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.