No, Not A Picture Of Hitler ... That's Edgar Allan. Poe Read On.
Happy Amazon Prime Day. We hope you got our card and have something very special planned. According to research released by Bezos' Boys, today is now bigger than Mothers' Day multiplied by Valentines and you can celebrate by getting £200 off a fridge freezer.
Today is very special for another reason: it is like when surgeons cut into Edgar Allan Poe's head and were swept out of the operation theatre, overwhelmed by too many stories. We have taken on extra staff in the NTI newsroom this morning (Tuesday 13 October) to form a human chain between the Internet and our white-hot keyboards. There is just too much to tell you about. So, sit back, relax and take the bytes out of these delicious news buns.
How about this for starters? Economists are on their backs, gasping for hydroxychloroquine, hearing that in September retailers enjoyed their biggest monthly sales rise in a decade. Our old pals in grey suits were heard to scream, "Noooooooo ..." as they tapped furiously at their confounded numbers machines, but could neither make head nor tail of it. It seems that an unprecedented demand for electronics and household goods helped sales to increase by 5.6 per cent last month and that's even before people could snap up their free Alexas and £5 microwaves from Amazon today. To offer you a little perspective, the 5.6 per cent rise is the best growth in total retail sales since December 2009, excluding Easter distortions where we all buy chocolate and blow the cobwebs from the doors of garden centres.
There were strong food sales (a 15.4 per cent rise in supermarkets, especially the flour we are now all stockpiling and to which we are going to add eggs and pelt someone unworthy with) and a massive uplift in the numbers filing out of DIY stores carrying lengths of wood and something shiny in a bag. 'Commentators' could just about be heard above the celebrations, warning that high street chains would soon engage in a deepening 'fight for survival', but were drowned out by the tons of flour and eggs launched their way, to a general 'hoorah'.
The new man at BA, Sean Doyle, took his business seat just as it was forecast that airlines will not recover until 2024 at the earliest, and IAG (BA's parent company) reported a loss for the three months to the end of June of more than £1.8 billion after its passenger business collapsed. Ed Bastian, the Delta Air Lines chief executive whose name looks like it is an amusing anagram if only you could get your head around it, reported that his airline’s recovery in the crucial business market was likely to take at least two years as the carrier’s corporate revenues plunged. The Atlanta-based airline’s business revenues dropped 86 per cent in the third quarter, while leisure passenger sales fell 82 per cent as it burnt through more than $20 million of cash a day in a market where we all have our feet firmly planted on the ground.
The Office for National Statistics cancelled their evening at a children's party as the main comedy act to announce last evening that the jobless rate back in the UK climbed to a larger than expected 4.5% in the three months to August, up from an already upwardly revised 4.3% a month before. The total number of unemployed climbed by 138,000 to 1.52 million, the highest since April 2017 when London hosted more than 38,400 runners at its Marathon and Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fired at the Shayrat airbase in Syria. Those were the days, when runners crowded the streets and missiles congested the skies, all of the latter failing to land on that devil with facial hair, Bashar al-Assad. The ONS figures showed the number of people in employment fell by 153,000 in the three months to August, much more than the 30,000 forecast by economists who are just starting to think they aren't very good at their jobs.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) grabbed a few headlines today, pointing to a central scenario that the public purse faced a revenue shortfall of at least £100 billion in four years' time because the economy is on course to be 5 per cent smaller than its pre-crisis level. There would, they said sternly, need to be fiscal tightening (tax rise and/or spending cuts) worth around 2 per cent of national income in 2024, which is just a third of Jeff Bezos' total wealth in today's terms.
The IFS' weightier brother the International Monetary Fund published its outlook today, revising up its forecast for global trade volumes of goods and services for this year to a 10.4 per cent contraction, which in any other year would be a disaster, but in glorious 2020 it represents a 1.5 percentage point improvement from its June forecast. The global trade expansion forecast for next year was also revised to 8.3 per cent growth, up from 8 per cent previously. In August, Chinese and German export growth rates were stronger than expected and fresh figures today show China’s imports surged in September.
As the sun sets on the British summer and rises on an expansion in Chinese internal markets the International Energy Agency said that solar power will become “the new king of the world’s electricity markets”, because it is cheaper than coal or gas-fired power stations in most countries. Renewables will meet 80 per cent of the growth in electricity demand over the next decade, with solar accounting for the biggest driver of growth, followed by onshore and offshore wind, according to the agency.
Not enjoying the sun on any of its decks are the people not sailing on the 17 guest decks of P&O's biggest cruise liner which, at 185,000 tonnes and 345 metres in length is the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market (in Germany - hence their increased export rates). It is quite literally longer than the faces of the economists who said it would never sail and, if it did, would be a maximum of 325 metres in length. However, it is perfect for those who have been heard saying (just before 10.00pm in their favourite restaurant): "I am not sailing on any ship that does not have its own gin distillery." This one does. Of course.
See: lots of news today.