If there is one thing that can be relied upon to be an ever present fixture of the New Year – such as broken resolutions, dour weather and Christmas debts – it is the arrival of squeaky bum time.
For those of us that haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United, deliver his home-made cliché, it is worth pointing out that squeaky bum time refers to the sound made from squirming or moving forward and back in one’s seat as the Premiership title race reaches its climax. Usually a spring event, SBT has arrived earlier than normal this year. And not in a way that Ferguson would have anticipated.
After Blue Monday – January 17 is officially the most depressing day of the year – comes Black Tuesday. The release of December’s inflation figures – inflation soared to 3.7 percent – make for pretty grim reading for the Bank of England. The general opinion is that the figures are dreadful, and that it will be bank managers and not football managers whose bums will be squeaking.
“The December inflation data are horrible and in the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, this really now is squeaky bum time for the Bank of England,” said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.
Archer has got it spot on. The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee now finds itself in the unenviable situation of having to choose between leaving interest rates at 0.5 percent, which will do little to arrest the rise in inflation, or hike the cost of borrowing and potentially plunge the economy into a double-dip recession.
And if that hasn’t cheered you up on a grey day in January, remember that VAT went up to 20 percent this month and the expectation is that inflation will rise to four percent when the January figures are released next month.
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Ivan Fowlie was previously head of business finance for Western and Central Europe