There is a love affair between business leaders and financial journalists that flatters the deal-makers, turns the wheels of the public relations mills and feeds the appetite of investors for 'inside information'. If things go wrong, the figures will see off the losers. In the meantime, the relationship is largely one of inside tips in return for glowing profiles. Many reputations are made - and few are rocked.
There is, however, an anonymous and somewhat sinister character in this symbiotic scene who is writing his own script. It appears fortnightly in the magazine Private Eye under the byline 'Slicker' and it has an audience all its own.
The column, In The City, is the work of one man but it is read at every level in the City of London. It is a must-read for those who police the markets - the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, the Securities & Exchange Commission in Washington. It is read in City coffee shops and in executive dining rooms, where the movers and shakers either laugh or cringe, depending on who Slicker is roasting.