By Mark Richards.
It is our last post in 2018 so it is time to look back. We have picked out all the numbers that mattered in the last 12 months, from zero to one trillion – sadly stopping at two along the way…
Zero – the number of challengers to Chinese Premier Xi Jinping as he was confirmed as de facto ‘ruler for life’ at the Chinese Communist Party Congress in March
0.75 – the Bank of England finally raised base rates from 0.5% to 0.75% in August as the economy strengthened, consumer spending rose and the Bank looked to get inflation closer to its target rate of 2%
1 – the number of goals England scored in the World Cup semi-final in July
2 – sadly, the number of goals Croatia scored
3.9 – as Donald Trump concluded trade deals with South Korea and Canada, unemployment in the US fell to 3.9%. Figures for August confirmed that another 201,000 jobs had been added to the economy, with unemployment at its lowest rate since 1969
6 – it was six more years for Vladimir Putin as Russia’s President. March brought the least surprising election result of the year
14 – the number of store closures announced by Marks & Spencer. This was anything but the worst news from the high street in 2018 but, coming in January, it was a sure sign of what was to follow.
25 – the number of miles a car can fly. A company in California developed a flying car. It will travel for 25 miles at up to 60mph, will not require a pilot’s licence and will eventually cost the same as a sports utility vehicle. And to think that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley were once impressed by a flying Ford Anglia.
37 – the UK is home to 37% of the continent’s ‘unicorns’ and – according to a report for London Tech Week published in June – is the no. 1 destination for Europe’s top tech talent. A ‘unicorn’ is a tech startup with a valuation of more than $1bn (around £780m)
56 – the age of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. You may not have heard of AKK, as she is commonly known, but you will. In December AKK (also sometimes called ‘mini-Merkel’) took over from Angela Merkel as the leader of Germany’s CDU party and will, in due course, succeed her as Chancellor and de facto leader of Europe
88 – the number of days that are now left until the UK (in theory) leaves the European Union. Just in case you were wondering the Referendum was 941 days ago and er, no… We have not done a deal yet.
99 – the percentage fall in the profits of John Lewis, long held out as the one bright spot among department stores, as September brought more gloom for the high street. RBS did not improve the mood by closing a further 54 branches.
116 – the number of days we were into 2018 when North Korea’s Kim Jong-un met South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and historically crossed the border between the two countries. Kim went on to meet Donald Trump later in the year and the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula is now underway
162 – the number of high street bank branch closures announced by RBS in May. Visit your local branch while you can…
200 – the number of Conservative MPs who voted for Theresa May in December’s no-confidence vote, compared to 117 who voted against her. According to Conservative party rules she cannot now be challenged until December 2019
980 – February, and another ‘strong and stable’ leader. Donald Trump announced his attention to run for President again, 980 days ahead of the 2020 election.
1,000 – the fine (in pounds) Scrooge-like trading standard officers threaten to impose on Derby ice-cream maker Gavin Murray in September. The clue was in the queue: his rum n’ raisin ice-cream contained rather too much rum and not enough raisin.
1968 – the year in France which last saw civil unrest comparable to that which broke out in November as the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets or vests) took to the streets to demonstrate against the rising cost of living, climate-change inspired fuel increases and the President’s seeming lack of concern about the lives of ordinary people. Emmanuel Macron spent €30,000 (£27,000) on makeup and haircuts in his first three months as French President: of course, he understands ‘ordinary people…’
2030 – another year. The one in which the UK High Street “will die” according to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley when he spoke to a House of Commons Select Committee in December
3,006 – the value (in pounds) of virtual currency Bitcoin on December 30th. It started the year trading at around £10,700. A large Christmas bonus for those people who predicted its fall…
12,500 – generally speaking Chancellor Philip Hammond’s October Budget received a positive response. ‘Phil-good factor’ cheered the Daily Mail as he lifted the personal allowance to £12,500 and the threshold for higher rate tax to £50,000
1,700,000 – the news in August was that Amazon will be writing Chancellor Philip Hammond a cheque for just £1.7m. The company’s UK profits jumped to £72.3m but its tax bill came in at just £4.6m, and it was able to defer £2.9m of that. No wonder Hammond introduced a Digital Services Tax in the Budget speech
52,200,000 – the number of iPhones Apple said it sold in the three months to March, as it showered shareholders with cash, announcing plans for a $100bn (£78bn) share buy-back. At the time it was in a race with Amazon, Microsoft and Google to become the first company valued at a trillion dollars.
165,300,000 – June and July saw England marching towards the World Cup final with Professor Joshua Barnfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, estimating that every goal England scored, “could be worth £165.3m to England’s retailers and an extra £33.2m to pubs, hotels and restaurants.” But see (2) above: never mind, there is always the Euros in 2020…
500,000,000 – will another Government contractor, Interserve, go the same way as the next entry? By November the company was currently wrestling with £500m of debt and seeking a second rescue package
1,500,000,000 – the number of pounds the Government’s ‘go to’ contractor Carillion was in debt when it called in the administrators in January, owing money to approximately 30,000 small businesses who were told to ‘expect 1p in the pound.’
10,000,000,000 – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi (it’s pronounced ‘show-me’) announced plans in early May for a $10bn (£7.8bn) listing on the Hong Kong stock market. Xiaomi has made giant strides this year and has overtaken Apple to become the world’s second-biggest maker of smartphones, but the company is becoming increasingly mired in security concerns over its equipment for 5G networks. These are unlikely to go away in 2019 with UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson the latest to voice concern
1,000,000,000,000 – One trillion dollars: as its shares rose to a high of $207 in August Apple won the race to be the first company valued at a trillion dollars. But since then it has all gone a bit pear-shaped with the shares falling back by 20%, hit by worries about declining sales and the continuing US/China tension
4 – the number of days until I will be back with you on Friday, with our regular look back at the month just ended. Between now and then have a very happy New Year, and may 2019 bring everything you would wish for.