Alex Brummer

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'.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The sun shines on retail again

By Alex Brummer, April 15, 2010

The speed with which retail has bounced back from the "Great Recession" is impressive. The high street was hard hit by the aftermath of the global credit crisis, consumer spending fell off a cliff and a number of retailers, including Woolworth, Zavvi, childrenswear chain Adams and footwear group Stylo went into administration.


Revealed - Gaza's mini-boom

By Alex Brummer, April 8, 2010

The conventional wisdom on Gaza is that it is the largest prison camp in the world. The liberal US Daily Kos website quotes former US President Jimmy Carter saying that the blockade of the territory is "a crime and atrocity". It also notes that the UK's luvvie lobby, Independent Jewish Voices, has accused Israel of breaching international law in the area.


Labour caution paying off

By Alex Brummer, April 1, 2010

Ahead of next month's election, the Conservatives aim to position themselves as the party of probity and cuts and Labour as the stewards of recovery and investment.

The big theme for the Tories has been the desperate need to deal with Labour's legacy of deficits and debt. David Cameron and his economic spokesman George Osborne, adopting increasingly apocalyptic language, argue that unless the next government starts to bring those debt levels down immediately - a budget is promised within 50 days of taking office - then Britain could lose its coveted 'AAA' credit rating.


Settlement row exposes bias

By Alex Brummer, March 25, 2010

No one disputes that the announcement of plans to build 1,600 new homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo, during the visit of US vice-president Joe Biden to Jerusalem early this month, was a blunder of the first order.

Not only did it cast an ugly pall over Washington-Jerusalem relations, it provided an excuse for Israel's critics in the media (in the US, London and Israel itself) to engage in unrestrained bashing of the Netanyahu administration and settlement policy. It also has led to rioting in and around Jerusalem and the loss (last weekend) of some young Palestinian lives.


The fund that avoids the herd

By Alex Brummer, March 18, 2010

Fund management groups come in all shapes and sizes. One boutique manager which is punching above its weight, with funds spanning the globe from Russia to Japan, is Hammersmith-based Neptune Investment Management.

Founded in 2002 by Rugby and Oxford educated Robin Geffen, Neptune has demonstrated an ability to succeed in the most difficult market conditions.

And despite Geffen's traditional English public school background he remains conscious of his Jewish heritage.


Even Sandler may not polish Pearl

By Alex Brummer, March 4, 2010

Many of us, of a certain vintage, have a "with profits" or endowment policy stuffed into a bottom draw somewhere. Before the age of ISAs, VCTs and index linked funds, these were regarded as the ideal safe investment.

Over time they fell out of fashion for a variety of reasons, most notably in the late 1990s and early "noughties" when it was discovered that they were unlikely to pay off the mortgage as promised by the financial adviser who had sold them.


Never mind facts, it’s Mossad!

By Alex Brummer, February 25, 2010

The faux media outrage over the alleged use by the Mossad of copied British passportsin the audacious
assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai could not disguise the glee in much of the reporting. Amid the dreary daily fare of budget deficits and the Punch and Judy politics of the UK election, the events in Dubai actually had people buying newspapers and listening to broadcasts.


It's a dynasty drama at Rothschild plc

By Alex Brummer, February 18, 2010

No dynasty is more associated with Anglo-Jewry and Israel — through the works of the Hanadiv Foundation — than the Rothschilds. So changes in the flagship London-based bank NM Rothschild remain of much fascination throughout the Jewish world.


Chazan row not about JPost

By Alex Brummer, February 11, 2010

The ousting of Naomi Chazan, the president of the New Israel Fund, as a columnist for the Jerusalem Post is no normal storm in a media teacup.

The row is much more a symptom of the bitterness which has erupted over the role of Israeli NGOs in framing some of the content of the Goldstone Report than the politics of the Jerusalem Post and its British-born editor-in-chief David Horovitz.