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This column was going to be about emerging markets – and the potential impact on the UK of the recent slowdown in the generally resurgent economies of the East. It was going to be relatively upbeat, not least because I’m an emerging markets enthusiast and think it’s wrong to confuse a blip for a trend.

Yes, stock markets and currencies are suffering in the likes of India and China, largely due to Federal Reserve “tapering” – the reining in, by America’s central bank, of its $85bn-a-month money-printing habit. Last month, as the Fed’s funny-money machine slowed marginally, exchange traded funds focused on shares and bonds from developing nations endured withdrawals of $7bn – a January record. The MSCI EM index of leading emerging market shares shed a painful 9pc, compared to a 1.6pc drop in the S&P500, the bellwether index for Western stocks.
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