After leaving University I was employed by Bowaters in the work study (time and motion) department of one of their northern factories. The eighteen months spent working and learning there was definitely a really good start on the road to setting up my own factories. The department head taught me a saying that I have never forgotten. “If Directors manage, and Managers work, what do Workers do”? This is a “top down” approach to deciding staffing levels, and requires an involvement with and from the people on the receiving end of the study. In my experience doing this correctly and fairly, usually results in fewer people not more, and also less attention from the Unions.
Over thirty years David McCrea and myself (and subsequently Richard) set up seven factories to manufacture self-assembly furniture, supplying IKEA and all the major retailers across Europe and North America. This I might add did not involve chisels and hammers but very, very large automated machinery and robots. I think it is true to say that at all sites we endeavoured to follow the above maxim in our management style, and we found it led to a minimal workforce that was involved and motivated at all levels. (But I would say that wouldn’t I).
I have raised the above subject not only because I am getting older, and the past can look rosy, but because of the chaos I see in the way politicians, the civil service, and local authorities throw people and our money at all of their problems. Most times they are not looking for a solution, but a means of hiding their mistakes. “Let’s have a committee to investigate”, they say, knowing full well that the truth will never emerge. I suspect that these people are selected from “friends of friends” in the full knowledge that it will lead nowhere, and the situation will be forgotten and go away. There is plenty of recent evidence of this with the purchase and distribution of COVID PPE supplies. A lot of undeserving people have become rich at the taxpayers’ expense.
Finally, when is a financial quotation for a project, not a quotation? When it is made to the government and local authorities. It is now the expectation that the actual costs will be double or treble, and there will be no comeback. Think HS2, Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers, London Cross-rail, Electrification of the Railways, the list is endless. So, it’s hurray for the Directors and shareholders and no thought or recompense for the taxpayer.
I recently received a copy of “Spot the dog” from Bestinvest. It is at this time of year that many financial houses produce their lists of non-performing funds. Normally it does not cover all of the Investment Association sectors, but just those that allow them to have a go at their competitors. As far as I am concerned this information is entirely pointless as I cannot see any gain in filling my memory with loser funds. It is difficult enough to remember the winners. Richard publishes his 6x6 winners’ report on a regular basis which assists in fulfilling this requirement admirably.
I find it difficult to comment on the situation in Ukraine, it is just unbelievably dreadful. In this day and age to have the threat of a nuclear world war initiated by a man who is obviously mentally disturbed, is just incredible. I am amazed that Putin is still alive. Do the powers that be not remember Hitler, Stalin and Pol-Pot.
Again, as I have said previously about the benefits of taking refugees into the UK, I believe the same about assisting the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainian situation has, as one would expect, thrown already disturbed markets into disarray. My own and Saltydog’s belief is unchanged, it's still the time to be holding a high percentage in cash. I also own some Global Energy and Natural resources funds, with a little in Clean Energy funds on the side. All these funds are definitely showing resistance to a fall. It may be too late to invest into gold.
I think that we all have to be careful not to try to time the market. A small rise could, as I said in my previous “thoughts” article, be “a dead cat bounce.” However, even without the Ukrainian invasion, Energy and Natural resources are going to be an increasing requirement as modern and future technologies raise the demand.
I am just recovering from my fourth successful operation to replace my Aorta and major Arteries with Dacron plastic tubing. I only have the Iliac arteries in my legs to be connected up (another 8%) and then the job will be finished - hopefully that won't be necessary. The skills of these surgeons are totally beyond my comprehension. It is akin to magic! The only minor hiccup was when I was being discharged. The nurse given the task of removing my catheter was perhaps a little over-enthusiastic. At the time I thought that she had also recited “little Douglas and his two pals”. Fortunately, upon checking it was not the case!
Best wishes and good luck with your investments.
Founder & Chairman