The City Diary: Sir Howard's Libyan way

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The Independent Online

Week two of my series, Recall My Bluff?, arip-off of the old television show, only this time celebrating efforts to trick us into thinking that Libya was a decent place to do business.

This time it's the turn of Sir Howard Davies – who's just fallen on his Saif as director of the Libya School of Economics – and his views from a 2007 column penned for Management Today magazine. "The UK connection is surprisingly strong," the knight's entry began. "Libya's deputy prime minister studied in Manchester; the governor of the central bank is a proud Sheffield graduate; the British Council has a place on the sea-front, from which it organises conferences and educational exchanges a-gogo. It seems to be one country where Blairite engagement has paid off."

...and his Greek tragedy

The great man also used his column to focus on another reviving nation. "Greece is booming," he mused. "The growth rate has doubled since it joined the euro ... though I prefer to think that the reason is that both its governor and the Greek minister of finance are endowed with an MSc Econ from the LSE." Will Sir Howard's views stand the test of time?

It's a film lottery

Dianne Thompson, the chief executive of Camelot, wants her share of glory for The King's Speech. "I was very disappointed at the failure to acknowledge the role of lottery funding. Wouldn't it be great if everybody knew The King's Speech was made with their money?"

Thompson is welcome to the credit if she really wants it – just as long as she's big enough to take responsibility for other lottery-funded films. That would include justifying the £1m of "our" money spent making Sex Lives of the Potato Men.

Thank you, Mr Banker

On that topic, I see that it is not entirely impossible to make a rated film without public money. Archipelago, which opened this weekend and seems to be getting some decent reviews, was made with £100m from private investors. The money was raised by polymath financier Eddie Charlton, who I note the publicity material bills as "Not such a boring banker". I think I'll be the judge of that, Eddie.

Union biccy blues

Here's a joke going around the City, though it looks to have come from the US: A banker, a Tea Party member and a union executive meet. A plate containing 12 biscuits arrives. The banker takes 11. The Tea Party member takes one. The banker turns to the union member and says: "He's taken your biscuit". I thank you.

Hitzlsperger for the MPC

The Bank of England seeks a new member for its Monetary Policy Committee. My suggestion: Thomas Hitzlsperger, the German international footballer and crack economist. When he played for Aston Villa, Thomas used to send Villa fan and Bank governor Mervyn King his critique of the Bank's quarterly inflation report.