Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blimey ...

This has to be the best find on You Tube for the longest time. Anyone who has spent a couple of years in Australia would find this hilarious. To most Australians, this would be fucking funny. The great thing has to be that its produced and scripted by our Indian friends, who obviously have lived long enough down under. The series were not done entirely by OZ-affected Indians, they have a couple of white Aussies producing this shit.

Enjoy ... you wankers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Panic. Judgment Day. Carnage. Meltdown.

The headlines for the past 24 hours seemed like great blockbuster movie titles. If you haven't already acted to realign your portfolio, now would be too late to get scared.

Emerging markets currencies collapsed, and to a lesser extent their stock markets. As explained before, the whole shebang can be largely explained by:

a) the bastardisation of developed countries' currencies (USA, EU and Japan) ~ liquidity

b) the slowing of global demand ~ demand for commodities tanked

Some of the liquidity went into:

a) higher stock prices

b) even more liquidity went into property ~ thanks to the low interest rate environment pegged to the developed nations' rates

So, what is the present carnage all about then. Isn't it sufficient to see emerging markets fall both in their currency and stock prices?

The fact that developed markets worldwide are falling in tandem are due to:

a) an unexpected volatility and mismanagement of the China's stock markets ~ a reflection of a real slowdown in China, having overspent on resources, commodities ~ devaluation of the yuan

b) China being an important demand and supply factor has to be factored into global share prices, esp companies that do business with China

c) a disenchantment with many global companies using share buybacks to prop up their shares ~ a misuse of cash flow, profits and cheap liquidity if you ask me ~ i.e. companies are not reinvesting properly ~ little real growth, little R&D ~ which in turn will continue to stunt global demand

Hence developed nations carnage will continue a bit more, but we near the end as investors start to realise that ASSET PRICES (stocks and properties) over the last few years are largely an illusion and not based on the real worth of these assets.

Its funny as selling these assets you would end up in currencies anyway, which have been bastardised. Hence refuge seeking will remain in USD and other developed countries currencies such as the British pound and SGD.

Having said that, many investors who have been cashed up earlier will be itching to move back in, ... thus the first signs of recovery will be in emerging markets with 20%-30% discount on currency and maybe 20%-30% discount on share prices ~ add that together you are seeing minimal risk and no one wishes to stay in any currency if they can help it in the long run.

Markets are very unforgiving ... I recall a mantra shared by a mentor of mine which may encapsulate the whole situation here: IF IT IS NOT GOING UP, IT IS GOING DOWN.

A bit zen but reflect on that statement. Investors buy for security, protection, dividends and capital appreciation ~ if things are fully priced or priced in too much optimism due to various factors ~ then the only way is DOWN. Only by going down, can they go up again. Sounds like kindergarten but its true.

Same for any stock recommendations or tips if you are a short term trader. If it is not going up, it will go down. You can give it a time frame if you are a trader, 10 days or a month if its more fundamentals based, but if it takes too long ~ the whispers are wrong ~ it was a play ~ big players are distributing. Because something that goes up can be manipulated or due to a growth in believers or buyers, that do not take too long. If the prices do not show those signs, you are holding the short end of a stick.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An Affair To Remember

I used to think I would find my soul mate if that person could tell me the linkages among the 3 movies: An Affair To Remember, Love Affair and Sleepless In Seattle. Yes, these are all the so called chick flicks, but to me its a lot more than that. Who doesn't adore An Affair To Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Love Affair, an absolute labour of love from Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, was a remake of An Affair To Remember in 1994.

Sleepless Seattle made tons of references to An Affair To Remember, and it would have layered meanings when Meg Ryan met Tom Hanks at the top of the Empire State Building. But, you should watch all 3 movies to truly appreciate what I am saying.

While some knew that the 1994 Love Affair was a faithful remake of the 1957 An Affair To Remember. What most do not know was that An Affair To Remember was also a remake. The film is considered one of the most romantic of all time, according to the American Film Institute. The film was a remake of McCarey's 1939 film Love Affair,  starring Irene Dunn and Charles Boyer.  An Affair to Remember  was almost identical to Love Affair on a scene-to-scene basis.

