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ECONOMICS GURU MAGNUS WOWS THE CROWDS ON SPEAKER CIRCUIT

GEORGE Magnus, senior economic adviser to investment bank UBS, has a fair few accolades to his name &ndash; not least the dubious honour of having predicted the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression in an uncannily prophetic research paper.<br /><br />But I hear the dapper 60-year-old has recently earned himself a new title, that of one of the most popular public speakers in the City.<br /><br />Apparently, banks and other financial institutions no longer demand celebrity status as the most important quality in an entertaining guest speaker. <br /><br />Nope, those days are long gone, and in their place is a more sobering set of criteria that require the entertainment at an event to be more sombre, informative and &ndash; here&rsquo;s the crunch &ndash; to come from someone who knows what they&rsquo;re talking about, which Magnus clearly does.<br /><br />Cue Magnus&rsquo;s successful little sideline, though I&rsquo;m told he&rsquo;s not reached former Prime Minister Tony Blair&rsquo;s stratospheric &pound;150,000-a-pop earnings potential just yet.<br /><br />&ldquo;He is hugely in demand,&rdquo; says my man at the side of the stage, &ldquo;but his asking fee is still relatively modest.&rdquo;<br /><br />Time to up the stakes, perhaps?<br /><br /><strong>BOTTOMS UP<br /></strong>Over to the Royal Institute of British Architects last week for the annual NSPCC City Wine Challenge, which saw teams from KPMG, Accenture, Pinsent Masons, Prudential, Scottish Widows and UBS battling it out for supremacy in the wine stakes.<br /><br />Over &pound;115,000 was raised at the event &ndash; a fine effort by any standards, though a little bird tells me that this type of get-together does tend to engender rather more &ldquo;charity spirit&rdquo; than non-alcohol related parties.<br /><br />After copious amounts of vino &ndash; including a Domaine Emilian Gillet Vir&eacute;-Cless&eacute; 2005 white burgundy and a Ch&acirc;teau Mazeyres le Seuil de Mazeyres Pomerol 2000 bordeaux &ndash; our guests were happy to fork out, particularly as those canny organisers hadn&rsquo;t provided any traditional spittoon buckets in the middle of the tables&hellip;<br /><br /><strong>INDUSTRY EXPERT<br /></strong>Knowing self-styled &ldquo;Cityboy&rdquo; Geraint Anderson as we all do &ndash; the raunchy newspaper column, the tell-all &ldquo;Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile&rdquo; book, the cartoonish website &ndash; The Capitalist admits to being surprised by his latest incarnation as a serious news commentator.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s right, folks &ndash; the Beeb&rsquo;s coverage of the new financial services bill yesterday included comments from Lord Myners, the BBA&rsquo;s Angela Knight and the rakish Cityboy himself, looking quite the part as he confidently labelled the bill &ldquo;political window-dressing&rdquo;. <br /><br />Next up: Jedward on the state of the music industry today...