Thursday, June 24, 2010
The word for this weekend is pension, I have been meaning to write about this for weeks but an article in today’s Guardian really caught my eye and I thought I would bring it to your attention.
The UK government is planning to increase the age when people in the UK can get their state pension. As you can imagine this has caused a lot of interest especially as the previous government had also increased this age quite substantially in the recent past.
Now the new coalition government is planning to speed up this process for both men and women in the UK following the recent changes in Greece and other European countries.
Please read the article and answer the following questions. Discuss the questions with your classmates and your teacher.
1. What is the State retirement age in your country?
2. Why does the article say the retirement age is being increased?
3. Do companies have workplace pensions in your country?
4. Research the terms consumer price index and retail price index on the internet and write a short note to explain the difference to yourself for future reference.
5. What age do you expect to retire? Do you want to retire later than the normal age or earlier?
6. Your boss has asked you to continue working after the state retirement age. Write him a formal letter explaining why you have decided to stay at work or leave at the normal age. Write 120-140 words do not include addresses.
Last week the press in the UK was full of budget speculation, so my word of the week for last week is budget. There has been much press attention to this topic since the details were officially released on Tuesday and pages of press comment have been written. Our article for this week is one of the shorter ones you will be pleased to know.
Many people have opinion on the budget and here is the Guardian opinion from today. Budget 2010: Tough but unfair.
If you want more information on the British Budget follow some of the links on this page from the Guardian.
This week's questions for this article.
1. Who did chancellor George Osborne say would be worst affected by the budget?
2. Do the researchers quoted in this article agree? Why/Why Not?
3. In the UK VAT will rise to 20% in January 2011. Compare this level of VAT with the equivalent tax in your country. Write a note to your teacher explaining the comparison. (40 words limit.)
4. Do you think VAT a fair tax to increase at a time of recession? Prepare a short presentation to present to your class on this topic. 1-2 minutes only.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
• As BP shares plunge, the company may suspend its dividend
Quoted from -Dan Roberts: Why BP should maintain its dividend, for now
Not for the first time in recent weeks, BP has found itself in a no-win situation.
The question has come to a head over the issue of whether BP should meet its routine dividend obligation to shareholders. On the basis of current estimates of fines and clean-up costs, this wealthy company ought to have enough cash resources to pay its dues in the Gulf of Mexico and continue normal dividend payments. But if the politically acceptable level of penalty proves to be one that is unaffordable then, by definition, BP cannot afford to carry on the rest of its activities with any semblance of normality.
Follow the link and read the whole article then answer the questions below in your note book.
1. What are the contrary views regarding dividends which divide UK and US opinion?
2. How have UK companies used ‘rights-issues’ recently?
3. Explain the following words and expressions
o One-off reward
Come to a head
o Punitive damages
4. Do you think BP should pay dividends or not? Write a short paragraph to explain your reasons.
5. What questions or comment would you like to make on this issue?
6. Click on post your comments at the bottom of this article and ask your questions or make your comments. You will have to register and log on to post your comments.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Credit rating agencies
Credit rating agencies, issue ratings for the debt of public and private corporations; this means that they are expected to know if a company or a financial product is a good risk for the investor. They should use this information in their ratings.
Writing in the Guardian this week Elena Moya discusses EU plans to create a watchdog to curb these agencies as they have been widely criticized following the recent credit crisis.
Read the article and answer the following questions in your note book.
1. Which credit rating agencies are named? Have you heard of them before?
2. Write an email to a colleague explaining your opinion of the article.
Start as follows – Hello Jonathan, Did you see the article in the Guardian…
Get your teacher to check your email.
3. Why is the EU scrutinizing Standard and Poor’s?
4. What is Mensa ? What do they mean by Mensa like?
5. Find a present continuous and a simple past usage of a verb that also means putting a ship into the water.
6. How will a watchdog protect the economy from a future credit crunch? Make notes in your notebook.