2009 - Emile Woolf writes

The cycle of litigation – be warned

Litigation warning – remember the cycle!  The pattern of litigation tends to be cyclical since it shadows the economic cycle. When there is general prosperity and businesses flourish there is still plenty of litigation (when is there not?) but its character reflects boom-time activity. Businesses buy other businesses and then claim that they overpaid. Although […]

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Reflating the banking bubble while the real economy lags

How sustainable is the alleged economic recovery? A brighter outlook certainly appears to be in evidence in parts of the City. Construction work on glitzy office buildings has resumed. A stroll through the Royal Exchange takes you past packed wine bars, expensive restaurants and boutiques displaying the most opulent array of branded merchandise – jewellery, […]

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Bring back “substance over form” to overcome this accounting farce

When “true and fair” accounts disclose either favourable results that are factually unsupportable, or a position much worse than warranted due to an “accounting quirk”, with no bearing on actual performance, we are bound to wonder what is going on. Arbitrary losses may arise when a business is forced to separate its foreign exchange credits […]

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Reforming banks’ governance is not possible without real sanctions

The reforms recommended by Sir David Walker for the governance of banks would, if implemented, impose a huge moral responsibility on executive and non-executive banking directors alike. The will to exercise independent judgment without regard to personal advantage – whether money, power or status – is a rare commodity in commercial life, and it cannot […]

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Cutting public sector waste: there is no choice

During several matches leading to the almighty centre-court battle that climaxed this year’s Wimbledon I reflected on how the game has altered over the 50 years I have been watching it. I recall days of serve-and-volley, preceding Borg’s dogged baseline perseverance that exasperated more excitable opponents. I remember the exquisite yet deadly net play of […]

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The public scandal of parliamentary expenses – here and in Brussels

The sheer inanity of the rules on parliamentary expenses guaranteed they would be open to misinterpretation and abuse. The incomprehensibility of ad hoc, uncodified rules that confuse “reimbursable expenses” with “allowances” has led to a pot-pourri of reactions, devoid of sense or judgment, in which extravagance, genuine error, sly acquisitiveness and fraud are jumbled in […]

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Public finances: tax rises are not the answer

Promises, promises….. New Labour’s pledges in three elections running included a commitment not to raise taxes. All three manifestos declared: “There will be no return to the penal tax rates that existed under Labour and Conservative governments in the 1970s. To encourage work and reward effort, we are pledged not to raise the basic or […]

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End hypocrisy: only a culture change will achieve G-20 goals

  In the midst of G20 euphoria who can assess the effectiveness of its efforts to stabilize the economic turmoil? When the dust settles it will be people, not governments, who decide how successful the sweeping measures have been. Confidence, after all, is a feeling – and it’s beyond government control. Only when confidence returns […]

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Time for a reformed regulatory framework – auditing included

Time for a reformed regulatory framework – auditing included   The economic collapse is merciless in its revelations of failure, whether evidencing spineless regulation, ignorant policy-making, ineffective auditing, incompetent rating or wimpish governance. There’s nowhere to hide – as Warren Buffett puts it, when the tide goes out you can see who’s been bathing naked. […]

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