Alex Brummer

Finally, politicians boss the banks

By Alex Brummer, February 4, 2010

This weekend, finance ministers from the Group of Seven most advanced nations will gather in the town of Iqualit, just South of the Canadian Arctic Circle, to try to put some order into the chaos of banking regulation. The return to fat profits, bonuses and greed at the global banks, just 15 months after the ‘Great Panic’ of 2008 has been so swift that it has left politicians and policy-makers in the starting traps.

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Web paywalls are bad news

By Alex Brummer, January 28, 2010

Over the past decade or so, clicking onto media websites, from Ha’aretz to the Washington Post, has become a habit for millions of people worldwide.

Search engines such as Google allow anyone to be instantly up with the geopolitical news and gossip. Moreover, in the case of the most recognisable media outlets the reader has the benefit of newsrooms filled with journalists, a solid editing process and access to up-to-date news agency copy on breaking events.

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Boss who's Next on the retail-guru radar

By Alex Brummer, January 21, 2010

His entry in Who’s Who is just four lines long. He is a retailer with an empire which rivals Sir Stuart Rose’s M&S and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia.

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In praise of nuanced debate

By Alex Brummer, January 14, 2010

Last month, I received a puzzled text message from an intelligent friend who is a leading political commentator on a national newspaper. He had just read an article in the FT by Tony Judt of New York University (NYU), who seemed to be expressing some sympathy with the controversial views of Professor Sholmo Sand who, in turn, has challenged the Zionist narrative of Jewish history.

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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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Media still down on Cast Lead

By Alex Brummer, December 30, 2009

The high-profile supporters of Medical Aid for Palestinians, who placed a full-page open letter to Gordon Brown in the national press (over the holiday weekend), calling on him to demand an unconditional end to the blockade of Gaza, might have put their money to better use in the clinics of Hamas controlled Gaza.

The letter, signed by Israel critics such as Lord Patten, Lord Steel and historian Avi Shlaim, was a less effective message than the reporting directly from Gaza one year on from Operation Cast Lead.

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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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The Telegraph beats them all

By Alex Brummer, December 10, 2009

When the UK Press Awards come around next year, there can be only one serious candidate for Newspaper of the Year: the Daily Telegraph.

It may have paid for its scoop on MPs’ expenses, but the way it executed the story was much admired. Under the guidance of Tony Gallagher, the deputy editor just elevated to editor, it showed remarkable technical skills and proved that even in the digital age newspapers are still capable setting an agenda.

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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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Keep close eye on Murdoch II

By Alex Brummer, November 26, 2009

The day when Rupert Murdoch decamped to New York to concentrate on his American interests, leaving his son James in charge at Wapping, little change was expected. How wrong you can be.

James, like his father, is a media genius and used his stay at Sky (where he has moved up from chief executive to chairman) to push the frontiers of HD and invest in digital.

But he always seemed more interested in delivery than content. That is now changing. As chief executive of News Corporation Europe and Asia, he is beginning to exercise real political power.

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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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The Levene coverage stinks

By Alex Brummer, October 29, 2009

In some respects it has not been a bad financial crisis for Jews. After all, several of the heroes who rebuilt the system post the great panic — including the Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn — have been drawn from our community. But if you followed the media, this would have barely registered.

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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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Let's not give Griffin air time

By Alex Brummer, October 15, 2009

The timing could not be worse for the BBC. The disclosure that the British National Party leader Nick Griffin has been invited to be a member of the Question Time panel on October 22 comes hard on the heels of a highly charged appearance by two BNP activists on Radio 1’s flagship current affairs programme Newsbeat — a show not known for hard-hitting journalism.

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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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Painting a distorted picture of the IDF

By Alex Brummer, September 17, 2009

One of the most enduring and inspiring images in the history of modern Israel is that of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, dressed in IDF military uniform, sounding the shofar at the Kotel in Jerusalem on its liberation in 1967.

Goren was IDF chief rabbi from 1948 to 1972, giving lie to the idea that religion in Israel’s army is something which began with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January.

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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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Blood libel row merited Israeli outrage

By Alex Brummer, September 3, 2009

The row began as an item on the culture pages of Sweden’s best-selling newspaper Aftonbladet and ended as a diplomatic stalemate. It is significant because Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

On August 19, Donald Bostrom, a writer for the Swedish paper, ran a contentious report under the headline: “They plunder the organs of our sons.” The article claimed that young men from the West Bank and Gaza had been seized over the years by Israel Defence Forces and bodies returned to their families with missing organs.

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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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