MT's week in 60 seconds

The business week in review: wretched retailers, relentless rule-breakers and rubbish robbers.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In a week when our hopes of avoiding economic meltdown have been doused more regularly than the Olympic torch on its way through Paris, not even the prospect of the (not so) New Kids on the Block reunion tour was enough to raise a smile.

Disappointing figures on the housing market from the Halifax on Tuesday made the Bank of England’s decision to cut interest rates to 5% on Thursday almost inevitable – but the pound’s resulting fall against the euro will make MT’s annual fortnight in Magaluf a lot pricier this year.

Speaking of holidays, retail bigwigs have been soaking up the rays in Barcelona this week for the World Retail Congress. But it hasn’t improved their mood - Ikea boss Anders Dahlvig and Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green have both been moaning about the disastrous state of the UK high street. We reckon they should cheer up – at least it’s stopped snowing.

There’s been more chaos in the aviation industry; BA’s pilots have been twisting the knife over the fiasco that is Terminal Five, while the Office of Fair Trading is about to become Ryanair’s latest bete noire, after the ASA decided to wash its hands of the combative Irish airline and pass the buck upstairs. You know the industry must be in a mess when even Eurotunnel’s making a profit – generally speaking it’s been about as good for investors as an Indian safety deposit box with a termite infestation.

Still, some people are putting a brave face on the general gloom. HSBC plans to clean up in the mortgage market (because they’re just about the only ones with any money to lend); new boss Ian Livingston is planning more broadband expansion after taking over from Ben Verwaayen at BT; and private equity is starting to crawl back out of the woodwork.

But our favourite ludicrous optimists this week are China, which seems to think a western PR firm can transform its public image, and Demetrius Robinson, who decided to rob a convenience store while he was filling in a job application to work there. Since he’d left his real name and telephone number, it wasn’t too tough for the police to track him down. With that kind of savvy, he should be in charge of baggage control at T5...

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