People & Business: Boss left holding the baby

YOU KNOW the Christmas shopping frenzy is upon us when chief executives agree to be photographed cuddling Cabbage Patch dolls.

John Hall reversed two of his companies into Metrodome in February and became chief executive of the AIM-listed media group. This Saturday Mr Hall is launching the film The Cabbage Patch Kids at more than 50 cinemas accross the UK.

Saturday is the fifteenth anniversary of the birth of the Cabbage Patch phenomenon. There are now 86 million of the creatures in the world.

The idea is that you "adopt" one of the dolls as if it were a real child. So will Mr Hall be giving the dolls to his children this Christmas, I ask?. "My daughter is 26 and my son 22," he laughs. "But my finance director Howard Mighell will."

Mr Hall added that Mr Mighell did not want to hold the baby on the photoshoot as "he is already going through the terrible two's at home".

EDDIE GEORGE, the Governor of the Bank of England, agreed to answer questions from the general public yesterday morning via the DTI's website - and got only 13 questions in the hour-long session.

More than 5,000 people logged on to the site, yet the DTI only managed to process just over a dozen queries. Perhaps the DTI should look to its own productivity.

The questions were supposed to be about Europe, but the best inquiries ignored this completely.

For instance, a Simon Russell asked: "Do you think your nickname `Steady Eddie' is apt, and if so do you take it as a compliment?"

The Governor tapped back: "It's a compliment."

Then "John Moore from Caterham" let rip: "When will you work it out that your interest rate policy has destroyed the economy - and why is it that you can't see the way `lag' works when using interest rates, ie by the time you cut you have already done the damage - explain".

Steady Eddie then earned his nickname as he calmly replied: "One has to keep this in proportion - the economy has been growing at 3 per cent for the last five years and unemployment is at its lowest level for the past 18 years - that is not a destroyed economy."

The Governor added that he was conscious that some bits of the economy were hurting "severely", but regrettably the economy as a whole needed to be slowed down.

"If inflation were allowed to take off, we would not avoid the slow down, we would just arrive at it later," he concluded.

THE Financial Services Authority (FSA) is determined not to live in an "ivory tower" - despite moving to a giant skyscraper in Canary Wharf which Her Majesty the Queen will open next Wednesday.

Howard Davies, chairman of the FSA, has lured David Challen, chairman of J Henry Schroder & Co, to head up a Practitioner Forum, which will act as a sounding board between the regulator and financial services industry.

Other members named so far will include Barry Bateman, President, Fidelity Management; Donald Brydon, Chief Executive, AXA Investment Managers; Amelia Fawcett, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter; Richard Harvey, Chief Executive, Norwich Union; Brendan Nelson, Chairman, Financial Sector, KPMG; Martin Ritchley, Chief Executive, Coventry Building Society; Paul Spencer, Chief Executive, Royal and Sun Alliance; and Derek Wanless, Chief Executive, NatWest.

The FSA also plans to announce a customer's forum soon, and a smaller practitioners' forum is planned for next year.

YUPPIES and Dinkies should make way for newer classifications of consumers, says Christine Walker, head of Walker Media.

Nipples (New Irish Professionals Living in London) and Sitcoms (Single Income, Two Children and Oppressive Mortgage) are more useful terms for marketeers nowadays, she says.

Companies should also bear in mind Sinbads (Single Income, No Boyfriend and Absolutely Desperate), Panses (Politically Active and Not Seeking Employment) and Puppies (Punjabi Upwardly Mobile Professionals).

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