This week’s blogs: the will to survive

Waiting for the cavalry

The government’s massive but bold intervention to ease the banking crisis is
designed to shore up confidence and to provide liquidity into the system so that
banks can begin to lend again to each other, and then to consumers and

Thank god, conditions in the interbank lending market are showing the first
signs of easing with the all important three-month Libor rate moving down to
6.269% from last Friday’s 6.285%.

However, things will not turn rosy overnight and I’m wondering about the
short-term survivability of highly leveraged companies that literally can’t wait
much longer to be rescued. These are companies that are reliant on borrowed
money to stay afloat but are facing difficulties in getting refinanced.

For some, it must be an agonising wait ­ a bit like the cliched scene in old
westerns where an injured soldier lies dying in the dust as he hears the distant
but advancing sound of the cavalry bugle horn.

Businesses know that help is on its way, but will they survive the wait?

Martin Williams, MD Graydon UK,

Tough at the top

So ­ Dave Hartnett has become the new ‘permanent secretary for tax’ ­ a new
role designed especially for him.

As far as the department goes this probably ticks all the boxes.

Hartnett gets to focus on tax policy ­ undoubtedly playing to his strengths ­
but also gets to be a permanent secretary, meaning more clout and more dealing
with ministers. It is a recognition of his importance to the depart-ment,

But there is one odd and small point. One of the great criticisms of the
Varney structure at HMRC ­ the McKinsey matrix ­ was that accountabilities had
become confused. Nobody knew who was in charge.

No doubt Dave Hartnett would dismiss the criticism with his usual confident
swagger, but it might
be worth asking how having three bosses ­ Hartnett along with newly appointed
chief executive officer Lesley Strathie and chairman Mike Clasper ­ improves
that situation.

Alex Hawkes, tax hack,

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