SPOILER ALERT: The two main characters were involved with different people when they met on a cruise. They fell in love hard, and when the ship made an unscheduled stop near some islands, he brought her to meet her aunt (played by Hepburn in 94 version). She loved Hepburn's scarf. Later she made him paint again. They promised to meet at the top of Empire State building 6 months later when both have sorted out their respective partners (meaning to dump them). On the day they were supposed to meet, she knew he was up there and kept looking up at the building and got knocked by a car, she was nearly crippled. He thought she did not showed up because she chose to stay with her man. Months later they bumped into each other at a theatre, she was with boyfriend and seated. He knew nothing better than to think that was very final on her part. Later he had to find out where she moved to as he had to drop off a present from his aunt for her ... see the rest in the video below.

Some of the more memorable lines from the movie:
Annette Bening: How long were you married? (on learning that Kath's husband has passed on)
K Hepburn: Dearie, I am married ... (long pause)  .. even though he died 12 years ago. I am still married.

Cary Grant ):
"Why didn't you tell me? If it had to happen to one of us why did it have to be you?"

Terry McKay ( Deborah Kerr ):
"What makes life so difficult?"
Nickie Ferrante ( Cary Grant ):

Terry McKay ( Deborah Kerr ):
"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."

Nickie Ferrante ( Cary Grant ):
"You've been crying."
Terry McKay ( Deborah Kerr ):
"Beauty does that to me." 

Aunt Ginny
"He's always attracted by the art he isn't practicing. The place he hasn't been. The girl he hasn't met."

Aunt Ginny ( Katharine Hepburn ):
"The trick is life is not getting what you want. It's wanting it after you get it. For people like you and Mike, the getting is easy."

Kenneth Bradley (the boyfriend): I really hope you've found happiness, and if you're ever in need of anything, like someone to love you, don't hesitate to call me. 

Terry McKay: The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city. 

The 1957 version was sublime. Though many did not like the 1994 version, I thought it was excellent and the music was brilliant, in particular they inserted my favourite Beatles tune as well, "I Will", so appropriately. Cannot really discuss the movie without revealing the plot, rest assured its easily the most romantic movie of all time, next to Somewhere In Time (Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve).

When you watch these two movies, the modern day chick flicks such as Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail pale into insignificance. The only good one for the last 20 years has to be When Harry Met Sally. I think its time they do another remake of An Affair To Remember, maybe with George Clooney and Zooey Deschanel.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Emerging Markets Conundrum

Suddenly we have emerging markets' currencies being whacked left right and centre. Suddenly we have a plethora of headlines and expert views on the situation. 

Where were all of them BEFORE? Including yours truly here ... most commentators will only comment on the situation AFTER it has presented itself. We will all try to sound masterly and professional when asked for our views ... which is why the financial industry is possibly the most over-rated, over-loaded with bullshit ... employing the most pathetic "hope-they-don't-find-out-how-average-I-am" souls on earth!

OK, now that thats off my chest, lets see if I can add some value add comments to the situation. My only qualification to comment is based on having ridden through bulls and bears from 87 till now, plus having lost sufficient money which hopefully translates to what we refer to as 'experience'.

Let's see if I can try to make more sense of the situation:

How did we get here?

a) wasn't really the EM's fault, you know ... I think its the Greenspan's keenness to print money in the early 2000s which started the whole thing (following the Internet crash),  even so, it was smallish compared to what happened later. 

b) its the bastardisation of currency ... that would seem to be the underlying crux of the whole thing. Following the subprime crisis, Bernanke had little choice but to print even more currency (unbacked mind you). The EU suffered too and difficulties in integrating the Euro with differing economic structure in each country caused imbalances. Coupled with the subprime fallout, even the ECB had follow suit and print more money, trying to delay the inevitable. Greece was an outlier but the excesses had been too much. As Spain, Italy and Portugal are still struggling with double digit unemployment, the ECB had to maintain the easy money policy.

c) Japan to the mix ... as if that is not enough currencies in the system, the new PM Abe started on its easy monetary policy as well

d) what you have now is the major developed countries printing a lot more currency, while the EM basically having to maintain a stable and low interest rate environment so that their currencies do not appreciate against the majors ... thus leading to massive asset reflation in stocks and properties in EM, and places where investors from EM would like to invest their funds (e.g. UK, Australian, Singapore and HK properties)

e) a slowing global economy ... just before the subprime crisis, a lot of funds had been invested in commodities, be it mines or oil exploration or renewable energy projects .. which continued somewhat even after the subprime crisis, and much of that investment was shelled out by EM.

f) so what's the EM's fault ... they did little wrong really. They had to maintain low rates, which caused local properties to zoom up. Maybe China and some countries over invested in resources and did not forsee how weak global economy was following 2008. Actually at best the global economy stuttered and slowed, stocks went up because of the massive liquidity in the system with nowhere to go ... same for properties.

g) the slowdown caused a glut in many commodities, oil was about the last one to crash ... which is why if you match the ringgit with Aussie dollar, we are about the same for the past 3 years.

h) commodities based currency, including Australia, Malaysia and Canada were hit very badly... Canada less so because their financial system were untouched by the subprime and their economy a bit more broad based. 

