Champers for the reinsurance elite.

And so to Monte Carlo for Rendez-Vous, the annual jamboree of the reinsurance world. For one week of each year, this enclave of the rich is filled with chino-wearing, champers-guzzling reinsurance good ole boys.

The Café de Paris is packed to the gills, the nights are long and the (second) WAGs are bedecked in Chanel and Prada.

But this year, something had gone very wrong. Despite the rumoured appearance of the Prince of Monaco at the official cocktail party, guests were heard to mutter that the shebang was far less extravagant than they were used to. And one party was – shock horror – rumoured to have run out of Dom Perignon before the revellers had quaffed their fill.

So have reinsurance companies been the latest to fall prey to the credit crunch? Not at all, explained one observer. They’ll never run out of cash – but in these grey days, they’re too ashamed to show it. Someone pass the tapwater …