By Things that make you go Hmmm. The number three is considered lucky in China because its pronunciation is similar to that of the word for ‘alive’ (sadly, the number four is similar to the word for ‘death’ so Rony Seikaly wouldn’t have sold many replica shirts in Beijing even if the NBA HAD been popular in China prior to Yao Ming’s arrival), while in Vietnam, a photograph containing three people is said to be unlucky as the person standing in the middle will soon die.
During WWI, no soldier would take ‘third light’ – which was to be the third person to light a cigarette from the same match or lighter – as an enemy sniper would see the first light, take aim on the second and fire on the third and we are all familiar, no doubt, with the Three Blind Mice, The Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs.
Bad luck, it is said, always comes in threes.
Over the next several years, we will see the gradual phasing-in of the higher minimum capital requirements laid out in the third of the Basel Accords which were agreed upon by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision – or, to give it its most familiar name – Basel III.
As one can deduce from its title, Basel III is the third set of capital requirements that the Basel Committee have produced dating back to 1988 – when the original Basel publication provided a solution to a problem that had occurred some 14 years prior when, in 1974, the Cologne-based Herstatt Bank was at the centre of a rather messy liquidation.
On June 26 of that fateful year, a group of banks had released Deutsche Marks to the Herstett Bank in exchange for dollar payments deliverable in New York but, in a world where instantaneous transfers of billions of dollars was impossible, the time difference between Cologne and New York caused a delay in the payment of the dollars to the counterparty banks in the USA and, before those payments could be effected in New York, German regulators – ever the last bastion of efficiency – stepped in and liquidated Herstatt Bank.