits To Stop Paying Power Bills Amid Inflation Storm

“Revolution Has Begun”: 75,000 Brits To Stop Paying Power Bills Amid Inflation Storm

The resistance is growing as more than 75,000 irritated people in the UK have pledged not to pay their electricity bill this fall when prices jump again.

“75,000 people have pledged to strike on October 1st! If the government & energy companies refuse to act then ordinary people will! Together we can enforce a fair price and affordable energy for all,” tweeted “Don’t Pay UK,” an anonymous group spearheading the effort to have more than one million Brits boycott paying their power bill by Oct. 1.

The strike comes as an inflation storm of high energy prices has obliterated household incomes. Brits are the most miserable in three decades as inflation is expected to hit 13%. And while Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey hiked interest rates the most in 27 years to tame inflation, risks are mounting of a recession.

On Oct. 1, the average household will pay almost £300 a month for power, the BoE warned. Couple surging power costs with negative real wage growth, and it becomes apparent households are being squeezed. This excludes soaring prices for shelter, food, and petrol at the pump — this trend is unsustainable and could result in social instabilities.

British news outlet Glasgow Live said the strike is similar to the “action in the late 1980s and ’90s to fight against the poll tax brought in by PM Margaret Thatcher. In protest, 17 million people refused to pay.”

UK financial journalist and broadcaster Martin Lewis said this about the strike:

“I think I can categorise it more accurately now, the big movement that I am seeing is an increase of growth in people calling for a non-payment of energy bills, mass non-payment. Effectively a consumer strike on energy bills and getting rid of the legitimacy of paying that.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Water Restrictions Go Into Effect As Heatwave Persists

UK Water Restrictions Go Into Effect As Heatwave Persists

Britain has recorded one of its hottest and driest summers on record. Rivers and reservoirs are drying up as towns in the southern part of the country imposed the first hosepipe ban on Friday.

The country’s record heat in July — above 104 Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) — melted airport runways, buckled train tracks, and shuttered transportation networks, as London’s fire brigade said it had one of the busiest days since World War II. The heat dome resulted in dozens of building structure fires and wildfires.

As of 1700 local time Friday, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight residents will be placed under emergency water restrictions called “temporary use ban.” If residents water their gardens, yards, and/or clean their vehicles, they could face a stiff penalty of up to $1,200 (£1,000). A similar ban will go into effect for residents in Kent and Sussex from Aug. 12.

“Months of sparse rainfall, combined with record-breaking temperatures in July, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dried-out soils,” British newspaper The Independent wrote.

London dodged the water restrictions for now as its large reservoirs are at “very comfortable levels,” Barnaby Dobson, a research associate on the Community Water Management for a Liveable London project at Imperial College London, told Bloomberg.

However, water reservoirs in London could slump as the metro area faces levels of drought not seen in a decade.

Dobson said rationing is a measure of last resort and would come after hosepipe bans. He said water utilities are very wary of implementing water rationings because it would trigger consumer backlash.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Widespread Civil Unrest” Looming in UK Over Cost of Living Crisis

“Widespread Civil Unrest” Looming in UK Over Cost of Living Crisis

Movement to stop paying bills snowballs.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

The chance of “widespread civil unrest” occurring in the UK as a result of people being unable to afford to pay their bills due to the cost of living crisis is “inevitable,” according to one campaigner.

With energy prices set to soar even higher in October as a result of the sanctions on Russia, many Brits have resolved to refuse to pay their bills as part of a growing backlash some are comparing to the poll tax riots.

London was hit with violent riots back in 1990 in response to the government’s efforts to introduce the poll tax, and the new levy was eventually scrapped after a coalition of interest groups amongst both the working class and the middle class combined to defeat it.

A similar movement under the umbrella of the Don’t Pay organization is now urging people to cancel their direct debits in October if energy prices continue to rise.

Average energy bills in the UK for dual fuel are expected to rise to £3,615 by January 2023, an increase of 283 per cent on March levels.

“Millions of us won’t be able to afford food and bills this winter,” asserts the Don’t Pay manifesto. “We cannot afford to let that happen. We demand a reduction of bills to an affordable level. We will cancel our direct debits from October 1st if we are ignored.”

However, others have warned that a mass refusal to pay bills will only result in energy prices soaring even higher because more companies will leave the market, allowing fewer corporations to create pricing monopolies.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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