Business Diary: Hornby to run the gauntlet

Speaking to a female crowd isn't always easy, as Tony Blair famously discovered on addressing the Women's Institute.

Let's hope Andy Hornby fares better next month at the Women's Business Forum. The biography that the Forum is handing out will help. It stresses that Mr Hornby is now chief executive of Alliance Boots, while glossing over why he left his job running HBOS, and notably does not explain the break in his career history that followed.

Criminals to the ECB's rescue

Help is at hand for the European Central Bank, amid worries about the eurozone financial crisis. But from an unlikely source, says Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter. The ECB makes billions each year from printing bank notes, particularly €200 and €500 denominations. These high-value bills "make the euro the currency of choice for underground and black economies, and for all those who value anonymity in their financial transactions and investments," says Buiter. Drug dealers and money launderers, in other words.

Bootle feeling blue again

There is no doubting the calibre of Roger Bootle, the economist who runs Capital Economics. But would it kill him to be slightly less relentlessly miserable? The think tank's latest paper, on the conflicting evidence of consumer confidence and retail sales figures, concludes: "There's no escaping the fact that the fiscal squeeze has condemned consumer spending to a period of extraordinary weakness."

The secret millionaire

With Peter Hargreaves, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, stepping down shortly as chief executive at the independent financial adviser, he has been giving valedictory interviews. Asked whether he liked appearing on the Sunday Times Rich List with a figure of £570m next to his name, he replies: "I don't like wealth bandied about. I don't think it's good for my children. We live beneath our means. A lot of friends were astounded to discover our wealth." Really?