Fears of a consumer recession hit stock markets yesterday after Marks & Spencer's third-quarter trading results were described as "shocking" by analysts, while the influential World Economic Forum warned that the UK economy was "particularly vulnerable to financial turmoil", according to The Independent.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee will announce its decision on interest rates at noon today against a background of a rapidly cooling economy.
Sir Stuart Rose, M&S's chief executive, made little effort yesterday to disguise the pain that the high street is enduring: "It is fair to say we are in for a tough time. The market has woken up to the fact that the economy has caught a cold.
"There has been a little bit of hope in the market that things are not as bad... but all this is saying is that things are tougher. We are clearly not in a recession, but it is the toughest we have seen in a decade."
THE FRANTIC SEARCH FOR A private sector solution to the Northern Rock crisis has been widened to include cash-rich governments in the Middle East, The Guardian reports.
Goldman Sachs, the investment bank brought in by the government to find financing for a takeover of the stricken bank, has widened the net as the deadline for potential bidders approaches. Alistair Darling, the chancellor, has told Goldman that the government has no objections in principle to so-called sovereign wealth funds being included in any financing solution.
There is no current indication that a deal has been clinched but the Treasury believes it is sensible for the sovereign wealth funds to be approached, given that they have accumulated vast cash reserves after the fourfold increase in the price of oil over the last five years.
The main players in the region are the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Qatari Investment Authority.
TONY BLAIR IS PREPARING TO TAKE a lucrative job with an international investment bank, he has disclosed, according to The Telegraph.
The former prime minister - who is said to be earning as much as £1 million a month from speaking fees - will supplement his income as an adviser to JP Morgan, one of the biggest names on Wall Street.
The job could pay Mr Blair about £500,000 a year, according to Wall Street recruitment consultants.IFAonline
Two global vehicles
'Further plug advice gap'
Must appoint separate CEOs and boards
Advisers do come out well
Will report to Mark Till