Credit crisis diary: Whitbread toasts the expenses scandal

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bless the good folk of Whitbread, who have taken it upon themselves to ask the country what it thinks about the MPs' expenses row (as if we didn't know). Apparently, two-thirds of respondents reckon MPs should be forced to stay in budget hotels when they're away from home on business. Whitbread, you will be equally unsurprised to hear, owns the Premier Inn chain of budget hotels.

You can't put a good man down

Alan Schwartz is back. The former Bear Stearns boss was last seen appearing on television live from a conference centre in Palm Springs insisting there was nothing amiss at his bank. Four days later it was sold on the cheap to JPMorgan in a rescue deal. Now Schwartz has landed a new job at the investment firm Guggenheim Partners. "Fate has dealt me an opportunity to start from scratch," he says.

The next media baron presses his case

You heard it here first. The Independent has found the next Rupert Murdoch and he's a 13-year-old boy named Scott Campbell. The Scottish schoolboy is one of the teenage founders of Net News Daily, which is currently racking up page hits by the score as its journalists – aged 10 to 38, by the way – blog on the news of the day. Scott, not unnaturally, already has a fancy job title. Nor is the executive editor averse to issuing press releases championing his venture's success.

Another green shoot from Down Under

The recession has at least brought to light some economic yardsticks of which most of us were previously, at best, only marginally aware. The Baltic Dry Index springs to mind, and now there's a new measure of the way in which the global economy is moving. There are now 43 ships queuing up outside the Port of Newcastle in Australia, the world's largest coal loading terminal. That's the highest figure for six months apparently, and close to the levels seen before the recession began.

Glass half empty in wine regions

Less happily, Bordeaux wine merchants report that with "en primeur" sales of last year's wine just finished, prices for the produce of the top chateaux are down by more than 50 per cent. The market has been buoyant in recent years, with speculative investors very active, but dealers report they've had to sell some wares to private buyers – or "wine lovers" as they call them – this time around.