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There are lies…

OK, I’ll admit that even I’ve got bored of using this quote, attributed by Mark Twain to the 19th century British politician Benjamin Disraeli. But I’ve yet to find a better one to explain the sometimes embellished figures sent out by many participants in the financial markets to try to stress how successful their businesses are.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Perhaps the spin doctors responsible have in their heads another Disraeli quotation: “Man, my Lord, is born to believe.”

Anyway, enough of all that highbrow historical nonsense and on with the column. This week, I have to confess, I was starting to get a bit nervous. There was, it seemed, a real shortage of buzz, perhaps because everyone in the market is busy focusing on making their year’s budget before the end of January. Anyway, thankfully those nice people at CLS came to my rescue by sending out what is likely to prove a strong contender for Euromoney’s new “Most Disingenuous Press Release of the Year Award, 2007.” And with 2007 only a couple of weeks old, that takes some doing.

The following landed in my inbox from CLS’s PR company about a new “record” day last Tuesday (January 16). “CLS Bank settled 705,582 payment instructions with a gross value of $5.22 trillion. This new record, following the Martin Luther King US public holiday, is the first time that the volume of payment instructions settled has exceeded 700,000 in one day, and is 33% higher than the previous record of 529,318 set on December 20, 2006.”