November 29, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/29

Hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving weekend and got some great bargains yesterday! With the official start of the holiday season, the markets are also looking a bit brighter. Kind of.

On Monday, Citigroup was bailed out from its recent troubles, with a $20 billion capital injection from TARP in exchange for preferred shares and a government agreement to guarantee over $300 billion of their troubled assets. The shares went from $3.77 last Friday (as I remember, but could be a bit off) to $8.29 yesterday. It would've been an easy way to double your money quick! Citi was simply too big and international to be allowed to fail.

On Tuesday, the latest economic data were released, citing a 0.5% decline in GDP from July-September, more than the 0.3% announced a month ago. Home prices also dropped a whooping 17.4% from a year ago, a record decline. Along with this bad economic data however, the Fed also announced a new $800 billion program to support asset-backed securities including consumer loans and mortgage-backed securities:
  • $100 billion to buy up debt issued by government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks
  • $500 billion to buy up mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae
  • $200 billion facility to support consumer finance, including student, auto, and credit card loans and loans backed by the federal Small Business Administration
Designed as a life line for consumers, it is supposed to help consumers get home, car and credit card loans easier. I haven't figured out all the implications of this program is. I am still astounded by the sudden $800 billion splurge. Last time they announced a splurged $700 billion, there were long congress hearings and deliberations for at least a week. Where was the hearing and deliberation here (or have I just been unaware of the politics?)? Regardless, this has run the financial crisis tab to $7.36 trillion- double what was spent on WW2 adjusted for inflation!

Overseas, the latest headline to up the pirate fiasco last week (not that it has gone away), is the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. I thought that Mumbai and Delhi were pretty civilized and safe these days with their strong economic growth and development. That is why I was so shocked to hear that the city was attacked by terrorists who randomly shot at people on the streets and hijacked 2 of the most luxurious hotels there, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, and a Jewish center, taking and killing many hostages! The latest death toll as of Saturday evening was at least 183. The terrorists, were well trained and in their 20s. They arrived in Mumbai by boat and the whole thing appeared to be very well planned. They suspect that the gunmen are from Pakistan and that this may have something to do with the dispute in Kashmir.

November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

While you wait for Thanksgiving dinner, here is something to oogle over.....Happy Turkey day everyone!

Image Source: Net a Porter

November 26, 2008

Saks Girl

I think I need to convert to Saks girl, because they are officially my favourite department store this season. After having walked through Barneys and Bloomies (judging from the crowd, I assume Neiman Marcus to be the same), I can officially say that Saks is offering the BEST deals this sale season! Earlier this month (when I was pondering over my pink skirt), they had that weekend of extra 40% off already on sale items. While everyone else is currently doing that however, Saks has moved on to taking 50% off already on sale items, there are also a LOT more on sale items too! This sale began last week (privately) for Saks card holders and I heard the Saks New York was flooded with customers, literally fighting over each other for the latest stocks as they unpacked the boxes. This week it is open to everyone and it's craaaazy (I believe they are having a "black week" instead of black friday, so better get there early!).

