FPS’ Friday Fiver

Happy Friday afternoon everyone. The clocks have gone back, it’s dark outside, and the eurozone still doesn’t look any closer to salvation. Light relief does at least come however with the prospect of a good fireworks show this weekend. Before you get out the sparklers though, take a look at the Financial and Professional Services Friday Fiver below, which this week takes in a wide range of topics on everything from Bob Diamond to celebrity marriages. We hope you enjoy!

WE’RE GROWING!!! SORT OF…..Finally, some good news this week as the UK economy grew 0.5% in the third quarter of 2011. Compared to recent efforts, that’s practically a meteoric rise, and was ahead of City expectations.

But here’s the bad news though – the effect may not last for two reasons. Firstly, some of the rebound in growth is being attributed to the disruption in Q2 owing to that dress and the ensuing two week holiday that most people took to get over it. And secondly, the forecast ahead looks dire – the latest purchasing manager indices, released by our client, CIPS, nosedived this week, suggesting order books are drying up. Still, let’s enjoy a bit of growth while we can shall we?

SING SONG TO AN ATHENIAN RHAPSODY…..We’re viewing Europe’s sovereign debt issues through a musical prism this week. The debt odyssey has taken a number of twists and turns, the most unexpected of which was Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s call for a referendum on the latest bailout package. The brinksmanship proved a step too far and was quickly called off.

Disappointingly, the on-going crisis has meant that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been forced to delay the release of his latest CD of love songs. On first inspection, readers would be forgiven for mistaking the article as an April Fool.

It’s good to see the City is keeping itself busy and Alphaville was the recipient of a cleverly penned version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody set against the backdrop of recent events. Click and enjoy!

MORTGAGE DÉJÀ VU…..In 2006/07, people in America stopped paying their monthly mortgage bills. Many of them simply got up, left their houses and never came back (due to a wonderful quirk in US rules on home ownership they had very little obligation to stick around). Once enough people had walked away, banks realised that they were sitting on a pile of worthless housing stock that they couldn’t sell. Once that happened, banks who had bought mortgage loans off of other banks (neatly packaged up like a mince pie in lovable ‘CDOs’) realised they too were sitting on potentially worthless debt. Panic ensued, and we’ve been struggling to recover ever since.

Old news by now isn’t it? Probably not worth noting then that today’s FT reported that US state-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac has requested an extra $6bn from taxpayers because “homeowners were falling behind on their obligations and it could not count on mortgage insurers to reimburse the company for losses”. Or that US house “sales are down, delinquencies are rising and the pipeline of seized homes due to flood the market is growing ever larger”. Nope, not worth noting at all.

SLEB WATCH…..One for our celebrity interested readers at the request of our resident pop-culture queen, Helen Searle. Yes, in case you weren’t convinced, HuffPo’s title is eager to underline this IS an INFOGRAPHIC of the shortest celebrity marriages in homage to Kim Kardashian’s filing for divorce this week (your author this week isn’t sure who that is either). Although it could also be described as a bar chart, either way, our sleb watchers rather like it.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..Whisper it, but it’s been a relatively good week for Barclays boss, Bob Diamond. His company’s results were better than most of its peers (though again the use of some accounting wizardry perhaps hid the true picture), and Diamond also faired rather better in media interviews than he did last time he mentioned the word ‘remorse’.

On the flip side, his banking compatriot at Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, faired far worse. No one should ever work so hard or endure such stress that they have to take a leave of absence to recover. Not ever. We hope he gets well soon.

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