Archive for December 2009

Cheaper Online?

December 23, 2009

It’s nearly the time to switch off the morning alarm, roll over for another round and look forward to a nice slice of winter cheer.  But before we do that, there are still one or two things to tie up – all presents purchased, for instance?  Or are there still some last minute emergencies?

According to recent figures, British shoppers were put off by the heavy snowfall in the UK and consequently retailers found the cash register pinging less often.  Yet does this really mean that people are spending less this year?  Or is there another, incredibly handy tool that has stepped in? 

Online shopping has been healthy as ever with many large shopping websites recording good sales.  Indeed, the internet is becoming more and more important to many British lives as a vast range of products and services are not only found there but are also cheaper and easier to get hold of..

Here are some:

Food and drink – maybe not as easy as browsing real aisles but often cheaper and certainly calmer

Travel – flights, hotels and holiday deals are invariably cheaper and better from online websites.  Not least travel money which is far superior from online merchants as they don’t charge commission and the exchange rate is better

Household goods – you can order pretty much anything for the house from online shops.  Make sure they fit the measurements!

Financial products – credit card providers offer hundreds of deals online as do prepaid card companies, loans, financial traders…the list is endless

One could go on for hours toting up the products and services which are cheaper online but the point is that the internet really is becoming so essential to modern lifestyles that life without it would now be almost impossible!

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Banks claim Victory in Unfair Bank Charges case

December 22, 2009

Bank customers will be more than a little disappointed at the latest news from the unfair bank charges case.  Since 2007, millions of cases have been on hold while the Supreme Court decided whether the Office of Fair trading (OFT) could decid on the fairness of bank charges for things like unauthorised overdraft use or bounced cheques. 

The Supreme Court voted against the OFT being allowed to make said decision, meaning that the future of those cases on hold hung in the balance.

Today, the OFT announced that it would not be continuing to investigate into the case, meaning that it is now very likely that those cases on hold will be dropped.  Banks and building societies are, for the moment, victorious – meaning that they can continue to charge billions of british pounds each year to customers.

Overseas Property? Yes please

December 15, 2009

Today’s hot topic is overseas property investment.  OK, so you may not be thinking about a place in the sun right now, what with the winter holidays around the corner and more important things to splash your cash on.  Yet it seems that despite the burst property bubble this year, Brits can still make the most of the pound-euro exchange rate.

Some are choosing to sell their properties – but wait…surely the pound’s relative weakness against the robust euro means bad news for Brits?  Apparently not; a specialist research agency found that over a four year period, since 2005, Brits could see the value of their overseas property rise.  This despite market volatility.

Meanwhile, foreign properties are slowly increasing in value and many UK property investors are rushing back to the Spanish coastline to get their hands on a hot asset.  So…make sure you get a good overseas mortgage broker – you’ll need their expert advice and negotiation tactics.  Not only that but they can translate complex legal paperwork!

UK “Resilient” and keeps Top Rating

December 11, 2009

After the rather bleak picture of the UK that was revealed from yesterday’s Pre-Budget Report (with UK deficit in the billions), it came as rather a nice end to the week today when Moody’s Investor Service decided not to downgrade the UK (or the US either).  So, for now, the UK will keep its triple-A rating (“Aaa”) and has been classed as “resilient” by the rating agency.

Britain had been under threat of a downgrade from another top rating agency, Standard & Poor’s – though they took their axe to Spain instead.  The last of the Top Three, Fitch, downgraded Greece this week.

So for the next few years the UK must continue its battle to stay in the top rating class.  It will not be easy, with the massive debt problem and the recovery which seems slow to say the least.

The sterling rallied on the news yet had declined after the pre-Budget report yesterday, plus the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates at 0.5 per cent.

Pre-Budget Reactions

December 10, 2009

Chancellor Alistair Darling has made his last pre-general election pre-Budget Report.  Everyone was wating to see what he would come up with, in regards to what the Government plans to do with the ailing British economy and its vast deficit.

As is always the case with official Government announcements, the report brought many negative (as well as positive) reactions.  The Tories claimed that the Labour party is targeting the middle class and branding anyone who earns over 20,000 GBP as ‘well-off’ – this thanks to the increased National Insurance on those who earn over that amount each year.

Whatever the real outcome for regular Britons, the Government certainly has a tough time on its hands now to retain power.

Japan’s Economy in Trouble

December 9, 2009

Japan’s share and currency markets took a knock today as third-quarter GDP had to be revised – downwards.

It had been widely expected that the revision would show a total worse than had been forecast, but not by such an extent.  Annualized GDP growth had been pipped at 4.8 per cent, this figure now sits at 1.3 per cent.

The numbers show that Japan’s recovery is not as stable as had been hoped, and a struggle is still in the equation.  Yet so far no economists, currency exchange experts or stockbrokers expect the recession to be given the dreaded “W” shape.  Not yet, anyway…

Just a day before the latest data was announced, the new government had agreed to a new boost package of around 50 billion GBP.

Dollar Slips against Yen but might be on the Up

December 7, 2009

This morning the US dollar slipped against the yen, but this was after a spurt on Friday against a basket of currencies.

Yes, the dollar might actually be back on a stronger trend…but for how long?

The dollar’s boost on Firday was due to good news from the US: latest data showed that less jobs were lost in November than expected.  Most experts had thought around 130,000 would be lost – when in fact the total came out at 11,000.

This proved to give a more positive vibe around the US economy – perhaps it really is on the mend again.  Added to this are hopes that the base interest rate will be raised again.

Currency experts predict that the dollar might stay stronger for an extended period.