Imagine how Diego Maradona feels. On top of all his other concerns in this World Cup year (and they are considerable for Argentina whatever those odds makers claim) he probably was not expecting his own dog to bite him. On the lip. Three times. The upper lip. 'Nips of God'?

The dog is a Shar Pei - a breed of Chinese origin designed for guard duties. Wikipedia has this, amongst its usual anorakian tit-bits, to say on the race:

"It is a largely silent breed, barking only when playing or when worried."[link]

Which brings to mind the FSA. And there is some confusion in the City of London, apparently, about just which mood the regulator is in. Gartmore Group lost 13% of its value last week on mere rumours that one of its star managers had "links" to one of the insider trading suspects arrested on 24 March.

With remarkably unfortunate timing (for there are, it seems, no links to the raids - see Reuters link below) today Gartmore have suspended that same manager (cue share price fall of 30%) and launched an investigation into:

“breaches of internal procedures regarding directing trades”
Which, decoded from My Learned Friend-speak into plain English, might come to be interpreted as "directing trades" not to the cheapest broker but to the most knowledgeable and helpful one.

Possibly comfortingly for Gartmore investors the statement also said:

“Gartmore has not identified any information to date which suggests that Gartmore’s clients have suffered any loss as a result of these breaches,”
The suspended manager, a 3.85% owner of the fund in question, may indeed draw comfort from it. So long as it emerges that Gartmore cack-handedly chose the worst conceivable moment for his reputation to issue today's statement; and the time never comes to establish the plausible deniability that sprinkles of losing "directed trades" provide.

(Business Week report here)
(Reuters story here)

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High-end realtors Knight Frank recently published their property porn 'Prime International Residential Index' results for 2009. Some graphics (click for something legible):

And a cherry-picked piece of their commentary which, unsurprisingly even for the house-trained of their species, Knight Frank generously balance out in the rest of the report.

"We have to consider the current support for market growth created by ultra cheap money. In fact it is not just property markets that have succumbed to exuberance – equities and commodities saw prices pushed up sharply during 2009.

Rock-bottom interest rates and the “creation” of money via government stimulus packages have led to an injection of liquidity into the world economy, which has found, inevitably, its way into asset markets, including property, gold and shares.

Low interest costs have protected potentially distressed owners and reduced the supply of property for sale. At the same time, low savings rates have encouraged the wealthy to move investments out of cash and into property in the search for acceptable yields. This has driven demand for property higher and, set against tight supply, has served to push values upwards in many locations.

Ironically, the unintended consequence of government economic stimulus packages has been to support demand and pricing in top-end residential markets – probably not something governments would readily admit to."
By the way, Barbados (thanks to its west coast attractions) was not the bottom performer in the Knight Frank charts. Palma (-22%), Dublin (-25%), western Algarve (-30%) and, for some reason, Dubai (-45%) managed to do worse.

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Seems while I was away in Caribbean climes the FSA has itself turned down the volume of the conscious reggae vibe, foresworn the pull(s) of challis, arisen from its lounger and left the beach. Obviously that October "Ghengis" piece was premature.

Conversion to the Genghis Khan School of Market Administration (blind all but one in the village and send this latter fortunate to the next village with the news) is certainly welcome. But it is a long two-way battle.

Related link:
FT: FSA dawn raids shock City

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