Oil giant Shell, may have recorded the biggest profits in British company history but other news this week's suggests that a financial storm is on the way that none of us will escape.
Firstly, yesterday's warning from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warning that one million mortgages may be at risk of serious financial difficulty and possible re-possession in the present economic cliamte.
The FSA cites three warning signs on mortgages:
· The loan was taken out for longer than 25 years;
· It is worth more than 90% of the home;
· The amount borrowed is 3.5 times or greater than income .
Over a third of all mortgages sold between April 2005 and September 2007 fall into one or more of these categories. This suggests that more than 2m of the 5.7m mortgages written during this period are of potential concern.
If that isn't worrying enough, then the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), predicts that the national tax burden will be at a 24-year high in five years' time, despite public spending falling to an eight-year low. Families face having to pay £2,900 a year more in taxes by 2012 in order to fund the Government's spiralling spending and borrowing commitments.
The institute, which uses the Treasury's own figures in its calculations, says that while the £8 billion tax rise - equivalent to around 2p on income tax - would be "prudent", the Government is likely to shy away from it, forcing it to borrow even more or spend less.
The taxpayers' support for the Northern Rock bail-out could add £100 billion to net debt - seven per cent of national income - if the Office for National Statistics rules it must be included on the Government books
One more sign of market difficulty, above and beyond that of Northern Rock is that last week, one of the larger commercial property funds (CLOSE) suspended trading indefinitely. Like Northern Rock, there was a run on the fund as investors sought to recover their money and it's had to shut the doors until sentiment calms and it can recover its liquidity. All rather worrying for investors as confidence in the economy declines.
Back in the clouds however, we still keep hearing from No10 and No11 that everything is under control, so that's alright then. However, it wil be interesting to look back on this entry in twelve months time, when my 2007-2008 tax return has gone-in as to what new surprises this year will generate the tax revenues that government now so desperately needs to plug the cracks in the economic dam.
And the chap in the photo? I wonder what he would think of it all?