Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Share markets across Europe opened over 1% lower this morning as worries over Dubai’s debt problem hit investor confidence. With news from Dubai World that it will delay paying some of its debt, the Asian markets took a sharp dent too.

Not so long ago, Dubai was synonymous with success and prosperity. If there was an extravagant building going up, a bridge ridiculous in ambition falling into place or an absurdly luxurious hotel spring out of the sand, you could bet it was in Dubai. However, problems with Dubai World and Nakheel have thrown a dark cloud over the future of the emirate.

dubai

In fact, this image of a playground of the rich and haven of opportunity was behind hundreds of thousands of people moving to Dubai.  Only recently did figures indicate that 25,000 people a month moved to Dubai in a way not seen since the California gold rush.

However, Dubai World – the conglomerate which led the emirate’s giant expansion drive – had a total $59bn of liabilities. A majority, then, of the $80bn total of Dubai. The news has shocked markets and even – perhaps as a stroke of good news – the prices of oil have fallen 4.5%.

Of course, speculation being the wonderful thing it is, there’s a concern growing that Dubai World will prove unable to pay back its debtors and Nakheel will be unable to finish work on the Palm Jumeriah (that lovely palm-tree shaped development island) and prices and values have started that sharp journey to rock-bottom.

Now though the spiralling price of property and fears as the once staggering-future of Dubai becomes questionable, the biggest fear is that, with banks and builders set to take a big hit, the fall of Dubai’s fortunes could throw the global recession back into the downward swing.

It’s certainly strange to think of this happening in Dubai when it was so very recently seen as development-central, with such over-the-top buildings as the Burj Dubai, being seen as an example of how countries can move away from reliance on oil (albeit in a somewhat tasteless sense) and pulling in money from tourism and investment.

Such a shame.

Advertisements

As I drove my beloved 159 into a certain supermarket petrol station yesterday evening I noticed that the price of petrol has lept up again since I last popped her full of fuel. The government’s Fuel Escalator has kicked in even though the price of crude oil is still only just above $51.petrol prices

So why are we watching the cost of petrol creep higher and higer as it edges toward £1 a litre again? Not only that but I’ve noticed more and more people squeezing every last inch of mileage out of it that they can. This doesn’t just apply to petrol either, the escalating costs of food also means that people are restricting their intake, especially those forced out of work. It is almost like we’re having to adopt rationing and coping methods from the last War. 

And, in a very true way, the whole world is at war again. While there is a common enemy it’s not other countries. It’s the ineptitude of major governments. Here, for example, we’re being led by an un-elected leader struggling to make us pay for mistakes he made as chancellor. The politicians so nobly announce that they won’t take the pay rise offered to them this year but still take expenses topping the £100k mark, then spend billions of pounds on an actual war effort we were lied to about from day one while industries across the nation fail as that money is being sorely missed.

Of course it’s not just us, we’re not alone. Every single country is facing a real struggle for the next year or so because of the ineptitude of a select group of politicians who then act like heroic lions when they announce they’ve come up with a trillion dollar plan to get us out of a mess  their own lack-of-foresightedness put us all in. But then, you don’t see any of them struggling to afford the rent. When was the last time Gordon Brown dipped into his pocket to fill his car? Of course not, he dips into ours.

Not one single politician seems to show any sign of personal sacrifice in a time when their measures have forced us all to make some. All these empty promises and now we’re at the point where I’m once again not filling my Alfa all the way up in the hope that next week the prices will drop again and I won’t have to face adding half as much again to the cost of a full tank. 

So yeah, we are at war. We’re at war with an economy out of control and a group of governments that fail to use anything resembling common sense and foresight then, as we all struggle to cope with escalating costs that mean it’s hard to find a loaf of bread under £1, go off spending OUR money on the kitchen on their second house or their husbands internet porn. 

If you want my vote next time the non-elected PM decides to hold an election all you need to do is three things: 

1) Show some common sense

2) Stop Lying to Us

3) Stop Robbing from Us

While the turmoil of the economy throws prices up and down like so many juggling balls by a clown on a trampoline, it’s unfortunate that because of the shits in exchange rates, the UK prices for new Fords are set to rise. It’s due to the fact that most of Ford’s costs are incurred in Euros and our good old Sterling is just too weak at the moment  – trust me I feel it every time I visit Paris.

New KA: still cheaper

From 1st April (I wish it was an April Fools) the blue oval is expected to cost an average of 3.75% more than it did before. Some prices will be rising by up to £1000. It’s easy to point fingers and damn the execs for this but it really is a fight for survival in the auto market and it’s not too huge a rise. 

