Fool’s Gold

Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain, and most fools do

It being April 1st today, it crossed my mind to add in a spoof, April Fools news story to today’s e-newsletter.

But, mulling the thought over with my toast this morning, it struck me that nothing I could come up with could possibly be any more unbelievable than some of the stuff that’s happened for real in recent months.

Let’s have a look at some of them. How many of the following events/news stories would have been believed had they run on April Fool’s Day last year?

If anyone had said on April 1 2008 that within five months Lehmann Brothers would have gone bust, taking most of the US economy with it, would that have been believed? Not a chance.

What about the one where the world’s largest insurance company – AIG – makes so many appallingly bad judgements that it needs a US government bailout to the tune of a gazillion dollars? Don’t think so.

How about that by the year end, the UK government would have effectively nationalised the entire banking system, throwing billions of tax-payers good money after bad? Nope. Not even the most dyed-in-the-wool Tory could have thought that of this New Labour government.

Or that the government and the Bank of England would conspire to stick two fingers up at anyone who had the temerity to save a bit of money to keep them going in their old age? Probably not.

Maybe the one about the anarchists, the socialist workers and the pensioners joining together to march through the City of London to protest about the handling of the global financial crisis? Doubt it.

And then there would be the story of the Scottish banker whose house was attacked just because some people thought some of the decisions made under his chairmanship meant he should give up his, admittedly rather large, pension payout. Possibly not.

Closer to home, who would have believed me had I predicted this time last year that merchanting would be nearly 4,000 jobs lighter, that you could count the number of working brick factories on the fingers of one hand and that housebuilding would be at a standstill? No way, Jose.

This whole mess has to end sometime, but how many of us will be in the same positions when it does is anyone’s guess.

Hey ho.

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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