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Month: February 2010

The profit margins of energy companies

The profit margins of energy companies

Wind Farm
Image by elston via Flickr

There’s a lot in the news today about the profit that energy companies are making. Now, while it’s fine for companies to make profit, the man in the street takes a dim view of companies that make exorbitant profit and his expense. And this is just how this energy profit is seen. Wholesale prices have dropped, while retail prices have stayed pretty much level and consumers are feeling cheated by what has happened.

Perception is a very strong thing, and just like you need to do employee screening before you hire someone new, it’s always worth keeping an eye on public perception. your PR team should know all about this, so I’m surprised these big companies have been caught out like this.

Distribution of resources

Distribution of resources

Was thinking this morning about how a lot of the world’s problems are about the irregular distribution of resources. I’m not talking about how wealth is distributed, I’m a capitalist at heart; but rather how the world’s resources are cause of war, famine and all sorts of other ills. It sort of hit me while watching TV and saw an advert trying to raise funds for a charity that helps starving children, while here I am trying to stick to my weight loss program.

Small organisations are pretty good as distribution resources where they are needed, but how do you apply that principle to an entire planet?

Do you cheat on your taxes?

Do you cheat on your taxes?

I just came across an interesting article that points out that Americans are cheating more on their tax return than they used to in the past. 13% of those surveyed said cheating is acceptable, according to an annual poll conducted for the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board. That’s up 4% from 2008. 4% percent of Americans said they cheat on their taxes “as much as possible,” up 1% from the year before.

They’re interesting statistics, but worrying ones for tax authorities. The reality is that those taxes drive the economy and without the revenue coming in, well, services have to be cut and customer expectations reset. But people are under pressure also, and paying the taxman is always seen as a burden.

According to the article, the three most common ways in which the tax authorities don’t get their due are inflating the value of charitable donations and claiming personal expenses as business expenses if you’re self-employed as well as people who can’t decipher the complicated tax code. You may think that claiming tax credit on your phentermine might make sense, but there’s really no legal basis to be doing it; it’s not really an “allowable expense”.

The risk of going online

The risk of going online

There’s a lot of noise in the media at the moment about Chinese hackers making their way into western computer systems, particularly into systems of large commercial organisations like Google and Cardinal Health Inc. The reality is that as soon as you connect your network to the outside world you are exposing yourself to this risk and you need to find ways to control and mitigate these actions.

The question that’s always worth asking is if you can get away without having to open yourself up. If you’re a health organistaion for example, you could have your website showing nutrisystem reviews, but you don’t actually need to be online, especially if your workforce doesn’t need Internet access. Obviously, this may not be an option in most cases, but it’s worth understanding the risk and taking all the steps you can to reduce them.

Sharp drop in UK retail sales

Sharp drop in UK retail sales

All that's left !

I was just reading an article on BBC business about how retail sales are showing a 1.8% drop between December and January. It’s a worrying sign because it could be an indication that the economy is headed for another contraction just after having supposedly come out of a recession.

The thing about retail sales is that I’m not 100% sure how they capture online shopping, if they do so at all. The thing about recession is that people start looking about how they can save money on their purchase, and going online is one way to do it. All you have to do is fire up your laptop, get yourself a mobile satellite connection and get things cheaper online. That’s besides the fact that if you’re looking for alli weight loss pills, you can get them from other countries cheaper than you can get them in the UK. That’s not going to appear in the retail figures.

UK’s borrowing time bomb

UK’s borrowing time bomb

An interesting article in This Is Money talks about that’s happening in the UK and how the increase in government spending is digging a black hole that’s going to be really hard to get out of. It’s almost like people responsible for spending should be looking at weight loss products for their budget. Government income in the UK is down, but spending is up, a situation that is just unsustainable. It’s an interesting article and worth reading, if you’re interesting in the financial state of the UK.

The Isle of Man’s economy is pretty dependant on the UK, so I hope they start heading towards some sort of recovery sometime soon.