AT last. The real cause of the Sino-British row has been revealed.
It is all the fault of the cunning Marc Faber, Hongkong investment adviser.
Many suits have pointed out that every time the market reaches the level at which he has to cut his ponytail to fulfil his pledge, disaster strikes.
''The time has come to recognise the existence of The Faber Threshold,'' said a financial specialist we spoke to yesterday.
During the previous major rally, Mr Faber pledged to cut off one centimetre of his beloved ponytail for every 50 points the Hang Seng Index rose above 6,400.
In November, it reached that point - then suddenly turned and plummeted.
After digesting weeks of attacks by Beijing, the market inched back to a new record, breaching the 6,400 barrier again this month.
But again it quickly turned round and crashed.
We caught Marc Faber, ponytail swinging, packing his bags to head off on a research trip to Brazil.
''Okay, okay, I admit it. It is all me,'' he said. ''When the market reached 6,400 I went to Wong Tai Sin Temple and gave a donation. I then told my good friend Chris Patten to gazette the reform bill, and I sent a fax to Li Peng, telling him what to sayin his speech at the National People's Congress.'' Mr Faber said he would need to resort to subterfuge less and less often. ''The market has reached what technical analysts call a Broadening Top, which is a very negative sign.'' If he is wrong, the bald patch on his head may also become a Broadening Top.
Harm money ALMANAC author Choi Pak-lai made a fascinating forecast in the January edition of Hongkong Industrialist.
This was his prediction for March: ''A month of harmony, a good time to make investments.'' We suppose it is a month of harmony, compared with, say, September 1939.
From the heart GREG Young of EDS in Citibank Plaza tells us of a student at Hongkong University named Sincere Li.
Beijing is always complaining that the Hongkong Government, by not acquiescing to all their commands, is not acting sincerely.
We suggest Sincere Li be made the Hongkong representative on the negotiating team for the next talks with China.
Tien dey scene MEDIA Assets has quietly chopped off one of its biggest assets. The programme production arm has been lopped off without warning, in an unexpected pruning operation by STAR TV overlord Julian Mounter.
Staff are aggrieved, since the production arm was one of the most active divisions. It spent months getting writers, producers and sponsors together to produce a new wave of original Asian television.
The move will send shock waves through the intelligentsia of Hongkong.
Just two weeks ago, it was almost impossible to meet anyone in the territory who did not have at least one Absolutely Brilliant Programme Concept under consideration with Media Assets.
Now these arty types are being told that their new careers in show business are on hold.
Oh well, it's back to the previous mode of Hongkong stardom - making loud calls on mobile phones in restaurants.
Oztriches THE Hongkong consul-general of Austria received numerous phone calls at home at the end of last week, we heard yesterday.
They were from Hongkong-based Ozzies wanting to come round to his place and vote. Most probably had no idea that Austria was the historical heartland of Europe, and not their homeland.
Or maybe Australia is making a bid to rejoin Europe? It is hard to picture Paul Keating wearing lederhosen and a little hat with feathers on top, although we can imagine him having a good yodel.
Liffey sentence A SIGN has gone up in the Police Officers' Club in Causeway Bay in the run up to St Patrick's Day today, we heard from Terry Greene.
''A Great British Guest Beer,'' it said. ''Guinness Draught Bitter.'' Guinness? British? Bitter? Guinness is an Irish stout. Flee from the police club before the wrath of Hongkong's various Irish groups descends upon you.
Fool's alarm ''WHAT is a rape alarm?'' a reader on the phone asked yesterday. ''And why do Hongkong brokers have them?'' They are pager-like devices you carry on your person which give an ear-piercing screech when activated.
Bernard Long of the Government Information Service answered the second question. ''Brokers fear that someone will do to them, forcibly, what they have been doing to their clients all along,'' he said.