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Barclays' big read

We're familiar with the concept of broadsheet newspapers producing tabloid editions, but credit research reports masquerading as novels? In an effort to sex up credit analysis, Barclays Capital's European 2004 outlook is a 628-page book with a lurid cover design more reminiscent of Douglas Coupland or Stephen King than Gary Jenkins, who heads global credit research at the bank.

The cover blurb warns that a renegade analyst is going to reduce the credit universe to junk status. "Distracted from his aim of boldly taking credit research where no analyst has gone before, Commander Garth Jenkins senses a ripple in the space-time continuum. He knows it's only a matter of time before Rater strikes back. Pounding his fist on the console of his Intergalactic Battlecruiser, he barks at his crew: "Sharpen those pencils folks, we've got some companies to analyse."

Jenkins says the book is designed "so that it can be read on the train without people knowing that you're reading credit research". This is laudable; no-one wants to look that sad. Jenkins has always had a lively sense of humour and sees presentation as important. As long as no-one assumes the prophecies inside are in the realm of pulp science fiction, everyone will be laughing.

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