Well, what a year that’s been. We’ve been in recession. Then we were out of it. Then we were in it again. And now it looks like we’re heading back.
There’ve been innumerable grotty banking scandals, millions of nuisance PPI calls, energy price cuts which were followed a few months later by big rises, changes afoot at the Bank of England and a base rate as stationary as The Money Shot the morning after the Covered Mag Christmas do.
Anyway, let’s traipse through the highlights – and lowlights – of the year in cash.
UNEDIFYING BANKING SCANDAL OF THE YEAR
“Done – for you, big boy.” Those were the rather unflattering words which resonated across the world as the lid was lifted on another pongy incident from the increasingly cesspit-like environs of London’s financial district.
The scandal went right to the top of Barclays, and claimed the job of Bob Diamond, the company's head honcho and sparked a withering riposte from his daughter, Nell, on the way. "George Osborne and Ed Miliband you can go ahead and #HMD," ran her response on popular social networking medium Twitter during the midst of her old pa’s grilling by a Parliamentary Committee.
You’ll need to look up what ‘HMD’ stands for yourself – and it’s not ‘help my dad’.
THE AWARD FOR CONSUMER INCONVENIENCE
Take a bow, RBS and subsidiary banks Nat West and Ulster Bank.
In June, a mischievous computer gremlin in their system meant that thousands – nay, millions – of customers couldn’t get access to their cash or make essential payments on things for a few days. People were understandably peeved, and left all manner of disgruntled comments on Nat West’s so-called online ‘Ideas Board’.
MASSIVE MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR A REBRAND
Computing giant Apple got so big and several European economies got so weak that the Californian techno-bling specialist actually became worth more than Greece and a number of other ‘troubled’ states.
It would have been quite good if the Californian company had actually bought up debt-stricken Ireland and re-branded it ‘iLand’.
THE KEN DODD AWARD FOR SERVICES TO HMRC
There’s been no shortage of people and organisations ducking the attentions of HMRC this year – and with a deficit to be tackled and public services facing severe budgetary cuts, being tax averse is about as likely to endear yourself to folk as parading around the place wearing a gold lamé tracksuit, puffing an enormous cigar and shouting “now then, now then!” at passers by.
While Gary Barlow, Jimmy Carr and internet retailer Amazon have all done their fair share of –and it must be said, perfectly legal – tax shirking, our award goes to coffee merchant Starbucks. Firstly, for the sheer brass neck of buying coffee beans from Switzerland when they hadn’t as much as flown over the Alps, and secondly, for ‘fessing up and promising to mend its ways. Like an ice-cold 'Frappucino' on a hot summers day, it was most refreshing.
That has to be the screeching about-turn performed by the government on the proposed ‘pasty tax’, which placed a 20% levy on hot savouries after all kinds of outrage from the pastry-loving massive.
However, it ended up being a half-baked measure – if your pasty is warmed up or kept warm, you’ll still have to pay extra. Bah!
THE BROKEN RECORD AWARD FOR SAME OLD EXCUSES
Special shout-outs here to the energy industry, for their oft-touted ‘wholesale energy prices’ justification for price rises for consumers…something they’re not half as keen to shout about when those same wholesale prices come down…
This award has to go to smouldering slab of Canadian wood, Mark Carney, who’s due to take over the hotseat at the Bank of England from part-time darts player Mervyn King next year.
COVERED MAG’S MONETARY PREDICTIONS FOR 2013
Mark Carney to have his office at the Bank of England decorated in the manner of a Canadian log cabin, complete with enormous mounted elk’s head above a roaring fire.
The base rate, for so long held at 0.5%, is to be preserved in aspic and exhibited at the Tate Modern.
Mervyn King to use the spare time on his hands after he steps down at the Bank of England to follow his dream of becoming a drum & bass MC.
The government and the insurance industry will end their long-running dispute on flood defences with an amazing new drainage system which will siphon off Britain’s flood water to a new aqua fun park on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead.
George Osborne to undergo an existential crisis and go off to Goa for a year to ‘find himself’.
The Eurpoean Court of Justice will follow its controversial gender ruling on insurance with a new age-based law which allows five year olds to draw their pensions.
NEWS IN BRIEF
The government has ‘green lighted’ plans for firms to start looking for shale gas on these shores, which could mean cheaper energy. Thing is, ‘fracking’ the process which is used to obtain shale gas is prone to creating minor earthquakes.
Payday loan specialist Wonga has extended its loan offering for 60 days, denying it has anything to do with the fact that Christmas is fast approaching.
Three million pensioners will have to turn their heating off this winter as they won’t be able to heat their homes because heating is too expensive.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders reckons that 14% more people have decided to buy their homes for the first time. They’ll soon regret it when they have to essentially FOREGO ALL FUN when they have to pay for a new boiler, treat the walls for damp or some other maddening and hugely expensive to rectify gremlin rears its ugly head.
Hit telly shows like The Only Way is Essex and Made In Chelsea have put a dent in house prices in their respective locales. After all, what right-minded person would want to live near the likes of Joey Essex or ‘Arg’ off TOWIE and Hugo and the boys off of Made In Chelsea?
We’re sure we’ve heard this one before, but the government has promised a ‘whiplash crackdown’ and has vowed to stop spurious claims for chronic neck-ache, which are said to be making everyone’s car insurance more expensive.
ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK
Covered’s resident car buff Daniel Bevis compiled this bumper compendium of the year in motoring.
Stuck for a Christmas gifts for your pet? Then take a look at these superb examples from the mighty quill of Dave Jenkins.
There’s been talk afoot of the Mayan calendar coming to an end on the 21st December. Lots of people have deduced that this can only mean one thing: THE APOCALYPSE.
The Money Shot is reasonably confident that we’ll all still be here on the December 22nd, but NASA – you know, that organisation featured in popular 80s films such as Flight of the Navigator and Spacecamp – has released a video explaining why the world hasn’t ended yet. Already.
Well, that’s definitely jinxed it then. See you on the other side readers!