Insights from the UK and beyond
Punters cash in on Darling’s budget tie choice
Smokers and top earners were clear losers in Britain’s budget this year, as the government hiked taxes on cigarettes and the highest incomes.
But a lucky few must have been cheering in front of their televisions during the 51-minute speech.
Budget-watchers who bet hard cash that the chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling, would wear a grey or blue tie to his address got a welcome bit of stimulus from the budget.
Betting firm Ladbrokes was giving odds of 3/1 and 16/a for a blue and grey, respectively. Perhaps aware of the odds, Darling put on a blue-gray striped one, and Ladbrokes paid out for both colours.
“We thought it was blue at first, but as the hour rolled on we decided that, much like the content of the speech, it was in fact grey,” Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said.
The real money came with real risk, howerver. If you wagered 20 pounds that Alistair Darling would let loose with the word “depression” during his speech — many thought it too gloomy to say out loud — the return was a cool 320 pounds.
Smaller, but by no means negligible, reutrns were reserved for bets on the words “downturn”, with 4/5 odds, “recovery” at 1/5, and “credit crunch” — still profitable with odds of 3 to 1.
There was no mention at all, however, of the one word that drew more bets than all others put together: “sorry”. Odds that Darling would apologise about the state of the economy, always a long shot, narrowed from 20/1 to 4/1 in the run-up to the speech, the betting firm said.
And for those who take their thrills wherever they can find them, spread betters were offering an over-under spread of 54.5 to 56 minutes for the length of Darling’s speech.
He managed to keep it gonig for 51 minutes this time around, just under a minute longer than last year.