Numbers are all the rage this afternoon (Friday 28 April). The one that is, perhaps, the most startling is the fact that, if President Joe Biden wins re-election next year in the States, he will be 86 when he leaves his second term of office (presumably if he walks out, rather than is carried). This is a man who had to be reminded by schoolchildren yesterday that the last place he visited was Ireland, an experience he told the world he will never forget.
Over in Argentina annual inflation rate rose to 104.3 per cent in month, according to the country’s official statistics agency, making it one of the highest rates of inflation in the world. The Argentinian Central Bank is all over it, mind, as it prepares to raise interest rates to 91 per cent to tackle the inflationary position. How is that working for you, Señor Fernández?
8,400 miles north of Buenos Ares in Washington, the Fed is planning to raise interest rates to a much more modest 5.25 per cent next month in an attempt to cool price growth.
The Eurozone are parading proudly their return to growth in the first three months of 2023. Output expanded by 0.1 per cent, which undershot economists' expectations. If the latter had predicted 0.2 per cent they would still have been wrong by 100 per cent. By our reckoning, that is as wrong as you can be. Within that headline number, Germany enjoyed 0.2 per cent growth (up from a 0.5 per cent decline in the final quarter of 2022). Portugal had the strongest growth, at 1.6 per cent.
Inflation in Germany is now at 7.6 per cent; in France it is 6.9 per cent; in Spain it has just gone up again to 3.8 per cent. Whoa! Has anyone told Jeremy Hunt?
Jeremy will find some solace in figures stretching the boundaries of a new survey relating to 'business confidence'. Apparently, it reached its highest level in the UK since May last year as bosses become more optimistic about the wider economy.
Confidence reached 33 per cent on the monthly index this month, up from 32 per cent in March, the latest monthly sentiment index by Lloyds Bank showed. The survey of 1,200 businesses between April 3 and 16 found that overall economic optimism rose by five points to 28 per cent, which is also close to a one-year high. A majority of businesses expect to increase their prices in the coming year, with 61 per cent of respondents to the survey planning to do so. Didn't they even listen to Huw Pill, reported in the last news bulletin issued from these hallowed offices?
However, wait. According to a 'happiness survey' conducted using the World Health Organisation’s criteria for wellbeing and commissioned by the accountancy software business Xero, business owners in the UK are less happy than their counterparts in the United States, Canada and Australia. South African businesspeople are the happiest, followed by those in Singapore, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
Nothing we read above makes much sense. 86??? Someone has to have a word with Joe Biden (then remind him about the word they had with him 10 minutes later.)