What can the ashes of 2009 reveal?
I was up in Greenock in Scotland for New Year 's Eve - they've got a tradition up there of reading the ashes of the last fire of the year to see what the next year has in store and there's a lot to be read in the ashes of 2009. Will the UK emerge from the recession? Deeply connected to that, when will the major banks revisit their appetite to lend? And is the FSA ready to set final a proposal for the RDR? A lot of weighty questions for a little pile of ashes.
2010 has more to reveal: what are the implications of upping the normal minimum pension age to 55? Why does it feel like the 50% top tax rate isn't quite as temporary as initially intended?
Normally in any good Scottish Hogmanay, the most pressing question would be whiskey-based - Highland or Island? - and I wouldn't usually be spending it studying a small mound of slightly warm ashes. But 2009 has not been a normal year. We all know that. Still, it has ended on a high-note with manufacturing activity at its highest level since November 2007, and there's the faintest breeze of optimism in the air. The UK economy seems to be turning the corner, and its backbone, the services sector, is showing signs of recovery. 2010 might well be a year of opportunity.
The ashes didn't tell me anything about this. Why would they? They're a pile of ashes, after all, and they were the ashes of 2009, and 2010 is upon us now. I have no doubt we will be exchanging our views on these and other topics in the coming months, however whatever your view on some of issues listed above I would appeal to you to look at 2010 with the spirit and enthusiasm of the festive season in mind. All the best for 2010.
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