Oil traders feast while farm traders hope for famine
Stability is bad for business. Roland Rechtsteiner of consultancy Oliver Wyman said, “The key to trading performance for traders is price volatility.”
The price has to go up and down a lot to make speculation work.
So according to the Financial Times newspaper hardworking oil traders “have emerged as big winners from the commodity price crash. They’ve reported some of their best results on record, as rivals that focus on grains and metal struggle.”
Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, and Gunvor, once the biggest shipper of Russian crude, last week both reported after tax profits of more than £700 million.
Last December Trafigura’s oil and petroleum division reported a 50 percent increase in gross earnings in the year to September.
Trafigura also accounts for 40 percent of trade in refined copper, lead and zinc.
But the one time it made world headlines was in 2006 when a ship it owned was responsible for dumping toxic waste in Cote D’Ivoire.
It then sued people who said it had done so.
Many locals became sick and at least ten people died. Trafigura paid £130 million in compensation.
“The volatility in oil has been a traders’ paradise,” said the head of one major grain trader, who declined to be identified for reasons of shyness.
Oil trading executives are looking forward to bumper dividend payments.
But it’s not all good news. Specialists in agricultural commodities such as grains and cotton have been reporting sharp drops in profits.
Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena is the boss of Louis Dreyfus Company, one of the world’s biggest agricultural traders.
He said its results may not rebound fast from a 67 percent fall in net income for 2015.
He has been left hoping for crop failure.
He said, “We will still see abundant supplies if you don’t lose one or two crops in the world, volatility will be low.”
The billionaire with no bank account
Wafic Said is a billionaire philanthropist, arms dealer and Tory backer. But Barclays bank has told him that it no longer wants him as a client.
The bank has given the same ultimatum to his charity, the Said Foundation, which finances the Said Business School at Oxford University.
Said helped to smooth the way for Britain’s biggest export deal, the £43 billion sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. The deal was facilitated with billions of pounds of corrupt payments.
An inquiry into the affair by the Serious Fraud Office was halted after Tony Blair intervened in 2004.
The Said Foundation counts among its trustees Sir Michael Peat, former private secretary to the Prince of Wales. Lord Powell of Bayswater, former foreign affairs adviser to Margaret Thatcher is one too. Another trustee is Jonathan Aitken, the former cabinet minister jailed in 1999 for perjury.
There is of course no suggestion of wrongdoing.
His family members are big Tory donors.
£100,000 spent on bedroom tax cases
Government ministers have spent more than £100,000 on trying to overturn a court ruling that the bedroom tax should not apply to a domestic violence victim and carers for a disabled teenager.
Iain Duncan Smith had blown more than £50,000 of taxpayers’ cash on lawyers to fight a Court of Appeal ruling.
New figures show the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has spent a further £52,000 on its Supreme Court battle.
One of the families involved in the legal action, the Rutherfords, are constituents of Duncan Smith’s replacement Stephen Crabb.
The Court of Appeal ruled last month on two cases. Paul and Sue Rutherford need an extra room for carers looking after disabled grandson Warren.
The other is a domestic violence victim who has a police-built panic room.
The court found they should not be subject to the bedroom tax.
It's grim in Osborne’s north
George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse is fiction.
The chancellor’s scam scheme to revive the North’s economy has seen just £402 million of new money committed.
But since the Tories came in, £3.9 billion has been cut from northern councils. Despite numerous speeches and press releases, the Treasury has only pumped cash into two schemes—both road upgrades.
One is the the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon—which runs through Osborne’s constituency of Tatton.
BBC avoid terror boat confusion
Last weekend saw the annual posho festival that is the the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.
The BBC commentators seemed keen to describe the Oxford reserve boat rather than use its name. It’s named Isis—after the river rather than the terrorist group.
In 2014 Oxford University head of sport responded to name change suggestions. He said, “To change the name would be to pander up to it and would give the extremists more publicity than they are worth.”
On Saturday Isis won.
The average gain someone who pays capital gains tax will make from Osborne’s latest tax cut.
The percentage of the population that the change affects.
Andrew Caspersen lured about £17 million from a charitable foundation and had attempted to get another £35 million shortly before he was arrested.
Troublemaker is pleased that MPs are away now until 11 April. With another week off for May Bank Holiday and ten days for Whitsun. Then they’ll only clock on for 27 days in the entire summer. They were given an extra seven days off for the EU referendum.
The news comes after they were also handed two pay rises totalling 11.3 percent.