There is SO MUCH NEWS around today and it is all so interesting and exciting you just cannot help it when a little bit of pee comes out. Here in the NTI newsroom, with the sun shining, a full office (we're back, you lot, now you ...) and Allzic Funk playing on the wireless we wanted to give you a taster with our 'What's Up and What's Down' special selection:
* The cost of buying a house. That's right, you new generation heroes, you listen to the mad people who tell you that you should wait to buy your first property ... THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. Property values rose by 1.6 per cent in August to an average of £245,747, according to the Halifax House Price Index. Prices were up 5.2 per cent on the same month last year.
Economists (who will deserve their permanent place in the NTI newsroom's DOWN section until they admit they know nothing, but are not afraid to use their powers for evil) expect further jobs losses after the furlough scheme ends on August 31. The Bank of England has forecast a 9.5 per cent fall in GDP this year and for unemployment to almost double to 7.5 per cent. We don't care; if you cannot buy a property, steal one. Don't wait ... THEY KNOW NOTHING.
* Primark. The £3.99 for a wedding suit people have had a cracking post-lockdown. Associated British Foods said in a trading update today (Monday 7 September) that the discount fashion chain's stores saw an initial rush of shoppers when they restarted trading in June. It reported that basket sizes were "significantly higher" than in the same period last year. "Cumulative sales since reopening to the year-end are expected to be £2 billion and our adjusted operating profit... is now expected to be at least at the top end of the previously advised £300-350m range," said Phil Primark, son of his father. Phil was wearing a nylon sweater which spontaneously combusted by the tills of the store in Oxford Street.
* Thomas Cook. The Chinese conglomerate which bought the Thomas Cook brand after its collapse in 2019 is plotting an imminent relaunch of one of the most prominent names in the British travel industry. Sky News has learnt that Fosun, which had been a big shareholder in the group for several years prior to the company's demise, is drawing up plans to reinvent it as an online travel agent as soon as this month.
They are trialing the catchphrase for the website, 'Don't just look at it, Thomas Cook at it'. It's a sure thing.
* Train services. It is reported that train services are ramping up from today amid evidence of growing demand as schools reopen in England and Wales and workers are urged to return to offices. Timetables are increasing to around 90% of pre-lockdown levels, meaning additional trains and longer carriages on many routes, according to industry body, the Rail Delivery Group.
This growth wasn't particularly evident from Neil's train ride home from Town at lunchtime when he agreed with the guard that he would drive the first half if the guard drove the final leg. It was just the two of them on there.
* Willie 'Slasher' Walsh's chance of retiring. Dear Willie led British Airway's owner IAG to a super Euro 2.3 billion profit in 2019 and then had to be levered out of retirement to front BA's dogs' breakfast of a restructuring during and after lockdown. There is an annual meeting of shareholders tomorrow (8 September) at which investors will be looking for one last cascade of blood from Willie's nose before he catches a plane to his retirement hideaway and peace at last (Flamingo View, Gretting Road, St Kitts, ST13 Ouch).
* Sterling. The pound lost a whole Eurocent against the Euro today, dropping to an eight-session low of €1.112, it also fell 0.8 per cent against the dollar to $1.3185. It's a bit of Boris braggadero, a bit of Brexit, a smidgen of Covid and a dollop of something that gets lost between four screens over at Blackstone.
* Tata Steel. The Government has had to parachute in investment bankers (really? I thought they kind of wafted in on their own superheated air) to help thrash out a rescue plan for Britain's biggest steel producer after months of talks over a deal that could preserve thousands of jobs. Credit Suisse have been apppointed, working on a pro bono basis, and this should end speculation that negotiations between the Government and the Indian-owned industrial group had been brought to an end.
Do you think they are aware their name also means 'Bye-bye Steel' in English?
* Visa is being investigated by the European Commission over its rules on electronic money providers, after allegations that the payments giant has acted in an anti-competitive way. Frankly we are shocked. Thievery and extortion? For everything else there is Mastercard.
* People. It is said that those on minimum wage are in the cross-hairs of Rishi, the next James Bond, and the TUC are livid about it. Mind you, the TUC could spit blood and start a fight over the price of carrots, but they could have a point here as the hourly pay rate under the national living wage, the legal minimum paid to workers over the age of 25, was due to rise 6.2% from £8.72 to £9.21 in April, under targets set last December by the chancellor at the time, Sajid Javid (who now works for his Dad's taxi company on the switch).
There is speculation that the planned increase may be abandoned as unaffordable, or at least reduced, with unemployment expected to rise sharply in the autumn as Britain starts to confront the economic price exacted by the Coro ... blah, blah, blah.
* Arron Banks, the Brexit supporter, insurance mogul and every person's favourite gargoyle. Arron (a huge, HUGE friend of the NTI newsroom) has claimed that the Peter Pan television presenter owes him more than a million pounds and has fled to a “lush part of New Zealand” to avoid paying. Mr Banks said that he had tracked down Edmonds, through a television interview his ego couldn't help but give. It was already known that the presenter of Noel’s House Party and Deal or No Deal lived with his wife on a property outside Auckland. Mr Banks said that a team of private investigators had identified the home from its roofline in the backdrop to the interview as well as the positioning of a hedge and swimming pool.
Neil has scurried home to plant some bamboo to obscure his property's roofline, as Banksy wants to give him back the shells from his gun fired over the fence during a BBQ-game-gone-wrong at the weekend.