Credit Crisis Diary: 17/01/2009

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The Independent Online

Odey makes a packet either way

The ban on short selling financial stocks, lifted yesterday, doesn't seem to have hindered Crispin Odey, right, whose flagship hedge fund posted double digit returns yesterday for 2008. Mr Odey, criticised for shorting the banks last year, will soon have a chance to explain the secrets of his success, having been summoned to appear before the Treasury Select Committee later this month.

They can't stop striking oil

Some people have all the luck. Gulfsands Petroleum has been pretty pleased with its Syrian oil field discoveries in recent months, and is now in the process of developing the property. One part of that is the drilling of a water well, to dispose of water taken from other wells. Only when Gulfsands started drilling, it hit oil all over again – the field turns out to be much bigger than previously thought.

For those fees, we'll keep on talking

M'learned friends came up with all sorts of analogies to illustrate their cases on Northern Rock at the High Court. But Lord Pannick topped the lot in his closing argument. The QC asked the judge to imagine that Lord Pannick had a large truffle he was going to sell to restaurants. He puts it in a safe but loses the key. A master craftsman is paid to make a new key, but, after hearing rival QC Lord Grabiner's argument on behalf the Government, takes Lord Pannick's truffle and grates it on to his pasta that evening. And so it went on. It was left to the judge, Lord Justice Burnton, to point out that the truffle would have rotted if the craftsman had sat through Lord Grabiner's argument before opening the safe.

Priority number one for Obama?

Never let a world event pass without trying to piggy-back on it – that's the motto of PR agencies. So it is that spinners for a campaign for more shareholder rights put this notice out last week: "As Americans prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King on Monday, the day before the inauguration of its first black president, there is another rights battle that still needs to be fought... shareholders' rights in America are still the worst in the world." Strong stuff.

Please buy our houses, we're desperate

Taylor Woodrow doesn't give up. Earlier this week, the beleaguered housebuilder dispatched a briefing note extolling the virtues of property as a safe investment. Yesterday it was back on the case, listing the advantages of buying a new build, from lower maintenance costs to investment potential. Still no mention of the plunging property market, though.