I occasionally read the business pages in the papers, simply to marvel at the way some jumped up cityboys are messing about with the shares and such that are going to pay my pension. Most of the news is bloody incomprehensible because of the terminology.
Some is incomprehensible because I understand the words but not the reasoning. Here’s an example.
You may be aware that Glencore is one of the world’s biggest mining and commodities companies. Their shares have tanked, because some numbercrunchers at an outfit called Investec last week predicted that Glencore shares could soon be worthless, which should go into the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ folder.
The reason for the tanking is that Glencore borrowed massively to sustain its expansion, and since world demand for a whole bunch of things has slumped, prices have fallen, and they have huge debts they can’t service. Got that? The company is in the klart because it’s in debt.
Let us now turn to that bloke in the US who masterminded the buyout of the quintessential British company Cadbury’s by the behemoth of aerosol cheese, Kraft Foods. This interfering richkid has his sights set on General Electric. His figuring? If he gets the reins, and GE takes on more debt to the tune of $20 billion, shares could rise to $45. That’s right. Increasing the debt increases the value of the company.
I’d like to point out that these stories were on facing pages in the i only yesterday.
Then we have the news that the marine engine division of Rolls Royce is to shed another 300 jobs on top of the 700 it’s already chucked out this year. The reason? The worldwide low price of oil. Hang on. Companies whine like hell when the price of oil is too high, don’t they? Generally, low oil prices are regarded as a good thing, and business booms. But not at Rolls Royce. Also this is the engine division. Surely when oil prices are low people will buy more engines, not fewer? They can afford to run the damned things.
One last point. How come shares can trade at different prices in London, New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong? It’s not like you’re buying duty free at an airport, is it?
I do apologise. Not the last point.
‘Selling short.’ You get some shares from a struggling company at a knockdown price. Then when it recovers, you sell them at a profit. I see that. But when the markets sell short, they sell shares they do not own. They do not own them. They borrow them. Then sell them. Then buy them back when the price has plunged. The whole show is predicated on selling something you don’t own.
In the normal world, this is called theft. Yet this is everyday life for the people who control what you earn, what your healthcare will cost, what your pension will be, your children’s future, your grandchildren’s future, everybody’s future but their own.
And we let it happen.