Business Diary: Balls still sticking it to ministers

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Good to see that Andrew Balls, head of European business at the giant bond investor Pimco, is an even-handed chap.

His better-known brother Ed, the former education secretary, was often embarrassed by Pimco Europe's downbeat assessments of Britain'seconomic prospects when he was in government. Now Pimco's man has issued a similarly gloomy forecast for the year ahead, rather contradicting the official projections for growth – and thus undermining George Osborne's plans. His brother must be proud.

A history lesson on the Ashes

Good news and bad from Shore Capital about the historical precedent of an Ashes victory down under. The last time our brave boys brought the precious urn back from Australia was, of course, the 1986-87 winter series. Victory presaged a tremendous run from the stock market for the first nine months of the year, only for the Black Monday crash to put a premature end to the celebrations. Let's hope this history is not about to repeat itself.

Consolation for the Aussies

Still on the cricket, Jeremy Cook, the chief economist at currency specialist World First, points out that the Australians can at least console themselves with the thought that their economy is motoring ahead much faster than Britain's, even taking into account the effects of the Queensland floods. As a result, the Australian dollar is trading against record levels against the pound, which means there has never been abetter time for Aussies to visit Britain. "They might be able to pick up some tips about how to play cricket while they're over here too," says Cook.

Cliff, the will writers' darling

Our thanks to the Society of Will Writers for thinking to commission research that is a much-needed service to the country. So worried was it about people with no relatives being stumped for ideas about who to adopt as their heirs, it asked market researchers to come up with suggestions. The good news (for him at least) is that Cliff Richard is apparently the person to whom most people would leave a prized possession in the absence of family or friends, closely followed by the Queen. Bizarre.