This was the week that Barratt went into administration – the shoe shop, that is.

As for the housebuilder, Citigroup analyst Clyde Lewis said it could not count on adding tax repayments from land writedowns to its balance sheet, thus endangering its banking covenants. That was enough to send the share price down 12% on a Friday of thin trading. It hadn’t recovered by Wednesday this week.

His suggestion that this may force Barratt into a rights issue raised eyebrows. “What bank on Earth would underwrite that?” asked one City source.

Conspiracy theorists wondered if this was behind the exit of finance director Mark Pain. This was denied by one well-placed source: “There’s no grassy knoll; it was a work–life balance thing.” That said, having the banks run your company can’t have been a big incentive to stay …

Barratt’s plunge was outdone by building materials giant Wolseley, which fell 35% on fears it would breach covenants in July.

Housebuilder McInerney Holdings said a bank deal was near, but no news was bad news at Taylor Wimpey, which continued to edge downwards as its refinancing talks remained shrouded in unnerving silence.

The mood in the sector as a whole was summed up by Berkeley Group’s Tony Pidgley: “Fear is creating fear,” he said.