Let’s look at this from a devils advocate pioint of view for a moment. Take the new Ford KA, it’s now going to cost £7,995 when in 1999 it was £8,020 – the equivelant of £9,424 today. Cars are still cheaper overall than they’ve been in the past, just not so overwhelmingly cheaper. 

It would be nice to think that Ford are alone in this but I sincerely doubt it’ll be long before other marques soon rise slightly. Let’s hope that once this current shambles we call an economy settles down and the exchange rates return to normal, there’ll be a drop in prices accordingly. 

Let’s face it, if we know that the raise is due to the Pound to Euro ratio, there’s going to be a lot of questions when the quids are in again and Ford keep prices up. If…..

It used to be some guy called Raymond, but now everybody loves economy. Fuel economy, that is, and everybody being car buyers. Well, that’s what the car makers believe as they’re lining up to push new, increasingly economical versions of their cars onto the roads.

A new version of the already perfect-for-the-city, new Fiat 500 yesterday with what they call the Start&Stop system on vehicles with the 1.2 litre engine. The system basically turns off the 500’s engine when you bring it to complete stop and put it in neutral. When you want to move off you simply put drop the clutch to put it in gear and the engine will restart.  

Now, given that I’ve been told countless times that turning things off then back on actually uses more energy than leaving them running for a few minutes, I was impressed to find out that this ups the new Fiat‘s city fuel economy to 49.6mpg (from 44.1) and the combined fuel to 58.9mpg (from 55.4). It also cuts down those dirty CO2 emissions to 113g/km too.

It costs a little more but the fuel savings will make that extra £200 back pretty quick and there’s plenty of value in feeling like you’re helping the planet a bit too. Just don’t get too smug about it or you may as well have a Prius. 

I hope we can look forward to more auto makers looking at this method – anyone who’s been stuck in either inner city or M25 traffic jam surrounded by cars with engines running and trying not to be sick from the fumes will agree I’m sure.

You know, it’s strange. Initially I wasn’t too fussed about it but now the Superb is fast becoming one of my favourite new cars. While – as someone who grew up in the time of the box-like lumps they used to call Skodas – is kind of strange, isn’t that surprising given the current economical conditions.  

Skoda's Superb Greenline

Skoda's Superb Greenline

And now the new Skoda Superb has become even more appealing for times of economic and environmental turmoil. The GreenLine edition sees Skoda roll their fuel-saving and planet-saving approach out into their new exec-slayer. It’s got a 1.9 litre turbodiesel that still kicks out the power but kicks out less into the air – emissions have dropped to just 139g/km. If that’s baffling you as much as those stats do me, this one won’t – it’ll now offer up 55.4 mpg! Which means you’ll spend less time at the pumps and less money on road tax too thanks to the emissions cut. 

Skoda have basically tweaked the engine, added some low resistance tyres, thery’ve done something to the gears and improved the aerodynamics. Oh, and they’ve dropped it a bit lower too which means it looks a little skleeker as well as, presumably, helping it acheive those stats. Though I’m still not likely to give up my Alfa keys, it does look pretty swish.

While this is great, and all kudos to Skoda for planning to roll this across their entire vehicle range this year,  I have to wonder – why isn’t this done anyway? If it’s possible to do this, then why not do it in the first place rather than create it as a unique model?

This is a strange one this – the “R” word that keeps getting flogged by every media outlet, used as an excuse by pretty much everyone for any little failure in business is now being used in relation to gaming and the XBox 360.

Microsoft have announced that from the second quarter of this year they’ll no longer be selling the Xbox 360 Elite. A quick heads up for those that don’t play – there’s three variations of the Xbox 360 console available; the Arcade, the Pro and Elite. Now, rumour has it that (having long ago done away with the Core model) that Microsoft will cease taking orders for the Elite.

The recession is, of course, being cited as one of the main reasons combined with the knock-off prices offered on the Arcade and Pro versions. The main difference between this and the other configurations is that the Elite comes with 120GB of harddrive (though so does my iPod 😛 ) and a matt black finish.

Microsoft say that retailers aren’t ordering as many and retailers say they have loads of them taking up space in their stock room as it is. To be honest, I’ve never had the need for all that extra harddrive and am happier spending the money on XBox accessories instead – most of the games I play don’t need that much memory but they do need the soundtrack to be appreciated without the girlfriend hearing me pick up prostitutes (yes, I’m playing a lot of GTA lately).

So, is this really another victim of the recession or just a bit of bad-planning and misjudging of their market place by Microsoft?