You may have seen the programme Teen Boob jobs: too much too young on the UK’s ITV2 television channel on 12 November. Let me make it plain from the outset that my viewing interest was that of a respected cosmetic surgeon. However, there were two revealing comments from the section covering “Toni” that may spike the interest of the finance world.

[1] Toni’s Mum: She can make decisions and half the time she does make right decisions.

[2] Toni’s best friend: How you gonna afford it and stuff?
Toni: I’m getting a loan.
TBF: You do realise you’ve got to pay extra money back?
Toni: Yeah, I know that. Obviously.

Some in the financial world might say that Toni’s Mum was the inspiration for Mr Mervyn King’s breaking cover yesterday with the motherly cautionary observation that:

"…if there were to be an adjustment of risk premia in equity markets with a fall in asset prices then that could have a bigger impact on the world economy."

That may be so: at least both parties are resigned to the inevitability that youth and the profit motive will have their heads – don’t entangle either with one’s own neuroses and paranoia even if a 50% success rate worries one a bit.

And indeed, why (else) should one? It is such bold and far-sighted personal development decisions as Toni’s that keep the economy humming along. This is, after all, recurring spending: Toni knows from her research that implants require decennial maintenance. And, as a surgeon in the field, I can personally attest to the fact that my discretionary spending is largely dependent on clear-thinking patients like Toni.

Which brings me to the second comment: what unexpected wisdom demonstrating an awareness and fiscal responsibility that those who lament the state of our youth must only find encouraging! And it may offer, if I may be so bold, an entirely new definition of asset-backed loans for investment bankers to work their securitization magic upon: unsqueezable breast-backed instruments can slide neatly into the breach left by sub-prime, AAA securities et al.

All well worth considering in light of the commerce ministry of China’s recent first-time public worries about reduced financing availability for silicone prosthesis procedures in the US (I can read between the lines of the FT-speak). If Toni and those she exemplifies were unable to invest in themselves the consequences may be dangerous for the carefully calibrated production capacity hundreds of laissez-pas faire mandarins have carrotted-and-sticked into place over there for so many years.

In all our interests, this is surely a test of chaos theory to be avoided.

With kind regards to you and your readers I remain,

Yours sincerely

Professor Sir “Siv” ABC Papier-Wobbler
FRS FRCS (Oxon), MDMS PhD (Cantab), FRCP FRCOG (Guadalahara), MS (Karachi), MS (Bangkok), B Litt (Phil), D Litt (Ottawa), B Sc (Liege)

PS/Here's an excerpt from the programme should you have you missed it:

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  • Writing break due to travel. How is it a small, less open than it thinks emerging tropical economy pegged to the US dollar looks as healthy as it does? Second trip required.
  • Billiton BHP: is there a serious argument contradicting China’s socio-political need to stop further consolidation of its iron ore suppliers? Steel employs at least 2 million and has been producing at rates a sinking US construction market cannot soak up. And as fast as China pushes into shipbuilding, car and fridge manufacturing to maintain employment one wonders if the demand is really there (and sustainable). Higher input costs that a reduced iron ore supplier base will demand surely will come at an inconvenient moment. On the other hand, blocking a $140bn+ deal is not a gimme.
  • Does anyone watching banks believe that Tier 1 ratios mean much in the current climate? “What is capital?” looks an unanswerable Jeopardy question making even previous favourites (of the scribe, at least) Royal Bank of Scotland and Credit Agricole appear unattractive investments – whatever PE, book valuations and divis would seem to say. And RBS is probably not helped by the leverage it took on to make the ABN deal either. Chairman Sir Tom McKillip may have bought £500k of shares 2 days ago but show us signs of those vaunted synergies first and then let’s talk.
  • Markets seem to be suffering the cramp during coitus experience (potentially embarrassing analogy but there it is). Except financials who just have cramp.
  • Is sterling’s strength against the dollar some sort of time-lagged joke?
  • Finally, and this is probably trickier than it sounds, is Shire Pharmaceuticals plc worth breaking a rule for?

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