To begin with, the traffic on their website must be phenomenal, because the website is constantly down and I'm led to a "Sorry we're experiencing technical problems" page every few clicks. And when I DO get onto the page, it appears that many sizes are already out!
Luckily for me, Saks Fifth in Chicago is not exactly the busiest department store in town (this honor belongs to Nordstroms and Bloomies) and there were still some stuff left in my size (kind of) when I visted today. So I swiped this Rebecca Taylor dress for 1/3 of the price!! I believe it was 40% off and then another 50% off. I was considering it when it was at 40% off, but when I saw it was another 50% off, it was almost a no brainer. It's not super special, but if you look at it more closely, it has mini dark purple polka dot prints on it in felt. And when you swirl, the dress swirls with you. It just feels so cute and fun! The back is also a racer back design, which I thought was very intriguing. I am super happy with this find (besides the fact that I had to get it in a 4 instead of a 2, but I figure that the dress is supposed to be a bit loose!).
What got me super psyched and smiling all the way home and then dancing around wearing them like a crazy person (in the privacy of my apartment of course) though were these Stuart Weitzman pumps (except mine are actually sling backs). I've been eying them for a week now, ever I caught sight of them on the sales rack. I asked HG what she thought and we agreed that they were very classic looking pumps and would be worth it (it was at 40% off back then). So today when I passed the shoe floor and saw that the racks (and the whole floor for that matter) was literally empty, I had to stop by and check out my shoes. Lo and behold, they were also another 50% off. I was SO psyched, I immediately picked them up and tried them on even though the store was closing then. Unfortunately they only had a size 5.5 left (I'm a 6). But since they're sling backs, I didn't think half a size mattered as I can adjust the straps. Also, I tried them on and made sure that my feet isn't sticking out the back (a big no no). While I was waiting for the sales guy to get me the full pair, I watched women all around me in a flurry grabbing and trying on shoes, furiously sweeping up 70% off Jimmy Choo boots and Louboutins in a mad rush to buy all they can before the sales people refuse to serve us. It was quite an amazing sight. THIS was what I'd imagined black friday to be- I guess there won't be much left now for black friday (we asked and they're not planning to restock, they've been on this mode all week). It's a good thing I got to my pumps on time!

It's amazing what a good bargain can do for one's constitution. As you can tell, I am still super hyped about it :D

Image Source: Saks

November 25, 2008

The "S Dress"

Just because HG is taking a break from blogging doesn't mean that we've stopped overanalyzing fashion in our free time (our gmail chain frequently goes above the 100 limit). Our latest topic of obsession?
I like to call it the "S dress," because when HG first showed me, it reminded me of S. And when we showed it to other friends, they also thought it looked like something S would wear. I guess we all had the same look in mind- the two toned dress S wore to the Dean's dinner party at Yale (btw, it is a totally inappropriate dress for a college recruiting event).It's form fitting, sophisticated and sexy, but youthful and modern at the same time.
S continues to favour this style later in the season for Thanksgiving. Granted the skirt is overly tight and short and not exactly the most flattering dress on her (or on anyone I should think), you can see how the concept and style is very similar. And thus, the "S dress."In particular, we are loving this two toned dress by FCUK (left). I love this yellow/black contrast, while HG is thinking of the red/gray-or silver combo. The contrast and shapes makes it cute, colorful and young, but the style and cutting lends it sophistication. It is dressy enough for a nice dinner, but not so formal that you can't drop by a club afterwards. It's really quite a clever design! Sadly for me, I must be deformed, because I tried it on the other day and the fit was way off. While everywhere else fitted tightly (so tightly in fact that I couldn't even twist to zip up!), the chest part was loose. HG is still in love though and she's thinking of getting it tailored.

We also found a very similar version of this dress over at Ted Baker, though with the white t shirt top, it is much more casual and is perfect for a day out.

Image Source: Gossip Girl, ASOS and FCUK

November 24, 2008

ANTM Cycle 11- Spoiler!

