I do like a touch of blue. Last week, summer had undoubtedly arrived in the Square Mile, with blue skies abounding. Blue, of course, is the colour used to show share prices that are rising. The trading screens were predominantly blue last week and not before time.
Of course, markets are very thin at present. Sensible investors and traders have taken themselves off to the beach and are not concerning themselves with financial news. This is a pity as there has been plenty to digest recently. Most has been reasonably encouraging. Economic statistics on both sides of the Atlantic have not given rise to any cause for concern while President George Bush has told the great American public that the US economy is in good shape. So, that is all right then.
This is, of course, the silly season and there are silly stories by the dozen. While searching for the least relevant business story, I came across a quantitative survey into management's inability to arrive at meetings on time. This report was compiled courtesy of German management consultancy Czipin and Proudfoot and shows that German punctuality, at 56 per cent, is worse than here in Britain (58 per cent).
Unfortunately, incidences of Japanese unpunctuality only amount to 34 per cent while the Americans, at 59 per cent, are one of the least punctual people in the world. We know which of these two economies we would like to back at present.
Of more relevance was the news last week from the Office of National Statistics that the population of this country is expected to grow by five million over the course of the next quarter century from 59.8 million people in 2000 to 64.8 million by the year 2025. Moreover, growth looks set to continue after that date.
Much of this is due to Britons, in common with much of the rest of the world, living longer. There are presently 10.8 million people of state pensionable age in this country. By 2040 it is expected that there will be more than 16 million people eligible to retire.
I once read somewhere that there are presently more people alive on this planet of ours than have ever lived and died before. No wonder the environment is becoming such a pressing concern. The increase in longevity is by no means over, with forecasts that we will add another five years to the expected lifespan of residents of the developed world over the course of the next few decades. This promises to be a very crowded planet.
All this should, of course, be good news for the financial advice market. A 50 per cent uplift in the number of people who will be of retirement age means that there are a great many folk who will need help with their future financial planning. This is why the Sandler report, with its implied advancement of advice-free, vanilla-flavoured investment products, could turn out to be one of the worst-timed reports in history.
Not that reports into the world of financial advice have been around for very long. Still, it is ironic to think that, in its eagerness to make certain people receive proper encouragement to save for retirement, the Government may actually be deterring people from seeking advice and thus from investing.
No doubt more silly season stories will emerge as the summer progresses but I doubt that any will measure up to the one I saw recently concerning a town in America with a goat as its mayor. This town became the focus of news attention following an attempt to castrate the town's mayor. Apparently, this particular animal has a fondness for bottles of beer – something of a party trick. Unfortunately, one of the bottles he picked belonged to someone who, as a result, decided to remove his manhood. Only half-successful, the offending piece of the goat's anatomy was found in the perpetrator's fridge and he was arrested.
As if this were not bizarre enough, it appears that this is the third goat to be mayor, the first holder of the office having been killed in a fight over a nanny goat. With all due deference to the role of the office of mayor, the town has, quite naturally, had the first goat-mayor stuffed and mounted. No doubt there are a few financial services figures that we all might like to see similarly treated.