Business Diary: A high price to pay for a gloomy start to the day

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Maybe he'll be more cheerful if you buy him some waffles. Nouriel Roubini, the Dr Doom of economics, is auctioning the chance to have breakfast with him (the proceeds go to a cancer charity). The leading bid so far is $7,000.

How to complain about the cost of complaining

It is always a struggle to get through to Ryanair's customer service team, but with the volcanic ash cloud yesterday the airline's phones were inundated. Still, passengers will have saved a few quid – it costs 10p a minute to call Ryanair's agents, rising to £1 a minute if you call its priority service. The airline even offers a line solely for complaints about its premium-rate telephone lines – it will cost you 5p a minute.

Even volcanic clouds have a silver lining

Not everyone was dismayed by the ash cloud. National Express issued a triumphant press release proclaiming its delight at a surge in demand for coaches to and from Scotland. The office specialist Regus also spotted an opportunity. "Tens of thousands of business travellers affected by the grounding of UK flights are urged to consider video communication as an alternative to proceed with planned business meetings," it announced.

Payback time at last for Icelandic savers?

Tweet of the day about the volcanic ash cloud referred to the ongoing dispute between Iceland and Britain over compensation for UK savers with the collapsed Icelandic banks: "Iceland, we said send cash, not ash".

Reid accused of biting the hand that feeds him

When Harry Reid, the Democratic Party's Senator for Nevada, pitched up to dinner with Goldman Sachs, he must have expected a pleasant evening – the investment bank has supported the Democrats and Goldman's president, Gary Cohn, was hosting the bash to raise funds for the party. As it turns out, Fox News reports, Reid spent the function being roundly abused by Goldman staff for his high-profile criticism of US banks. One executive, taking exception to criticism of bank bonuses, even told Reid: "You don't know how expensive it is to live in New York City." A spokesman said later that Reid left "dumbfounded".

Number of the day: £500bn

The total amount that the Institute of Directors estimates Britain needs to spend on infrastructure.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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