British banks shorted
Prime ministers probably shouldn't use phrases they don't understand.
Gordon Brown, seconds ago, attacked "naked short-selling" on the Today programme, and then went on to describe short-selling covered by borrowed stock (viz short-selling that's not naked).
For next time, prime minister, what you're criticising is all short-selling, not the racier clotheless variety.
Perhaps I'm being pedantic, but these sorts of semantic errors are becoming slightly pathological (go back to the Marr interview on Sunday for more Brown malapropisms on the market).
While we're on the subject of shorting, the scariest disclosure of the past 24 hours was that John Paulson has made bets of around £1bn that the share prices of our biggest banks are on their way down.
He's the hedge-fund megastar, the founder of New York's Paulson & Co, who made several billions last year short-selling collateralised debt obligations.
If he thinks our banks are almost as structurally flawed as investments created out of subprime rubbish, well that's not altogether reassuring.
He's demanded, and is receiving, a lovely 10% dividend, which means he views Goldman as a high-risk investment.
This is very expensive money for Goldman, not least because if it wants to buy Buffett out, it has to pay a 10% premium.
And on top of that he gets a warrant to purchase $5bn of common stock which can be exercised at any time in the next five years.
In other words, the world's biggest and most fearsome investment bank has just had its pocket picked by a 78-year-old (albeit the canniest 78-year-old on the planet).