Monday, November 29, 2010

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Wealth, wasted wisdom and counterfeit cash

The tycoon Stanley Ho of former Portuguese Macau paid $330,000 at the weekend for two Italian truffles.

The billionaire bought the truffles at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, Rome and London. They weighed 900 grams and 400 grams.

'The Gambling King' as he is know, held the monopoly on casinos in Macau for 40 years. He has investments in Portugal, including the Algarve, and has a road named after him in Estoril.

White truffles are the rarest and most expensive type. The 900 gram (two pound) fungus was found in Italy's central Tuscany region. The smaller one was from Molise.

The bidding was relayed via satellite link from the restaurants Don Alfonso 1890 in Macau, La Pergola in Rome and Franco's in Jeremy Street, London.

A total of 16 lots fetched altogether $373 000.“It was fun,” said Piers Boothman, associate director of Christie's International.

Proceeds will go to charity.

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Portugal has never had so many university graduates - but it has never been so difficult for young people to find jobs. For many there is a stark choice: unemployment or emigration.

 

Some commentators are suggesting that the country is on track to lose an entire generation.


The academic qualifications of Portugal's workforce generally are considered to be low. So the number of graduates applying for jobs should be good news. And yet one in ten graduates is said to be leaving the country.


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More than ever we need to question if the cash in our pockets or under the mattress is for real. A report just out says that so far this year nearly €24 million in counterfeit notes have been detected in the eurozone.

In Portugal, the number of fake €50s this year has reached a record level. Reassuringly, however, the Bank of Portugal says the chance of receiving a counterfeit note in this country is “probably very low.” However, it advises us if in doubt “to check and compare.”

Of the half a million counterfeit notes detected in the EU between January and August, more than 215,000 were €50s. The next commonest were €20s.




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