Barclays and the FSA
It's been an open secret for weeks that Barclays was trying to raise more than £4bn through the issue of new shares - although as recently as 24 April, its official spokesman told me that a statement made that day to Barclays annual meeting by its chief executive, John Varley, meant it would not be raising significant amounts of new capital.
In the context of the turmoil afflicting the big global banks, I was bemused by the unambiguous spin.
I had interpreted Varley's words as implying there would be a sizeable sale of new shares, but I was told in no uncertain terms that I was wrong.
Barclays put me in a difficult position. I did not believe that it would be able to go through this very difficult stage in the banking cycle without strengthening its balance sheet. But that was my opinion (albeit informed by knowledge of what the regulatory authorities wanted) - and it was being contradicted by the bank itself.
What perhaps is more troubling is that even today, when making the formal announcement that it is raising £4.5bn through the issue of new shares, the bank is still sending out confusing and apparently contradictory messages.
For example, its statement on current trading and prospects implies that it's doing well - although a close reading of Barclays' words makes no commitment about the out-turn for this year.
What Barclays says about its capital ratios, those regulatory measures of its financial strength, also begs questions. As Barclays pointed out on 24 April and repeats again today, one of those ratios was above target and one just a fraction below. And the new £4.5bn will take the ratios well above international minimum standards and Barclays' own targets (which the bank is not changing).
So if you were an intergalactic investor just landed from Mars, you would be scratching your head and wondering why on earth Barclays wanted £4.5bn from new and current shareholders.
The answer is that banks are insured, regulated institutions and therefore cannot ignore pressure from the Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog.
It wants all our big banks to have a significant cushion of capital, and has made that abundantly clear to all of them.
The tit-for-tat of the Bank of England's £100bn mortgage collateral swap - which Barclays was influential in negotiating - was that the banks would do their part in shoring up the financial system by raising risk capital.
And now that Bradford & Bingley's big shareholders have taken my advice and come up with their own competing recapitalisation plan, the FSA will look under the bonnet of the banking takeover vehicle being constructed by the financial entrepreneur, Clive Cowdery.
I also have no doubt that the FSA will ensure that Alliance & Leicester, the medium-sized bank, finds safe harbour from the financial storms.
But back to Barclays. I'm not saying that the FSA issued it with a formal legally binding instruction to issue new capital. But who do you think is more chipper this morning, Barclays shareholders - who have been asked to dig deep for precious funds - or the regulatory authorities?