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Embracing the new year: Why 2015 will hardly be missed by Brits

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Our stockmarkets were listless and sometimes, to use an old City phrase, there seemed to be more activity in a tramp’s vest. IPO’s were few and uninspiring. Oil and mining stocks generally blew up and investors spent most of the year fretting over what might go wrong with everything and anything. Joie de vivre it was not. The sun did come out briefly when it was announced that the awful Martin Wheatley was being turfed out of the FCA, but where is his replacement?

We had our showman of a governor of the Bank of England decide that we should hear his views on climate change. Perhaps next up will be his thoughts on who should manage Chelsea and Manchester United? The depressing news is that he has no intention of going back to Canada at the end of his first five years in the job and there is no end yet to our central banker’s manipulation of fiat money.

As for our putrid politicians, I have at least a New Year’s resolution, which is not to throw a shoe at the television every time prime minister David Cameron comes on to say what wonderful progress he is making in renegotiating terms with Merkel & Co. Indeed Cameron has turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2015 as his languid Etonian air is now catching him out. Apart from his hopeless trips round Europe, his policy on Middle Eastern hotbeds of discontent is impossible to discern, his response to terrorism is to allow the rather sinister Home Secretary to axe civil liberties left right and centre, and he has fallen under the spell of one Zac Goldsmith when it comes to ducking airport expansion.

In fact the two have much in common as both went to Eton and neither have any experience or interest in business. Indeed when in 2015 did you hear our prime minister or the Conservative candidate for the mayor of London make a commitment to doing their utmost to create the best possible climate for business in the UK? Such sentiment is left to his chancellor but George Osborne understandably is bogged down in grappling with the Gordian knot of our national debt and has little mental mind space left over to think about our business communities.

And then there is Jeremy Corbyn. It is a measure of the depth to which our politics has plunged that sections of our youngest generation are prepared to put their faith in a sad ageing wreck of a man whose big idea is to drive us back to the shop steward economy of 50 years ago. Meantime we have Labour’s establishment politicians running around squawking in fear of losing their front bench jobs. If they weren’t so spineless they would expose Corbyn for the fascist- like old fraud he is.

Talking of fascists we have had Donald Trump thrust upon us in 2015. Previously his name only came up when we read about yet another of his business ventures having to be rescued/liquidated. As with Corbyn he is symptomatic of how low politics has gone given that significant numbers of voters find his caterwauling appealing. Yuck!

Gideon Rachman, in the 29th December edition of the FT, captured the insipidness of 2015 rather well when he wrote “In 2015 a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s major power centres. From Bejiing to Washington, Berlin to Brasilia, Moscow to Tokyo-governments, media and citizens were jumpy and embattled.”

Can we shake free of this dull mental mindset in 2016? I think there are lots of good things out there. The referendum gives us a once in a lifetime chance to break free from the festering mess that is the EU. UK unemployment is very low. There is more money in people’s pockets as witnessed by Christmas retail sales. The oil price is boosting our purchasing power. Alternatives to bank finance are growing. Ex the referendum our politicians can safely be ignored in 2016.

Interest rates should at long last start making the journey back to normality. Chelsea and Manchester United are proving that money can’t necessarily buy success. Those devils incarnate, Iran and Cuba are starting to come in from the cold. Technology, both electronic and bio, continue to do amazing things.

And finally as I write this Eric Schmidt, Google’s former boss, has just said the following on BBC Radio 4 “Britain is the leader in e-commerce in the world, far ahead of the United States. Britain has every aspect to build billion pound, ten billion pound, hundred billion pound companies.”

He went onto observe: “The only thing that matters is the product quality and in the age of social media, lean distribution models are replacing big marketing and advertising budgets. This means start ups can compete more easily with more established, big companies. If you have three people and a vision, you should be able to raise funds from friends and family, crowd-funding and early venture groups.”

The key, however, was having a “strong engineering lead”. Without someone with a vested interest in the company to build the app or technology product, start-ups tend to struggle. Having someone in-house, rather than going to a third party developer, is vitally important.

The Crowdfunding Aggregator I chair, Businessagent.com, completed a £300k fundraising just before Christmas so I guess Schmidt would approve. His words have certainly put a smile on my face as we enter 2016

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