Hence the ringgit's weakness was largely caused by the sharp weakness in oil prices and palm oil. An unrelated factor was the political turmoil which exacerbated the whole situation. Now the black swan event, China's yuan devaluation.

China's move confirmed a few things: things are pretty bad in China, thus anyone trading with China will be affected; any country producing similar products as China will be affected ...

In conclusion: EM's faults lie in not moving up the value chain fast enough; not diversifying their economy sufficiently when things were good; not reforming their economy to meet global challenges ... But these are not crimes enough to whack EM currencies when the bulk of the problems were started and still maintained by the developed nations. EM just do not have the clout to determine their destinies ... which is also why we needed institutions such as IMF to help out nations in need. Capitalism is never fair.

So, what can Malaysia do. Let's not touch on politics. Let's look at economics and finance only. Looks like local rates will have to rise, banks will have to manage higher NPLs, property sector will be hit, stocks have been hit already and is in fact way oversold. Malaysia will have to keep spending locally, projects will have to continue. If we need to run a deficit for a few years, so be it. We need to keep domestic economy chugging while the world works out the realignment. We need to keep as many people in their jobs as possible. Jobs is the factor that could throw the whole economy into a tailspin - no jobs, no money to pay mortgage or car payments, defaults and more defaults, higher and higher interest rates to protect currency ... Hence, making sure jobs is around is very critical esp when we talk of our economy with very few safety nets.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Losing My Religion

Taleb, better known as the author of The Black Swan effect ... has hit many nails on the head with his views on "religion".
People rarely mean the same thing when they say "religion", nor do they realize that they don't mean the same thing.

For early Jews and Muslims, religion was law. For early Jews it was also tribal; for early Muslims it was universal. For the Romans religion was social events and festivals (law was separate ). For Jews today religion became ethnocultural, without the law --and for some, a nation. Same for Syriacs, Copts, and Maronites. For Orthodox and Catholic Christians religion is aesthetics, pomp and rituals. For Protestants religion is belief with no aesthetics, pomp or law. For Buddists/Shintoists/Hindus religion is philosophy. So when Hindu talk about the Hindu "religion" they don't mean the same thing to a Pakistani as it would to a Hindu, and certainly something different for a Persian.

People keep talking past each other. When the nation-state idea came about, things got more complicated. When an Arab now says "Jew" he largely means belief; a converted Jew is no longer a Jew. But for a Jew it means a nation.

In Serbia/Croatia, or Lebanon, religion means something at times of peace, and something quite different at times of war.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cooking With Dali - Kick Ass Corned Beef Hash

I am constantly amazed when I order anything corned beef hash, they usually end up as disappointing. This is my kick ass version.

Cut up two onions and three potatoes. The potatoes should not be too diced up as it would turn mushy easily - they should be bite size and I always leave the skin on.

Sweat the onions and cook them with the potatoes so as to partially precook the latter. 

Sweating the onions mean some oil, medium to low heat to soften the onions. Its done when they are near translucent and soft but not too soft.Sprinkle a half teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of coarse black pepper.

Take a can of corned beef, any brand will do but definitely not those from China ... and none of those pre-seasoned corned beef, just a normal can will do.

Use half a block of very good quality salted butter. Melt it and mix with the beef. Keep it at medium heat, stirring every 30 seconds.

 You need to see the colour change from red plum till its nearly very dark brown. Most cooks do not cook the corned beef long enough. To me, to get the best taste, you need it to be relative well over cooked and almost dry consistency.

Mix in the onions and potatoes and stir well, switch off the heat and drizzle some good truffle oil and you are good to go.

A half boiled egg can be cracked ... optional.






Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Best Jibe At OZ Cricket's Dashed Ashes

If you follow cricket, the Ashes is the pinnacle event to follow because it pits England with Australia only. The English team has had a mediocre rebuilding team for the past 5 years, compared to the mighty Aussies which has stayed in the top two status for the longest time. 

In the current fourth test, which already sees England leading the best out of 5 series by 2-1, the Aussies had to at least win one and draw the other test to retain the Ashes. A Test usually runs for 5 days and it is normal for a team to bat for at least a day or a day and a half. The entire OZ team went out in about one hour and while 60 runs is not the lowest ever score, its pathetic in terms of number of deliveries needed to bowl the whole team out.

