Hundreds of newshounds across the UK are searching amongst the rubble seeking out pieces of shrapnel they can glue together to make heads or tails of news that is changing as fast as Omicron is spreading throughout a suspicious population.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, who withdrew their horns last month, are taking them out to polish again as UK inflation hit 5.1 per cent yesterday (Wednesday 15 November), its highest level for ten years. For those of you who cannot remember the years between 2000 and 2010 and who are used to inflation hovering shyly around 1 per cent, welcome to a snatch of the eighties. For the rest of us, do you remember mortage interest rates of 12 per cent, Kajagoogoo and playing Paperboy on a Nintendo the size of a Ford Ka?
The Bank had not expected rates to crest five per cent until spring of next year, and bearing in mind no-one knows more about those sort of numbers than they do, it's a bit concerning they expressed quite so much surprise. (It's a lot like being six years old and your Dad expressing concern about the back door being prised open and alien slime all over the kitchen floor - then asking you to go upstairs to bed and not to worry about it.)
The Federal Reserve in the US this morning predicted at least three interest rate rises in 2022 and the Bank of England will be forced to break cover before then, Billy reckons. And So This Is Christmas for all of our mortgage owning readers. Apparently it is all about the rise in the increasing cost of fuel, second hand cars and energy (oh, and clothing, food, alcohol, tobacco ... they haven't a clue what is going on, to be honest).
The Monetary Policy Committee are odds on not to raise rates this week (which means they probably will, causing an increase in the cost of gambling, to enable bookies to recoup what they lost on offering odds on something economists are clueless about), as Omicron is necessitating a level of patience the BBC have failed to employ in their reporting about it.
We are currently enjoying a jobs-rich recovery and this would normally lead to a lessening of central bank stimulus, easing us out of our optimism with interest rate rises, but apparently a new variant playing around the edges of a global viral pandemic changes things somewhat.
To give you a glimmer of an insight into how much those who should know are flailing around in the dark at the moment, the RPI measure of inflation, which still underpins index-linked government bonds, surged in November to an annual rate of 7.1 per cent, the highest on this measure since March 1991, more than 30 years ago. As people queue around several blocks, determined to be part of an attempt to break all records of 'vaccinations-per-day', Omicron itself is injecting a dose of uncertainty amid policy-makers.
So we have overseas closures, cancelled Christmas parties, roadblocks in France, necklaces of container ships strung across oceans at the mouths of ports and central banks all over the world flipping coins and playing 'best of three' whilst your grandma is up and rock and rollin' with the rest ...