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January 23, 2009

We’re now officially in a recession

Filed under: Miscellanea — admin @ 11:15 am

It’s official: the UK is in the grip of a recession for the first time since the 1990s.

It’s a formality, of course — we all knew it was coming. But now that UK GDP has shrunk for two consecutive quarters it’s officially allowed to be called ‘recession’.

Sterling is at a 24-year low against the dollar — £1 is now worth $1.355. Last time we visited Chicago (last November) £1 got you around $2.

Keywords abound: grim, weak, depression, severe, deteriorating, decline, slumped, losing confidence, shrink…

Despite the government injecting £37bn into the banks they’re still not lending and still not passing on the massive rate cut to borrowers — the cheapest mortgage rate from Nationwide, for example, is 4.00%.

The BoE base rate is currently 1.5%.

However they are passing it onto savers — a regular day-to-day savings account from Nationwide currently offers around 2.00% interest.

January 20, 2009

The New President

Filed under: For Posterity,The American Adventure — admin @ 4:07 pm

President Barack Obama

I’m not normally one for politics or sentiment but today was quite a big day, even for a limey in Chicago.

We gathered in a large meeting room in a corner of the office at about 10.30am to watch the beginnings of the Inauguration Ceremony. Whilst watching it was hard not to get swept up in the occasion of it all and I kept wondering how this sort of ceremonial celebration would go down in the UK. Somehow I can’t imagine Gordon Brown or David Cameron being received as warmly as Barack Obama was today. And how many people have you seen crying when a new Prime Minister is elected?

But there’s a lot to love about the pomp and ceremony. The speech Mr Obama gave was very good — admittedly, it’s the first Presidential Inauguration speech I’ve witnessed — and obviously moved a lot of the crowd to tears. There does seem to be a real sense of change and hope abound.

I wish the new President good luck and know I will look back on today when I’m grey and old!

January 18, 2009

Shopping on Sap’s birthday

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 4:49 pm

Shopping in this weather?

After weeks of planning, Sap finally turned 30 last Thursday. She was pampered (even if I do say so myself!) and there were lots of surprises throughout the day.

One of which was to go shopping, something she’s not done in ages (perhaps years!). This explains why she struggled to spend any money…even with lots of encouragement from her husband!

Plus it was the coldest day Chicago had experienced in around 12 years. Not a good day to wander around the shops!

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