Alex Brummer

Tea Party may help Israel

By Alex Brummer, September 21, 2010

The arrival of the Tea Party as an American force has shaken the US political establishment. It is a sea change, compared by commentators such as Gerald Seib in the Wall Street Journal as similar to the arrival of the conservative movement headed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

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The yiddishe roots of M&S and Tesco

By Alex Brummer, September 16, 2010

By the standards of much of the retail sector, the changing of the guard at Tesco has been a relatively low key affair.

There were the inevitable tributes to Sir Terry Leahy who will retire next year and short profiles of the chosen successor Phil Clarke who, like Leahy, started at the very bottom.

But there has been none of the fuss and football-style transfer fees which, for instance, accompanied the arrival of Marc Bolland as chief executive of Marks & Spencer.

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EU corridors of prejudice

By Alex Brummer, September 7, 2010

Of all the institutions in Germany, the Bundesbank, the nation's central bank, is the one which likes to think itself above politics. It may be less powerful than before the creation of the euro, but its influence on the European Central Bank and economic policy is considerable. The last thing the Bundesbank needed was a renegade member - in the shape of Thilo Sarrazin, 65, a former top finance official in the Berlin city government - spouting off.

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Why BP is key to our national future

By Alex Brummer, September 2, 2010

At a time when great British companies have become easy prey for buyers from all over the world, the sale of BP is no longer outside the bounds of possibility.

The immediate crisis in the Gulf of Mexico may have passed but a shrunken BP, plagued by the possibility of years of litigation, could still be vulnerable.

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The dangers of a Wikimedia

By Alex Brummer, August 26, 2010

Wikipedia is one of those websites which quietly has changed the way that people interact with the internet. For journalists, academics and ordinary consumers, it is often the first port of call for research. It is an organic encyclopaedia which for many providesan early draft of history.

It also defines events. It was academics debating on Wikipedia who decided that the 2006 conflagration between Israel and Hizbollah should be officially known as the 2006 Lebanon War.

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Choppy float shouldn't scupper Ocado

By Alex Brummer, August 19, 2010

Successful stock market flotations are difficult at the best of times.

But the reception for internet grocer Ocado - which came to the market late last month- was peculiarly frosty. And this despite the fact that the company was brought to the market by some of the most respected investment banking names in the City.

The initial public offering (IPO) has been a salutary experience for the group's chief executive Tim Steiner.

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Up in arms over Saudi deal

By Alex Brummer, August 12, 2010

The disclosure by the Israel-friendly Wall Street Journal that the Obama Administration is preparing to sell advanced Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia should not come as a major surprise. In recent months there have been unconfirmed reports in the American and Israeli media that a deal of this kind was in the offing. Nevertheless, it will lead to anxiety in Washington, Jerusalem and beyond.

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The crisis in Euroland is far from over

By Alex Brummer, July 22, 2010

The untroubled scene is the open air breakfast restaurant at a luxury new resort hotel on Greece's bay of Navarone, developed - after three decades of planning - by a shipowner. Just in case the guests are too lazy to walk to the main swimming baths or down to the beach many of the rooms have their own infinity pools.

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When the blogs don't work

By Alex Brummer, July 15, 2010

It used to be that journalists told it as it was and did their best not to be emotionally involved in stories. The late Richard Dimbleby famously reported on the horrors of a liberated Auschwitz using stark language but without shedding a tear.

But when Yasir Arafat died in November 2004, BBC correspondent Barbara Plett was lachrymose on From Our Own Correspondent. It may be no accident that not long afterwards she was given a different beat.

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SG Warburg: a template for better banking

By Alex Brummer, July 8, 2010

It is 15 years since the investment bank SG Warburg, a pioneer of finance in Britain, lost its independence. But fascination with the firm founded by emigré Siegmund George Warburg - scion of the prominent German-Jewish banking family - remains as strong today as ever.

A new biography of Siegmund by the historian Niall Ferguson (High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg, Allen Lane, £30) contrasts the caution of SG Warburg's founders Warburg and Henry Grunfeld with the casino bankers who wrecked the global economy during the 'Great Panic'.

