Alex Brummer on Business

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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How Goldman Sachs came roaring back

By Alex Brummer, July 30, 2009

We have been around for 140 years, and intend to be here for another 140 years, a senior London-based Goldman Sachs banker informed me the other day. Amid the carnage among the global investment banks, Goldman has emerged from the credit crisis least damaged and most defiant.

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Sir Philip's grand designs for Bhs

By Alex Brummer, July 16, 2009

At 57 years old and several billion pounds to the good, you might think that retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green would be thinking of hanging up his boots. But the burly tycoon who five years ago was rebuffed in his effort to takeover Marks & Spencer is as restless and ambitious as ever.

Whereas many retailers are struggling to survive the slump, he is anxious to expand. Indeed, he is as ambitious now to take his retail empire to the next level as at any time since he took control of Bhs in 2000 and Arcadia — then run by his mate Stuart Rose — in 2002.

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Not just any broiges. An M&S broiges

By Alex Brummer, July 2, 2009

To mark the 125th anniversary of Marks & Spencer, executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose commissioned a glossy “coffee table” history, replete with accounts of the retailer’s innovations down the decades.

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TV turmoil will take Sky to a new high

By Alex Brummer, June 18, 2009

I bumped into James Murdoch at a party recently and he was in chipper mood.

At a time when both the writing and broadcast media are struggling, as a result of an advertising famine, the UK arm of the Murdoch empire looks to be emerging stronger than ever.

Much of the recent success can be attributed to Murdoch the younger, the likely heir to Rupert Murdoch’s empire , who at the end of 2007 stepped up to become the chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, and chairman of BritishSkyBroadcasting.

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Now fat cats have to fight for the cream

By Alex Brummer, June 4, 2009

The backlash began with Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension. When shareholders learnt that the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive pension pot had been doubled to £16m, providing him with a pension of £703,000 for life at the age of 50, the public anger was palpable. The directors responsible — former RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop and pay committee boss Bob Scott — were required to step down.

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When supermarkets are superpowers

By Alex Brummer, May 21, 2009

As a sector, Britain’s grocers are having a good recession. While other firms, including the food suppliers, have been shedding jobs, the supermarket chains Tesco, J Sainsbury, Wm Morrison, Asda and Waitrose have been adding them. And although Marks & Spencer has had to reshape “Simply Food”, jettisoning some of the stores it bought from Somerfield as a job lot, its executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose believes that its food offering has turned the corner, and that same-store sales — the critical measure for retailers — will soon be expanding again.

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Darling has betrayed entrepreneurs

By Alex Brummer, May 7, 2009

Alistair Darling’s April budget marked the end of New Labour. It was the party’s final divorce from the City.

Several of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, including Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP and David Levin of United Business Media, have already upped sticks and moved their enterprises to Ireland because of efforts by HM Revenue and Customs to capture a bigger share of foreign earnings. Others are lining up to go.

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The 1930s again: Jews are blamed for the crisis

By Alex Brummer, April 23, 2009

The credit crunch, financial crisis and ensuing global recession have provided an opportunity for the rebirth of some unfortunate antisemitic stereotypes. Jews have played a prominent role in the current crisis, and not just as perpetrators but as problem solvers and victims too.

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Hedge funds aren’t evil. They could save us all

By Alex Brummer, April 7, 2009

As the credit crunch descended, the so-called “shadow banking” system, which includes hedge funds and private equity, attracted more than its fair share of opprobrium. In Germany, these groups, a symbol of free-wheeling Anglo-Saxon capitalism, were labelled “locusts”, and here in Britain the government launched a tax clampdown on private equity just as the financial system was seizing up.

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