Typically, in dramas involving a villain who threatens the security of the world’s financial markets, the crook tends to be holed up in a futuristic pile located on some glamorous yet unregulated island.
You know the sort of thing: Christopher Lee on Khao Phing Kan in The Man with the Golden Gun; any banker on Manhattan.
In real life, it rarely works out like that, not least regarding the allegations being made by US authorities against Navinder Singh Sarao - the British trader who supposedly contributed to the 2010 “flash crash”.
To recap, the Americans want Sarao to face 22 counts of fraud and commodity manipulation - all supposedly masterminded from his parents’ three-bed semi in, er, Hounslow. He denies them and is due at Westminster magistrates court this week for an extradition hearing.
Anyway, many lawyers worry for Sarao, with white-collar crime expert Christopher David predicting: “The chances of resisting extradition are slim.” The trader’s tactics will probably include claiming the alleged conduct isn’t a crime in the UK, but also don’t be surprised if there’s some reference to British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, whose extradition to the US was blocked by in 2012 as there was “no doubt that he is seriously ill”. NB: last month the court heard Sarao had “severe Asperger syndrome”.
Here come the happiness figures
There were many cynics who suggested that when David Cameron commanded the Office for National Statistics in 2010 to start measuring how chipper UK citizens were feeling, it was really an insurance policy in case standard economic measures such as gross domestic product slumped.
“We’ll start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life,” the prime minister smoothed then – and no doubt his own mood has been improved by not having to fall back on the “poorer but happier” excuse.
Still, this week we’ll get the numbers anyway, when the ONS reports its latest personal wellbeing statistics, which will show how people rate their life satisfaction overall and if they feel that what they do is worthwhile. They also report on participants’ feelings of anxiety and happiness on the day before taking part in the survey.
So are the new measures useful? Possibly not. Earlier this month, the ONS said: “Personal wellbeing is strongly related to the level of wealth of the household in which [people] live”. Who’d have thought it?
The AA: from roadside rescuer to ‘key opportunity’
There was a time when the AA was considered the most stalwart of organisations. For example, in 1905, when a member called Herbert Johnson was accused of exceeding the 20mph speed limit, one of the association’s scouts swore an oath that the motorist must be innocent as he’d followed him on a bicycle at a speed of no more than 15 or 16 miles per hour.
Irritatingly, Johnson was convicted and patrolman Jones arrested and charged with perjury, but the AA still came to the rescue: risking bankruptcy by staking all its funds to get an acquittal – which it eventually won.
These days, it’s not clear if your roadside recovery fee includes scouts prepared to do a stretch with you, but there are still plenty in the City who reckon that the company provides a convincing defence.
The group presents results this week, when much of the talk will be about cost savings and long-term growth, but analysts at Liberum also note: “As there are worries about [the global economy], many stocks historically perceived as defensive, like say Unilever, are not living up to their names, due to their emerging market exposure. Last week we screened for quality UK plays that may have been carried lower with the tide. The AA was identified as a key opportunity.”
This article was written by Simon Goodley, for theguardian.com on Saturday 19th September 2015 09.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010