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Flotilla: media's big omission

By Alex Brummer, July 1, 2010

Amid the mountain of hostile media coverage following the raid on the Gaza flotilla last month, little was made of the personal accounts of the IDF forces involved. Yet what is absolutely clear from this testimony - which is available on major websites, including the BBC - is that what the soldiers most feared was the permanent capture of one of their colleagues.

The detention of 23-year-old Gilad Shalit - who is now at the start of his fifth year of Hamas captivity - on June 25, 2006 provides a stark reminder of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the botched Israeli boarding.

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Boycott recalls a darker era

By Alex Brummer, June 17, 2010

Israel, and Tel Aviv in particular, has long regarded itself as a home of cultural cool. It is the kind of place which ranks alongside Barcelona for its eclectic mix of bars, boutiques and Bauhaus architecture.

Moreover, it has developed a distinct cultural heritage with its world-class writers like David Grossman, prize-winning movies like Waltz with Bashir, and prize winners such as Yael Bartana who recently carried off the 4th Artes Mundi Prize at the National Museum of Cardiff.

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Joe Lewis still has that midas touch

By Alex Brummer, June 10, 2010

Every so often the business pages publish a picture of a kindly, balding man in a golf buggy who is variously described as a reclusive exile, a Bahamas based billionaire or a currency trader. This spring, one imagines, Joe Lewis - who began his career working in London's hotel industry - has a smile on his face.

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It's the economy, stupid

By Alex Brummer, June 3, 2010

Former prime Minister Gordon Brown always regarded building the economy and institutions as the best path to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But it is a view that has never found great favour in the British media, which is obsessive about settlements (even when they are in urban Jerusalem), the IDF's alleged human rights abuses and the blockade of Gaza.

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Time for the chairmen to stand up

By Alex Brummer, May 27, 2010

What is the job of a quoted company chairman? Before the days of corporate governance, the jobs of the chairman and chief executive were often wrapped up in one - they still are in the United States. But a series of UK corporate scandals - including those in the late tycoon Robert Maxwell's empire - discredited the model of supreme boardroom power.

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When rumour replaces news

By Alex Brummer, May 21, 2010

Every American political leader strives to earn a place in history which stretches beyond their own term in office. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to nominate like-minded people to the Supreme Court where there are no term limits and justices serve well into their dotage.

As a result, the proposed justices come under extraordinary scrutiny in Congress, in the media and these days in the blogosphere. The choice by Barack Obama of 50-year-old Solicitor-General Elena Kagan as the replacement for nonagenarian John Paul Stevens is no exception.

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Why we've escaped the euro storm - so far

By Alex Brummer, May 13, 2010

One suspects that inside the Treasury the calamitous problems currently facing euroland are being watched more calmly than might be expected.

First, it demonstrated that the failure of Britain to pass Gordon Brown's five tests to join the euro back in 2003 was just as well given the battering that deficit nations inside the single currency area are taking.

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Getting away with murder

By Alex Brummer, May 6, 2010

The way in which the media has turned the narrative of human rights and political accountability in the Middle East on its head is remarkable. Israel, at times no doubt deservedly, finds itself under constant fire. Yet the behaviour of Hamas and Hizbollah is rarely accorded the same hostility.

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What next for Goldmans?

By Alex Brummer, April 28, 2010

There is a self-righteous gene in the DNA of Goldman Sachs which may not be serving it well in the court of public opinion. As the investment banker has come under intense scrutiny from the media, from the all powerful Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) - which has accused it of fraud - and the Senate, the bank has responded in aggressive fashion.

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Israel doesn't agree with Nick

By Alex Brummer, April 22, 2010

The great joy of being a third party in British politics is that the detail of policy pronouncements mostly goes unremarked in the media. The surge in Liberal Democrat support, after Nick Clegg's winning performance in the first of the leadership debates, changed that.

There has been a concerted effort to examine every aspect of policy. When it comes to the Middle East the portents are not encouraging. Clegg is a long-term critic of Israel's policies and led the charge to denounce Israel and impose sanctions during the 2009 Gaza war.

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