Naturally in this Pommicide, there were plenty of jibes at the Aussies, which I follow. But the most telling, funny and hurtful is the TWEET which summarises the whole innings in one tweet. There are 140 characters allowed I think, and in normal cricket scoring one over has 6 balls to be delivered. 0 means no run from that delivery, 1 means one run etc... W means a wicket has fallen.

When you can summarise the whole innings in one tweet, its so embarrassing to say the least, but kudos to the guy who composed it.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Wild Is The Wind

Cecil has been in the limelight for the past few weeks. It is very easy to be angry and condemn the trophy hunter. But lets be fair here. It is a horrendous act for sure, in particular when we put up the majestic picture of Cecil the lion - images of The Lion King only helped to fan the flames of fury.  But I think the general populace have over-reacted and jumped on the bandwagon of herd mentality and herd-like fury. The anger while understandable has certainly gone way way way overboard.

Let's look at some factors which we need to consider:

- we should not hunt esp when the specie is endangered

- we should never encourage hunting as a sport, esp when we do not make use of what we obliterate (i.e. if we hunt for something, we should make use of it by way of food, etc..., btw when we kill to accessorise, thats pretty bad and unnecessary too)

- cuteness and how majestic an animal may look should have NO effect on how we feel and how we react to the reprehensible act ... why we have no "save the hyenas" or "save the wild dogs" events??? Its always cutest stuff like dolphins, pandas, etc ...

Many Americans and even Europeans were very vocal over the Cecil incident, and rightly so... but please check your own backyard ... fox hunting and deer hunting???!!!,  pleeeasseeee ... 

- the Disneyland effect ... you know how it is, when you actualise and give personality, voice and character to animals via cartoons, they can have a "perception/sensory effect" on how we ascribe human values to these creatures. I am in no way diminishing the essence of living things but we can say that the way we look at deers will never be far from the image of Bambi; the same for pandas, lions, etc... We just have to be mindful and be sensible enough to separate fact from fiction.

- there are varying levels of morality here, of which some are based on religious background. You can take the high road and say all living things are sacred and should not kill any living thing - be a vegan. Or you think we are born to be meat eaters/carnivores and there are "domesticated animals" such as pigs, chickens, cows, etc... that can be eaten. Then there are religious beliefs which may prohibit the killing and/or consumption of cows, or pigs, etc.. Then there are "modern cultural beliefs" that animals we keep as pets should never be eaten such as dogs and cats.

Hence we can have so many backgrounds which would colour our opinions. I think for sure:

a) we should NOT hunt for sport, or just for the fun of it (and not make use of it, not for decor or trophies or accessories)
b) we should never hunt if the specie is endangered
c) we should not kill for blatantly STUPID reasons, e.g. some animals' penises, some silly rhino's horn, elephant's tusk, etc...

That should form the basis of our platform on killing animals. One can add to the criteria above based on their cultural background, religious persuasion, and inherent values. 

Hence based on the top 3 criteria, killing Cecil was a big NO-NO and rightly should be condemned. But do not over react NOW if there are killings that are just as reprehensible at your backyard for centuries and you DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. Do not just get caught up with the Cecil thing just because its faddish.

(great insightful article by a Zimbabwean)

By Goodwill Nzou

When I was 9 years old, a solitary lion prowled villages near my home. After it killed a few chickens, some goats and finally a cow, we were warned to walk to school in groups and stop playing outside. My sisters no longer went alone to the river to collect water or wash dishes; my mother waited for my father and older brothers, armed with machetes, axes and spears, to escort her into the bush to collect firewood.

A week later, my mother gathered me with nine of my siblings to explain that her uncle had been attacked but escaped with nothing more than an injured leg. The lion sucked the life out of the village: No one socialized by fires at night; no one dared stroll over to a neighbor’s homestead. When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally. We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast and our escape from serious harm.

 Recently, a 14-year-old boy in a village not far from mine wasn’t so lucky. Sleeping in his family’s fields, as villagers do to protect crops from the hippos, buffalo and elephants that trample them, he was mauled by a lion and died. The killing of Cecil hasn’t garnered much more sympathy from urban Zimbabweans, although they live with no such danger. Few have ever seen a lion, since game drives are a luxury residents of a country with an average monthly income below $150 cannot afford.

