I missed our October lunch due to our brief holiday in Egypt. Mike Carn was kind enough to step in as chair, John Bright gave a good introduction to the work of the British Legion and Poppy Fund, and we raised 200 Euros for the fund from a rather sparse attendance. Well done all!

This was followed up by John Richardson and me attending the wreath laying last weekend in Amsterdam. It was a moving service, with many countries represented, and a touching rendering of ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ by the Amsterdam British School Choir. John Cowie officiated, and we were accompanied by guitar, bagpipes and trumpet at various points. There was a record attendance of about 150 people, who all enjoyed coffee and cakes afterwards in the Nieuwe Oosterbegraafplaats building, courtesy of the graveyard management.  A few CADS members were in attendance on behalf of other organisations, which made it most companionable.

This month, Tim Cooke will come to advise us of his recent work with micro-finance projects in Kenya and Uganda. CADS has donated to help start these enterprises, so it will be of personal interest to us all. The project is sponsored by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and this self-funded activity was in partnership with Major General Tim Cross, formerly head of our armed forces in Iraq. Tim Cooke has led a number of start-ups to considerable success in the UK, and we wish him equal success in Africa. The lunch is on Friday 25th November at 1230 at the Apollo.

We also wish a warm welcome to two new members this month. Louise Hunter and Monty Kraayeveld.

The week after the lunch, we are off to Naarden for dinner and wine sampling with the Millins, at their bar in the village. The date is Tuesday 29th November, and we will meet at 1930 in Marktstraat at De Samaritaan. Look forward to seeing you there!

Business remains difficult – when was it ever different? This time, it is sovereign debt that has laid low the confidence levels and created a new crisis. And as the baby boomer bulge passes into retirement, current legislation forces them to convert pension savings into annuities. Combined with a thin market in both equities and fixed income this has created significant downwards pressure on equity prices, and historic low yields on fixed income. Wake up, UK and NL treasury ministers; this is in your own hands to rectify. Abolish the current annuity purchase requirements.

Bleeding taxpayers to bail out overpaid and incompetent investment banks?

The Eurozone is trying to find another trillion Euros to give to the banks to shore up their sovereign debt paper. But the American investment banks have created a shortfall of several tens of trillions, and are currently betting against Europe resolving the issue, so we need to think again. Either kick the weak sovereigns out of the Euro, and let them default on their debt after conversion to lira, drachma, punts, etc., and kiss goodbye to the pan-European project. Or devalue the Euro debt in a controlled way, e.g. by cutting outstanding Eurobond values by 30% across the board, regardless of the sovereign issuing them, by introducing a European redemption tax on the principal. The former approach is the preferred one, as it allows a multi-speed European market. But if the politicians win, it can only be by some variant of the second approach, which will share the pain more equally by taxing the thrifty to pay the indigent. Germany, Holland and the UK, pass the plate please!