Monday, August 22, 2016

ASSET CLASS RETURNS AS AT 31 JULY 2016

What can we surmise from the major asset classes table below? A lot. Bear in mind that these returns are priced in USD, which has generally performed well against most currencies this year.













































Major developed equity markets had a largely rough first few months in 2016, thanks to Brexit. However the recovery was quite sharp too in July, compared to the overall YTD performance. Are there anything the markets are not afraid of anymore. There is a running theme across the asset classes - negative interest rates in some developed nations. You can literally see that impacting across the board.

Emerging markets equity had an even better performance YTD, and rallied alongside developed markets last month. When priced in USD, it also meant that the actual returned were further enhanced in local currency (for most).

Where you find the greatest impact of the negative interest rates theme - REITs, foreign, US and emerging markets bonds... look at their YTD gains in USD.

As you are beginning to see the movement and adjustments by bond funds into "other bonds" away from negative interest rates zones, you are also seeing the movement of "new money" NOT away from bond funds gradually. Those funds that had to be in bonds are already swishing and realigning themselves.

The bastardisation of currency (excessive QE) also meant that there is a major shift into "real assets"... in our case REITs and gold. Gold has surged 27% YTD and I do not see that ending anytime soon.

Oil has given back half its rally in just last month. Even then, it was not enough to roil the markets anymore. We are shifting into the negative interest rates zone, whereby hot money are now having to look elsewhere for yields.


Friday, August 05, 2016

Bad Moms - A Surprisingly Good Movie


This was a surprisingly good movie... Thought I give it a chance to see Mila Kunis, the lovable Kristen Bell and the ever gorgeous Christina Applegate ... but its Kathryn Hanh who stole the show as the loose single mum who's game for anything. Its 18+ so you know its a lot of fun. Tackling real issues with brutal honesty and there were plenty of laugh out loud and long moments. Touching piece at the end when all the stars talked with their real mothers. Excellent 9.5/10.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Cold War II - Best 'Cop/Drama/Thriller' Movie Ever?




Chinese movies are right up there with the very best when they put their hearts and souls into them. Take the cops/thriller/crime category, some of the best include Infernal Affairs, Cold War I, the amazing PTU series by Johnnie To Kei Fung ... all were amazing and right up there with the very best. So it would be a big thing for me to pronounce Cold War II as the best ever, bettering those that I have just mentioned.

It is not essential to have watched Cold War I, but if you did you will appreciate the underlying motivations and bad blood among the characters better.





Why was the movie so good... good vs evil, when they are not so clearly defined, its varying shades of gray, no one is completely blameless, even the good guys. The conversation was well scripted, it builds the mystery, the gravity of the situation .. so good. The storyline was magnificent, at every crossroad there were plenty of options the director, writer could have taken ... You get the nuances, you feel for the characters' underlying motivations.

The breakdown in what motivates a person: money, personal, family and power ... power=money. Mixed in the police force and the politicians trying to control every facet of the heirarchy, you have a potent mix. In any democratic country, the institutions that must be independent: THE JUDICIARY, THE POLICE FORCE and THE CENTRAL BANK ... if any of the institution's integrity of independence is compromised ... you get ... (you know the answer).

The return to the screen proper in a proper serious role by Chow Yun Fatt, was easily the best performance by him for a long while... if the eyes could talk. Aaro Kwok was great as usual, Tony Leung Ka Fai had the best role, more excruciating this time around and he nailed it. 




My previous review of Cold War I:




http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.my/2013/03/must-watch-movies.html




Sunday, June 26, 2016

Brexit - The Aftermath




Yes, Brexit was a disaster for capital markets ... but mainly because most traders did not hedge their positions for such an eventuality. Most traders assume the Brits would never do something so silly. Yes, it is silly because Britain has a 75% export market and depends on the union in more ways than one. 


London as the financial centre has been magnified for the past 10-15 years thanks to the free movement of labour, capital ... the flow on benefits of that cannot be minimised.


WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN

- REGRET: More and more Brits will regret their decision. There will be movements to garner sufficient support for a second referendum - even though that is not written in stone, it could be debated in Parliament if there is sufficient pressure.


-  POLITICAL WILL: Cameron did what I considered the smartest chess move, and swiftly too, by resigning immediately. He is basically saying, you want to eat shit, then I am not going to be the one to open the door and scoop the shit. No wonder Boris looked like Becker having lost Wimbledon yet again. Boris should be celebrating but with Cameron's resignation, he is in line to be the "the leader" and its really a no win situation for Boris of London. If you look around, none of the vocal  Brexit leaders are now trumpeting to invoke Article 50 immediately. This is the classic case of "be careful what you wish for, cause you buggers do not know what to do when you have it".