At this point, I think I've come to accept ANTM as part of my life. Something I just mindlessly watch when it's on. You must admit, it's a nice indulgence. *spoiler alert*
Now that I've "come around" to this way of thinking, my expectations are lower and thus I thought this season's show was not bad! There was a bit of drama, there were pretty pictures, some cool themes (voting booths, award accidents, underwater eye level shots, hanging on hot air balloons etc), a bit of traveling (to Amsterdam)and some sweet prizes. They had fashion show opp prizes, shopping sprees and free designer clothes- it was pretty awesome! The window display challenge in the red light district of Amsterdam was refreshing. Plus they had a REALLY gorgeous Willy Wonka like pink runway in the finale. There was a mini "hill" at the beginning and the models had to run up it in their heels (otherwise they'd fall backwards), it was quite an entertaining scene! Though I thought at the beginning the whole space theme thing and turning a new leaf because it's the 11th cycle was a bit overplayed.
And the winner of Cycle 11 of ANTM is- McKey. She does have very stunning modelesque features and towards the end, I thought her pictures were one of the strongest.
I mean, you got to admit, she has definitely improved from her first photo at the voting booth. It looked like she had no idea....
...and then bam! Here we are. I thought she had some of the most interesting and varied poses in her shoots. She always tried new things and they worked. And did I mention her amazing features? Once they got to final 2, it was obvious who the winner is. Granted she's not who I was vouching for, I thought out of the two she deserved to win (she was a bit too tomboy for me and her walk was a bit "lurch" like as they said). By the way, I thought renaming herself McKey at the beginning was a genius move. It is SO much more interesting and memorable than Brittany.
As you may be able to tell by now, Sam wasn't my favourite girl. Everyone else loved her though, because she had the whole sunny, free California girl next door personality. Maybe I just prefer more serious, subdue personalities. Also, she just didn't LOOK like a model to me, because this girl absolutely cannot dress herself for her life. I still remember that horrible salmon colored v neck sweater and straight skirt she wore to panel, that even Tyra couldn't do anything *shiver*. I also didn't think this picture was as "all that" as all the judges thought. Though I didn't realize that she had only just turned 18 on the show, so I guess I should cut her some slack. Making it into the top 2 is pretty good (her walk was not much better than McKey's).
My favourite girl was Analeigh. Maybe I just have a preference for girls with long hair? She was just so SWEET. I loved her personality. She was sweet and cute in a more subdue and quiet kind of way. She also improved dramatically. I remember how she struggled at the beginning and I totally thought she'd be sent home. Her hot air balloon picture was absolutely tragic. Her legs look cut off.
But then she survived being in the bottom two and she finally got the hang of modelling. This is my favourite picture of her. You can see the skater in her and it's so edgy even though she looks so sweet normally. Another thing I loved about her was that she knew how to dress. She's mastered the shift dress and I'm amazed at how versatile her peace pendant was with all her outfits! Too bad about the Cover Girl commercial. It really was quite awful, especially considering how she ROCKED the other commercial! A strong contestant that got weak in the end was Marjorie. I think she actually has that natural model potential that would lead her far in the real world, just not in the world of reality TV. She has that perfect awkwardness and European-ness that makes her so model- she looks modelesque just STANDING there in her windmill photo. Just don't put her in any role where she needs to speak. Her jitters really would not work... But she DOES take some AMAZING photos. I loved this one here. It is so completely convincing! Though she was visibly weaker when she turned a "new leaf," like she lost her natural ability to model (though at times I found her hunchback signature pose a bit too much and she really looks like the hunchback of Notre Dame!).

Another contestant of note was Elina, the control freak. She started out strong and she thought she was so good, but her pictures were getting a bit monotonous. The whole cultural difference and Europeans don't express themselves was a bit too much. Clarke also did not see her elimination coming after she got best photo at the under water eye level shot. I liked Sheena and how she didn't play the whole Asian card on us like Gina did. Nikeysha reminded me of Saleisha, except Saleisha is pretty IMO (they even have the same haircut and similar names!). I remember being surprised by the whole drama with Hannah even though I don't quite remember why anymore (race?). Oh and of course there was Isis. She was strong at first! I'm very impressed with how feminine she looked given that she was a man. Her attitude was also very open, brave and admirable. Wasn't there a really similar contestant before, who kind of looked like her too, took great pictures at first and then dwindled?

I liked how they showed little clips of what other contestants from past cycles are doing now in between too. It's interesting to be reminded of them and see what they're doing now. It sounds like a lot of them signed with Elite anyway, even though they didn't win. Are Elite contracts that hard to come by then?

Image Source: CWTV

November 22, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/21

It's been another exciting week! Almost comparable to that week in September/October, except no major banks collapse (yet) and there were no big mergers. The DOW finally broke the 8000 point after hovering around it for a month, on Wednesday, tumbling 5.1% in a day to yet another more than 5 year new low. The downward momentum continued into Thursday, until it finally went back up to 8000 levels towards the end of Friday.

