Hedge funds are the bogeymen of 2008. They've made loads of extremely speculative investments with other people's money, they regularly sell things that they don't have and worry about how to get them afterwards, and they've destroyed the UK banking system by selling shares in it at attractively low prices in the future on the assumption that they'll lose even more of their value and the bosses of these instruments of darkness will be able to retire on the profit.
OK, that was a bit biased, but...
In many countries this practice of short selling has been temporarily banned and the hedge funds have complained vociferously. Many funds were convinced that the share price of VW was going to drop - after all, car sales have plummeted across Europe. It was a no-brainer. Well, there was certainly no brain involved in making the decision, because as one group was selling VW shares at bargain-basement prices, another group - namely Porsche - was picking them up.
When Porsche announced that it held around 43 per cent of VW's shares and had acquired options - essentially the ability to buy at a fixed price - on another 30 or so per cent, a major tremor ran through the financial system. Lower Saxony owns a fifth of the VW shares, which left just five per cent in circulation.
That left the hedge funds scrambling around for any VW shares they could get their hands on, as they tried - and often failed - to acquire enough shares to cover their market positions. VW was briefly the most valuable company in the world. How we laughed.
Overnight there was talk of $24bn of fund losses and legal investigation into Porsche's share buying. By this morning Germany's financial regulator had emphasised that Porsche's non-disclosure of its holdings was legal - the law doesn't require it to declare cash-settled options - but the possible destruction of many already fragile hedge funds and next-level implosion of the global financial system seemed like too much of a weight on its shoulders, so it offered to put some of its shares back into circulation... at a healthy profit, of course.
With a bit of luck, that will be the end of the matter, but there's a good chance that this story will continue to run.
What are the lessons we can learn? Well, for starters, there's no point clutching at straws if Porsche is holding onto the other end.