Bering up when the market bears down

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 1996, 12:00am

Investment manager Patrick Carpenter invited two dozen bankers and businessmen to lunch at the Hong Kong Club yesterday.

The host and speaker was financial adviser Marc Faber. The suits were wined and dined - and then told the bad news.

Marc, nicknamed Dr Doom for his super-bearish views, explained that he had been poring over records of Nasdaq, the main over-the-counter share exchange in the United States.

He had discovered incontrovertible proof that Nasdaq was shortly to collapse.

'It may be in three months, or it may be tomorrow,' he warned.

The resultant tremors would shake shares throughout Asia.

Some attendees took Dr Doom seriously, and discussed buying shorts, which is a way of arranging your investments so that you profit during a crash. Others were more sceptical.

Patrick Carpenter, however, remained totally calm, despite the fact that he has worked closely with Marc Faber for years.

He told the diners why. He had once been sleeping in the Malaysian jungle when a large bear fell out of a tree and landed on him.

It was not a pleasant way to be woken up. Patrick rolled about in the wreckage of his bedding with the creature, until the beast ripped apart the mosquito net in which they were tangled and fled back into darkest jungle.

'Believe me,' said Patrick. 'After that experience, this sort of bear is just fine.' Your Humble Narrator sat next to Enzo Cunico at the above-mentioned lunch. His company, Siber Hegna, is responsible for the Hong Kong distribution of the Wonderbra, which claims to increase the wearer's bust size by two inches.

'We've designed a new product now, for men,' he said. 'The Wondertrousers.' I was shocked to hear that sexist male bosses at Lippo Securities are slapping $300 fines on women who wear trousers instead of skirts. Fight back, women. Demand $300 fines from any Lippo guys who look like they need Wondertrousers. Father John Wotherspoon of Mui Wo was reflecting on his sudden rise to fame yesterday.

The genial Lantau priest hit the headlines after he invited horse-racing man Brian Kan Ping-chee to a church meeting.

The priest thought the fuss rather ironic, since a well-known horse-racing editor had suggested having Mr Kan, a man with an unsavoury past, as guest speaker. Fans of the bizarre will be disappointed to learn that Mr Kan did not actually don robes and officiate over mass.

He just chatted to a men's group in premises near the church.

But the fuss has had the good effect of raising the church's profile and that of its hard-working priest.

Fortunately, John, church leaders are a bit more open-minded these days, compared with the time a priest could be excommunicated for making a joke. In 1418, this ordinance was laid down: 'If any cleric or monk speak jocular words, such as provoke laughter, let him be anathema.' Anyone who has heard more than a handful of the governor's hundreds of speeches in the past 31/2 years knows he devotes a massive proportion of them to praising the Hong Kong business community. He whips out pages of statistics to trumpet their masterful achievements.

But the Governor then admits there are certain nameless business people who are more concerned about their own interests (an incontrovertible truth, unless you are living in cloud cuckoo land) and legislator and prominent industrialist James Tien starts complaining.

This sort of over-sensitivity does not show the territory's business community in a good light.

They'll be complaining about being featured in Lai See next. From Mark Hopper: The definition of a Hong Kong pessimist - an optimist on his way home from Macau. Dozens of important issues are touched upon in this column each month. And which item incites an avalanche of mail? Yes, one about the plot of The Simpsons. Thank you to Jonathan Chan, Leslie Frappier and everyone else who wrote in. The consensus is that Homer Gets a Cold and Marge Caught Shoplifting were in the same episode, but the show may have been cut in such a way that the connection became unclear.

Reader David Hall smirked at the Business Post headline yesterday: 'HSBC $4.75b note stuns market'. He said: 'I'm not surprised. I have trouble with ordinary $500 notes from cash machines.'