Business Diary: The IEA really proves its worth

Some truly stunning insights from the International Energy Agency yesterday. Fatih Birol, its chief economist, reckons that if we see further deterioration in the global economy the oil price could fall below $70 a barrel (about where it sits now). And if the economy recovers? "If we come back to a situation where the global economic recovery continues, oil prices will rise." It's bold predictions like this that makes the analysis provided by organisations like the IEA absolutely essential to the smooth functioning of the world economy.

Coalition can thank Branson

The coalition will be pleased. Amid all the controversy about yesterday's public spending cuts and the debate over the "tough choices" that will be required when George Osborne unveils his emergency budget, up pops Sir Richard Branson with a message of congratulation to the new Government. Bit late, you might think, given the coalition was formed a couple of weeks ago, but Virgin's first flight between London and Accra, Ghana, just couldn't be brought forward, now could it.

YouGov cheers us all up again

Here's pollster YouGov with some cheerful research suggesting that the cost of dying has, even in these economically strained times, risen sharply. According to something called the National Association of Funeral Directors, the average price of a standard grave has risen 42 per cent in the past three years, with an average rise of 48 per cent and 67 per cent for cremation and the interring of cremated remains respectively. Their suggestion in the wake of this data? Buy an insurance policy. Talk about grave robbery.

Please, no more Tim Larkin

Only in the US could they come up with the sort of lumpen macho madness sold by Tim Larkin. The founder of "Target Focus Training" and the "Ultimate Violence" organisation is apparently gaining quite a following among City workers fearful of the public reaction to their excesses. He's over here in September. Can't we keep these people out?