Business Diary: America's politicians bet on a recovery

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The Independent Online

Wondering which way the US stock market is heading? Take some reassurance from politicians who are betting on shares more heavily than ever. The Center for Responsive Politics says 259 members of the House of Representatives are regular stock traders, up from just 91 in 2001. Never mind conflicts of interest – at least they must think prices are heading the right way.

Does Coogan read the opinion polls?

Michael Coogan, director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, clearly isn't too worried about keeping the Conservatives sweet in order to protect his interest should David Cameron win the election. Yesterday, he described Tory plans to reform the Financial Services Authority as a "rearrangement of the deckchairs".

Scott back from the dead on Twitter

Twitter may be a 21st-century thing, but not everything you'll read on the site is so up-to-date. Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute is about to start tweeting entries from the journal of Captain Scott, written during the ill-fated exhibition of 1910. The tweets mark the anniversary of Scott's trek, which began 99 years ago yesterday.

Poking some gentle fun at the Prime Minister

One to make you smile. Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown are in a meeting when God arrives, warning the world is going to end in three days. Putin returns to Russia and announces: "Two pieces of bad news. As communists, we did not believe in God. I'm afraid he exists. Also, the world is going to end in three days." Obama tells the US: "I have good news and bad news. I'm pleased to confirm God does exist, but he told me the world will end." Finally, Brown briefs Britain: "I have two bits of good news – God exists, and, what's more, I can announce the recession will end in three days."

Bad news for vampires

And finally, a quiz question. What has been the best-performing asset in China this year? The answer is garlic, the price of which is up fourfold since March, miles ahead of gold or shares. Apparently it helps to fend off swine flu.

Number of the day: 500

Clients of Swiss bank UBS who have been told their account details are about to be given to US tax authorities.