The week started off with Pandit's speech at Citi, announcing their plan to cut 52,000 jobs (yike!) and cut expenses by 20%. Citi's share began falling as investors worry that these measures will not be able to revive Citi from its current situation- they lost $20.3 bn in the last year and some don't expect it to be profitable in 2009 as they worry about Citi's exposure to credit card/mortgage losses and toxic debt. On Thursday, Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia announced that he was boosting his shares in Citi from 4% to 5%. That didn't give other investors much confidence (not everyone's Buffet), as Citi shares broke the $5 point that day (a 13 year low). This is a very dangerous level to be at, because many institutional investors are not allowed to own shares below $5 and this could trigger a wave of selling before year end. On Friday Pandit assured employees that he would like to keep the company together and does not wish to spin off its Smith and Barney brokerage unit (their crown jewel I guess?). Still, there are rumors of them finding a merger partner or raising capital in the future. Citi is also pressing members of Congress to put back the ban on short selling, as they claim that it is hurting their stock price. Citi's stock price ended $3.77 on Friday, down from $20 a month ago and $30 a year ago!

Following the lead of Golman and UBS, other Wall Street banks are being pressured to foregoe execute bonus this year. JP Morgan also announced that they will be cutting 10% of their workforce.

The other big driver this week was the auto industry. Discussions started looking bleak on Wednesday (and thus the huge drop on concerns of an even deeper recession if the auto industry collapses), as Congress members continue to bicker with the Big 3. I'm not too sure about the details (cars just don't interest me that much), but it sounds like they're concerned about whether taxpayer's money is going to waste since the auto industry was already not competitive before the this financial crisis and they want to see a sound plan to change them into healthier companies before they come to their aid. I believe the catch phrase of the week is, "You show us the plan, and we'll show you the money." Makes sense to me. They will be meeting again in December for the Big 3 to prove to American that they are worth saving. Oh and they seemed to have came up with a good source of where the $25 bn will come from too. Instead of from TARP, it will come from the money already approved in July to help make more environmentally friendly cars. They will give them this money in advance and the Big 3 will slowly pay back this amount into this pool of funds. Makes complete sense to me. That way, we're not creating extra debt.

Speaking of politics, Bernanke has not been very popular recently. His abrupt change of the use of TARP surprised many, leaving them to wonder what exactly they voted for. His annoucement that he doesn't plan to use the rest of the $350 bn of TARP until Obama's administration comes on board, making one question whether he's given up already. Claiming twice in the last week that the government's efforts have succeeded in stabilizing the financial system does not make it true- especially given the crazy market movement this week.

Another major factor contributing to the drop this week is the Fed slashing its outlook for the economy through 2009. They lowered the 2008 GDP forecast from 1-1.6% to 0-1.3% and forecasts that the economy could shrink by 0.2% in 2009. They also raised their unemployment projections sharply higher to 6.3% to 6.5% for 2008 and 7.1%-7.6% for 2009. In addition, the consumer price index also fell by 1% in October, the biggest drop since 1947, suggesting deflation. Many expect this recession would last longer than the middle of 2009. This is gloomy enough news to send anyone running.

Even Berkshire Hathaway was not immune to this market turbulence. On Wednesday, Berkshire plunged over 12%, its worst day since 1987's market crash. They've been getting a lot of bad press lately, with declining earnings in their insurance operations and stocks. They had 9 straight days of decline after they published their third quarter earnings report. Goldman Sachs and General Electric, Buffet's most recent purchases, also went below the price he got them for. Some suggested that he needed a new crystal ball. But on Friday, it Berkshire bounced by 16%, to $90,000. This week, Berkshire also got over $1 bn for its shares in Anheuser-Busch, a brewer, as the acquisition of it by InBev was formally completed. Buffet says he's not worried. Incidentally, Berkshire also significantly boosted its shares in ConocoPhillips this quarter, indicating that he's bull on oil.

On Friday Obama finally decided on the next Treasury Secretary- Timothy Geithner, the current president of the NY Fed Reserves. This appointment was welcoming news to Wall Street as it rallied back up into the 8000 levels. I'm not going to go into his history but he's had a LOT of experience and is widely seen as a good candidate for the job.