- E.U. STANCE: The 6 foreign ministers of EU came out strongly to basically ask Britain to move quickly to exit. That might be a surprising stance to many but its a calculated stance to stand strong and send a signal to other nations wanting to leave the union. Its still a stance.

- This will lead to a discordant British society with youth vs seniors, as the majority of the seniors voted for Brexit while the majority of youths voted to remain. Looking at actual impact, most youths have another 40-60 years to live with the decision while the seniors have between 5-20 years. You do the math. As you stop people from coming in, you also limit the "opportunities" to work in the rest of Europe. There are also many British retirees in Spain, Portugal and Greece ... I think they will make it tougher for these seniors to retire there soon.

- OTHER EXITS: Naysayers will cite that now more countries will go for the referendum route to exit EU. Well, thats a probable route because most right wing parties in every country will try to jump on the bandwagon. Again, we have to look at this logically. Not every country want to leave the union as they are in a position of weakness in economic terms, structurally and being too inter-dependent on the union.


WHAT IS REALLY REALLY LIKELY TO HAPPEN

- Both side will quickly try to negotiate a "new treaty" ala Switzerland, Norway. The EU really really needs Britain to be in at least in economic terms. If Britain can get some new terms in free movement of labour, I think that can sway the way for a second referendum. If you look at it, both sides really want to be in. Even Brexit leaders will concede that much if the terms can be changed somewhat.

- At the end of it all, its the immigration issue, nothing else. Maybe a special passport will be needed for other Europeans wanting to work or stay in London. Actually its not that difficult. Just accept Temporary Resident, renewable for every 3 years, provided they have a proper job offer. And they must leave the country within 3 months if they do not have a job anymore.




MARKETS

- Very hard to try to discount when there are still so many permutations. To try and guess, will make you making good money or lose a ton of money. If thats the kind of bet you want, go ahead. But if I am forced to bet, based on the arguments above, I'd bet for sanity to prevail and the human will to survive and reconnect - bullish, even though its mad-like bullishness.

Remember that, when presented with a great unknown with an equal amount of uncertainty, markets will discount down and will overshoot. The 'what mights' are all tainted with worst case scenario ... but we should look at what is probable given that people will make decisions based on new evidence on the table, and new evidence is neither Britain nor the EU liked the ramifications. Thus safe to say, it is likely both sides will try and hammer out something which will keep the EU intact - because a nasty breakup will cause EU to disintegrate, and Britain will be whiplashed terribly being an export reliant market (to EU mainly).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why Proton Probably Cannot Compete

If one were to ask why Proton should no longer exists ... or why Proton is finding it so hard to make money after such a long time ...: Most will cite the fact that we were uncompetitive (design, research, economies of scale, talent, domestic market). If thats not enough to convince you, well, look at the GLOBAL CAR INDUSTRY, and then see what you can CONCLUDE FROM THE PICTURE:






















































Conclusion: Look at 99% of the auto makers, they are under ONE BIG UNIT. How in HELL or HEAVEN can Proton compete with these units. They will be able to share research costs, design costs, management processes, share backoffice expenses, sourcing economies of scale, buying power over suppliers and even distributors ... with the array of products, they can even "negotiate with leverage with governments and unions" to get tax breaks, incentives and cheap land for assembly and manufacturing. Naturally the bigger the grouping, the better the ability to attract and reward genuine talent.

Even when you try to protect Proton by imposing high tariffs/taxes on imports ... our domestic market is just not big enough - almost all profits recorded by Proton came from the pockets of Malaysians who have no choice but to pay for an over priced Proton cause other imported cars have been pushed even higher artificially. Where are we we in terms of earnings per capita, we do not make even the top 30 0r 40 countries. But where are we in terms of car prices globally??? We are in the top 3. Thats a huge chunk from our free cash flow. Enough la, citizens subsidised, then government also gives out loan again and again. I am all for patriotism but sometimes it no longer makes sense. At least we gave a try, lets move on.

Each and every factor I have mentioned, you can pinpoint where Proton will be in terms of competing with them. So, please seriously consider shutting it down, or selling to somebody cause we have no economies of scale, cost advantages, design superiority, ... to speak of. We will just continue to ask MOF for funds every 3-5 years.



Sunday, June 05, 2016

Debunking The Myth & Aura Of French Wines - Its Just Prejudice & Self Inflated Ego

Every ten years or so, we will see the nouveau rich clambering over themselves to get a heady collection of French wines and try to outbid each other for the latest release from the first growths in France. I find it a bit infantile and elicit a lot of head shaking from the over-enthusiasm over French wines.

