In an example of some of the most expensive stable door closing insulation in the history of our tiny planet, the US Government have put aside $65 billion to set up a taskforce to deal with future global pandemics. There were certainly shrugs of 'whatever' on Wall Street, as investors grappled with the implications of a much weaker than expected US jobs report, whilst China have stoked the fire in warning that America has made a "strategic miscalculation" in adding environmentally-unfriendly fuel to the fire of bilateral tensions that, they say, risk derailing high level talks aimed at combating the ever evident threat of climate change.
To have the weight of the world on your shoulders must be knackering. Someone whose shoulders are usually covered in annoyingly styled winter body-blankets is Laura Kuenssberg, who is looking at a new range of ridiculous coats for the oncoming cold season of potential doom. A perfect storm is gathering on the horizon, as Covid meets Brexit, resulting in empty shelves in Waitrose and stick-thin 'blonde' women on the phone to their friend Annabel, begging for any spare quails' eggs.
Thanks to expelling all of those nice Eastern Europeans (some of whom are trying to re-enter the UK, but are stuck in a six day immigration queue at Heathrow) we find ourselves with a crippling shortage of lorry drivers who, it was claimed on Friday, are to be paid as much as lawyers in an effort to get pomegranates and coconut oil back onto the shelves of our supermarkets. The expense of all that recruitment will lead to a rise in the cost of living, as food inflation soars, just at the time when universal benefit is to be cut by £20 a week for some of the poorest families whose members either don't want to, can't or haven't thought of becoming lorry drivers. We are also as close to the end of the furlough scheme as we are to finally seeing the new James Bond movie and charities (and I suspect they talk for quite a few of us) are concerned this will push more people into poverty.
To put it crudely, vegetable oil is at its highest price for over 30 years and we have all learnt how to use it when cooking more for ourselves under Covid restrictions. To make matters worse (and this will make Ms Kuessberg's eyes sparkle) as many as 15 million customers protected by the price cap on their fuel costs could see a rise in their bills, with those on default tariffs paying by direct debit expected to see a rise of up to £139, from £1,138 to £1,277.
Told you, 'the perfect storm'.
All this at a time when those in debt and/or with the propensity for accumulating debt have a new acronym to play with; BNPL. Leading market players are offering additional 'services' to customers under the 'Buy Now Pay Later' label. Affirm, one such provider, have seen their shares rise more than 40 pre cent on a deal struck with Amazon to offer this manner of payment to their customers. Apparently more players are crowding this already tight space. Merchant fees are generally higher for consumer loans that are interest-free, but we love it as it has the sense of 'getting something for free' (mainly because the word 'free' features prominently in the moniker 'interest free') when what we are doing is just gently accumulating more debt.
More business for us lot next year, then.