In 1997 Tony Blair and new Labour swept to a landslide victory in the general election. The authorities had invited Michael Hutchence of INXS to lead the crowd in Downing Street through the national anthem after the result, but were disappointed because that year he enjoyed his orange a little too much during an auto-erotic sexual act and died in a hotel room in Australia (which really ruined the party). There were plans to get Gianni Versace to design the official suits for the new cabinet, but that also went west as he died that year, too. The cost of a Big Mac on the streets of London was £1.81, and you could wash that down with an average pint of lager which was, somewhat ironically, exactly the same price as that burger in 1997.
Whilst we have you, 1997 is notable for another reason. It was the last time the services sector accelerated at a pace quicker than Usain Bolt, who was a mere stripling of an 11-year old lad at that time. The NTI newsroom have reported a lot of this type of stuff this week, and here's another. The IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 61 to 62.9 in May, its highest level since May 1997 and above an initial estimate of 61.8. As if you need reminding, any reading above 50 indicates growth.
So that is significant growth, then. It is, unsurprisingly, 25 per cent higher than the most optimistic economist had predicted just three months ago. Not to be deterred, this very group (who must wish they had a proper job, with less guesswork involved, like a tarot card reader), are pencilling in a rapid rebound in economic activity this quarter as more restrictions are lifted and consumers start spending their lockdown savings. Well of course they are; you can rely upon an economist to spot a horse disappearing over the horizon as they hurry to bolt the door of its erstwhile stable. The composite PMI, which includes the manufacturing sector, climbed from 60.7 to 62.9. This was the highest level since records began in January 1998.
The NTI newsroom told you on Tuesday that the UK GDP is likely to grow at more than 7.2 per cent this year and AMC Entertainment, the largest cinema operator in America and Europe, are feeling the joy, as the company closed up 95.2 per cent at $62.55 last night (Wednesday 2 June) after announcing a day earlier that it had raised $230.5 million by selling 8.5 million new shares to Mudrick Capital Management, an investment firm, for just over $27 a share. The investor was said to have flipped its investment for a profit hours later.
All this as that pension fund (which also flies the occasional aircraft) British Airways, announced that it is moving the management of its in-deficit retirement schemes from its in-house managers and outsourcing it to Blackrock, who have held off their plans to run a mediocre international airline as a result.