Business Diary: A smooth warning system

Never mind bond yields or CDS spreads: we've found a new early-warning signal for forthcoming financial or economic stresses – the sales achieved by fruit smoothies.

"Smoothie sales were like the canary in the mine for the state of the economy," Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent tells the latest issue of Director magazine, as he recalls the company's tough time during the recession. And by the way, says Reed, the move to sell a stake in the company to Coca-Cola was one of the best moves that it ever made.

Pass the port but watch what you say

Look out for the first advertising campaign in many years from Cockburn's this Christmas with the catchline "Pronounce Responsibly". We like a lewd joke here almost as much as a tipple of port, and the ad campaign, which is intended to serve as a throwback to similar promotions in the Seventies and Eighties, will certainly be admired by sentimentalists.

Economic titans (and Lamont)

We are very much looking forward to next week's debate at the Economic Research Council, at whichleading lights in the economics world are set to clash over their predictions for 2012. Featuring academics from Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well as the London School of Economics, the organisers of the bash are billing the debate as a "Clash of the Titans". Oh, and they've got former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lamont too.

Euro party may be premature

The European Central Bank has made its debut on YouTube, with a film to mark the 10th anniversary next month of the first issuance of euro banknotes. It's a self-congratulatory piece full of happy and prosperous looking eurozone residents. See it for yourself by searching "First 10 years of euro banknotes and coins", but cross your fingers that we make it that far.

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