Overseas, Iceland finally got a $10.2 bn loan on Thursday, from the IMF, Dutch, British and the Nordic countries. And did you know that we still had pirates in this day and age? Earlier this week, it captured the Sirius Star, which has an oil cargo of about $100 mn worth. Apparently piracy is still very prevalent these days, there has been a record of 199 since the beginning of the year- most prominently in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.
On Thursday, an Indian navy warship sank a Somali pirate vessel. It's like the Pirates of the Caribbean in modern times!

November 21, 2008

Gossip Girl, Last Season?

It's a bit of a late rant, but I've had it on my mind for a looong time now and I simply must just get it out of my system. Remeber the episode this season when they went to visit Yale?
Serena had on this pink and white striped blazer that is just absolutely gorgeous. The design is classic and preppy, while the color and stripes is pretty and flirty. And I REALLY wanted it. Like seriously. I immediately went online and looked up Gossip Girl websites trying to figure out where I can get myself one of those (which frankly, is not one of my fortes). Finally, I found it labelled as a Ralph Lauren blazer. Doh! I should've known. It is so obvious now, I wonder why I spent so much time searching for it to begin with.
Of course, I then hurried onto the Ralph Lauren website, crossing my fingers that it'll be from the RL label that is within my price range- and I couldn't find it! Not deterred, I told myself I'll stop by the RL store next time and ask if the sales person has it. Before I got myself there though, I showed it to my cousin who is positvely a RL expert and he told me that it was a blazer from last season. You have no idea how disapopinted I was (AM!). WHY would they style the characters of such a hot TV series in last seasons clothes? It doesn't make sense. Isn't the whole point of such publicity for labels is to convince viewers to buy these clothes? How did they think we can buy it when it's not even available?
Speaking of which, it reminds me of the second episode of this season (which aired in September) when Blair was coming back from the Hamptons with "the lord." She was in THE orange Marc by Marc Jacobs dress of SS08, which is so completely recognizable I was surprised they chose this dress at all. I'm sure a LOT of thought was put into their outfits by a hoard of stylist, so I don't know what they were thinking.
Because it has been publicized as such a stylish and trendy hot TV series (which I LOVE), I expect to see the latest fashions and style. I was sorely disappointed in these two instances. I am sure there are lots of other instances I haven't caught yet. Maybe the sponsors are getting cheap. Or am I expecting too much?

Image Source:
In Style and Gossip Girl online

November 20, 2008

FW08 Winter Hats

Besides the classic newsboy cap, the beanie and the beret, the latest winter hat twist to hit the scene this season are these half hoodies.
I first caught sight of them at Marc by MJ (left) and I thought, "whoa it looks like an oversized turtle neck- without the shirt part," and I didn't know what to think of it. In fact, to be honest I still don't. I thought maybe it is an Marc by MJ abberation and I should just ignore it. But no. It seems to be creeping up a lot more lately on both Shop Bop and Barneys. I mean, it's kind of neat in that it is like attachable hoodie you can put on any outfit you want and it serves as both a scarf and a hat. And with the looser kinds, I guess it does look a bit cool (or not as weird as I initially thought it was). But I think the show a little fringe rule applies here too (I can see myself burrow inside the hood, if I ever got this, with a dark hole as my face). What is everyone's consensus on these?
While I am undecided about the loose hoodies above, I am however very decided about these tighter hoodies. I don't like them. It looks like those ski masks people put over their heads, where you can only see their eyes, except here they widened the hole a bit so you can breathe. It just looks weird- especially as an accessory to an outfit it is not part of. If the model doesn't look that great in this... what are our chances?
Other hats of note. I just couldn't resist putting up this Sophia Costa floral knit beret (left). Even though at this point I have to admit that I am not a beret girl, I must say I love this hat. It just looks so artistic and pretty. I can totally see this on Gossip Girl. And speaking of morphing hat and scarf, I thought I'd throw in this Eugenia Kim combo (right). I think it works! Especially since the design is so simple but feminine. I imagine it would be very convenient to just grab this before you head out the door into the winter cold!
And for something a bit more conventional, I am in love with these two winter hats. The first one is a newsboy cap (left) with a twist, literally. The cap is designed to be on the side. Then there is this Mischa Lampert hat (right) which is simply adorable. Especially with the furry balls at the end. It's so festive! Plus, your ears will definitely be warm!

