Whether or not Punch manages to gain the support of its shareholders, bondholders and lending banks, its plight is a testament to the follies of the financial engineers. Pubs, along with care homes and retirement flats, were not seen as businesses with responsibilities to customers, employees and society, but as 'property plays' that could be leveraged to the hilt.
Debts peaked at a phenomenal
The smoking ban didn't help, and the company did not have the wherewithal to fight back by converting premises into the chic gastro pubs currently in vogue.
The whizz-kids who put together these highly-leveraged models have, of course, quit the scene long ago, leaving others to pick up the pieces and to reflect on the importance of abstaining from excess debt.
ARE we seeing a genuine slowdown in the housing market or just a pause for breath? The signals are mixed.
Asking prices have fallen sharply this month, particularly in
The banks are tightening up on affordability criteria, with
Some of the seeming anomalies disappear on closer examination: Bovis's business is skewed towards the south, and its results are to the end of June so do not encompass the July/August slowdown reported elsewhere.
One factor behind the sharp fall in lending at Nationwide is that it has been taking far more than its typical share of the market in the past two years, because its main competitors have been relatively inactive. The building society says its rivals are now coming back, and that it is happy to see its lending dropping back to more normal levels.
The underlying picture seems to be that there is a cooling off.
Stricter rules on lending, coupled with a fear of interest rate hikes and prices that have risen strongly are giving buyers pause for thought. There is an element of seasonality, in that the market is always duller in the summer when people are on holiday.
The Mortgage Market Review, which is slowing down applications, is also having an effect, though this is likely to lessen as lenders get used to the new procedures. In short, earlier this year, the market looked as if it might run away with itself, now it seems to be calming down a bit – which is exactly what
The intensity of interest is more a reflection of our national obsession with property than anything of great substance in the latest flurry of surveys and results.
The soaring price of hazelnuts has been worrying lovers of Nutella and
The nuts have risen to their highest levels in 10 years following severe weather damage in
Analysts reckon Ferrero's recent purchase of leading Turkish company Oltan will give it the edge as confectioners scramble to buy up the depleted hoard of nuts.
As a consequence, suggestions of price hikes, panic buying and shortages may be unfounded. What a relief for the Ambassador.
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