The Business Bulletin - Issue 209 - 22nd July 2013

Capitalism: Is It The Problem or The Solution? – Part II

Capitalism has helped improve the living conditions of millions of people around the world over the last couple of centuries. It has, however, come at a cost and never more so than today, as it brings with it a toxic mix of insecurity and inequality.

In recent decades the problems associated with capitalism have been balanced in many countries by the development of the welfare state.

This century, however, presents a new challenge, as inequality is affecting greater numbers of people around the world.

The challenge for capitalism is to continue to provide the creativity and innovation needed to drive the economy while also providing solutions to the insecurity such creativity and innovation generates.

The challenge, however, may be unreasonable and unfair, as it seems that such inequality is not caused by capitalism alone.

The traditional view of the left is that government spending and taxes should be used to address the difficulties caused by capitalism. The traditional view of the right is that government should reduce spending and taxes to free up capitalism.

Each side believes its approach will harness the best of capitalism’s energy and redistribute the worst of its excesses thus creating a fairer society.

It seems, however, that neither side is correct, as commentators suggest the problem is not only inequality but also the inability, of individuals, families and communities to benefit.

Given that capitalism has helped reduce traditional barriers to equality of opportunity, the real problem may not be capitalism but how to ensure people benefit from the opportunities it creates.

Traditionally, education is proposed as a solution although in recent years there is evidence that education alone is not enough to address the difficulties people face.

Capitalism with all its economic benefits, it seems, is here to stay and so, unfortunately, is the inequality and insecurity it creates.

The challenge for governments and people is how to manage capitalism’s inequalities while continuing to benefit from its opportunities.

SO, capitalism has proved its worth in helping to drive the economy but it comes with a price that is increasingly difficult to pay.

What do you think? Is capitalism the problem or the solution? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.

How Stena got its name

and the part played in its growth by the Larne/Stranraer route


Sten Allan Olsson, who has died aged 96, was the founder of Europe’s largest ferry operator, Stena Line, and one of Sweden’s greatest 20th-century entrepreneurs.
Stena began operating ferry services in 1962 on the short crossing between Olsson’s home city of Gothenburg and Skagen on the northern tip of Denmark. Its first venture outside Scandinavian waters was a Tilbury-to-Calais service launched with some razzamatazz in July 1965.

Thinking that he needed a publicity stunt to make up for a late start in the holiday season, Olsson — described by one reporter as “nothing if not confident” — ordered 60,000 free tickets to be distributed, mostly to factory workers and publicans in Essex and east London. These offered day trips on his ferry, named The Londoner for the purpose, with the novelty of smorgasbord thrown in. But paid bookings far exceeded expectations — resulting in a dockside ruckus in which free-ticket holders had to be turned away, while others who had paid demanded their money back.

Renamed Stena Nordica, The Londoner reappeared the following year, chartered by British Rail’s shipping division, on the Stranraer-Larne route between Scotland and Northern Ireland — but was again operating the Tilbury route in 1967.
Stena became more firmly established as a brand familiar to British holiday makers in 1990 with the acquisition of Sealink Ferries, formerly owned by British Rail. The Swedish line now carries more than three million passengers a year on UK routes, notably on “superferries” between Harwich and Hook of Holland, and on some 30 daily sailings across the Irish Sea. It also operates Baltic routes to Poland and Latvia.

The wider Stena Sphere family of companies founded by Olsson includes a huge international recycling business, the descendant of his first venture as a 23-year-old scrap dealer. Employing some 20,000 people, the group is also involved in bulk tanker shipping, offshore drilling, and oil and metal trading.

Sten Allan Olsson himself was a practical and thrifty businessman — an intuitive decision maker who was often seen on the quayside quizzing his workers and customers in the belief that “You’re never better than the information you have gathered”. Another of his favourite sayings, indicative of a cautious attitude to business risk despite his Tilbury debacle, was “Fly low and far”.

The son of a schooner owner and captain, Sten Allan Olsson was born on Donso, in the archipelago of islands off Gothenburg, on October 28 1916. He was educated at Ljungskile Folk High School and a commercial college in Gothenburg, and in 1939 founded his first business there, trading metal and rubber.

