Tuesday, February 19, 2008

裙愈長經濟愈差

兩年前,禤中怡出差往英國,只見倫敦市面一片歌舞昇平,儘管百物騰貴,依然朝氣勃勃。有一個晚上,獲客戶邀請登船夜遊泰晤士河,有幸安排船頭位置,從落地玻璃望出去,大廈華燈彷彿沿河掛著,一邊觀賞現場歌舞表演,一邊和客戶用膳,雖不至於紙醉金迷,但那一刻的感覺,的確是有點奢華。


問問客戶,當然話貴極有譜,不用擔心,事後了解,每人最少逾100英鎊(當時匯率計約1,300港元)已屬等閒,還未包括加添開支紅酒的消費,難得的是,那時座無虛席,證明能夠使錢的消費者絡繹不絕。


兩年後,英國經濟面臨挑戰,英倫銀行更要跟歐洲分道揚鑣,減息救市,而首相白高敦更押上最大的政治賭注,情願由政府接管當地第五大按揭銀行Northern Rock(NR),也要否決其他有興趣收購NR的財團,究竟有形之手干預這個世界金融中心,結果是福是禍?


當然,像Harrods和Harvey Nichols高級百貨店和獲油元支持的豪宅地段,相信不受次按所影響。據地產網站Rightmove統計顯示,英國物業平均叫價於本月初更反升3.2%,主因減息效應帶動,其中倫敦平均物業叫價更突破40萬英鎊,升0.9%,但已是5年最小增幅。


需注意的是,Kensington和Chelsea地區的樓價已跌4.2%,而物業在市場放售的時間已比去年多15天至93天,經紀手上可供買賣的物業平均數目,由去年的54間增至現時的64間,反映物業比去年需較長時間才能售出。


信貸質素會否惡化亦需注意,當地司法部披露去年英格蘭和威爾斯申請破產人數創新高,達5.31萬名,較06年雖只微升約1%,但較05年增44%,就算統計顯示去年第四季有所回落,但信貸市場進一步收緊、樓價回落,當地市場人士已憂慮破產數字會回升。


難得的是,當地竟有另一套看經濟景氣的準則,就是看時裝表演的裙子長度。該準則是裙子愈短經濟愈強,裙子愈長經濟愈差!回看三十年代經濟大蕭條時,女裝裙果然是又縐又長,二次世界大戰後,即1947年起,女裝裙長度似乎和景氣曲線很符合,那時剛經歷完經濟大蕭條。六十年代,迷你裙興起,接著石油危機爆發時,裙子又變長。到了九十年代,美股出現有史以來最長的上升時期,結果女性裙子又再度短無可短。


不過,網絡泡沫破滅後,裙擺又「垂頭喪氣」,直至幾年前明星穿短裙再登場。碰巧今年剛剛完結的倫敦時尚周,女裝裙長度的確比去年長了不少,是否暗示今年經濟景氣不理想,至於經濟表現是否真的如此,或許問問那些樂於花費的小姐們,可能會更清楚。


(2月19日刊於《am730》)

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