A tale of hot air that survived the centuries

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The Independent Online
What kind of author chooses the nom de plume "Magna Farta"?

Laurence Worms of Ash Rare Books, the self-styled "only antiquarian bookshop in the Square Mile", has just unearthed an 18th-century pamphlet signed with the above name.

The pamphlet is titled Change-Alley Excised: or the Bulls and Bears in an Uproar.

It was published in 1733 and is a rare satire on stockbrokers and their fury at the proposed imposition of taxes by Britain's first prime minister, Robert Walpole.

Mr Worms says: "Mr Walpole's proposal to raise taxes on tobacco and alcohol caused a huge uproar with the brokers who traded in them."

In an uncanny parallel with many recent City rows, Mr Worms says the brokers feared that the new regime would allow a handful of big players to corner the market.

"The plans for the taxes were dropped," he says. "But later Adam Smith and other economists said it was a brilliant idea and they should have done it."

Mr Farta's pamphlet contains one of the earliest recorded references to "bears" in the stockbroker sense. The earliest reference, adds Mr Worms, is by the essayist Richard Steele in 1709: "I fear the term `bear' is hardly to be mentioned in polite society."

Tell that to PDFM.

Bill Harrison, 48, the ebullient chief executive of BZW, who was recently poached from Robert Fleming for a four-year pounds 5.8m package, has already cast fear into his new staff.

BZW underlings, attending Wednesday's launch of the book celebrating the bank's 10 years of existence, call Mr Harrison "the human dynamo".

One Barclays person says: "He's so enthusiastic. His work schedule starts at 6.30am every day and he's on the go until dinner."

Awed BZW staff say that Mr Harrison often has two breakfast meetings, the second at 7.45am, so who knows when the first one starts. Then he has a business lunch, leaves work at around eight or nine, and sometimes has a business dinner with clients.

How does he fit it all in?

David Nash has been appointed chairman of Kenwood Appliances, which should more than make up for missing the top slot at Grand Metropolitan several years ago.

Mr Nash was formerly chairman and chief executive of Grand Metropolitan's food sector, but was pipped to the post for the top group job by John McGrath last year.

Mr Nash joins Kenwood as a non-executive director and will replace Harold Mourgue as non-executive chairman effective from 9 December.

Mr Nash is currently chairman of Amicus Healthcare Group and is a non- executive director of Cable & Wireless, Sun Life and Provincial Holdings. He is also a non-exec at Imro, the investment regulator.

NatWest Securities has poached a team of three sales people from SBC Warburg who specialise in selling UK and continental equities to Scandinavian investors. They are Patrick Rarden, Mogens Rye and Peter Kysela. Mr Rarden has been with SBC Warburg since 1993 and a director in the equities division since 1995 with responsibility for the sale of UK equities to Scandinavian countries. Prior to that he worked in Deutsche Bank in London and Dusseldorf.

Mr Rye had stints with Baltica Securities and Unibors Securities in Copenhagen, while Mr Kysela formerly worked for Cernegie International in London and Hagglof & Ponsbach in Stockholm.

And finally, with reference to yesterday's item about Elizabeth Hurley being listed by accountants Ernst & Young as their Jamaican fraud investigations partner. A humiliated E&Y spokesperson has just phoned me to admit it was a typing error. Jamaica's fraud sleuth is Elizabeth Hartley.

"It must have been a Freudian slip by the typist," laments the spokesperson.

Or a clever publicity coup by E&Y's fraud section, perhaps? E&Y was inundated with calls yesterday morning, after my piece appeared, asking for the pamphlet.