IP Source

Saturday 24 September 2011

6 Weeks to Save the Euro

World leaders were warned last night that they have just six weeks to save the euro from collapse.

On another day of gathering economic gloom, George Osborne savaged eurozone leaders for failing to get a grip on their towering debts. The Chancellor set a deadline of six weeks – when leaders of the G20 group of leading countries will meet for crunch talks in France – for action.

He said: 'Patience is running out in the international community. There is a sense from across the leading lights of the eurozone that time is running out for them.

'The eurozone has six weeks to resolve this political crisis.' Mr Osborne also signalled dramatic plans to prop up Britain's faltering economy, opening the door for a  rescue plan that would see the  Bank of England lend directly to struggling small businesses.

In development:

•IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the challenge facing the world 'could not be more urgent';
•World markets remained dangerously volatile, with Britain's leading firms seeing £78billion wiped off their value this week;
•The G20 insisted it would take necessary steps to try to stop the eurozone crisis spreading;
•Debt-laden Greece admitted for the first time that an 'orderly default' was an option;
•Economists at the Royal Bank of Scotland predicted that Europe is falling back into recession.

There is a growing expectation in Whitehall that the Bank of England will authorise another emergency injection of cash into the economy with a second round of 'quantitative easing' – essentially, printing money.

As much as £300billion is expected to be flooded into the economy despite the risk that it will push inflation still higher, increasing the cost of living. The Bank has already poured £200billion into the economy to try to bolster growth, but there have been renewed calls for another dose of the medicine.

Mr Osborne, in Washington, signalled that he is open to the idea of the Bank ring-fencing some of the cash for direct loans to small or medium-sized firms that are in urgent need of help to expand or simply keep afloat. The move would be a victory for the Daily Mail's Make the Banks Lend Campaign, which has highlighted the banks' refusal to provide credit to small businesses and demanded action to help the lifeblood of the British economy.

The Chancellor said it was 'bad politics' that was leading to 'bad economics' in the EU, insisting the continent must implement a package of measures agreed in July to provide bailouts for foundering countries in the single currency.

So is history about to repeat itself? 
The Chancellor wants a £350billion European Financial Stability Facility, which provides bailouts for countries at risk of defaulting on their debts and sending shockwaves through the world's banking system, to be beefed up. 'I am not sure it is adequate,' he said.

Britain is also pushing the euro countries to move quickly to ensure banks in the danger zone have more capital, to ensure they can withstand market pressures. Mr Osborne refused to be drawn on whether Greece would be forced into a debt default and a potential exit from the single currency, but revealed that Britain has contingency plans to cope with such an outcome.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the challenge facing the world 'could not be more urgent'
'I have made it a priority for the Financial Services Authority and the Bank of England to make sure that the UK banking system is adequately capitalised and has sufficient liquidity to deal with all eventualities,' he said.

He admitted that the growing international economic crisis would hit Britain, but flatly rejected calls to soften his deficit reduction plan. 'The UK is taking appropriate action,' he said. 'It is very clear what has got to happen. We are sticking to the plan. We have got ahead of the curve and have credibility.' Michael Saunders, an economist at CitiBank, said he had halved growth forecasts for Britain to 1 per cent this year and just 0.7 per cent next year. He said he expected unemployment to rise from 7.9 per cent to 9 per cent, which would bring the total close to the 3million who were out of work in the 1980s.

Mme Lagarde warned again of 'downside risks on the horizon' for the global economy and said developing economies must play a part in propping it up. The IMF boss said: 'There is growth. The bad news is that it is slow growth. There are downside risks on the horizon, and they are piling up. Negative feedback loop between weak growth, weak banks, and what is very much perceived as weak political commitment. This has led to a crisis of confidence.'

Echoing Mr Osborne's refrain about the need for deficit reduction in Britain, she added: 'We are all in this together. There are dark clouds over Europe and huge uncertainty in the U.S., and with that we could see collapse in global demand.'

The reality is that months of appalling indecision, driven by some of the mini-countries within the monetary union, had in fact underlined the need for Germany and France to seize the political opportunity to bring the crisis to an end.   The final deadline set by the G20 for sorting out the mess is the Cannes G20  summit on the first weekend of November. That, if all goes well, should see the formal launch of the European Financial Stability Facility (of which Britain is not a part), a bailout fund that is capable of rescuing Greece.

That may all seem hunky-dory. But in the world of fast-moving, testosterone- and panic-fuelled financial markets, it looks a lifetime away. If shares were to continue to fall at the mad pace of the last few days – wiping out great chunks of the capital of Britain's major companies – then all bets would be off. 
The big lesson of the Great Depression  of the 1930s is that governments and  central banks around the world were too slow to act. Euro leaders claim they are victims of Parliamentary timetables which have meant long delays in getting the bail-out fund up and running.

But investment managers, hedge funds, the big global banks and other market participants have lost faith in the eurozone's will to act. The eurozone needs to move to a war footing, by pumping new capital into its banks, and setting up a rescue fund with the capacity to save Italy or Spain if it became necessary. Britain cannot divorce itself from events given that up to 80 per cent of our trade is with euro-area nations. Without a eurowide rescue, the  prospects of heading off a prolonged slump – which will devastate every British household and business – will be remote.

