Friday 2 December 2016

The Punt: Malone lands on Jupiter

Published 30/06/2015 | 02:30

John Malone
John Malone

John Malone just can't stop buying, it would seem. The American has bought a slew of hotels and other properties in Ireland in the years since the crash, including the Westin and Intercontinental Hotels in Dublin.

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His Liberty Global media conglomerate is talks to buy TV3 as well.

Now Malone, below, has bought himself a house in Florida. When we say "house" that may be an understatement. The 'Wall Street Journal' reports he has forked out $38m (€34m) for the property on Jupiter Island, off the east coast of the state.

"The property, which sits on more than nine acres, includes a three-bedroom house, a guesthouse and a roughly 3,000-square-foot beach house with two bedrooms, an office and a kitchen. With a pool and a boat dock, the property has frontage on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway," reports the Journal.

Apart from the likes of a putting green, par three golf hole and other amenities, the main living room rotates 360 degrees so Malone will be able to face, or avoid, the sun all day long. There are worse ways to spend one's millions, it would seem.

Saigon soars as Athens falls

The legacy of the Cold War throws up some funny old ironies. Four decades ago Greece was a US-backed bulwark against communism, while Vietnam was the sworn enemy of global capitalism.

But 40 years after the fall of Saigon to Communist forces Vietnam is lifted its ban on foreign ownership of local businesses.

From September outside investors can increase their stakes in many companies from 49pc to 100pc.

It will deepen the officially Marxist state's integration into global markets, and is a big shift away from the anti-capitalist legacy of Ho Chi Minh.

Back when leftist ant-American forces tore Vietnam out of the capitalist sphere of influence, the US had backed a military dictatorship in Greece as a bastion against communism in the Balkans. The so-called Colonels' Regime collapsed in 1974, but unlike south east Asia, Greece emerged as a democracy. Under French tutelage it was quickly absorbed into western Europe.

It's ironic then, that as Vietnam opens up to capitalism, Greece's Alexis Tsipras finds himself imposing the kind of capital controls that are supposed to be anathema in western markets.

Who is happiest of them all?

The Punt likes all those surveys about happiness. The latest Gallup-Healthways well-being ranking puts Panama - a sliver of land with one of the world's busiest shipping routes - as the place to be, along with its Central American neighbours.

There are roughly as many Panamanians as Irish, but it seems they are better off even when their gross domestic product per capita is $11,036, or less than a quarter of the rate here.

The results are based on 146,000 interviews with adults across 145 countries and areas throughout all of last year.

Participants were asked 10 questions focusing on their ambitions, their social setting, their finances, where they live and physical health.

On the face of it, the results may appear surprising. Isn't Puerto Rico going bankrupt? Doesn't Guatemala have one of the world's highest murder rates?

The survey is a reminder that hard cold data isn't always the best measure of how a country is doing. Nuances can get lost. For example, on finances, the question is not so much what you earn but whether you have enough of it to meet your needs and if you get stressed about it.

That's why, despite everything going on in Greece, Europe's citizens also do well in the survey; most of us have enough to meet our basic needs.

Irish Independent

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