He expanded his local activities during the war years, and during the period of industrial shortages immediately thereafter, prospered as an importer of metal ingots. He also bought up pontoon tanks that had been used for temporary bridges, repainting and reselling them as oil containers.

In 1946 he acquired three sister vessels destined for the breaker’s yard and cannibalised them into one seaworthy ship to carry his own cargos. Two years later he established a shipping company which built up a modest fleet of coastal freighters in the 1950s. Meanwhile, he also established his own scrapyards and became a major supplier to Swedish steel mills.

To mark his 80th birthday, Olsson created a charitable foundation which has supported Gothenburg’s business school, art museum and opera house.

He married, in 1944, Birgit Andersson, who died in 2008. They had three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Dan Sten Olsson — appointed CBE in recognition of Stena’s long-standing links to Britain — took the helm in the 1980s. Dan and his siblings, Stefan and Madeleine, who also inherited stakes in the business, are estimated to have a combined fortune of more than £2 billion.

Sten Allan Olsson, born October 28 1916, died July 12 2013.

Wee Wonders has been nominated for the Netmums Favourite party awards.

We would be really grateful for the vote - please follow the link below.

For those of you not registered on Netmums you will have to register - its free

Belfast Tech Mission to Silicon Valley

We are seeking applications from Belfast-based companies working in the technology and digital-led industries to be part of a special trade mission to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, California, in October 2013.

Through the trade mission, up to 20 local companies will have the opportunity to showcase some of the new technologies and products being developed in Belfast to leading companies, investors and venture capitalists from the west coast of America.

In addition to promoting Belfast as one of the leading digitally connected cities in Europe, and a prime location for international investment, the mission aims to:
  • increase the number of Belfast technology companies selling and doing business America
  • increase the knowledge of Belfast Tech companies in what it takes to establish and secure venture capital funding in the US
  • improve business networks and partnerships between companies in Belfast and America
  • raise the profile of Belfast as an investment location and digitally connected city.
Participating companies will also have the opportunity to take part in a Belfast Tech demonstration event in conjunction with Invest NI, at which US tech executives and investors will be present.
FINANCIAL SUPPORTFinancial support of up to 50% of travel and accommodation costs (up to a maximum of £1000) will be made available to selected companies.
HOW TO APPLYThe Belfast Tech Mission is aimed at Belfast based digital media, software and hi-tech IT companies which offer a globally focused product or service and are considering expansion or increasing sales and investment opportunities in the west coast of America.

To qualify, your business must be located within the Belfast City Council boundary.
The mission will take place from 14 to 18 October 2013 (inclusive).

Completed applications must be returned by 4pm on Friday 26 July by email to or by post to:

Belfast Tech Mission application
Economic Development
Development Department
Belfast City Council
Cecil Ward Building
4 - 10 Linenhall Street

“Axing roaming charges will benefit industry”

Neelie Kroes is the current EU digital chief and the person charged with achieving a unified, single telecoms market across Europe. 

She was speaking after a vote was passed last week to do away with roaming charges by July 2014.  The charges are a lucrative source of income to telecoms companies and, in Ireland, both business and consumer customers feel the impact more than many other member states due to our close working relationship with the UK.

“Many of us dream of a true, integrated single market.  And in such a market, there is no roaming” – EU digital chief Neelie Kroes. 

She said the staus quo of the mobile market, where operators are seeing revenue decline of around 2% per year, is unsustainable.  She said: “If citizens and companies get higher quality services and a fairer deal, they will use those services more.  Look at the US mobile market: revenues per subscription are nearly double the EU – even though the call cost per minute is over three times lower.  Here’s my point:  we shouldn’t be fighting over crumbs: we should be making the pie bigger.  And that is exactly what we will do: with fewer barriers, better services, and fairer prices.”

Ireland's border has been the source of income for the telecoms companies since the inception of the digital age, customers, both North and South, have felt the impact of roaming charges and the inability to use data freely. 

These announcements are big news for the entire island!

