Credit crisis diary: Patience set to take on the pink paper

Rupert Murdoch is stepping up The Wall Street Journal's plans to take on the Financial Times. We hear that Patience Wheatcroft, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, is being lined up as the next European editor of the WSJ, as the US title tries to up its game on this side of the Atlantic. Wheatcroft has worked with theWSJ boss Robert Thomson before – she was business editor at The Times when he edited that Murdoch organ – and now she is set to team up with him again for an assault on the FT.

Retailers with short memories

Good to see Sir Philip Green yesterday joining the growing chorus of retailers begging the Government to extend the cut in VAT beyond December, when it is due to come to an end. Many retailers – though not Sir Philip – were pretty sniffy about the VAT cut when Alistair Darling unveiled it in the pre-Budget report last autumn, claiming it wouldn't help. They're singing a different song now.

Making peace with our Kazakh friends

Happy news for British traders with links to the central Asian state of Kazakhstan: we seem to have put the small matter of Borat behind us. You'll remember that the Kazakh government rather failed to see the funny side of Borat's tongue-in-cheek depiction of their countrymen and threatened all sorts of repercussions. Happily, they don't extend to trade sanctions, and the Kazakh-British Chambers of Commerce is now on target for launch next week.

Mortgage lenders back to their old tricks

Another green shoot? Nationwide Building Society, praised earlier this week for expanding the range of mortgages it offers and thus helping first-time buyers, announced yesterday that it is whacking up the cost of its fixed-rate deals, despite the lack of any rise in base rates or the cost of borrowing on wholesale markets. Looks like lenders are feeling able to get back to the good old days.

One way to beat the spam detectives

The spirit of inventiveness lives on at, the online price comparison site. It wants to organise a poker competition for journalists and other contacts, but has repeatedly been frustrated by corporate firewalls screening out mail that includes gambling-related words. Its solution is to send out email invites to "a game beginning with P and rhyming with 'joker'."