Word reaches us that Hongkong Telecom boss Linus Cheung Wing-lam went to charm school ahead of last Friday's media profit briefing by the phone giant. Aware that HK Telecom's phone line to the public had gone dead lately, Mr Cheung decided it was time to ring in the directory assistance. He spent a significant part of last week preparing with a PR consultancy to present a new, more media-friendly face - to soften the harsh image he has built up in recent weeks over proposed pay cuts for staff. It doesn't seem to have worked too well. Less than conciliatory comments he made on Friday pushed the button on new protests from staff. Temporary advice from image consultants is one thing: but this man needs intensive, long-term reprogramming if he is to get off the hook. When it comes to dealing with plummeting financial fortunes, a man best known as 'The Donald' must be the ultimate guru. We are not, of course, referring to a well-known Hong Kong Donald who wears lots of bow ties - but that famously brassy businessman from Manhattan, Donald Trump. Mr Trump is presently relying on money from New World Development's Henry Cheng Kar-shun, and other Hong Kong interests to develop a massive residential project in New York. But he found time for a few words on the local property market before he left Hong Kong after a brief visit. He told Lai See that when local property stocks were taking a beating earlier this year, he looked up New World's stock price - which, if you recall, hit a horrific $7.65 at one stage of the downturn. It is now above $16. 'They were really down, weren't they?! I looked - and I thought it was a typographical error!' he said, grinning. Thankfully, Mr Trump is not one to be easily turned off by fickle markets. Referring to Mr Cheng, he said: 'Some people are always okay.' They certainly are. Mr Trump's Houdini-like extraction from US$5 billion in personal and corporate debt in the late 1980s is ample proof of that. Marc 'Dr Doom' Faber is resorting to increasingly novel forms of analysis to back his economic judgment. In the latest issue of his Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, Mr Faber uses - wait for it - charity balls as the basis of an economic comparison between Hong Kong and Shanghai. The result is not favourable for Hong Kong. Mr Faber cites something called the Shanghai commuter ball - in which the dress code is anything from 'black tie to pyjamas' - as an example of Hong Kong's backwardness. 'The difference between this occasion and the 'glittering' charity affairs in Hong Kong graphically illustrates the difference between a rising city and a decaying one,' he said. Ouch. Reader Mike Taylor received a brochure from a financial planning firm called Derek Parry Ltd dishing out some sensible advice: '. . . there is no truly free financial advice'. Unfortunately, there was a rather contradictory tear-off section at the bottom. It beseeched investors to attend a meeting with the firm that was 'entirely free and without any obligation'. Our colourful photo yesterday of Jesse 'The Body' Ventura in his pre-Governor of Minnesota days led some readers to philosophise on the whims of the American political system. 'Will the Chinese use Mr Ventura as a propaganda tool to describe why democracy shouldn't really be attempted?' asked reader Mac Overton. Who knows, Mac? With strong rumours that the WWF's best-known wrestler, Hulk Hogan, may start a body-slammin' run for president, Mr Ventura's election may soon seem positively rational. Brace yourselves for President Hulk scissor-kicking troublesome political opponents out of the way during a term in the Oval Office. It didn't take long for the humble Hong Kong coupon to return to favour. Maria's Bakery may have crumbled, leaving cake fans clutching at coupons - and video addicts have had to hit the pause button in using their pre-paid KPS vouchers: but old habits die hard. Cake coupons from three separate bakery chains are once again the hottest investment items in town: leaving trusts, bonds and shares in their wake. Is there some anonymous pocket of the SAR where custard-tart futures are the sole usable currency? Or is there any truth to the rumour the Hong Kong dollar is about to be pegged to the Swiss roll?