Maximum bearish as Grey Monday whimpers in

BIG problems are ahead if the markets crash today.

The problem won't be the collapse of most of the smaller brokerages in Hong Kong, or even the predictable spectacle of taipans appearing on the front pages with police-issue canvas bags over their heads after losing their fortunes in the futures market.

The problem will be the name. The name Black Monday has already been taken.

''Greenspan Crash'' hardly works as an alternative. And ''Rise in Interest Rate Monday'' is even worse.

If Alan Greenspan had waited a couple of days it would have coincided with the beginning of the Year of the Dog, which would have been helpful. But he didn't.

In fact, the reckoning is that although the market will be dented, it won't quite qualify as a crash, which makes things much more easy: after Black Monday in 1987, in 1994 we're going to have Grey Monday.

White-listed THE decision of the US and China to end their textiles war was good news for Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat from California who bashes on about China's human rights.

The Congress Journal reported that just before the truce was declared, the US Government was drawing up its hit list of Chinese products to be heavily taxed, and received a letter from Nancy, who is normally pretty keen on trade sanctions.

It asked that ''a particular item of ladies' lingerie'' be taken off the list because it was imported by a ''major constituent''.

Figures of fun THE trips by fund managers and others to the Yizheng Chemical Fibre Co in Jiangsu Province last week were pretty interesting.

One of the interesting things was the two-year profit forecast issued by the company without any checking from their financial advisers, which ensured a place in the record books by winning a flustered phone call from the exchange before the company had even been approved for listing.

This makes Joyce Boutique look like mere amateurs.

Yizheng's plant is perhaps the pinnacle of the integrated enterprise concept.

Yizheng not only makes chemicals, it owns a stadium, ''cultural palace'', ''children's palace'', TV station, huge post office, cinema, gymnasium, sewage plant and department store.

If you're wondering what's in a cultural palace, don't let your imagination get too lofty. It's mostly karaoke.

It's even got a 100-bed hotel for plant visitors, of three-to four-star standard.

All this stuff is being split off into a separate company that's staying with the state. Only the chemical plant is being sold to Hong Kong investors.

The crazy thing is that most of these businesses are sexier than chemicals. Operating hotels in China is a hot business, and so is the booming mainland entertainment market.

And as for television stations, Rupert Murdoch would be so keen to get one in China he'd probably be prepared to become a Chinese citizen.

Limited options EVERYONE'S very sorry they used the word ''cartel'' last April about the options market run by the futures exchange, so we're not going to use it again.

But there is still disquiet about the fact that the market seems to still have just four registered traders making a market in options, which means that competition is, ahem, a little less fierce than it might be.

A series of brokerages had a good think about joining the four. Fung Shui experts Credit Lyonnais said they would join the four by summer - last summer, that is - but didn't. W.I. Carr thought about it too, and Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

Now the first piece of paper has been lodged, by Fimat, a subsidiary of Societe Generale.

Still, the people at the Futures Exchange aren't as happy as they used to be about their options exchange. Most brokers reckon that 90 per cent of options business is being done in the over-the-counter market, which is not only cheaper but also beyond the horizon of the Hong Kong regulators - and therefore is much more fun.

Mean machine THE property crash, however, has started already, with the top of the market hit first.

The top of the market being the 0.7 square foot stool in the photo machines in MTR stations, which is charged at $100 a minute according to the little sign inside the booth addressed to ''non-photograph takers''.

This works out at about $4.5 million a month.

Frederick Yuen of Max Sight Ltd, which runs the machines, said: ''We have no idea how we could collect such charges'' and that they had never tried.

''Thank you very much for your attention and please don't sit in these machines if you are not taking a photo,'' he says.

However it seems to us that if Max Sight was bought up by some giant, cash-greedy company which hired a team of top lawyers, it could successfully collect the cash - particularly given the habit of judges of siding with big business interests.

Rent buoy THOSE worried about Chinese sovereignty should think themselves lucky we're not being taken over by Switzerland.

In Zurich's Pages-Anzeiger, writer George Adams found that a landlord was found guilty of ''charging exorbitant rents to foreigners''.

Instead of winning widespread respect for business acumen, he was sentenced to 14 months in prison.