Emerging markets are supposed to be racy and high-risk compared with their counterparts in the West. Still, it's a shame the good chaps at Northern Rock – or City regulators for that matter – didn't follow the example of China, where the principle of a minimum deposit for first-time homebuyers is enshrined in law. True, the minimum was reduced yesterday, from 30 to 20 per cent. But that still looks pretty low-risk compared with the deals on offer, until recently, from lenders in Britain's supposedly sophisticated market-led economy.
Green, the retail royalty
What do the Queen, Margaret Thatcher and retail tycoon Sir Philip Green have in common? The answer is that all are users of the majestic plural, or the "royal we" as it is more commonly known. "We may do (a deal). We are ready to do this if we think it is still the right business for us," said Green this week on being asked if he is still trying to snap up the Icelandic retail chain Baugur. His verdict on the banks that have allowed chains such as Baugur to build up such high levels of leverage was a little lengthier, but can be summed up in the words of Queen Victoria. "We are not amused."
Panic, warns a talldark stranger
In these torrid times, all investment advice is worth listening to – even this email warning doing the rounds in the City yesterday. "Autumn lunar moon influence panic lows have historically occurred on day 27/28 of the 7th lunar cycle." Diary doesn't want to come over all Russell Grant, but in fact there is a body of academic research showing that market crashes have often occurred on and around the 28th day of the seventh lunar month of the lunar year. For more astrologically challenged readers, by the way, that's today.
Surely some mistake?
Derision in the City yesterday as the Office of National Statistics reported that retail sales fell 0.4 per cent in September, far less than most analysts had predicted and well below other organisations' surveys. The ONS numbers might give us reason to take heart, but the government agency's retail sales surveys have been so woefully inaccurate this year that even the Bank of England has voiced doubts about using the data.
Food for thought
Now we're really worried. Even the economic powerhouse that is Google is feeling the chill winds of an economic slowdown, reports the internet gossip site Gawker. Its mole inside Google HQ says the search giant is so concerned about costs that it's begun shutting down staff canteens.