Credit crisis diary: Are the lights about to go out across Europe?

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Worrying news from Brussels. The European Union said yesterday it had dropped plans to tax candles imported from China. Not usually known to miss out on a tax hike, what does the EU know that we don't? Maybe the Continent's energy companies had all their money in Icelandic banks. Or maybe they reckon we're all so skint that we'll be switching off the leccy any day now.

A man whose CV offered some clues

Alec Salmond's view that the barnstorming performance of the Icelandic economy pointed the way for an independent Scotland looked a little ropey well before the crisis. The Scottish First Minister really ought to have known what he was talking about: in a previous life he worked as chief economist at RBS, one of the big success stories... oh, hang on, that's not quite right.

Sell British Rail, buy a Scottish bank

What does Sir Steve Robson think about the partial nationalisation of RBS? As a non-executive director of the bank, he must shoulder some of the blame for its travails, but the state's intervention must feel more uncomfortable for him than most. In his civil servant days, Sir Steve was one of HM Treasury's brightest stars, played a key role in many of the biggest privatisations of the Conservative administrations, most notably British Rail. Something of a new experience for him then, all this.

What goes up must come down

They were taking the letters down from the top of Citigroup's tower at Canary Wharf as a new logo is installed. At one stage, all onlookers could see was the "up". If only, chaps.

Bye bye hedgies

You've got to give the Italians credit. Rather than bans on short selling or new rules on transparency for hedge funds, Italy's Finance Minister, Giulio Tremonti, said he wanted to abolish them. Difficult to know how that would work, but 10 out of 10 for effort.

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