Credit crisis diary: It's lard that makes the world go round

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The Independent Online

The economic downturn, combined with high petrol costs, continues to buoy companies that provide public transport. But Stagecoach, one of the beneficiaries, has a more generous offer than most for cash-strapped travellers. As it explores alternative energy issues, it has been giving free bus tickets to Scottish customers who provide it with used chip fat, on which a few of its vehicles now run.

Hiding his light under a bushel

Bankers are not known for their modesty, but Rijkman Groenink, the former boss of ABN Amro, does himself a disservice. Mr Groenink would love to return to ABN, which he sold last year for €72bn to a consortium headed by Royal Bank of Scotland. "The reality of public opinion is that I'm a money-grubber and I bargained away the bank," he adds, which seems a bit hard given the fact that almost everyone now agrees RBS and friends massively overpaid for ABN.

Sad day for Goldman's new partners

It's tough to feel sorry for the 94 new partners named yesterday by Goldman Sachs (19 fewer, by the way, than in the last partnership election two years ago, a sign of the times no doubt). Sure, the poor souls are gaining access to a much smaller bonus pool than their predecessors, for whom annual earnings of $20m plus were the norm. But the investment bank – sorry, bank-holding company – has still set aside $11.4bn for pay and benefits this year. They'll probably get by.

That gold medal looks a little tarnished

The banker of the year award handed out by American Banker, the US magazine, is a much coveted gong, but this year's winner has raised a few eyebrows. Step forward Ken Lewis, chief executive of Bank of America. On the plus side, Ken's bank hasn't collapsed – and it even managed to pick up Merrill Lynch on the cheap. Still, in other times, having to accept $25bn of State cash and seeing your share price halve, might have been considered as blots on the copybook.

It's hard being right

Fair play to David Blanchflower, the one Monetary Policy Committee member who has been warning all year that the UK was heading for a recession. In a speech, Mr Blanchflower resisted the temptation to say I told you so – at least in those words – restricting himself to this pithy observation: "It is hard to think of many commentators who anticipated the difficulties the UK economy now faces, despite the similarities with the US experience." Himself excepted, he might have added.

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