Thursday, May 28, 2009

If hotels could talk.....

Am still sitting on cash. The latest airline numbers might point to some slow down in the rate of decline in the global economy but that's as bullish as I can get. As for growth forget it. Aprils IATA data shows the decline in demand continuing (load factors fell to 74.4% despite the boost from the Easter holidays) outstripping the 2.5% cutback in capacity. Premium traffic in March saw a 35-40% drop in revenues. Cargo traffic in April was down a shocking 23.3% from prior year levels.May will be a key month - if there is some tentative sign of inventory restocking then it should show up in the cargo numbers then - if it doesn't some of the airlines are going to be on life support.
Spent Friday night in London. The Berkeley was as always efficient,comfortable and an overall fun place to stay ( like the Carlyle in New York or the Park Hyatt in Milan they somehow manage to find polite,unflappable staff ). The main restaurant was already booked solid when we made the reservation three weeks ago but they called back to say we could have a dinner table at 10.30. We opted for the Box Tree Cafe and a more reasonable time of 9.30. From the look of London on a Friday night there is no sign of a recession, the hotel, restaurant and bars were all humming.Onto Woodstock on Saturday for a wedding. The Feathers had lost our reservation which was no loss as The Bear was an altogether better choice. Again, no sign of a downturn with restaurants and bars all solid.Was struck speechless to see a coachload of Japanese tourists getting off their bus with all of them wearing face masks as a first line of defence against swine flu.
Wedding was full of City grandees many complaining about their new ( vulgar and brain dead ) owners. Feeling over the third glass of Dom was that the rally was running out of steam but that another leg would come storming through when long only funds decided to commit to the market - even hedge funds are seeing a slowdown in the rate of redemptions.It seems the big worry for many institutional investors is that having missed the upwards turn in April they are in danger of underperforming for a second quarter if they don't get their equity weightings back up into line.Absolutely no allowance being made for geopolitical problems re North Korea or Tehran.I seem to be a solitary bear.

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