Its not that they are not great, they can be. Its like fuckers who smoke cigars and just stick to Cubans because popular culture tells them thats the only thing worth smoking - BULLSHIT ... same with French wines - they are very good but you would miss out on so many wonderful nuances of wines from other countries if you held onto your biases.

So, who perpetuates the myth that French wines are superior? The French themselves of course. the whole French language and character of the country cause a romance that stirs the air. Their well known arrogance and pooh-pooh anything not-French kind of exacerbated the snootiness - which I don't understand why the rest of the world stupidly clamours for??!!

Single malt whiskey is a lot more democratic. Sure you get your old Scottish or Irish die-hards who would never venture out of their Speysides for their preferred poison. Single malts, a most egalitarian drink - thats probably because the Scots and Irish folks are not so full of themselves like the croissant. Thats because the Scots and Irish fols are less of an asshole than the French in general. But, most whiskey drinkers would accord great respect to any new great distillery. Besides Ireland and Scotland, knowledgeable drinkers now gladly add the fantastic Japanese, even India, and the new boy Taiwan to the fold.


Because these new fuckers won the international competitions, and the global tasters agreed wholeheartedly. For the French wine mafias, they will come up with 101 defence stances for losing to Californian wines.

NOT ONCE!!!

NOT TWICE!!!

NOT JUST THREE TIMES!!!

NOT JUST IN PARIS ...

The best palates in the world ... could not hold onto their biases. And when they lost, again and again, they are silly kids refusing to eat their greens. Enough la, French fuckers and French lovers...its just wine, not your grand-daddy's ashes!

Again, its not that French wines are not good, they are good but do not go stupidly gaga over them, and the much higher prices they command ... There are many rich people who would still insist on being French favouring BECAUSE thats what sommeliers tell them (well, they are mostly all fucking French trained) ... there is a lot at stake for the wine merchants, the sommeliers, the Frenchies to keep French wine as a snob product, so don't jump in with the bunch of ninkampoos.


The old rich were largely brought up by "European culture" as the gold standard, much like French fine dining. What I am trying to say is that even French fine dining had to come down a few notches with the emergence of brilliant chefs from USA, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Spain ... can you imagine if the Michelins still stuck to an all French fucking directory??!!

The French oenophiles like us to forget the many blind tasting competitions ... BECAUSE they only know French wines well, so if I am schooled in the Latin language of course I am going to try to preserve Latin as a cool thing cause thats my forte - I will try to defend it no matter how silly the arguments are. 

Failing at that, they will say aah... French wines has history, its like a romance, you fall in love with a woman, you don't compare whether she is the perfect woman or better woman ... Aaah spoken like a loser!!!

At the end of it all... just drink la, don't use your little knowledge to LORD OVER THE REST.

(The contest has to be Californian wines vs French because the product is closely matched in nuances. If its a big Aussie red, the tasters would have no problem identifying them outright).








THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS

The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which French judges carried out two blind tastingcomparisons: one of top-quality Chardonnays and another of red wines (Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California).[1] A Californian wine rated best in each category, which caused surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world's best wines. Spurrier sold only French wine and believed that the California wines would not win.[2]

The eleven judges were (in alphabetical order):

Average Original grades: out of 20 points.
RankGradeWineVintageOrigin
1.14.14Stag's Leap Wine Cellars1973 USA
2.14.09Château Mouton-Rothschild1970 France
3.13.64Château Montrose1970 France
4.13.23Château Haut-Brion1970 France
5.12.14Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello1971 USA
6.11.18Château Leoville Las Cases1971 France
7.10.36Heitz Wine Cellars Martha's Vineyard1970 USA
8.10.14Clos Du Val Winery1972 USA
9.9.95Mayacamas Vineyards1971 USA
10.9.45Freemark Abbey Winery1969 USA

White wines[edit]

California Chardonnays vs. Burgundy Chardonnays Average Original grades: out of 20 points.
RankGradeWineVintageOrigin
1.Chateau Montelena1973 USA
2.Meursault Charmes Roulot1973 France
3.Chalone Vineyard1974 USA
4.Spring Mountain Vineyard1973 USA
5.Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin1973 France
6.Freemark Abbey Winery1972 USA
7.Batard-Montrachet Ramonet-Prudhon1973 France
8.Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive1972 France
9.Veedercrest Vineyards1972 USA
10.David Bruce Winery1973 USA


Tasting replications[edit]

Some critics[7] argued that French red wines would age better than the California reds, so this was tested.

