Alex Brummer on Business

Watch out for this year's playmakers

By Alex Brummer, January 7, 2010

As world economic leaders seek to consign the great panic and recessions of 2007-09 to the dustbin of history this year, expect Jewish policy-makers and business people to be an important part of the story in 2010.

Many eyes will be focused on Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board — America’s central bank — to see if and when he calls an end to the age of easy money.

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The bankers deserve to pay the price

By Alex Brummer, December 22, 2009

No area of business garnered as many headlines in 2009 as the banks.

As the global financial situation has steadied after the great panic of 2008, there has been a speedy bounce back to health of most financial groups — with the notable exception of RBS. This has resulted in an intense focus on the return of the bonus culture.

It is the re-emergence of hefty bonuses which resulted in the unveiling of a “supertax” on bank bonuses in Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report.

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Why Bolland is ideal for M&S

By Alex Brummer, December 3, 2009

The choice of Marc Bolland of grocer Wm Morrison to be the next chief executive of Marks & Spencer has been treated in the media and by the stock market as a second coming. Since executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose unveiled his successor as chief executive last month, the reaction has been wholly positive and the group’s shares have soared towards 400p, almost double the low point at the worst of the great panic a year ago.

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BAE's success runs on kosher rocket fuel

By Alex Brummer, November 19, 2009

Amid all the gloom about Britain’s economic prospects, it is often forgotten that there are still areas where the nation excels. Thriving sectors include aerospace, pharmaceuticals and, more obviously, finance.

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The machers who built UK plc

By Alex Brummer, November 5, 2009

For decades ‘Gussies’, Great Universal Stores shares, along with those of M&S, formed the core of private share portfolios. Those who hung onto their GUS shares are now the proud owners of three top FTSE companies: fashion group Burberry, the catalogue shopping and DIY concern Home Retail Group and credit checking giant Experian.

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If anyone can save us, Strauss-Kahn

By Alex Brummer, October 22, 2009

As the world has sought to recover from the great panic of last autumn and the calamitous drop in asset prices, trade and output, no one has been more important in driving recovery than the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

A suave Frenchman, with matinee idol looks, Strauss-Kahn has shown a radicalism previously unknown among IMF leaders.

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Kraft's kosher queen will boost Cadbury

By Alex Brummer, October 8, 2009

Irene Rosenfeld is as far from the traditional image of the all-powerful, all-conquering American boardroom tycoon that you can imagine. Yet, as chairman and chief executive officer of Kraft — the food company with revenues of $42bn and 98,000 employees — she is just one of 12 women CEOs running a top 500 US corporation. Forbes magazine has listed her among the ten most powerful women in the world for two years running.

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Jury out on whether Bernanke saved USA

By Alex Brummer, September 9, 2009

American presidents rarely gamble with the Federal Reserve Board, America’s central bank, and Barack Obama is no exception. So despite a strong Democratic claim to the job of chairman by Obama’s top economic adviser Lawrence Summers — scion of one of America’s most famous economic dynasties — “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke has been nominated to a second term in the most powerful job in global finance.

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Pensions deficit will be close call for BT

By Alex Brummer, August 27, 2009

As chief executive of British Telecom, Ian Livingston is having a baptism of fire. The main focus of his first year in office has been cleaning up the mess at “global services” — the group’s growth business which foolishly underpriced communications contracts to big corporate and government clients.

Glasgow-born Livingston, 44, acted quickly to clear up that problem and put global services back on a sounder footing. He is now having to deal with an even bigger and more troublesome legacy — the group’s pension fund.

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Bernanke: undoing what another Jew started?

By Alex Brummer, August 13, 2009

As Wall Street bankers and legislators headed to their yachts and the beaches of America’s east coast this August, they had the words of Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, ringing in their ears. Two years after the official beginning of the credit crunch on August 9, 2007, Mr Bernanke — America’s most powerful economic policymaker — signalled for the first time that the US central bank may soon have to think about removing the “punch bowl” of near-zero interest rates and easy credit.

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