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Adam Parry – The Fight of the Century

Monday 8th Mar 2021|London

First of all let me apologize profusely for the brief hiatus… there were, of course, some very good reasons for the lack of meaningless drivel for you to peruse on your Monday morning.

I would like to blame the cricket in Ahmedabad, bit given that the Third Test was the shortest in terms of duration since 1935, I don’t think that would wash. There were also a couple of Six Nations games to take in, although I feel that the less said about the game in Cardiff the better.

The real reasons were far more bucolic. Firstly, last weekend heralded the start of the end of one of the most miserable winters on record for a variety of reasons. The weather on the Green was quite glorious, and that allowed us to partake of a very pleasant Leo in the garden on Saturday, fuelled with a couple of massive T-Bone steaks on the Little Green Egg and a vat of Laurent Perrier and white Burgundy.

And then on Sunday it was Mrs P’s birthday. Cue an upgrade on the poo to Laurent Perrier Rose and a decent bottle of Mersault to accompany a beautifully roast herb-fed chuck with all the trimmings.

So it was that I was feeling a tad delicate on Monday morning, and to be perfectly honest I simply didn’t have much to say. So I said nothing at all. I did have a quick butchers at the Eurex rolls, but there was nothing really in any of those, so I hunkered down on the sofa and did nothing.

Today is, of course, International Women’s Day. So as a preamble, I am going to bring up an anniversary from 50 years ago that I am sure all our female readers will be riveted to read.

For it was on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York that the so-called Fight of the Century took place between Muhammed Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Smokin’ Joe was the WBC/WBA champ, while Ali held the Ring and lineal belt. The fight was the first time that two undefeated boxers fought each other for the heavyweight title and is widely regarded as the biggest boxing match in history and one of the most hyped sporting events of all time.

Ringside seats were $150 but the Garden was still packed to the rafters and the audience around the world was huge as the fight began.

Ali dominated the opening two rounds, but in the final seconds of round three, Frazier connected with a massive hook to Ali’s jaw, snapping his head back. That put Frazier on the front foot and he caught Ali several times in the fourth and fifth, leaving Ali visibly tired after the end of the sixth.

But he was not down. He fought back in the eighth and ninth   while the tenth was a tight affair. Then with just ten seconds gone in the eleventh, Frazier caught Ali with a left hook and Ali went down after slipping in water. The ref wiped Ali’s glove and said no knockdown. Despite that, the round was firmly Frazier’s.

Again Ali rallied over the next couple of rounds, but heading into the fifteenth and final round, all three judges had Frazier in the lead, and he duly closed, putting Ali on the canvas again early in the round and continuing to land some heavy blows until the final bell. Frazier was the champ.

The fight was watched by 300 million TV viewers worldwide, including almost half of the British population of 55 million people. Ali had his revenge, though. Firstly at the non-title bout Super Fight II at the same venue in 1974, and then at the Thriller in Manilla a year later, when Ali regained his belts.

Now if the markets were a boxing match at the moment, the referee would have stopped the fight ages ago. Put simply, the bears have had one hell of a battering and needed to be put out of their misery.

But it is not all plain sailing. As the Chancellor said in the Budget on Wednesday, the toxic shock of the pandemic is likely to send shockwaves through the economy for years – even decades – to come. And that means that central bank stimulus is here to stay.

Let me be totally honest here. That stimulus is the one and only reason the markets are where they are. Had it not been for that stimulus in 2008, we may well have had to hoard all our cash under the pillow after the banking system went to the wall.

That stimulus in 2011 more or less kept the single currency idyll afloat. Without Draghi’s “anything it takes to save the Euro” Greece would certainly have gone bankrupt, most likely taking Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal with it.

And just look at all the stimulus poured into the global system last March and April when the markets looked into the abyss.

So it’s a bit of a no-brainer for the big players in the market. They know that no matter how bad things get, they always have the backstop bid from the central banks. And that just cannot be right for an efficient market.

Put it this way, those people that got banged-up for Libor fixing must be spitting feathers. After all it looks from the outside as if the central banks are doing more or less the same thing. Only now it is justifiable for the greater good of the planet and not just a bunch of bankers getting greedy.

Anyway, that earlier treat for the ladies was not up to much. So let’s try to redress that with a lovely little dessert that looks off the charts and eats almost as well. A chocolate bombe with raspberries.

Firstly you need to make some vanilla ice cream or you could – I suppose at a push – use a decent shop bought one.

Then make a raspberry coulis by liquidising fresh raspberries and straining off through a chinois.

Next make a chocolate sauce. Bring to the boil 100ml double cream and 30ml full fat milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Break 100g 70% cocoa solid dark chocolate into a bowl and pour over the hot milk and cream. Stir until all the chocolate has dissolved.

Now for the bombes. Take 400g of 80% cocoa solid chocolate and break into small pieces in a bowl and melt over a bain-marie, stirring occasionally. Once melted, take off the heat and place the bowl over a larger bowl of iced water to cool but not set.

Take a metal sphere mould – you can get these online – and brush the inside of the sphere with the melted chocolate and bung in the fridge until firm. Repeat the process with a second coat. Once set carefully take the chocolate out of each mould. Be very careful here. For 2 people you will need 4 good hemispheres.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c and stick in a flat baking tray. Carefully lift a half sphere and hold the highest part of the dome on the tray to melt the surface. Then stick it to a plate and allow to set so that it is firmly stuck.

Swirl some of the coulis through the ice cream and then place a scoop inside the chocolate half sphere. Top with some more coulis and chuck in a pinch of popping candy. Using the hot baking tray, touch the flat side of another half sphere and attach to the plated half to make a sphere.

To serve, re-heat the chocolate sauce, brush each bombe with some edible gold dust, scatter some raspberries around and place in front of your guest. Pour the hot chocolate sauce over the top of the bombe.

Enjoy and have a great week

P.S: If anybody put some 2/10’s steepeners on at the start of January, now would be a good time to take a few profits. Unwind half and leave the rest running.

I think it goes a bit further, but it’s moved a long way over the last month or so.

On the Agenda:

Data:

US

  • Monday – Wholesale inventories
  • Tuesday: German Trade Balance; Italian Industrial Production; Area Wide Employment; Area Wide Q4 GDP.

  • Wednesday: French Industrial Production; Italy PPI.

  • Friday: German CPI; Spanish Retail Sales; CPI; Area Wide Industrial Production.

Europe

  • Monday: German Industrial Production.

  • Tuesday: German Trade Balance; Italian Industrial Production; Area Wide Employment; Area Wide Q4 GDP.

  • Wednesday: French Industrial Production; Italy PPI.

  • Friday: German CPI; Spanish Retail Sales; CPI; Area Wide Industrial Production.

UK:

  • Friday: Industrial Production; Trade Balance; Monthly GDP for January.

Central Banks:

ECB:

  • Thursday: ECB meeting; Rate Decision at 12:45 GMT; Refi, marginal lending and depo expected unchanged at 0%, 0.25% and -0.5% respectively; Lagarde press conference at 13:30.

Fed:

  • Nothing

BofE:

  • Monday: Bailey speech at the Resolution Foundation.

  • Friday: BoE/Kantar Inflation attitudes survey.

 

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