CITY DIARY

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The Independent Online
Mind over matter at Orange County jail

Robert Citron, the man who presided over the worst municipal financial collapse in US history, presents his country with another first. The 70- year-old treasurer - now awaiting sentencing on six charges relating to the bankruptcy of Orange County - has instructed his lawyers to go for what the Americans call the Saunders defence.

In fact Ernest Saunders' Alzheimer's condition had no effect on his sentencing in the Guinness trial. It merely speeded his parole. Still, Mr Citron's lawyers are now claiming that their client is also suffering from dementia.

The notion that the former county treasurer was not feeling himself when he lost $1.6bn on complex derivatives positions will be put forcefully. The defence submission speaks of "cognitive defects and symptoms of dementia that afflicted and still afflict'' Mr Citron.

Which is probably just as well. California takes a dim view of municipal collapse. Mr Citron is looking at 14 years if the judge gets out on the wrong side of bed

While publicly condemning the impasse between Democrat President and Republican Congress, corporate America is privately whooping for joy. The shutdown of the government has saved US public companies approximately $9m in the first 24 hours, with the promise of more to come.

The windfall is the result of a lifting of the financial yoke that is the Securities and Exchange Commission. US public companies are required to file SEC returns virtually every other minute, and at considerable cost. The government down-tools has meant the SEC abandoning its recent price rise and filing costs have been cut in half.

News is not so good on the economic front, however. There is concern that statisticians will no longer be able to comb supermarkets looking for price rises. Inflation figures could soon go badly awry, economists warn. Make the most of yesterday's.

The talk in the watering holes that serve the financial services community is that BAT, owner of Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar, is poised to buy a building society. No idle gossip this, according to drinkers. They claim the plan is fully primed.

Amid the continuing merger rumours that so far have linked everyone with everyone the firm favourite to emerge is Bradford & Bingley. This would come as a rude shock to John Wriglesworth, the well known and oft-quoted building society pundit who left the City to join the Yorkshire society. Mr Wriglesworth never ceases to trumpet the merits of mutuality and how the B&B must remain independent. We shall see. Bristol & West may also be in the frame.

The Automobile Association is contemplating a temporary halt to the aggressive promotion of its car security devices. Both its shops that specialise in the alarms, locks and immobilisers - in Sheffield and Ashton- under-Lyne - have been burgled.

If you are offered a stolen burglar alarm, you know where it came from.

Our photograph today shows Matthew Bourne's current production of Swan Lake at Sadler's Wells. Equally it could be a management training session at Lloyds Bank. Lloyds is keen to exploit the hitherto undiscovered synergies between banking and ballet dancing and has sent 16 bank managers to the Chichester Festival Theatre - for some management tuition from the London City Ballet dancers.

"A successful ballet production is all about teamwork, talent, creativity, strategic planning, attention to detail and a focus on the target audience,'' says Lloyds' director Tony Bird. "Skills that are equally applicable in banking.'' Jo Carter, London City Ballet's stage manager was equally enthusiastic, claiming that Lloyds will "learn the magic of a final performance combines vision, stamina and teamwork.''

Sell the shares. Photograph: PA

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