Image Source: Barneys and Shopbop

November 18, 2008

Winter Berets

It snowed this weekend! Luckily, not the scary blizzard painful kind of snow (not yet anyway), but the movie kind, where they gently flurry down and then disappear as it hits the ground. As pretty as it is though, it is also deceivingly cold. In fact, it is officially freezing out there! A great time to bring out your winter hats to protect your ears from coming off.
I was actually excited this year, because I wanted to try wearing out my white popcorn beret (left) which I just bought from Urban Outfitters. I figured that it was very wintery and cute, plus since it is so loose, it won't give me hat hair (or less of it anyway). Apparently I only got it half right. The first two times I wore it, 2 of my friends told me that I looked like a cancer patient... the rest were too polite to comment. Of course I defended myself and told them that they don't know what they're talking about, but if I were to be honest with myself, I do kind of look like a cancer patient. Because unlike the models on top where the beret just sits atop their head, when I wear it, I pull it all the way down to my eyes and ears (such that no fringe escapes) and am fully bundled up from head to toe- hey it's cold out there! Unfortunately, as a result, one cannot see that I have any hair at all and I effectively do look like cancer patient. White was also an unfortunate color choice. The cute popcorn probably look like tumors on me too.
I'd like to think that this "effect" only applies to unstructured berets like the ones above and that if I got a more structured one, like this one from Eugenia Kim, I would look much better, because I'm totally in love with this hat. I love the little buckle and I love the subtly textured tones of purple. It is dark enough to match with many things, but there's still some color to stand out amongst the black hats around.I have a feeling that it might not provide as much coverage and warmth as the ones above, but it looks so pretty!

Or am I just deluding myself into thinking that it will look better?
Maybe I should just stick to a classic newsboy cap that looks good on everyone- maybe in red.

Image Source: Urban Outfitters and ShopBop

November 17, 2008

Make It Silver

I like simple things, you may have noticed, and when it comes to jewelry I believe simplicity rules all. And while I do like a bit of gaudiness (that post will come later), I am mostly a strong believer in things that are simple - and silver.

The other day I went into George Jensen just to look (with my jaw on the ground). Their items have always caught my eye, they're just very elegant - there is no other way to put it. You can opt to wear their pieces for everyday, or as a focal point for an outfit. The brooch above is beautiful, it has a sense of both old and new.

The setting of the ring above was one of the first I had seen, it came out around two years ago. After George Jensen came out with this design, Tiffany's was quick to follow (but in my opinion not nearly as unique as Jensen's).

Add something with a little more sparkle. Jensen's designs are very smart, often times there is a choice to pick from to add to a piece of jewelry.

So instead of buying multiples of something next time, find one thing that you think is exotic. Those are the pieces that you'll wear over and over again.

These beautiful photographs were in W's Spring Jewelry edition, 2006.

Image source: George Jensen, W Magazine

November 16, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/15

This week was actually quite eventful.

It started off with China announcing a $600 billion fiscal stimulus plan effective from now until 2010, to be spent on infrastructure and social projects. Even this Asia powerhouse is not imperious to the global economic downturn, they are expecting growth to slow down to 8-9% as opposed to the double digit growth in the last 5 years. On the plus side, at least they're able to and are doing something to increase the liquidity in their economy.

Over in Europe, things are not so positive. Latvia a small European country, part of the former Soviet Union, just took over their second largest bank, Parex, last weekend. Are they going to be the next Iceland?

