MT's Week in 60 Seconds

The best of this week's business news: battered banks, abandoned Americanos and women's troubles.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This week the credit crunch has been coming home to roost in the Square Mile, as Britain’s biggest banks reported their half-year results. HSBC kicked things off on Monday with a 30% profit slide, while Barclays told a similar tale and RBS ended the period a record £700m in the red. And the crunch’s highest-profile casualty Northern Rock continues to struggle – the government has had to pump in an extra £3bn of taxpayer equity.

But it’s not only the banks feeling the pain. The aviation industry is in an equally bad way: amid plunging profits, BA is seeking a further alliance with American Airlines. Ryanair has problems of its own, although that hasn’t stopped it picking another fight with BAA. Meanwhile advertising spending is down, taking a big bite out of ITV’s numbers this week, while consumers are shunning premium purchases – leaving organic supermarket Whole Foods and even coffee giant Starbucks feeling the pinch.

So what are the authorities planning to do about all this? There’ll be no interest rate cuts for at least a month, after the Bank of England voted to stay put at 5%, but there were rumours that the Treasury is planning to try and jump-start the moribund housing market (although the short-term effect might be to make matters worse). The only official pronouncements concerned a new hotline, so exploited employees can shop their bosses more easily, and an estimate that health and safety red tape (that’s the government’s red tape) is costing UK plc £300m a year. Perhaps it’s best off steering well clear – after all, RDAs haven’t exactly been a roaring success, allegedly…

Elsewhere there was more depressing news for gender equality campaigners – not only are City women horribly underpaid compared to their male counterparts, but it turns out that there’s growing scepticism about whether working mothers should be working at all. Perhaps they should stop at home and get themselves a foot spa (even if it is the world’s most useless gadget)...

In today's bulletin: 
RBS adds to woes with record loss
RDAs: a waste of £15bn?
Why 'elf n' safety is costing us £300m a year
MT's Week in 60 Seconds
Lessons in selling your wares, from YouTube

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