A classic wheeze worthy of Mr Toad himself

People & Business

A note arrives from the DTI: "The New Knight of the Road. Industry Minister Greg Knight visits the International Motor Show."

Greg who? If you fail to recognise the name, I'm sure this publicity wheeze will put Mr Knight firmly on the map.

The note says the minister "will take to the road in his classic 1969 Rover P25B on Monday when he opens the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Industry Forum office in Birmingham and visits the International Motor Show".

Somehow the note conjures up an image of a Mr Toad zooming along in an open-top car, crying "toot toot". The Mr Toad comparison increases when reading Mr Knight's itinerary:

"12.00 - Mr Knight arrives in his classic car ...

12.25 - Mr Knight gives short speech ...

14.00 - Mr Knight departs in his classic car ...

14.10 - Mr Knight arrives at the International Motor show- PHOTO OPPORTUNITY."

Toad would've been proud. Toot toot!

Mervyn King, chief economist at the Bank of England, was on sparkling form last night with a speech at the RCA in London. Its unpromising title, Monetary Stability: Rhyme or Reason?, belied its lively contents.

Mr King said he had worried the subject of the speech was innately boring, but then discovered a book in the London Library, "a quite brilliant piece of polemical writing from 1933 by JR Jarvie entitled The Old Lady Unveiled".

He was taken aback by its opening words: "The object of this book is to awaken the public to the truth that the Bank of England, commonly believed to be the most disinterested and patriotic of the Nation's institutions, has been since its foundation during the reign of William of Orange a private and long-sustained effort in lucrative mumbo-jumbo."

Phew. Mr King admitted the book was "highly critical of the Bank, and scathing about the qualifications and careers of its directors - the work is not mentioned in any history of the Bank nor in any relevant biography or bibliography, and nor was it known to anyone of my acquaintance".

Mr Jarvie had no time for economists: "No zealot, religious or political, can work himself up to such a white heat as a professor of the dismal science in defence of a theory."

The book also recounts a tale about Montagu Norman, a famous Governor in the inter-war period, who often travelled abroad under an assumed name. In 1932 he adopted the disguise of Professor Clarence Skinner in the US.

I wonder if this will give Eddie George ideas? Time to reprint the book, I think.

Kleinwort Benson Securities has poached the three-strong retailers team from Charterhouse Tilney, but strenuously denies it is encouraging the "merry go round" for analysts.

While analysts hop into ever more highly paid positions, Edmond Warner, head of global research at KBS, says he is merely filling a gap.

"Last month our retailers team went to Merrill Lynch. There were four of them, which was overmanning."

The three Charterhouse analysts, who are all moving from Liverpool to London, are Robert Miller, 33, Rod Salmon, 35, and Scott Ransley, 26. "They're quite young, so they're still very hungry," says Mr Warner.

"This year in London we've probably added about 30 analysts, mostly in continental Europe [stocks]," says Mr Warner. He admits, however, that the current phase of job hopping looks to continue. It will only cool off if the markets crack or corporate activity quietens down, he says.

Sir Alistair Hunter, who retired as British Consul-General in New York at the age of 60, has been appointed executive chairman of the British American Chamber of Commerce in London.

The two-day-a-week job will bring him into contact with another retired diplomat, this time from the States; Raymond Seitz, former Ambassador to the Court of St James, who chairs the BACC's international advisory board.

Sir Alistair spends the rest of his time as a director of the Performing Rights Society, and sorting out his three homes. Moving back from New York has been quite an upheaval, it appears.

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