Some cheer to accompany the four-day week: we all returned from the bank holiday to learn European stock markets had shot up nearly 4%, with the news of JP Morgan’s 500% higher bid for Bear Stearns and a surprise upturn in US house sales. Even the CBI was chirpy. Well, more than usual. And the good news continued: Sainsbury’s sales beat expectations, and the supermarket signed a £1.2bn property venture with British Land.
Bob Diamond seemed similarly unaffected by the credit crisis – Barclays Capital revealed its boss took home almost £36m in pay and bonuses last year. It’s all right for some, you say. But there are signs this lucky group is suffering too – the Office for National Statistics said City bonuses are starting to get smaller this year. Cue tears falling in to ever-cheaper brands of champagne. Still, if Ernst & Young’s advice is heeded, non-doms’ spending should more than compensate. The accountant is urging our foreign elements to blow their money on yachts, jets and new sports cars before April 5 – the day that the new non-dom tax rules kick in.
Tata certainly had its spending head on – the Indian conglomerate finally sealed a $2.3bn deal to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover marques from Ford. The news ought to be good for the 20,000-odd UK workers involved with Jaguar and Land Rover – Tata apparently has no immediate plans to shift production to India. Elsewhere Ryanair employees had less to cheer, at least those in senior management. They’ve all had their pay frozen. Anything to avoid passing on costs to customers apparently. If they took a pay cut, perhaps we could get our bags on its planes for free again.
Further afield, Roman Abramovich has invested $10m to build a luxury clinic for Russian millionaires in Moscow – for philanthropic reasons of course – while in nearby St Petersburg, the Mariinsky ballet celebrated the retirement of one of its longest-serving stars: Monika, a female donkey that’s spent the last 19 years ferrying around Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. A fine contender for the ‘ass of the week’ award, surely. But she is in fact beaten easily by the Cardiff McDonald’s employee who won the lottery – and then returned to work.