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LIB DEMS SET TO RIDE CREST OF BEER WAVE

A WELCOME pre-election boost for Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, from the most unusual of quarters – the traditionally right-leaning environs of the City.

It’s just 20 days before polling day and Clegg’s policies haven’t exactly met with rapt enthusiasm from the Square Mile, what with proposals to slap a “mansion tax” on homes worth more than £2m, axing both cash bonuses over £2,500 and any bonuses at board level, and disclosing the pay of any individual earning more than the Prime Minister.

But despite all this, I hear the party is gaining a good deal of support on the much-respected beer barometer, even within the financial community.

The Walrus and Carpenter pub, on Lovat Lane, last week installed three new Fuller’s London Pride beer pumps on their bar along with the rest of the Nicholson’s pubs in the capital. Each pump is decked out with a cartoon of either Brown, Cameron or Clegg and features the colours of the three major parties – the idea being, of course, to conduct an unofficial poll judged by how many thirsty customers opt for each one.

Fast forward a few days, and a little bird tells me that the Lib Dems are comfortably out in front, featuring Clegg’s slogan of “Can’t decide which to go for? No, me neither.” Apparently, such consumer-driven barometers have a history of being more accurate than the more staid polls – could the country have a substantial shock in store?

HOUSING BOOM
Mind you, our yellow politicians may have garnered more support than anticipated among London’s financiers, but they’re going to have to change their tactics a bit to keep hold of those votes.

A tale reaches The Capitalist of a certain City stockbroker living in Islington, who has just moved house to a swanky new pad. No sooner had he moved in his possessions than a pamphlet drops onto the doormat from the Lib Dems – boasting, of all things, about that aforementioned mansion tax.

Time to put a little more thought into flyering, perhaps?

SEX SELLS
The prize for the most amusing research note of the week must undoubtedly go to Steve Fleishman, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch over in the States.

Fleischman tickled his clients pink earlier this week when he sent out a note explaining changes to the bank’s so-called “US 1” list, a collection of its top investment picks among US-listed stocks.

There was no beating about the bush in the title of Fleischman’s missive, which alerted readers to one US retailer replacing another in the list and read simply: “Dick’s added; BJ’s removed from US 1”.

AIMING HIGH
Never one to sell himself – or his ideas – short, economist Nouriel Roubini (above) is raising money for charity by auctioning off… himself.

That’s right, Roubini – aka Dr Doom – is auctioning a breakfast meeting in New York to lucky bidders on the Charitybuzz website, with all proceeds going to the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation.

So far, he’s received five bids on the lot in a fortnight, with just under a week to go until the closing date on 22 April.

The bidders have currently gone as high as $6,000 (£3,869) for the chance to grill the great man on his notoriously bearish economic views, though none of them have yet met the reserve price, set at $6,500.

“As Roubini’s descriptions of the current economic crisis have proven to be accurate, he is today a major figure in the US and international debate about the economy, and spends much of his time shuttling between meetings with central bank governors and finance ministers in Europe and Asia,” the site boasts.

“Although he is ranked only 410th in terms of lifetime academic citations, Prospect Magazine, in January 2009, voted him number two on its list of the world’s 100 greatest living public intellectuals...”

Come on now, dig deeper.

EYE FOR DETAIL
Freshfields lawyer Fiona Gifford is busy revving up for one of her busiest weeks of the year next week, ahead of the final round of her Renaissance Photography Prize next week.

The competition, now in its third year, was set up to pit amateur and professional photographers’ images against one another in front of a panel of some of the best photographers in the business.

After 3,700 entries from 118 countries, Gifford’s original concept has grown beyond all imagining. The winners will be announced next week at The Hospital private members club in Covent Garden.

Shortlisted works are for sale with proceeds going to Breast Cancer Care – a charity close to Gifford’s heart, after she was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.

BOUNCING BABY
More election fun and games, though this time it’s a slightly unusual story.

Bookies William Hill – which are going into overdrive putting out prices on all and sundry in the run-up to the big day – tell me they’ve got one potential future candidate staked out at enormous odds of 25,000 to 1.

Plymouth resident William Jones is still only 10 years old, but a family friend is so sure he’ll become Prime Minister one day that he placed a bet on the eventuality when young William was just a babe in arms.

Despite the long odds, the friend in question staked a bet of £10 – giving him potential winnings of £0.25m if the young man’s dream ever comes true.

No pressure, then…