This weekend my mum described me as “generally offended”. While I did tell her: “I prefer opinionated thank you”, she’s got a point.
It’s a common gripe that *cough* older people have with my generation. And honestly I’m unapologetic.
If you wanted meek and mild mum, then maybe you shouldn’t have educated me so well or provided in yourself a role model that exposed me to the entire spectrum of human opinion.
But rant aside, international women’s day passed us by on Friday and I have some thoughts I wanted to share.
The first has to do with the Fearless Girl statue that was installed in London’s financial district last week to highlight the importance of female leaders in business. It is a copy of the statue famous for “staring down” Wall Street’s bull in New York.
The message is obviously extremely important and profound at a time where 74 of Britain’s 350 biggest listed companies have only one female director.
But for me, the statue misses the mark. Because it seeks to capture the entire female workforce – all that power and ferocity and knowledge – in an image of childhood. The connotations of that message are that women are immature, naïve, ignorant.
Whereas men are bulls: aggressive, confident, assertive.
We have strong powerful female role models running our countries now, most of whom I understand to be above the age of 18. I see no reason why these grown women could not be represented in statue form? As far as I understand, children have little place around the negotiating table – however fearless they may be.
But let’s do one better. Why do women need a specific statue anyway? Maybe I associated myself positively with the bull statue all along, only to be told that instead I should be recognising myself in the image of a little girl. (If ever there was a time for a sarcastic thumbs up emoji, this is it).
And while I was pondering the subject this morning, a news article popped up to reaffirm my musings: top women bankers at UBS have criticised bosses for using their maternity leave as a reason for imposing long-term cuts to their bonuses.
Now more than ever, women need to be bulls, not girls.
Seven British passengers were among 157 people killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed yesterday minutes after take-off. The pilot had sent out a distress call and was given clearance to turn back when the plane disappeared from the radar. It was the second crash in five months involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 and the US plane maker now faces questions. An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.
Conservative MPs have warned Theresa May to pull tomorrow’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal if she fails to secure concessions from Brussels or face another three-figure defeat. Leading Tories in the Commons have advised the prime minister to replace the vote with a motion setting out the kind of Brexit deal that would be acceptable. (£)
Siti Aisyah, one of two women charged with the murder of the estranged brother of Kim Jong-un, has been released from custody in Malaysia and the charges have been dropped. Siti and Doan Thi Huong were accused of smearing a nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam’s face as he waited to board a plane to Macau in Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.
Business & Economy
British offshore oil and gas production forecasts have been revised upwards. The industry regulator now believes that 11.9 billion barrels will be extracted by 2050, up from an estimate of eight billion four years ago. The new prediction is “driven by lower production costs, technical advances and new fields coming on stream.”
The Bank of England has told some UK lenders to triple the amount of easy-to-sell assets they have to cope with the market meltdown forecast if Britain leaves the EU without a deal later this month. Some lenders must now hold enough liquid assets to withstand a severe stress – when banks stop lending to each other – of 100 days rather than the normal 30. (£)
Deutsche Bank has begun tentative merger talks with rival Commerzbank. The union would create Europe’s second biggest bank behind HSBC and fend off unwanted potential bidders such as BNP Paribas. Reports suggest that the banks have come under political pressure to consider a merger to avert the threat of a foreign takeover.
The week ahead
This week will see the release of UK GDP statistics as well as full-year earnings from Morrisons, Prudential and Capita.
But the main event will be the upcoming Brexit votes. MPs are set to vote on Theresa May’s deal tomorrow, a no-deal on Wednesday and whether to extend article 50 on Thursday. The outcome of these votes is likely to have a significant impact on the FTSE 100, which is expected to respond positively to the prospect of stability in the form of a deal and negatively to a no-deal or a Brexit extension.
Increased clarity will affect the currency markets, with the pound oscillating around $1.30 against the dollar at the moment, caught somewhere in between the poles of a hard Brexit and no Brexit.
UK chancellor Philip Hammond will give his spring statement on Wednesday, outlining a multibillion annual improvement in the public finances which have been boosted by a rise in the pay of the country’s biggest taxpayers. However, the economy remains cautious over Brexit and a weaker global outlook.
US president Donald Trump will release the first instalment of his fiscal 2020 budget plan to congress on Monday, which is expected to cause a stir in the Democratic house. Further updates on the state of the world economy will come from China this week. The combined year-to-date January and February industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investments will be released on Thursday and the current prognosis is mixed.
Banco Santander S.A.
Hutchison China Meditech Ltd.
Old Mutual Limited NPV (DI)
River and Mercantile Group
Belimo Holding AG
Int. Economic Announcements
(06:00) Factory Orders (GER)
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(10:00) ZEW Survey (EU) – Economic Sentiment
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Current Situation
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Economic Sentiment
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(14:00) Business Inventories (US)
(14:00) Construction Spending (US)
Columns of Note
Kevin Pringle explores Scottish national identity in this week’s Sunday Times. He laments the perceived glass-half-empty Scottish outlook, arguing to the contrary that Scots are optimistic for the future. This is exemplified by the entrepreneurial Scottish stock exchange project, which aims to put the nation on the map for international and domestic investors alike. (£)
Writing in The Telegraph, Fraser Nelson explains how Phillip Hammond has been plotting to thwart Brexit. In this week’s spring statement, remainer Hammond will offer MPs a choice: back the EU’s deal, or go for a no-deal Brexit for which government has failed to prepare. When May lost her majority, she surrendered control to her own cabinet. And Hammond, using the powerful levers of the Treasury, knew how to steer the ship: by refusing to finance no-deal planning. Now it is too late to make a no-deal even remotely passable and Hammond will achieve his goal of EU membership for the UK in all but name, whether MPs go for her deal or not. (£)
Did you know?
Doune Castle, where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was partly filmed, rents coconut shells to its visitors.
House of Commons
Oral questions: education (including topical questions)
Legislation: Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (female genital mutilation) Bill
Adjournment: location of national grid substations for offshore wind energy in the east of England – George Freeman
House of Lords
Impact on the diversity of those working in the cultural and creative industries of low levels of provision of arts subjects at A-Level to those in deprived areas – Baroness Bull
Ensuring food labelling enables traceability and the UK can participate in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Discussions with the government of Israel about the increase in settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Baroness Tonge
Case for domestic replacement funding should the UK’s access to European Research Council and Erasmus+ funds cease with a no-deal Brexit – Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe
Debate: Further discussions with the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union – Lord Callanan
No business scheduled.
House of Commons
Oral questions: justice (including topical questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion: election expenses – Craig Mackinlay
Motion: debate on a motion relating to section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (withdrawal) Act 2018
Adjournment: future of community – Fiona Bruce
House of Lords
Oral health problems of hard to reach children through the Starting Well Core scheme – Broness Benjamin
Ensuring prisons are places of rehabilitation – Baroness Pidding
Eradication of unpaid internships in the UK – Lord Holmes of Richmond
Hight Court ruling that government planning guidance on fracking is unlawful – Lord Greaves
Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill – Report stage – Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
Northern Ireland (Regional Rates and Energy) (No. 2) Bill – Second reading and remaining stages – Lord Duncan of Springbank
Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation an Adjustments) (No.2) Bill - Second reading and all remaining stages – Lord Duncan of Springbank
Ministerial statement: managing Scotland’s fisheries in the future
Scottish government debate: Fair Work Action Plan