Friday, 15 June 2012

Stop, search, exit and ride ....

Sorry about the lack of a blog yesterday but the internet conspired against me. The journey back from Italy was eventful as I got the complete stop and search going through the Swiss frontier. 45mins of questioning by the frontier police is less than fun. The support crew and I smiled and kept cool, though we did get into some trouble over the fact that the dog's papers were with the vet for export and not with us. Well, we got through in one piece and I'm thankful for that ... though the Swiss did seemed amazed by the fact that we were returning home to Sydney permanently. "Why?" I really didn't want to say it was because I was sick and tired of paying CHF25 for a pizza and a 50% mark up on wine. Better to just say nothing.

What does Carrefour know about the Greek elections this weekend that we and the equity market don't? Clearly the bond market is in agreement with the French supermarket group who sold out of their Greek franchise for €1, booking a €220mn loss in the process. Meanwhile Crédit Agricole also ran up the white flag (no jokes about cheese eating surrender monkey's please) and exited Greece. The FT was reporting that the euro-cracy was planing incentives to keep the Greeks in the EZ, but might I suggest that M. Hollande lacks conviction in such a commitment and probably indicated such to these two French institutions.

The Swiss may have reached the same conclusion yesterday when the SNB told Credit Suisse that they needed to raise more capital. I was telling a friend in Asia this morning that the SNB has been trying to get CS to man up for a while. The CEO has been adamant about the value to capital of the Co-contingency Bonds CS issued last year, but SNB has always thought this was a cop-out. Thus now they've had enough and are starting to push. For once UBS seems to be in the clear and they didn't do Co-Co's, so they got a pat on the head.

While in Italy I managed three nice rides on the Pinarello. Day 1 I did the full circle through the hills to Alba and home

I stopped at lunch to introduce the support crew to a little bar I found in Barbaresco. A couple of glasses of Chardonnay with some carpaccio and I was ready to ride again.

It was a great ride with over 1000m of climbing, so I deserved my swim back at the hotel later in the day.  I did two other rides, with one a half circle to Alba for lunch and the other a pre breakfast 35km sprint before driving home yesterday.

I like Alba, the people like food, wine and bikes. There's a hire a bike scheme in the town and every bar seems to have a good selection of of fine Barolo's and Barbaresco's by the glass. If you're coming to Italy it's worth bringing your bike and heading to Piemonte. True, it lacks some of the art of Tuscany, but the people have time to smile and that's a good thing after living in Switzerland.

Bon Weekend!

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