Don’t misunderstand me: For Zimbabweans, wild animals have near-mystical significance. We belong to clans, and each clan claims an animal totem as its mythological ancestor. Mine is Nzou, elephant, and by tradition, I can’t eat elephant meat; it would be akin to eating a relative’s flesh. But our respect for these animals has never kept us from hunting them or allowing them to be hunted. (I’m familiar with dangerous animals; I lost my right leg to a snakebite when I was 11.)

The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus.

PETA is calling for the hunter to be hanged. Zimbabwean politicians are accusing the United States of staging Cecil’s killing as a “ploy” to make our country look bad. And Americans who can’t find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation’s demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president’s most recent birthday banquet. We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.

 Don’t tell us what to do with our animals when you allowed your own mountain lions to be hunted to near extinction in the eastern United States. Don’t bemoan the clear-cutting of our forests when you turned yours into concrete jungles. And please, don’t offer me condolences about Cecil unless you’re also willing to offer me condolences for villagers killed or left hungry by his brethren, by political violence, or by hunger.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do Good, Be Good .... Why

In Christianity its because God so loved you, and now that you have been saved, you should be like Christ, be good, be nice.

In Buddhism, we are all just passing through, its cycles, we need to improve the present life so that our future life cycles higher in the road to nirvana. Karma is a bitch too, what you put in you plough... maybe not this life but eventually.

My problem with the above two 
postulations is why can't we be good for GOODNESS SAKE!!!??? Why do we need this fucking carrot being dangled in front of us, what are we, PETS!!???

I am not an atheist, and I do believe there is a God and its all very nice the love thing but let's leave it at that. Do not extrapolate that into my character. I am still me. If I do good its because good is really good, it brings out the best in humans. It is the right thing to do, AND YOU DO NOT FUCKING NEED TO HAVE FUCKING SOMETHING IN RETURN - you don't need presents, virgins, good luck, eternal life, good karma ... those are some other shit.

We have a mind, a sense of morality ... you may ask where do these come from ... even if they are God given, just say thank you ... but you do not need to do good because of that. Do good because the other side is evil/grey.

Yes I do feel good when I do good, so is that something for something, who cares... don't do it for presents or promises or to change your luck because those will only reveal how shallow your character is, and in the end your goodness is tainted and watered down. Will you still do good if there were NO CARROTS!!?? If you answer yes, thats the best answer and the only answer you need to hear. Good hearts can't be bought. You can nurture it but don't bribe me.

WE ARE NOT PETS... don't fucking dangle carrots/bones in front of us!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Final S&M Show Podcast

Final S&M Show, after more than 2 years and 100 episodes ...

Song Picks:  Sha-Na-Na's Those Magic Changes ... and my favourite song from my favourite band, Queen's Brighton Rock ... look for Brian May's guitar solo in the middle, which I think is the best guitar solo ever.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Candy Law Lam's Photoshoot

Candy Law Lam,  a mother of 3, released her photoshoot book ... and first run of 3,000 copies sold out immediately. A model and sometime actress 25 years ago... she has made her comeback in movies in two memorable movies recently. She had her divorce finalised two years ago. Oh, by the way she is 50 years old ... stunning!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Countries Stock market's Capitalisation As A % Of GDP

Someone twitted to us during our BFM show about the veracity of the figures of a country's stock market as a percentage of GDP. Why is the figure important ... if you can strip out foreign listings and non related listings (inclusive of SPACs) and maybe some REITs that are foreign or regional in nature, you get a good grasp of how much of your economy is listed. 

The higher the figure, the higher the importance of the stockmarket in feeling and shrinking economic activity. IN a super bull, Malaysian domestic economy would flourish as most people will see a lot of funds swishing around, the same when its a bear market when restaurants business dwindles sharply. The higher the figure, the more attention will the central banks and authorities pay to major fluctuations in share markets.

China, though has a lowly figure of GDP that is listed, is important this time owing to the exuberant amount in leverage/margin.

The latest figures were for 2012. There are still discrepancies because many markets have "outside interests" being listed as well on their markets. It could be REITs, foreign listings, etc...

Bahrain  52%
Belgium 60.2%
Bolivia 27%
Brazil 51%
Canada 110%
Chile 118%
China 43.7%
Colombia 71%
Denmark 69%
France 68%
Germany 42%
Greece 18%
HK 421%
India 69%
Indonesia 43%
Ireland 49%
South Korea 96%
Malaysia 156%
Mexico 44%
Holland 79%
Philippines 105%
Russia 43%
Singapore 143%
South Africa 154%
Spain 73%
Thailand 104%
UK 115%
USA 115%
Vietnam 21%

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Loyalty, Tolerance, Empathy, Leadership

There was a king. He had 10 wild dogs...
He used them to torture and eat all the ministers who made mistakes.

