High Altitude Jumping; A game of basketball takes place on the Aletsch glacier near the summit of the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland, 3454 metres above sea level (Image: Manuel Lopez)

According to the Visa UK Consumer Spending Index, released this week, the month of August saw a 0.1% annual rate of growth in UK household expenditure.  This is purportedly the smallest increase for three years and continues the trend of modest growth rates we've seen during most of 2016.  The headline figure, however, masks a strong performance for the hotels, restaurants and bars sector, whilst spending on transport and communication was markedly down.  To simplify it one-step further, it appears that the majority of us opted for a post-EU Referendum "staycation", drank and ate far too much, and enjoyed the best August and early September weather we have had for years!  Who needs Ibiza when it gets to 34.4 degrees celsius in Gravesend?!

In a sign of increased confidence in the post-Brexit real estate landscape, Knight Frank confirmed this week that it will stop applying "market uncertainty" caveats to its valuations from tomorrow, whilst others have already watered down their qualifications.  The summer period was relatively quiet in terms of transactional volumes, but it is clear that the valuers believe there is sufficient deal and pricing evidence to show that the market has stabilised.  Fund managers have also been persuaded to slash the fair value pricing adjustments on UK property funds imposed following the Referendum.  All welcome evidence, we'd suggest, that the market is returning to normality.  At least for the time-being.

News this week that UK bonuses have hit a record level inevitably prompted an impassioned media reaction.  According to the ONS, employers paid their workers £44.3bn ($58.5bn) in the year to March 2016, a 4.4% rise on a year ago.  Such a revelation would normally prompt a generous round of "banker-bashing" deriding the excesses of the City. However, this time around other sectors, including marketing, advertising and PR, appear to be getting in on the act as bonus growth at non-financial companies rose 5.4% to £30.4bn.  And whilst bonuses appear to be spreading beyond the City, there are some potential sea changes in the Square Mile itself.  One fund manager recently challenged the status quo by abolishing bonuses altogether. Could this be a revolutionary step?  A body of research now supports the idea, all inspired (apparently) by a fieldwork study into how to breed better egg laying hens!

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