day with sea lions bocom's way of wooing wealth-management clients Professional investment tips from bankers, a family breakfast with Ocean Park's well-mannered sea lions followed by a full-day gambol at the amusement park - all free and all yours - that is, if you have $800,000 to start a bank deposit. Eager to lure wealth-management clients, the Bank of Communications has been holding lucky draws for its well-heeled depositors, touting prizes that include all-family dining with bankers plus a day of fun and retirement planning at Ocean Park. 'This can strengthen our relationship with clients. We hope they think of us not only as a bank, but also as a partner,' said Nancy Chan Ha-fong, deputy general manager of the bank's Hong Kong branch. At the bank's media briefing on wealth management yesterday, Ms Chan tried to sell the promotional idea to reporters who collectively gave her only an incredulous stare. 'We don't have $800,000 in assets,' one of the scribes timidly told her, to the embarrassed, twitchy grins of his fellow journalists. Always eager to please, Ms Chan and her staff offered the reporters umbrellas with the bank's corporate logo. And, as they waddled out of the briefing room into the pouring rain outside, most of the journalists agreed that the brollies might not be as cuddly as the sea lions but they were at least just as waterproof. richard li syndrome haunts singtel For Singapore Telecom, there seems to be no escaping the Richard Li Tzar-kai syndrome. To recap. Mr Li shocked SingTel in 2000 when he practically stole Hongkong Telecom, which was then up for grabs, from under Singaporean noses. And now, as Mr Li's renamed company is the subject of a bidding war, SingTel is once again feeling the pinch, this time by association. SingTel shares, listed on the Singapore Exchange, fell to a low of S$2.47 in morning trade yesterday amid talk that it was part of the Macquarie Bank consortium that is bidding for Mr Li's PCCW, according to the Business Times of Singapore. 'There is this rumour about SingTel backing the bid for PCCW through Macquarie. That has sparked a sell-off in SingTel,' a stock dealer told Reuters. Business Times itself quoted a Macquarie banking source as saying that 'SingTel is not part of the consortium'. True or not, it seems that SingTel's fortunes are still somewhat subject to Mr Li's corporate push and pull. is america on the way down? If history repeats itself, then the US is due for some nasty surprises. According to Stephen King, HSBC Holdings' chief economist, the US economy's position today resembles that of 16th century Spain whose reliance on a current account deficit to fuel consumption weakened it as a world power. Like the US, Spain funded a widening deficit with the reserve currencies of the time - gold and silver - as its consumers sucked in imports. In Spain's case, that led to the loss of skills to the Dutch and English, paving the way for the Spanish empire's decline, Mr King told a conference of the Society of Business Economists in London yesterday. 'Spain was in a remarkably similar position to the US today,' Mr King was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. 'As it relied on others to make things for it, it relied on them economically. It gave rise to the demise of the Spanish empire.' Global imbalances such as the current account deficit in the US that reached a record US$791.5 billion last year are causing policymakers to worry that markets may be thrown into turmoil if they unwind. Under King Philip II, who reigned from 1556 to 1598, Spain conquered the Philippines, established a colony in Florida and united with Portugal, giving it an empire incorporating Africa, Brazil and the East Indies. England thwarted King Philip II's invasion in 1588, destroying the Spanish armada, the biggest fleet of western warships the world had seen.