The Tipping Point: 10 Things We Learned This Week

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As the cost of living crisis really bites and those with bank balances in the black pray it lasts, you can spare a thought for workers in the hospitality sector. Having endured multiple phases of furlough, the transient and tragic irony of “eat out to help out”, and then the specter of inflation returning to the UK economy, the waiters and waitresses of the UK have been dealt another blow by none other than Boris Johnson. The still-embattled prime minister has reportedly shelved plans for legislation to ensure the people serving your food and drink keep more of their tips. As talk once again returns to the topic of “will he call an election?”, you can pretty much guarantee that’s one group of people who won’t be serving up Tory votes from the electoral oven.

Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey fell foul of the unions a few weeks ago when he urged workers not to demand pay rises. Following the BoE’s decision to raise interest rates to a 13-year high yesterday, Bailey struck a different tone with the press. Responding to questions about the practical impact of inflation on struggling households, Bailey acknowledged the cost of living crisis would hit “those with least bargaining power” the most. For an organization almost too renowned for its intellectual head, it was a floating insight into the Bank’s heart.

Musk’s a-Knockin’ For More Money

The world’s richest man has reportedly been attempting to find other ways to finance his takeover of social media network Twitter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had originally sold $8.5bn of stock in a bid to drum up cash for the bumper purchase, but it’s now thought he is looking to a series of investment banks and hedge funds to help him reduce the $21 billion cash contribution he originally committed to fund the deal. In a nutshell, that means loans.

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James Watt Has Gone From Funk to Punk Again

After a near-parliament’s worth of former employees accused craft beer chief executive James Watt of presiding over a toxic working environment, it appears the Brewdog founder is taking a leaf out of the John Lewis playbook by giving away around a fifth of his equity stake in the business to his staff. Lovely news for sure. It won’t completely put everything in the past though. Watt is currently privately prosecuting a woman in a messy fraud case at Westminster Magistrate’s Court. All in all, it sounds pretty sobering.

The ‘Pistols Are Reloading

Speaking of punk: it was once banned from the airwaves, but 45 years after its release for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, 70s icons The Sex Pistols will re-issue raucous hit god save the queen in time for the monarch’s platinum jubilee celebrations next month. If you needed reminding, the song accuses Liz of running a “fascist regime”, though you may also remember that the song’s reissue hides a very much disunited front backstage. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook recently won a court case against filth-and-the-fury frontman Johnny Rotten, who had attempted to deny director Danny Boyle the chance to use the band’s back catalog in the upcoming biopic drama Gun. These days, it’s difficult to know who is more likely to be triggered…

Shell’s Profits Have Tripled

The debate over a supposed “windfall tax” is likely to heat up once more after Shell’s profits nearly tripled to £7.3 billion this week. The oil major, which has offices in London, revealed the results this Thursday, and much to the chagrin of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who took straight to Twitter to accuse the government of idling on the cost of living crisis. “Another day, another oil and gas producer making billions in profits, and yet another day of the Conservatives refusing a windfall tax to bring down bills,” she wrote.

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That Russian Oil Embargo is *Very* Ambitious

The president of the European Commission has told colleagues the EU will end use of Russian oil within half a year. “It will not be easy,” Ursula Von Der Leyden said, “because some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil, but we simply have to do it. We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, so in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes, and at the same time be very careful that we minimize the impact on the global market, and this is why we will phase out Russian crude oil within six months, and refine products by the end of the year.” Given the chaos that has already unfolded in energy markets, one cannot help but feel that the “minimise impact” horse has already bolted…

Browder Might Have Been Right

In a wide-ranging and extremely candid interview last week, Hermitage Capital Management founder and chief executive Bill Browder predicted that a frightened Putin would escalate his “disastrous” mission in Ukraine. Unfortunately, it’s thought that may happen sooner rather than later. Next Monday Russians will celebrate Victory Day, the national holiday that commemorates the Soviet army’s victory over Nazi Germany in Berlin in 1945, and it could be the perfect opportunity for an increasingly propaganda-reliant Putin to declare all out war. Sinisterly enough, Ukrainian intelligence suggests the shelled-out city of Mariupol could be “the center of the celebrations.”

Rekenthaler Might’ve Been Right, Too

And speaking of predictions, it wasn’t too long ago that Morningstar columnist John Rekenthaler was predicting doom on the stock market, and, though growth stocks’ struggle over the past month never reached catastrophic levels, it’s difficult to disagree with his assessment that the winds may be changing. Morningstar data journalist Sunniva Kolostyak’s own fund league table analysis also adds weight to the thesis. It might be time to keep a more regular eye on that yield curve.

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You Should Watch Out For Screen Sharing Scams

Readers may recall a personal story about an encounter with a scammer a few weeks back, which almost ended in disaster. I can declare an interest in this issue, because the victim was me. Another reminder, then, to be especially cautious, courtesy of a nasty scam that’s been doing the rounds involving screen sharing. Once a scammer has your trust (over the phone, or even over email or text), they can accomplish pretty much anything. And once they have sight of your computer screen, it can all go downhill from there. Stay safe out there, and if you have any doubts, there’s no shame in putting the phone down or ending the Zoom call.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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