I am curious about the British and French Authorities being unable to reduce the flow of migrants crossing the Channel. Modern weapon technology now allows a rocket to be fired from over the horizon and put into an outside toilet, totally ruining the day of its occupant. In a similar fashion we know that satellites can monitor and photograph, by day or night, minor movements on the ground from two hundred miles up in space. With all this information available it must be feasible to have the troops on hand and in position to “pop” the boats before they are loaded and launched. Also, if the media can find the traffickers, it surely cannot be beyond the wit of the authorities to do the same and put these people mid-channel into a sinking rubber boat.
All of the above makes me suspicious that the increasing number of migrants crossing is not of concern to our government. Not that I believe we should stop them altogether, but I do believe that we should be in control of the numbers coming into the country, and then give them humane treatment, accommodation, and education when they first arrive. After all, with the UKs ageing population and with fewer children being born, who in the future will work in our transport systems, the NHS, farms, and education, not necessarily as labourers, but also management? Today in the UK we apparently have job vacancies in excess of a million, how many will that be tomorrow?
Many years ago, when Poland had shaken loose the reins of the Soviet Union, I was approached by a Director of the newly formed Polish Timber and Furniture Association. Would we set up a factory in Poland to manufacture self-assembly furniture for the local market? This we did, and it was very successful. It was located in the depth of the countryside, at a place with a name I could not pronounce then, and cannot remember now! All went well until I was approached by some people calling themselves “facilitators”. I met them in Warsaw. There were three of them, a retired Polish Air Force colonel, one ex KGB “gentleman” who was in charge, and a big man who stayed silent. After that meeting it took less than six months for us to exit the business, handing it over to the P. T. and F. Association.
During the few years that we managed this factory it was extremely obvious that the staff had received a good practical education and wanted to work. At this time, we were short of personnel at our Bristol factory, so we organised a number of willing Polish families to move to the UK. In order to make the move as simple as possible, everything was organised for them, housing, language and education. What a good move this turned out to be. Before long they stood out amongst the best of our factory employees and their positive attitude rubbed off on others. I cannot see why something similar could not be achieved with today's migrants.
There is not much to say about our investments and the performance of the various stock markets that has not been said before. For the last couple of months they have gone up and then down like a see-saw, and no particular sector is performing dramatically better than the others. At times like this I believe that it is better to be cautious and not try to anticipate the future. We have the big advantage that we can wait until the numbers are giving us the nod, and then move. That directly applies to my approach to the UK sectors. I am desperate to return to these sectors as I so strongly believe in the future of UK business and technology, but it does not show in our numbers. So I will not make a move yet. Better a small missed gain than a larger loss.
Recently Richard pointed out to me the six-month performance of the leading UK Gilts and Index linked Gilts, producing a not too shabby a return of around 10%. I would never normally entertain this boringly sleep-inducing sector, but perhaps this has been foolish. As an alternative to some of the cash I hold which earns nothing, this must be a missed opportunity. A lot of these decisions depend on whether you are at retirement age or older and wanting to maintain the funds that you have without major risk. However, if you are younger and needing to grow your funds, then more risk can be taken as you have built-in recovery time, not available to the older investor.
I find that it is frustrating getting older, you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions!
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2022.
Founder & Chairman