Difficult times, touchy banks It's amazing how sensitive banks, even the world's most profitable one, have become in these panic-stricken times. Or has it? Check out the advertisement HSBC Holdings has placed in five major papers today. It is a reprint of a press release the bank put out yesterday regarding the British Treasury's #50 billion bailout of the country's banking sector. HSBC is at pains to point out that it is 'appropriately capitalised ... and therefore has no current plans to utilise the current UK recapitalisation initiative'. Every newspaper in town reported yesterday that the mighty banking giant was not a recipient of the British government's rescue mission, but it seems that message didn't get through to some of the top people in town. We heard Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp chief executive Sandy Flockhart was perplexed at a luncheon yesterday when some senior government officials and business leaders brought up the subject of HSBC being 'nationalised'. They were probably confusing HSBC with rivals Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds TSB Group, all of which received emergency loans from Britain's central bank. But in times like these, it is of paramount importance that people avoid grasping the wrong end of the stick because a rumour can kill a bank, hence today's advert. If any government official is reading this, for the record, Standard Chartered did not receive any emergency loans either. Laugh it off Yes, in times like these you have got to laugh or you would just cry. So thanks to everyone who e-mailed Lai See with this latest piece of gallows humour that is doing the rounds - a list of interesting new stock market terms. Bull market: A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius. Bear market: A six- to 18-month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewellery and the husband gets no sex. Price-earnings ratio: The percentage of investors wetting themselves as the market keeps crashing. Broker: What my broker has made me. Standard & Poor: Your life in a nutshell. Financial planner: A guy whose phone has been disconnected. Cash flow: The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet. Institutional investor: Investor who's now locked up in a nuthouse. CEO: Chief embezzlement officer. Profit: An archaic word no longer in use. Five-day week With the prospect of salary freezes and reduced bonuses just around the corner, the only crumb of comfort for the beleaguered workforce is that some of the biggest property companies are being forced to see the light about introducing a five-day week. We understand Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa have started giving their staff alternate Saturdays off, a move so well received that one Lai See contact began making weekend plans yesterday, thinking it was Friday. The developers are following on the heels of Sun Hung Kai Properties, which moved a step closer to the five-day week in September by guaranteeing staff two Saturdays off a month. Wharf (Holdings) was among the first of the big corporations to switch to a five-day week in 2001, but that was accompanied by a cut in wages of between 5 and 10 per cent. It later reinstated the salary - and the 51/2-day roster - before getting into line with the government's five-day-week initiative in 2006. Other companies that have seen the light are New World Development whose staff work alternate Saturdays, while its subsidiaries NWS Holdings and New World China Land are on a five-day week. Earlier this year, Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee offered his staff alternative Saturdays off.