San Francisco Wine Tasting of 1978[edit]

The San Francisco Wine Tasting of 1978 was conducted 20 months after the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. Steven Spurrier flew in from Paris to participate in the evaluations, which were held at the Vintners Club.[8][3]
On January 11, 1978, evaluators blind-tasted the same Chardonnays tasted earlier in Paris.
  1.  USA – 1974 Chalone Winery
  2.  USA – 1973 Chateau Montelena
  3.  USA – 1973 Spring Mountain Vineyard
  4.  France – 1972 Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive.
Ranking lower were Meursault Charmes Roulot 1973, Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin 1973, and Batard-Montrachet Ramonet-Prudhon 1973.
On January 12, 1978, evaluators blind-tasted the same Cabernet Sauvignons tasted earlier in Paris.
  1.  USA – 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
  2.  USA – 1970 Heitz Wine Cellars Martha’s vineyard
  3.  USA – 1971 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello
  4.  France – 1970 Château Mouton Rothschild.
Ranking lower were Château Montrose 1970, Château Haut-Brion 1970, and Château Leoville Las Cases 1971.

French Culinary Institute Tasting of 1986[edit]

Two tastings were conducted by the French Culinary Institute (now called the International Culinary Center) on the tenth anniversary of the original Paris Wine Tasting. White wines were not evaluated in the belief that they were past their prime.[citation needed]
Steven Spurrier, who organized the original 1976 wine competition, assisted in the anniversary tasting.[citation needed] Eight judges blind tasted nine of the ten wines evaluated. The evaluation resulted in the following ranking[citation needed]
Results
Rank Wine
  1.  USA – Clos Du Val Winery 1972
  2.  USA – Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello
  3.  France – Château Montrose
  4.  France – Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
  5.  France – Château Mouton Rothschild 1970
  6.  USA – Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973
  7.  USA – Heitz Wine Cellars 1970
  8.  USA – Mayacamas Vineyards 1971
  9.  France – Château Haut-Brion

Wine Spectator Tasting of 1986[edit]

Four of the judges were experts from Wine Spectator and two were outsiders. All tasted the wines blind.
Results
Rank Wine
  1.  USA – Heitz Wine Cellars 1970
  2.  USA – Mayacamas Vineyards 1971
  3.  USA – Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello
  4.  USA – Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973
  5.  USA – Clos Du Val Winery 1972
  6.  France – Château Montrose 1970
  7.  France – Château Mouton Rothschild 1970
  8.  France – Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
  9.  USA – Freemark Abbey Winery 1969
  10.  France – Château Haut-Brion 1970

30th Anniversary[edit]

A 30th anniversary re-tasting on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean was organized by Steven Spurrier in 2006. As The Times reported "Despite the French tasters, many of whom had taken part in the original tasting, 'expecting the downfall' of the American vineyards, they had to admit that the harmony of the Californian cabernets had beaten them again. Judges on both continents gave top honors to a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet. Four Californian reds occupied the next placings before the highest-ranked Bordeaux, a 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, came in at sixth."[9]
The Tasting that Changed the Wine World: 'The Judgment of Paris' 30th Anniversary was conducted on 24 May 2006.[10]
The 30th anniversary was held simultaneously at the museum Copia in Napa, California and at Berry Bros. & Rudd (Britain’s oldest wine merchant) in London, in association with Steven Spurrier, who created the original Paris event.
The panel of nine wine experts at Copia consisted of Dan Berger, Anthony Dias Blue, Stephen Brook, Wilfred Jaeger, Peter Marks MW, Paul Roberts MS, Andrea Immer Robinson MS, Jean-Michel Valette MW and Christian Vanneque, one of the original judges from the 1976 tasting.
The panel of nine experts at Berry Bros. & Rudd consisted of Michel Bettane, Michael Broadbent MW, Michel Dovaz, Hugh Johnson, Matthew Jukes, Jane MacQuitty, Jasper Morris MW, Jancis Robinson OBE MW and Brian St. Pierre.[10]
The results showed that additional panels of experts again preferred the California wines over their French competitors.[11]
Results
  1.  USA – Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
  2.  USA – Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973
  3.  USA – Mayacamas Vineyards 1971 (tie)
  4.  USA – Heitz Wine Cellars 'Martha's Vineyard' 1970 (tie)
  5.  USA – Clos Du Val Winery 1972
  6.  France – Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970
  7.  France – Château Montrose 1970
  8.  France – Château Haut-Brion 1970
  9.  France – Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
  10.  USA – Freemark Abbey Winery 1969
Three of the Bordeaux wines in the competition were from the 1970 vintage, identified by the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux as among the four best vintages in the past 45 years or more. The fourth Bordeaux was a 1971, described by the Conseil as "very good". Another official French authority, the Office Interprofessionnel des Vins, rates the 1971 vintage as "excellent".[12]
The French wine producers had many years experience making wine, whereas the California producers typically had only a few years experience; the 1972 vintage was Clos Du Val's very first, yet it performed better than any of its French competitors.