Back in the US, American Express got approved to become a bank holding company on Tuesday (just like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). This way, they'll have better access to capital both from deposits AND from the government, which is probably a good move since consumer loans is expected to hit next and Amex has a LOT of business in that (obviously).

The latest bank in the spotlight is Citigroup. The good news is that on Tuesday, they joint the ranks of Bank of America and JP Morgan to refinance mortgages to help people stay in their homes. The bad news is that Citigroup will be laying off 10% of their workforce (which may add up to 40,000 layoffs!) and doing some serious cost cutting.
People are also not very happy with their (relatively) new CEO Vikram Pandit. He lost the Wachovia deal to Wells Fargo and the share price has gone down from $50 last year to $9 on Friday. The board is now questioning whether he's up for the job after all (granted it really wasn't his fault that Citi is in such deep trouble, he was just called in to fix Chuck Prince's mess). He is expected to be making a huge speech about all this on Monday.

On Wednesday, Paulson announced that they were changing their strategy for the use of the $700bn bailout- now known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Instead of buying up bad mortgage debt, they are now going to use the remainder of the funds to directly inject capital into financial institutions. They realized that given the current situation, the original plan was becoming cumbersome and it was just easier and more efficient this way to directly inject capital in order to stabilize the financial system and get lending going, which right now they seem to have achieved (temporarily anyway). But then the question becomes, at which point do they stop giving capital injections to anyone who asks?

This question is especially interesting with the current fiasco in the auto industry. The big 3 are now desperately lobbying for a $25 billion financial aid package to save them from filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means liquidation and going out of business. This would potentially indirectly lead to millions of job losses, due to its huge supply chain. Obama and the democrats are all for it, but some of the Republicans are more reluctant. I can actually see where they are coming from. Bailing out the banking industry is one thing, since banks are a huge part of our economy and will still be around in 50 years time. The auto industry on the other hand, is a dying industry. American cars are simply not globally competitive enough to survive on the long term. They are not as luxurious as European cars, they are not as cheap as Chinese cars and they are not as endurable and gimmicky as Japanese cars. They would slowly go out of business anyway. The current economic situation is just speeding up the process.
I'd invest in a Chanel flap bag because I know that it will still be elegant and classic 20 years down the road, but I wouldn't spend the same amount of money on a Coach bag, even if it is limited edition and super luxed up. But I guess the $25 billion will buy us more time to "prepare", so it doesn't add to oil to the current fire. They are also quibbling about where this money should be coming from. The Democrats want it to come out of the TARP money (which makes sense, especially given the "new" strategy) and Bush wants to widen the budget deficit. I believe they're hoping to approve the package this week in the lame-duck session (if anyone is interested in why it is called the lame-duck session, as I was, check it out here).

The G20 also had a meeting on Saturday
to discuss the world economy. There weren't any specific guidelines, but they agreed to join their efforts to achieve common objectives, like to improve the regulations and functioning of the financial markets. It's a start. And the power of 20 is definitely more powerful than that of one.

November 13, 2008

Wedding Gifts

So next weekend, it is my first cousin's wedding in Sydney. He is the first in my "generation" to get married, so it's kind of big news. Unfortunately I cannot make it to his wedding because I can't take any days off and frankly, there didn't seem to be any point to fly 36 hours to and back for the weekend and spend 12 hours there (as much as I LOVE the excellent seafood in Sydney). So in my stead, I was thinking of sending them a gift. This is my wedding first wedding gift, so here are a few of my ideas (for a couple who has everything, and did not register in any stores- they really should!):
My first thought was to turn to Disney, because they absolutely ADORE Winne the Pooh. Unfortunately I googled up the story and it turns out that there is absolutely no romance in Winnie the Pooh (for maybe 5 seconds, I thought maybe Pooh and the Piglet were a couple, but the I realized that Piglet was a boy- as I'd originally thought), so it didn't seem appropriate to give them a Pooh snow globe. So I'm left with the two snow globes above- you can even personalize the plate! I'm thinking Cinderella, since Mickey and Minnie are an acquired taste. Unfortunately they don't sell these at the store and the delivery cost is the same as the actual globe!
So I tried looking for other super cute couply stuff to get. I quite like this block building photoframe (left). Very clean and meaningful of a relationship, no? And if cutesy is not their thing, there is always a simple personalized silver frame to fall back on (right).
If they actually needed more knick knack around the house, I thought these rabbit design kitchen ware were kind of cute (left). And I love these modern looking vases (right)!
And a bit outside the box, there is this cute pair of pillow cases with a bride and groom (left)! Isn't it adorable? Has anyone seen the pillow cases of a couple and it's connected with a string? That is super cute too. Or more practically, you can always get them stock certificate for shares in Tiffany or other companies. They apparently sell them framed on

