Planet Business

Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 01:00

The week in business

Image of the week

It has been hailed as the most significant court battle over equal pay for 40 years – more than 170 women, former workers for Birmingham City Council, were celebrating a Supreme Court victory this week as they sought the payment of bonuses that had been given to male council employees but not to them. The council had argued that the employees had to appeal to an employment tribunal within six months of leaving, but the court ruled they could bring claims within the six-year civil courts limit.

Getting to know: Clark Kent

Oh dear. The newspaper industry’s troubles have now spread to Metropolis, where morale at the Daily Planet is reportedly so low that mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, who’s been employed there since 1940 but is somehow still only 27, has decided to resign, railing against declining standards in news media as he does so – or so goes the plot of the next issue in the Superman comic series, which was relaunched by DC Comics last year.

Kent, played by Brandon Routh in 2006’s Superman Returns, is apparently earmarked to set up a Huffington Post or Drudge Report-style media site where he will start “speaking an unvarnished truth”, according to the writers.

But who will cover his old Superman beat at the Daily Planet?

In numbers: Digital Argos

21 million

Number of copies of the Argos catalogue that were produced twice a year at its peak. The retail group’s owner has decided to start phasing out these weighty tomes and become “digital-led”.

39

Number of years Argos has been producing the catalogue. The in-store laminated versions are also toast, according to Argos’s parent, the listed Home Retail Group.

€4.2 billion

The retailer’s annual sales. Argos, which sells everything from toys to kitchenware and electronics, plans to shut or relocate 75 of its stores.

The lexicon: Helicopter money

“Helicopter money” is the term used for the permanent creation of new money by central banks to write off government debt, fund tax cuts, pay for public spending and still have cash for a sandwich at the end of it all.

It’s the equivalent of dropping piles of free cash on top of all our heads from a helicopter.

Sounds too good to be true, right? While helicopter money is regarded as a more powerful stimulus than its close cousin – the less permanent economic kick-starter that is quantitative easing. It’s also somewhat unconventional, and carries a greater risk of sparking high rates of inflation. Departing Bank of England governor Mervyn King calls it “bad money creation”.