Planet Business: Hunt and Sunak prepare for electoral defeat with weak-tea budget

Image of the week: Blown fuses

It is very hard to find an electrician to do odd jobs these days: if UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt had lingered any longer on their spot of electrical work – assisting a more capable apprentice – during a visit to a college in north London on Monday, they could have been tasked with some emergency call-outs.

Instead, Hunt had another gig on this week: delivering the last Conservative party “autumn statement” budget for the foreseeable. Well, probably.

His speech opened with the customary pops at the opposition. While both he and Labour leader Keir Starmer (allegedly) “wanted a Jeremy to be prime minister”, Hunt boasted that he was “growing the economy”, whereas Starmer’s Jeremy – Corbyn, for those whose memories have been fried by the pandemic – would have crashed it.

But as far as budgets in proximity to crushing general election defeats go, this was some weak tea, with the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility reacting to the measures by forecasting a slower rate of economic growth and more persistent inflation. Meanwhile, despite some headline cuts, tax levels are still set to climb as rising wages expose workers to higher taxes, aka our old friend fiscal drag.

In numbers: Human machinations


Days that OpenAI’s chief technology officer, Mira Murati, was interim chief executive of the artificial intelligence company, after its board sacked Sam Altman. But Murati, sensibly as it turned out, almost instantly sided with Altman and the departed chairman Greg Brockman, so it was back to square one.


Days that Emmett Shear, former chief executive of video streamer Twitch, was interim chief executive of OpenAI. Shear seemed enthused by the prospect, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and outlining a three-point plan “for the next 30 days”.


Days that Sam Altman was not OpenAI chief executive. After his surprise ousting on November 17th, he joined OpenAI-backer Microsoft on November 20th, but was reinstated at the company behind ChatGPT late on November 21st alongside a mostly new “initial” board. “Thank you so much for your patience,” posted OpenAI. Any time, guys.

Getting to know: Kyle and Jackie O

Anyone who thinks the top presenter salaries at RTÉ are too high should perhaps avert their eyes for this next bit. Australian breakfast radio double-act Kyle Sandilands and Jackie “O” Henderson have signed a AU$200 million (€120 million) 10-year deal with KIIS FM, indicating they’ll each be on track to pocket €6 million a year for the next decade.

“Staggering” was the word the Sydney Morning Herald went for in describing the re-signing, which will also bring the pair on to KIIS airwaves in Melbourne for the first time – a part of the deal that left the soon-to-be-unemployed incumbent breakfast hosts on KIIS FM’s station in Melbourne sobbing.

Sandilands is a controversial, regulation-flouting figure in the shock-jock mould – “divisive”, as per the Herald. Not everyone in Australia is a Kyle and Jackie O fan. Still, KIIS owner ARN Media, a publicly listed company backed indirectly by Australian billionaire Kerry Stokes, obviously is a fan and that’s what counts.

Henderson’s take? “What a dream!!!!”

The list: Top-level departures

Over the past week or so, there’s been a spate of comings and goings at the top of various organisations. Granted, OpenAI has been responsible for three chief executive departures alone, but here are some other exits you may have missed.

1. Kelly Bayer Rosmarin: the chief executive of Australian telco Optus quit this week after a nationwide network outage earlier this month. No calls or internet access for 14 hours? Must have been bliss.

2. Hamish McLennan: staying down under, the chairman of Rugby Australia was ousted on Sunday evening after a terrible World Cup for the Wallabies.

3. Kyle Vogt: the founder of General Motors-owned driverless taxi company Cruise has stepped down weeks after it was forced to pause operations after an accident and the revoking of its permission to operate in California.

4. Changpeng Zhao: the founder and chief executive of crypto exchange Binance resigned after his company agreed to pay more than $4.3 billion to settle various US charges. “It was not easy to let go, emotionally,” he said.

5. Linda Yaccarino: amazingly, the chief executive of Elon Musk’s X is still in post at the time of writing, though her wise friends in the advertising industry keep telling her to quit.


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