There are few better illustrations of Hong Kong's economic predicament than the sagging fortunes of many boutiques, as people tighten their belts. But even your correspondent started to wonder if things were getting out of hand when he paid a visit to the lower levels of the Prince's Building yesterday. Could this be the home of some of Hong Kong's more fashionable retailers? On present appearances, it is something more akin to a ghost town. Several well-known fashion retailers have cleared out of the building, while others - including one Savile Row tailor - were holding 'removal sales' and 'final sales' offering up to 70 per cent off regular goods. A spokesman for Hongkong Land - the building's owner - said it was conducting a feasibility study on the refurbishment of the retail part of the building, but no decision had yet been made. As the feasibility study takes place, tenants are not being replaced - but none are being forced to leave. 'If tenants have been moving out, that would reflect their own view of the market situation,' he said. Oh dear. Sounds like their 'own view' of the market is far from bullish. The Hongkong Land spokesman said the company had no plans at this stage to cut shop rents, as the retailing woes continue to bite. 'The company is aware of the market situation, and is adopting a supportive policy towards its retail tenants.' This policy involved having 'regular talks with tenants' - although what further support was on offer from the company was unclear. Have you ever wondered what a property tycoon carries around on his or her person? Lai See confesses to having had the odd stray thought about how much money a Li Ka-shing or a Lee Shau-kee has in his pockets, but have never had the opportunity to ask. Fortunately, US talk show host Conan O'Brien from the NBC network gave us a bit of an insight into this burning issue at the weekend - via the fiscally-endowed American property developer and playboy Donald Trump. O'Brien asked a slightly-uncomfortable looking Mr Trump how much money the developer had in his pockets at that moment, during his nightly show. Mr Trump at first danced around the question, then started to fumble around in his pockets. No cash was located, but the property magnate eventually found one stray item in his jacket pocket: a condom. He held it up proudly, and exclaimed: 'Safe sex everyone!' Laudable stuff - although we imagine Hong Kong property types might prefer to practise safe banking these days. You know you're living in strange times when someone universally known as the Dr Doom of the stock market suddenly starts talking more like Dr Boom. Professional pessimist Marc Faber has surprised just about everyone this week by trumpeting the virtues of loading up on property stocks, while selling out of flats, shops and offices. His reasoning? That the average price of physical property at the moment remains well above 1995 levels - but property stocks after their recent collapse are selling at around or below 1995 levels, Mr Faber reasons. The way to maximise returns, therefore, is to switch into property stocks - so his theory goes. Before you think he has become a total bull, Mr Faber has some words of caution: 'Make no mistake: I am still very negative about the prospects of the Hong Kong property market which, I think, will fall by at least another 30 per cent.' Right, Marc. Glad you've still got some negativity there. Further to our report yesterday on $10 notes becoming a frequent feature of this year's Lai See packets, several readers have informed us of yet another money-saving trend prevalent this year. We hear some unmarried types around town have been receiving not even a tenner, but some edible currency in the red packets. Yes folks, chocolate money is tasty - but it doesn't get you very far at Hong Kong department stores. We seem to recall a time that Cathay Pacific wanted to be known as anything but a cut-price airline. For much of the second half of last year - when fortunes first turned decidedly sour for the Hong Kong tourist industry - executives denied any plans to launch into wholesale fare slicing. Just when everyone thought Cathay might stick to its guns while many others slashed prices for tickets to Hong Kong, the company announced its comprehensive two-for-one extravaganza for people visiting the SAR. Now, the airline is at it again with a new discount offer, this time for couples seeking a getaway during the week of Valentine's Day. No doubt Cathay executives will say these types of offers are one-offs and don't mean it is turning into a cut-price carrier. Maybe so - but they don't appear very profitable habits to get into.