PIMCO’S GROSS ISSUES WARNING OVER A BRAZEN PONZI SCHEME: QE

PIMCO’S resident bond expert Bill Gross yesterday, in his usual verbose fashion, issued a stark warning over the upcoming second round of quantitative easing (QE) in the US – dubbing it no less than a “Ponzi scheme” on the part of the Federal Reserve.

“Check [sic] writing in the trillions is not a bondholder’s friend; it is in fact inflationary, and, if truth be told, somewhat of a Ponzi scheme,” Gross told his loyal readers.

“Now, however, with growth in doubt, it seems that the Fed has taken Charles Ponzi one step further. Instead of simply paying for maturing debt with receipts from financial sector creditors – banks, insurance companies, surplus reserve nations and investment managers, to name the most significant – the Fed has joined the party itself. Rather than orchestrating the game from on high, it has jumped into the pond with the other swimmers…

“The Fed, in effect, is telling the markets not to worry about our fiscal deficits, it will be the buyer of first and perhaps last resort. There is no need – as with Charles Ponzi – to find an increasing amount of future gullibles, they will just write the check themselves. I ask you: Has there ever been a Ponzi scheme so brazen? There has not.”

Don’t say he didn’t warn you.

SILVER SCREEN

How über-successful City types have the time to do anything outside of their hectic work schedules is often a mystery, but manage it they certainly do – and a case in point is Eddie Charlton, the former HSBC Private Bank director who joined Citi as a senior adviser just last month.

Charlton, I hear, has been busy on a wholly different front of late, trying his hand at film production on “Archipelago”, directed by Joanna Hogg. The film, described by critics as an “astute and authoritative observation on the malaises of the middle-class”, must be pretty good, as it was selected among just 200-odd features to be shown at the London Film Festival, which wraps up today.

TIGHT SHIP

Austerity measures have got so bad at Transport for London, according to The Capitalist’s network of sources, that boss Mike Brown now has to personally sign off any requests for first class stamps…

GOLDEN TOUCH

Big news for one of the tiniest tiddlers on the Alternative Investment Market yesterday, as Irish entrepreneur John McKeon came on board at Premier Management.

McKeon is best known as a founding shareholder of Circle Oil, and his involvement has

had a stonking effect on other tiny companies before – just six months ago, investment shell Niche Group saw its shares soar 145 per cent in a day when he joined as a consultant.

Fellow minnow Premier Management bettered that yesterday as its shares shot up a phenomenal 445.5 per cent to 3p, on hopes that McKeon’s fat book of Asian and Middle Eastern government contacts can help it source deals in gold exploration in the region.

russian money
Those out there with Russian connections and a lot of money to burn might be interested at news of a gala concert next March at the Royal Albert Hall, to mark the 80th birthday of the man who brought the Cold War to an end, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Some tickets are available at £35 for the concert, which will feature both classical artists and modern pop bands, but there are also 33 exclusive boxes available to reserve for the event – costing an eye-popping £100,000 a pop.

FRIENDLY FACE
In the aftermath of a desperately poorly-received IPO, Tim Steiner, co-founder and chief executive of online grocer Ocado, must have been thanking his lucky stars yesterday at having someone speak out in praise of his firm at last.

Happy for him, too, that said someone was none other than the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who confirmed to the House at PMQs that he’s an Ocado customer. That’s the kind of PR money can’t buy.

ROYAL TREATMENT
His Highness the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamed Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, was in the City last night for the Lord Mayor’s Qatari state banquet, held at the Guildhall.

At a dinner attended by diplomats and business leaders such as Royal Dutch Shell’s UK chair James Smith and Centrica chief Sam Laidlaw, Lord Mayor Nick Anstee praised Qatar’s recent activity in London – the Shard skyscraper and investments in Harrods and Barclays, to name but a few.

To thank the Emir, who attended with just one of his 27 children (gulp), Anstee also presented him with an Arsenal FC shirt signed by the first team squad, to mark Emirates’ sponsorship of the club. Fittingly, the shirt came emblazoned with the words “HHT Emir” on the back, plus a number 15 – in honour of his 15 years of rule so far.