Martin's Mailbox: The chill winds of winter

Martin's Mailbox: The chill winds of winter

So winter has finally arrived with a vengeance and the UK, true to form, shivers to a slippery icy halt. Or at least it does at Heathrow Airport and for a large part of the country's travel....

So winter has finally arrived with a vengeance and the UK, true to form, shivers to a slippery icy halt. Or at least it does at Heathrow Airport and for a large part of the country's travel infrastructure. Meanwhile, a goodly number of schools (all state sector, of course) grab the opportunity to shut their doors and give the teachers another day off in the cause of Elf 'n' Safety.

Doubtless the nicely-padded bean-counters at HM Treasury will seize on the 'brutal' winter weather as a 'key factor' for our continuing economic woes. You know how it goes by now - snow halts construction projects; commuters unable to get to places of work; shops empty of shoppers, etc. Hello triple-dip recession; farewell triple-A rating.

If I appear to be painting a gloomy picture, I apologise. I happen not to feel in the least bit gloomy, but the wretched 24-hour news cycle which we now have to endure ensures we are fed a constant diet of over-reported and over-analysed 'breaking news' - from the helicopter crash in London, to the hostage drama in the wastes of the Sahara and cute little toddlers sledging on Hampstead Heath.

The media thrives on bad news, of course; good news doesn't sell, so goes accepted wisdom. But search hard enough and you might just find something to cheer you up. A good place to begin is with the bridging and mortgage trade press. Only last week I saw a number of positive reports that brought a smile to my little rosy-cheeked chops.

First off, the prime London property market continues to boom and defy all expectations. Even George Osborne's assault on offshore tax vehicles isn't damaging buyer confidence, if reports are to be believed. Well-heeled Johnny Foreigners continue to be lured by the capital's bright lights, expensive restaurants, culture and relative freedom from crime and institutional corruption. A short stroll along Knightsbridge and High Street Kensington will bear this out.

It was also encouraging to see our trade bodies getting in on the good-news act. The NACFB has appointed a new Chairman and Directorial Board, and has set out its ambitions to make the organisation even more effective and indispensable to its members. Meanwhile, the CEO of the ASTL, the short term lender association, has pledged the trade body to push through tighter codes of conduct while becoming more representative of the sector. It was also good to learn that the organisation is now in regular contact with the FSA regarding the not-so trifling matter of regulation.

Harking back to last week's blog, there appears also to be no let-up in the high-sprint start to 2013 made by so many bridging lenders and intermediaries. Product improvements lead the way pointing to a sharply competitive but exciting year ahead.

On the downside, it was disappointing if not altogether unsurprising to hear of Clydesdale Bank's retreat from funding. An erstwhile provider of funds for the now defunct Tiuta and Cheval brands, Clydesdale would appear to be the victim of its parent's cautiousness (carelessness?) and is rationalising its market presence. Bad news for some, but I've every confidence fresh funding from alternative sources will soon arrive to fill the gap.

So folks, wrap up warm, put a blanket and a shovel in the car boot, curse all those teachers sitting comfortably at home, and keep reading Bridging & Commercial news for all the latest in positive developments in one part of the economy even the British weather cannot defeat!

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