Friday 15 July 2011


Regular (as it were) Prices for Technical Support/System Administration

·         Calling me with a question: $100
·         Calling me with a stupid question: $200
·         Calling me with a stupid question you can't quite articulate: $300
·         Implying I'm incompetent because I can't interpret your inarticulate problem description: $1000 + punitive damages
·         Questions received via phone without first trying Help Desk: $100
·         Questions where answer is in TFM: $100
·         Calling me back with the same problem *after* I fix it once: $1000
·         Insisting that you're not ‘breaking’ the software, the problem is on my end somehow: $200
·         Asking me to walk over to your building to fix the problem: $50/step
·         Asking me to drive to another town to fix your problem: $50/mile + gas
·         If you interrupt me while I was reading news: $25/hour
·         If you interrupt me while I was trying to actually fix somebody else's problem: $45/hour
·         If you try to hang around and get me to fix it now: $150/hour
·         If you expect me to tell you how I fixed it: $260/hour
·         If you've come to ask me why something isn't working that I'm currently working on: $170/hour
·         If you're asking me to fix something I fixed for you yesterday: $275/hour
·         If you're asking me to fix something I told you I fixed yesterday, but never did fix: $85/hour
·         If you're asking me to fix a quick patch that I made that didn't work: $95/hour
·         If you're bugging me while there's another admin in the room who could have done it for you: $150/hour
·         Making me trek to your office to fix your problem then leaving immediately after hanging up the phone: $1,500
·         Calling up with a problem which "everybody" in the office is having and which is "stopping all work." Not being there when I rush over to look at it and nobody else in the office knows anything about it: $1,700
·         Explaining a problem for half-an-hour over the phone BEFORE mentioning it's your personal machine at home: $1500
·         Self-diagnosing your problem and informing me what to do: $1500
·         Having me bail you out when you perform your own repairs I told you not to do: $3000
·         Not telling all of your co-workers about it: $850
·         Figuring out you mean floppy drive when you say hard drive: $250 BEFORE I order your replacement hard drive, $250 after
·         Fixing your "broken" mouse with a mousepad: $250
·         Fixing your "broken" optical mouse by rotating the mousepad 90 degrees: $350
·         Fixing a "broken" mouse by cleaning the rollers: $150
·         Fixing your "broken" printer with an ink/toner cartridge: $235
·         Fixing your "broken" ANYTHING with the power button: $250
·         Fixing the "crashed" system by turning the external disk back on: $200
·         Fixing the "hung" system by plugging the Ethernet transceiver back in: $375
·         Fixing the crashed nameserver by plugging back in the SCSI cord someone accidentally yanked out on Friday afternoon when the "real" sysadmin has just left for a two-week vacation: $400
·         Visiting your old university and fixing the broken PC by plugging the monitor lead back in: $500
·         Explaining that you can't log in to some server because you don't have an account there: $100
·         Explaining that you don't have an account on the machine you used to have an account on because you used it to try to break into the above server: $500
·         Forgetting your password after it was tattooed on your index finger: $225
·         Changing your memory partitions without informing me first: $250
·         Installing programs without informing me/getting permission first: $1000
·         Technical support for the above programs: $1500/hour
·         Spilling Coke on keyboard: $250 plus cost of keyboard
·         Spilling Coke on monitor: $500 plus cost of monitor
·         Spilling Coke on CPU: $200 plus cost of motherboard swap plus hourly rate of $150 per hour spent reinstalling the system
·         Leaving files on desktop: $50 per file, $100 per day the file is left unclaimed
·         Cleaning the mouse with spit and sleeve: $500 plus cost of sleeve plus cost of therapy :)
·         Bringing in your own copy of the original Norton Utilities v1.0 to fix a brand new machine: $200
·         Chewing on the end of the graphic tablet stylus: $250
·         Putting feet up next to my workstation after ten mile jog: $500
·         Spending 30 minutes trying to figure out what your problem is and another 5 explaining how to verify and fix it, only to hear you say... "So that's what the little box that popped up on my screen was telling me to do!": $400
·         Listening to your network troubles, suggesting that you check to see if you are plugged into the network jack, hearing yes, trying five other things, asking you to identify your plug type, listening to you drag furniture, and hearing a sheepish, "Oops. Nevermind.": $350 (including discount for polite apology)
·         Dealing with tech support requests for obviously pirated software: $250
·         Dealing with "How can I get another copy of [obviously pirated software]? Mine just died." requests: $450
·         Having to use the "We're really not the best people to talk to about that; why don't you try calling the number on the box in which you bought it?" line: $550
·         Actually needing to explain copyright law to you after you failed to get the hint in the previous response: $95 (includes instructions for getting freeware replacements from the public file server)
·         Having to point out anything that's on the wall in a typeface larger than 18 points: $150
If I wrote the sign: $450
If it's in a 144-point font and taped to the side of the monitor facing the door: $750
·         Reporting slow connection by passenger pigeon packets to MPEG archive in Outer Slobavia as a Mosaic/Netscape/Gopher/FTP client problem: $250
·         Reporting it more than once: $500
·         Reporting it more than once and implying slothfulness on tech support's inability to solve problem: $2000

Beeper Prices

·         Beeping me when I'm out with the significant other: $500
·         Beeping me when I'm out of town and I took pains to ensure that help files were left all over and that diagnostics had been run on all machines before I left: $1000
·         Beeping me more than once to tell me that the printer's offline and the fix is to press the On Line button: $2000
·         Beeping me more than once while I'm asleep: $50 per beep
·         Beeping me and not identifying yourself within the first 5 seconds: $250
·         Beeping me and then changing your story/denying you placed the call/hoped I would forget who caused the problem: $500

Special Rates

·         Dealing with user body odor: $275/hour
·         Dealing with user not familiar with the primary language spoken at site: $250/hour
·         Dealing with user who is (self-proclaimed) smarter than you are, but still calls every other day for help: $100/hour
·         Dealing with computer hobby folks: $125/hour
·         Questioning the other prices ........... $50 per minute