Fonehouse Belfast is located in The Kennedy Centre, Belfast and offer all-Ireland tariffs currently that include unlimited calls, texts and data roaming anywhere in Ireland. 

Call the store on 02890611121 for more information.  Fonehouse is a nationwide telecoms provider, offering Vodafone, O2, Three, Orange, T Mobile and EE for consumer and business customers. 

Fonehouse Belfast also offers an on-site repair service to customers.
Fonehouse Belfast
email:    tel: 02890 611121    web:
 Unit 55  The Kennedy Centre  Belf
ast  BT11 9AE

For Northern Ireland specific contracts, there are a number of sources of information specifically for contracts within Northern Ireland. The Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) handles contracts for a number of government departments. You can find a list of current tender opportunities on the CPD website. Again, there is no email alert facility that we can find which makes the content difficult to adapt to the Bulletin format.
Please see for the current list of Northern Ireland opportunities.

Tender for External Pay and Reward Strategy ABN-C-1218
GB-London: Mortuary Refurbishment Project
Payment Kiosk/Facility for Ultrasound Service
GB-Basildon: Fire Safety Maintenance Contract
Short-Stay Respite for Adults with Learning Disabilities at Baily Thomas House
GB-Stockton: T13-62 Internal building alterations to ward 32
Replacement pH/Impedance Recorders
Crowbar Protection System for the MICE 40kV RF Power Supply
Financial Services Savings & Loans
Early Years Services
Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) SUPPORT SERVICES
CT Injectors and Consumables
Refurbishment of the Geoscience Innovation Hub (GIH), First Floor offices, Corridor & Stairwell at the BGS Headquarters, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5CG
Research Network Infrastructure
Entrance Hall at Apsley House.
CAST Power Protection System
Re-surfacing works, Whernside, Carlisle, CA2 6SS
Room Complimentary Products
United Kingdom-London: Specialty design services
United Kingdom-Birmingham: Business and management consultancy and related services
United Kingdom-Morden: Software development services
United Kingdom-Glasgow: Project management consultancy services
Research Network Infrastructure
United Kingdom-Hove: Point of sale (POS) software package
United Kingdom-Reading: Electricity
United Kingdom-Manchester: Medical software package
United Kingdom-Edinburgh: Repair, maintenance and associated services related to roads and other equipment
GB-London: 501-169 VE Email Service Provider
United Kingdom-Belfast: System and support services
United Kingdom-London: Electric sensors
ITT for the provision of Information Technology Training Services
United Kingdom-Edinburgh: IT services: consulting, software development, Internet and support
United Kingdom-Caerphilly: Content management software development services
United Kingdom-Derby: Fire engines
United Kingdom-Leicester: Data collection and collation services
United Kingdom-Newcastle upon Tyne: Passenger information system
United Kingdom-Warrington: Information technology services
United Kingdom-Lincoln: Project management consultancy services
Norway-Gardermoen: Construction work
Norway-Gardermoen: Construction work for airports
Norway-Sandvika: Winter-maintenance materials
United Kingdom-Crumlin: Stairlifts
United Kingdom-Southampton: Windows
United Kingdom-Swansea: Bus-stop shelter construction work
United Kingdom-Preston: Asphalt
France-Paris: Power distribution cables
France-Paris: Electrical materials
United Kingdom-Belfast: Scaffolding
Norway-Gardermoen: Tarmac
United Kingdom-Glasgow: Electrical components
Cyprus-Nicosia: Sewage-treatment plant construction work
United Kingdom-Wolverhampton: Construction work for university buildings
United Kingdom-Edinburgh: Fire ladders
United Kingdom-Bangor: Construction work
United Kingdom-Stockton on Tees: Building construction work
GB-London: Mortuary Refurbishment Project
GB-Stockton: T13-62 Internal building alterations to ward 32
Crowbar Protection System for the MICE 40kV RF Power Supply

Belfast City Council Tenders are available at

First Edition Publications, The Technology Centre,
Townsend Enterprise Park, Townsend St., BELFAST BT13 2ES 

T 028 90435778 | M 07970430155 | | | SKYPE id: gi4cso

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