How Much Did That Cost?

November 22, 2008


CNBC has a terrific slideshow that compares the cost of the current financial “bailouts” against other high budget items in the past.    They estimate the cost to date of the present crisis at $3.4 trillion.   That’s the same cost, in today’s money, of the entire Second World War.

By comparison, the Vietnam War at $700 billion, the New Deal at $500 billion, the purchase from France of one-third of North America at $217 billion, and the Marshall Plan at $115 billion seem paltry.  The $25 billion the Big Three car makers want, could pay for 3 Panama Canals in today’s dollars.

Something doesn’t make sense here.  How can a credit crunch cost the same as the most expensive war the world has ever seen, a war that lasted years, killed scores of millions, and destroyed the economic infrastructure of fifty countries or more?

Where is all this money going?

Quivering With Anticipation

November 22, 2008

Tonight is the last session of the Winter basho in Kyushu.   With the withdrawal of injured yokozuna Asashoryu and the recent dominance of yokozuna Hakuho, many sumo fans had low expectations from this tournament.  But we were wrong.

There had always been one point of interest:  One of the rules of thumb in sumo is that for a senior rikishi to win 33 bouts over three consecutive bashos entitles him to serious consideration for promotion to ozeki, the rank immediately below yokozuna.  Our favourite, Ama, the smallest of all the senior rikishi, needed 11 wins this time to qualify, and his fan clubs have been out in force most days to cheer him on.  To rising public acclaim, Ama has exceeded all our expectations with wonderful technique to overcome his weight and size disadvantage.


With just tonight to go, Ama already sits at 12-2, level with Hakuho at the top of the tournament.  And Ama beat Hakuho two nights ago to get himself into a chance to win the tournament outright.   Hakuho fights ozeki Kotomitsukui tonight, while Ama faces lower-ranked Baruto.  If Ama wins and Hakuho loses, then Ama wins the Emperor’s Cup (and vice versa, of course).   If they both win, then there is a special winner-take-all bout between the two at the end of the evening.

Beyond the Ama sensation, I have to say that the level of sumo seems really high this tournament.  The lower ranked rikishi have been putting on quite the show; and mostly to a half-empty arena.  Last night the house was full — as I am sure it will be tonight — but some of the mid-week audiences have been less than stellar.  Oh well;  they’ve missed a treat.

I’ve already had my nap to ensure I stay awake until the finish at about 1 tomorrow morning!

Hard To Believe …

November 22, 2008

… in this challenging financial environment that anyone is seriously contemplating spending $65million for an 8,000 square foot condo — even if it does have the finest views in New York.


The penthouse at 25 Columbus Circle atop the Time Warner Center

features 14 ft. ceilings throughout, elegant and dramatic entertaining space and warm and inviting private sanctuaries. A master bedroom suite encompasses an office, his and her dressing rooms, gym and his and her bathrooms. The 41 ft.-long living room with floor to ceiling windows has the most incredible view of Manhattan. The red lacquered corner library/office also commands a special place of solitude in this apartment. A full dining room with views of the Hudson River is a room of understated luxury. A chef’s kitchen and pantry, a full laundry center, four full bedrooms with en-suite baths and a screening room, round out this amazing property.   25 Columbus Circle represents the ultimate in five-star living and dining, pampering its residents with a complete array of luxury amenities: from a white glove concierge service, access to the gym, spa and pool of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, private screening room and a discrete basement garage, to the outdoor roof deck, children’s playroom, board room with Park views, private storage and ballroom.

$65 million for white-gloved concierge service — you got me right there.  My check’s in the mail.