Planet Business


Image of the week:Are the builders in this picture working on the house on the left, or the house on the right? The answer is (c) neither. They’re working on the house in the middle.

What house in the middle? Well, of course it just looks like a totally regular construction site at the moment, but soon it will be a contender for the title of the world’s thinnest house (if not the world’s stupidest house).

Polish construction workers have begun work on the 122cm (48 inch) wide abode. The svelte dwelling, which will have three floors including a living space, a bathroom and a bedroom, will be squeezed into that very gap right there between two buildings in the centre of Warsaw. Take that, Southfork. Photograph: Peter Andrews/Reuters

The list: trade friction

Threatening “anti-dumping” duties, Europe is set to come to trade-war type blows with China over its €21 billion worth of solar panel exports. It’s just the latest example of how protectionism can manifest itself in many ways.

1 Tires: Barack Obama’s hiking of import duties on car tires drove Beijing to warn of a trade war in 2009, but everyone soon, er, tired of the subject.

2 Chicken feet: The US had a nice little earner in exporting completely unwanted chicken “paws” to China, before it slapped on some foot-cramping tariffs.

3 Sugar: Russia, always keen to dabble in protectionism, levies import duties on the sweet stuff that its sugar-exporting neighbours find a little bitter.

4 Cough drops: Humble cough drop manufacturers were caught up in a tit-for-tat 1999 trade spat between the EU and the US over imports of American beef.

5 Cashmere sweaters: Also in 1999, the US included European cashmere on a list of items on which they threatened 100 per cent duties after a row about bananas.

Getting to know: Patrick McLoughlin

Patrick McLoughlin is famous for not being Justine Greening. The new British transport secretary, unlike his predecessor Greening, has not made any public pronouncements against the idea of a third runway at Heathrow – his career-boosting silence was helped by the fact that his constituency, unlike Greening’s, is nowhere near the airport.

International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh, who was none too impressed with Greening, will doubtlessly be inviting McLoughlin round for tea and one of British Airways’ finest cold wraps. And once the commercial nitty-gritty is out of the way, they might then discuss the new transport secretary’s previous admission that he is afraid of flying.

The lexicon: Auto-intenders

Are you planning on buying a new car in the next 12 months? Might you be tempted by 2013’s new registration plates? Have you mentioned this particular consumer weakness on Facebook?

Then in online advertising land you are what is known as an “auto-intender”, aka someone who wants new wheels. Analytics tools are busy tracking down your vehicle-shopping desires as soon as you hit “send” on that status update or thread reply, and they are doing so for the benefit of motor companies that are only keen to pay for highly targeted ads.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, such tools demonstrate that the ability to generate premium search results will be the key to earning premium ad rates. It describes this as the reinvention of advertising “in the image of the consumer”.

In numbers: Murdoch money

$4 millionSum paid by News Corporation to Elisabeth Murdoch to run the television production house Shine, according to a new company filing. Although that’s nothing compared to the $214 million she got from selling Shine to News Corp in the first place.

$16.8 millionTotal pay package enjoyed by James Murdoch, the company’s deputy chief operating officer, who resigned as executive chairman of its UK newspaper arm in February after all that awkward illegal phone-hacking business.

$30 millionThe 81-year-old Rupert Murdoch might cut a King Lear-like figure on occasion, but despite forgoing part of his annual bonus, he still managed to glean this much from News Corp for the year to June.