There are reports today (Tuesday 25 October) that our former prime minister (which hardly narrows down the possibilities) spent the weekend scrabbling around and begging for votes to make his dream of a return to the front bench a reality. Even for Johnson that is a level below the bottom of the barrel. So how relieved he and his team of deaf-blind-mute advisors must be to hear of James Corden's multiple attacks on restaurant staff and people in general. A mere distraction, maybe, but someone else the general populus can look at, shake its collective head and sigh in disbelief.
Meanwhile there are reports that the Broccoli family are devastated that their first choice for the next James Bond has been stymied by the Tory party electing their second choice as prime minister. Of course, nothing is etched in stone and Rishi may become available again next week. Otherwise, what are the odds on James Corden being offered the role?
Sunak's only slightly delayed elevation to holder of the most poisoned of chalices led almost immediately to gilt yields returning to levels last seen before (was it just last month's) catastrophic 'mini' Budget as investors welcomed his accession. The 30-year gilt yield fell to 3.68 per cent, extending its price rise on Monday as markets reacted with relief to Sunak’s emergence as the sole candidate for the Conservative party leadership.
James Athey, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Aberdeen, put it rather well: “On the face of it this suggests the last month has been a waking nightmare, and we’re back to where we would have been if Rishi Sunak had won the Tory leadership in the first place.” In the background you could just about hear the strains of Cher's "If I could turn back time."
Traders now expect UK interest rates to peak at 5 per cent next summer, up from the current level of 2.25 per cent. But we know by now that no-one has any idea what is going on and 5 can easily turn into 6 or 6.5, but is unlikely to be 4. With this in mind, a survey on Monday showed that UK private sector activity contracted at its fastest pace in almost two years in October, suggesting the country had already entered a recession.
A little good news to end with; European natural gas prices have dropped below €100 per megawatt hour for the first time since Russia slashed supplies this summer, with warm weather and close-to-full gas storage easing concerns over winter shortages.
The price drop will come as a boost for the EU leaders who are working to place a cap on the price of the fuel as it fights high inflation and a slowing economy, and in an attempt to deny Moscow funds for its invasion of Ukraine.