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Business News

Business Diary: An early end to French holidays

We hear that well before French President Nicolas Sarkozy interrupted his holiday to take personal charge of the country's banking crisis – insert your own joke here – Francois Baroin, his finance minister, had already decided to end his holiday early and ordered his chief civil servant to do the same.

Could it be that the duo recognised the real problem for France right now is its moribund economy, as in yesterday's dismal GDP data, not the markets crisis which blew up after their return – and for which they now blame short-sellers.

Soros faces legal claim from ex

He may be 80, but George Soros, the hedge fund mogul, is still getting into scrapes. His lawyers are currently fighting off a lawsuit from a young woman with whom he was stepping out until recently. Adriana Ferreyr, a Brazilian soap opera star, wants a large pay-off from the financier – she alleges a row in bed ended up with him trying to assault her. Soros denies it.

Short shrift for short-selling ban

David Buik, the irascible former markets commentator at BGC Partners, the brokerage firm, has broken off his retirement once again, so enraged is he by the decision of some European countries to ban the short-selling of financial stocks. "I have heard of a few bone-headed and crass initiatives in my time, but I think Spain's, Belgium's, Italy's and France's decision to ban 'short-selling' temporarily takes the biscuit," Buik complains.

Lewis sticks it to the Germans

Hats off to Michael Lewis for these thoughts about Germany's role in the latest eurozone meltdown, aspublished in the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine. "The Hamburg red-light district had caught [anthropologist Alan] Dundes's eye because the locals made such a big deal of mud-wrestling. Naked women fought in a metaphorical ring of filth while the spectators woreplastic caps, a sort of headcondom, to avoid being splattered. 'Thus,' wrote Dundes, 'the audience can remain clean while enjoying dirt!' Germans longed to be near the shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, was an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis."