Business diary: Next step: keep quiet about VAT

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The Independent Online

Look out for Next's trading figures this week, the first post-Christmas update from a leading retailer, and specifically what Simon Wolfson, the youthful chief executive, has to say. Most retailers struggled in the run-up to Christmas and are desperate for a bit of new year relief. Today's VAT rise is not what the doctor ordered, so you could forgive Mr Wolfson for feeling a bit peeved. The only thing is that he is one of the Conservative Party's most prominent supporters in the business world – a Tory life peer who has given generously to the cause. Will he lead the charge for shopkeepers protesting against the tax increase? Probably not.



Hair of the dog is a private matter

The Bloomberg wire service has some high-rolling subscribers, some of whom like to party hard. It was therefore thoughtful of Bloomberg to publish some useful advice for those who over-consumed on New Year's Eve. "Unless you return to work obviously hung over, inebriated or sipping some hair of the dog from your coffee thermos, your employer cannot legally test you for alcohol." The article is based on American law where a recent test case has ruled such tests to be an invasion of people's privacy.



Taking Katrina's name in vain

The US economist Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate who calls for a more Keynsian approach to getting the world economy back on track, has run into a spot of controversy. Bemoaning the failure of the New York authorities to deal with the snow of Christmas week, which brought much of the East Coast to a grinding halt, Krugman suggested it might be the city's "Katrina" moment. Cue a storm of angry comments on his blog pointing out that since 1,800 people had died during the New Orleans hurricane, it wasn't the most appropriate of comparisons.



Forget Obama, it's all about Bieber

So which mogul is the most powerful and influential online figure? Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or someone more political like Barack Obama? Well, according to Klout, an online consultancy which aims to measure just how much notice people take of those posting on services such as Facebook and Twitter, someone else entirely is the most important person in the world. Step forward Justin Bieber.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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