A year of living dangerously

Well, this is one year few of us will be sad to see the back of. In August, apart from the rain, things didn't seem so bad. We had our foot on the brake, but it was all looking like a gentle slow-down, with a sensible correction of house prices, a reining-in of the worst City/Wall Street irrational exuberance and a return to business as usual by early 2009.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT Editor

Then down came the freezing fog and the multiple vehicle pile-up. Into the sickening crunchfest sped Lehmans, AIG, HBOS, RBS, Robert Tchenguiz, M&S, Foxtons (small cheer), the Icelandic nation and any semblance of balancing the books at UK plc, as the rest of us looked on agog. Now we all sit stationary in the 45-mile tailback, running low on fuel and supplies and fearing the worst. We've become inured to the non-stop stream of gloomy news: Woolies gets sold for a pound and hardly anyone notices.

On the positive side - and at MT we'll always try to keep the glass half full for you - we have a new winner of Britain's Most Admired Companies and five new entrants into the Top 10. Diageo is a worthy victor and looks set fair to cope with recession as we drown our sorrows in Guinness and Johnnie Walker. It's also strongly diversified across the globe and filling its coffers with increasingly valuable dollars.

Another strong performer is Unilever, so often given a roasting for a low metabolic rate over the past decade, a tortoise-and-hare fable come true. In tough times, we still need to clean our clothes and ourselves, and fill up with Ben & Jerry's as a weekend treat.

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