Remember when Alistair Darling was mocked for suggesting just a few months ago that economic times were the “worst in 50 years“?
Nobody’s laughing now, particularly as the bad news piles up quicker than unopened Amex bills in the mailbox of a credit-crunched City worker. The chancellor yesterday delivered a grim confirmation of the country’s perils: asked in the Commons for an explanation why both the European Commission and the IMF predict Britain will be the major country most affected by the recession, Darling cited our utter reliance on the financial services sector and its lack of profitability. The City’s golden egg has been well and truly goosed.
Tessa Jowell, meanwhile, fresh from being re-educated by Labour policy wonks, has been talking up the Olympic-shaped opportunity looming in the distance. Jowell, who just last month was forced to deny comments she made that the government “regretted” bidding for the Games, is playing a different tune these days, Speaking to The Daily Politics, she maintained that the bid was the right thing to do, and described the job market it will create as a “£6 billion shot in the arm”.
Well, if our esteemed banks and financial institutions keep being swindled like they’ve been these past weeks, we’ll need any tonic we can get. The Serious Fraud Office is looking at two high-profile multimillion pound fraud cases that have come to light in the wake of the revelations the Madoff scandal in the US. Some of the British institutions whose coffers have been ravaged include government-propped Royal Bank of Scotland alongside London-based hedge funds Man Group, Bramdean Alternatives and RAB Capital.
Is it all enough to make you quit that foolishly purchased Docklands penthouse and acquaint yourself with a less aspirational lifestyle? You’re not alone. Tower Hamlets has seen a 12.8% rise in properties for sale, with the biggest sector being those in the £750,000 – £1 million bracket, suggesting that we’re not talking ex-council places off Whitechapel Road. It’s thought the glut is responsible for a slight increase in the average London property price over the past month, up £1,400 to £391,721.
Property website Rightmove predicted 2009 would be the “year of the bargain” – but noted that most deals would be at the “expense of personal distress”. Truly these are dire times if our principal source of kicks in the coming years will be exploiting the misfortune of others.
For a less miserablist recap of all the recession developments, don’t miss our regular Recessionist series