I returned to New York City late on Thursday evening from a week in China. My trip, as I wrote in Summer’s End, was built around SWIFT’s Sibos 2009 event in Hong Kong. It coincided with the one-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ filing for bankruptcy. As one looked around the exhibition hall in Hong Kong, it is clear that we are in a recovery. The press even reported during the week that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in response to a question at the Brookings Institution said, “From a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point. It’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time because many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.” Dominic Hobson, editor-in-chief of Global Custodian, had a similar point-of-view when he told our guests at our event last Saturday evening in Hong Kong, to paraphrase: “That the world is still upside down, when the journalists are providing drinks for the bankers.” I had the good fortune to follow Dominic to the podium and explain our plans for the global expansion of Asset International.
While the recovery will continue to expand, we will not see much job creation in the western economies over the next quarter or two. I am confident, though, that companies will start to add jobs in response to increasing demand by the second half of 2010. It was clear to me as we traveled to Beijing and Shanghai that China’s recovery was going to be much faster than the western economies tied to the subprime debacle that took down Lehman Brothers and brought our entire banking system and the world’s major economies to the brink of the abyss. The energy and entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in China.
We looked at several possible acquisition targets in China on this trip. While these businesses are still small by our standards, it is clear that they are growing quickly and that the demand for information and advisory services focused on the Chinese economy will continue to grow at a much faster pace than the overall economy. We also came away with the understanding that the events business will continue to be an essential component of an overall strategy for growth in China.
Our second issue of ai5000 (www.ai5000.com), which will be released this week, will focus on the Asian/Pacific market with the cover story: The Metamorphosis of Chinese Capital. Let us know if you have any colleagues that you would like to receive a complimentary subscription.
Last evening Mary Claire and I had the pleasure of dining at Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm has made this the outstanding star in Danny Meyer’s restaurant universe. Daniel Humm came to Eleven Madison Park from Campton Place in San Francisco and has taken this restaurant to a new level over the past 12 months. Frank Bruni, who recently rotated out of his role of restaurant critic for the New York Times, elevated this lovely dining room to 4 stars on August 12th, 2009. The review is titled “A Daring Rise to the Top.” It is now at the pinnacle with Daniel and Per Se and just a handful of other establishments. Chef Humm works magic with his lobster dishes on most evenings. The wine list is extensive and clearly one of the best in the city. If you have a special occasion coming up, I strongly recommend that you call ahead early and make a reservation. www.elevenmadisonpark.com