Review of the Year - May 2012

Was an iPad a tool or a toy? British MPs thought they were definitely tools, and lashed out £400,000 on the shiny must-have gadgets.

IMF boss Christine Lagarde scolded the Greeks for their chronic tax collection problems. Unfortunately Lagarde was also found to be using clever tax arrangements. Then there was the £3.59 supermarket plonk that stunned...


May started with a row over iPads for MPs - more than £400,000 were spent on new Apple hardware.

There were plenty of tablets around at around half the price. It all seemed rather extravagant - and the costs didn't include the on-going subscription 3G charges.

Then, Conservative politicians started to get irritated with all the bank-bashing. Weren't 'zombie' families, piling up lots of personal debt, also responsible for their own financial difficulties, asked defence secretary Philip Hammond?

"People say to me, 'It was the banks'. I say, 'hang on, the banks had to lend to someone.' "We allowed," he was quoted in the Telegraph, "our expectations to run away with us. We started living a lifestyle both in private consumption and in public consumption that we could not afford."

£5,000 a week

Then there was concern about East London tenants are being thrown out of their homes by landlords wanting to make a fast Olympic buck. Shelter claimed some landlords were hoping to rake up to £5,000 a week from homes that would ordinarily would struggle to make £300.

In the end, only a relative few made truly stupendous sums of money from their East London properties.

Honest John went on to cause a few worry lines at Renault. Were Renault cars, well, crap? The French car maker languished bottom of the league for MOT pass rates, based on analysis of almost 25 million MOT tests up to September 2011. However Renault retorted that the brand was on the up, citing independent German reliability testing.

"The quality of Renault's vehicles is now among the best in the industry," Renault claimed. "In fact, the number of warranty-related incidents with our vehicles after one year on the road fell by 77% between 2003 and 2011."

Cheap red is a stunner

Then, Lidl stunned with a £3.59 Rioja that blew away several French Grand Crus in taste tests at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Finally, while Christine Lagarde was busy ticking off the Greeks about their chronic tax collection problems, the International Monetary Fund boss, it transpired, was found to be paying zero tax on her own £467,940 annual salary (plus $83k worth of extra allowances).

If Lagarde thinks paying tax is important, we asked, why doesn't she pay any herself? Because many high-paying international positions attract a tax-free salary.

Ridiculous we said. Most AOL readers agreed.