It’s never a good sign when you start your week with a Black Monday. With stock markets plunging around the world, the US Federal Reserve stepped in on Tuesday with a huge rate cut – although Bank of England governor Mervyn King seemed reluctant to follow suit. And there were some major casualties – stock market darling Apple was just one big company to see billions wiped off its share price. More doom and gloom in the week that the great and good gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum (as described for MT by Heidrick & Struggles boss Kevin Kelly).
But on Thursday, it emerged that the whole thing might not have been a sign of imminent Armageddon after all. Instead, it may have been the work of 31-year-old Frenchman Jerome Kerviel, who has managed to lose Societe Generale nearly €5bn without them noticing. Which won’t do wonders for the reputation of the banking sector.
Remarkably, one of the few public companies to survive relatively unscathed was Northern Rock, after the government revealed its latest bail-out plan. Mike Ashley has also being making hay while the sun’s been hiding in the clouds, and supermarket chain Morrison’s has shrugged off all the woes of the high street to roar back with a vengeance. And it’s also been a good week for Toyota, which is set to overtake GM as the world’s biggest car-maker, and brewers Carlsberg and Heineken, who look set to finally get their hands on Scottish & Newcastle. Nintendo is also blooming.
But generally, there wasn’t much good news for us to shout about (as is our wont). The CIPD told us that annual pay rises were a thing of the past; the UK’s row with Russia took another turn for the worse over the flotation of Rusal; and the GEM study found that entrepreneurs will struggle to flourish unless they get political. Even Italian life models are up in arms, laying bare the naked exploitation they suffer at the hands of local art colleges.
Still on the bright side, this week contained officially the most depressing day of the year. So it’s all downhill from here...