Business Diary: WH Smith ponders move into politics

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The Independent Online

Curious goings-on at WH Smith, which is seeking permission from shareholders to make political donations of up to £100,000. The newsagent group's current policy is not to make any political donations at all, which is in tune with the prevailing mood among large corporations, most of which stopped making such gifts some years ago. The request is not going down well with corporate-governance groups – Pirc, for example, is urging shareholders to say no. But Smiths insists the term "political" is poorly defined in law and that it needs this vote to be sure some of the charitable donations it makes do not fall foul of the law. There will be no political donations, it promises.

How to rent out Roubini's place

The property dealings of Nouriel Roubini continue – as the Diary has reported before, the gloomy American economist is splurging several milliondollars on a flash new apartment in New York. A pity, though, that he doesn't seem to be able to get rid of the last place. His old apartment, which famously showcases his eccentric taste in art was put on the market at $1.89m (£1.2m), but then had $100,000 knocked off the asking price. Now it's been withdrawn from sale altogether, though it is still available for rent at $7,600 a month.

Krugman: 'Call me evil, not stupid'

On the subject of grumpy American economists, someone seems to have wound up Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate, who has put some new instructions to would-be commentators on his blog. Above all: "Get your insults right. There is, I believe, a fair bit ofevidence against the hypothesis that I'm stupid. What you mean to say is that I'm evil." Krugman adds that swearing will result incomments being removed, as will any references to Nazis or Hitler.

Funding for our future winners

In this era of funding cuts for kids' sports, not everyone is missing out. You just have to be lucky enough to have a local sports club in the right place. Take the young athletes at the Jersey Junior Triathlon club, who are very sensibly cashing in on their home's status as anoffshore banking centre. They have persuaded FairbairnPrivate Bank to sponsor them for the next 12 months.