Maybe I'll go back to the globes. You'd think it should be easy to find super sweet couply gifts online....apparently not. Any other cute wedding gift ideas? What do people generally give to other people on their weddings? Tips on what to write inside the card would also be appreciated. Is it congratulations and best wishes? I remember vaguely on Gilmore Girls that it is congrats to the groom and best wishes to the bride?

Image Source: Disney and

November 12, 2008

Weak In The Knees

I'm in love.

Loeffler Randall captured my heart early last year when I saw a sunshine yellow ruffled bikini. This Fall she has me tied around her finger with her seemingly simple looks, but plays with my emotions with her excruciatingly incredible detail. Yes, her designs are so absolutely amazing that it hurts.

I don't know what to do with myself. Look at how immaculate everything is. And this dress below, Loeffler, you had me at the pleats (and then she added ruffles).

Who knew something as ordinary as black and white could result in the above.
...and then there are her shoes.

All I can do is lust after these treasures, as my paycheck will probably let me buy around... perhaps a sleeve of that pink dress (not even). So I turned to Etsy, my online heaven of everything crafty and creative, and found this lovely little designer, LEMONSTORY by Kimenna. Pleats and ruffles, ruffles and pleats all over again - at a more affordable price. My heart is hurting, but my love endures.

November 11, 2008

MINT Jodi Arnold

Remember this absolutely darling gray and yellow block dress from this summer?
Well the makers of it, MINT Jodi Arnold, are having an online sample sale taking 60% off more genius pieces from today until the end of November. Frankly, we get a lot of emails about these online sample sales etc and we usually whiz pass them, just because there are so many and because they're not always designs that we endorse. But MINT caught my eye (because it reminded me of the block dress above) and I spent a bit more time looking into it and I LOVE the collection.
Especially these two dresses which are absolutely refreshing, youthful AND flattering to wear too. They are just so different from the dresses on the racks in stores, one is artsy, pop and cool (left), while the other is feminine and romantic (right).
Then they have more usual designs with a twist. I am loving the asymmetrical shoulder of the gray dress, this model does not do the dress justice. And this sequins dress is very reminiscent of the FCUK dress from last year, but the neckline jazzes it up.
The silhouette of this strapless dress with the folds at the bodice is just darling. The thin gold belt also brings a bit of the holiday spirit to it. And I just love the details on the collar of this coat!

So if anyone is interested. From now until the end of the month is a good time.

Image Source: Mint

November 10, 2008

The New Perspective

I never used to like Mango. I could never find anything that fit properly and just didn't understand the craze (
everyone in my high school wore something by Mango). But today I've gained some new found respect for the store. I ventured into the store as a last resort trying to desperately find a dress for a wedding. I came out surprised and happy, it was absolutely perfect. I couldn't believe it: I actually found something I liked, and I liked it a lot.

And while Mango has been around forever, it seems so new to me and I'm finding numerous pieces that I preparing to purchase. You see, I'm stubborn and once I don't like something, I hardly ever go back. But good job, Mango. You changed my mind.

These two dresses are beautiful! Especially the first one. I love those frills on the neckline! You could definitely make it casual by adding a pair of skinny jeans and converse/flats. You could also just wear it with a pair of pumps for the evening. And in winter...tights with legwarmers and boots! I just loved the silver dress, ever so elegant and very simple.

Image source: Mango, Mango Shop