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EXTRAORDINARY ITEMS – Browned off with going for gold.

Hands up all FDs and treasurers who think it’s a good idea to put about a sixth of your spare corporate cash into an asset that generates no yield, costs a lot of money just to hold, and which has generated a compound annual return since 1980 of minus 5.9%. No, we didn’t think so. Strange then the fuss – especially from the one-time party of business, the Tories – over Chancellor Gordon Brown’s decision to flog more than half our gold reserves. We did think it odd, however, that Brown should have alerted the bullion market as to his intentions, thereby queering his own pitch. He might have been better off turning the lot into naff jewellery and selling it on the QVC shopping channel.

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