Once, one of the ministers gave an opinion which was wrong, and which the king didn’t like at all… 
So he ordered for the minister to be thrown to the dogs.

So the minister said, 
"I served you 10 years and you do this..?

Please give me 10 days before you throw me in with those dogs!"
So the king agreed… 

In those 10 days the minister went to the guard that was guarding the dogs and told him he wants to serve the dogs for the next 10 days… 

The guard was baffled… 
But he agreed… 
So the minister started feeding the dogs, cleaning them, washing them, providing all sorts of comfort to them.

When the 10 days were up… 

The king ordered that the minister be thrown in to the dogs as his punishment. 

But when he was thrown in, 

Everyone was amazed at what they saw..
They saw the dogs licking the feet of the minister!

So the king, baffled at what he saw, said:” what happened to my dogs. !!!” 

The minister then said;” 
I served the dogs for 10 days and they didn’t forget my service…
Yet I served you for 10 years and you forgot all on the first mistake!”… 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

China's Baby Steps Into Capitalism

There is market support practiced by most countries financial authorities, usually with things such as circuit breakers, etc... but what the Chinese authorities have been doing is tantamount to meddling, acts of desperation, runs afoul of free market principles or proper capitalism. 

Here are the things China has done for the past 10 days to stop the sell down:

1) drop interest rat

es by 75 basis points
2) ban IPOs
3) ask state own firms not to sell shares
4) ask securities firms to buy shares (this one is so puzzling)
5) allow companies who wish to suspend their own shares, for basically any reason ... now its close to 50% of all listed companies in China having requested and being suspended from trading
6) restricted short bets on index futures

as if thats not enough, today they announce that anyone holding at least 5% shares in any listed company CANNOT sell their shares for 6 months.

BUT ... wait for it ... this one takes the cake ..."Under new rules announced last week by the country’s securities regulator, real estate has become an acceptable form of collateral for Chinese margin traders, who borrow money from securities firms to amplify their wagers on equities. That means if share prices fall enough, individual investors who pledge their homes could be at risk of losing them to a broker." To allow punters to literally bet the house on it ... soon securities firms will be the biggest house owners!!!

The ChinaSecurities Regulatory Commission has done more than what is deem proper in order to prop up the market. But markets are in panic mode and is fuelled mainly by passions and not rational thinking. Two things guide markets trend, FEAR & GREED. There is now too much panic and fear, and every additional step taken by CSRC are being viewed of acts of desperation and add fuel to fear.

The cascading effects of China's correction lies not with just punters betting on the markets but rather companies themselves using their shares as collateral for margin lines to play the market themselves. Much of the funds has gone to manipulate, support or push their own share prices higher, and/or bet on other companies. The cascading effect is due to margin facilities being cut, stop or collateral being sold down.

However when you can willy nilly suspend your counter to evade a sell down, the selling can only build up, not abate.
China isn’t the only market with a history of state intervention. During the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Hong Kong’s government bought shares worth $15 billion to prop up the market. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily banned short selling on some shares during the global financial crisis in 2008.
Xi Jinpeng has a bigger vested interest to prop up the markets. Thanks to his anti corruption drive, and a deliberate move to divert hot money from property, he has fast tracked the popular HK Connect which allows China investors to buy HK shares and vice versa. In a way, its also a good way to channel hot or laundered money out of the country. This was seen as an OK signal from the government to the public that its OK to buy shares. The anticipation that the HK Connect train would also apply to Shenzhen shares soon cause massive speculation especially in Shenzhen's already frothy and more speculative market.
The Grexit situation was a good reason for some big players to start taking chips off the table, what was unexepected was the domino effect and the many banks and financial firms holding collateral shares acted first, to start the dump rolling. With foreign investors exiting as they regard more and more intervention sound like a really iffy stock market place - they sold and sold with little intention to come back anytime soon.
Lessons here - recognise bubble when it is bubbling. Central banks must make sure banks are well capitalised and their exposure have limited consequences. Margin limits must be enforced religiously. Then bubbles will still burst, but we want to minimise the downside effects as much as we can. 
Welcome to the world of capitalism. Live and learn.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Brave New World

Brave new world ... or just platforms masking as the middlemen, bringing buyer and seller of services on the one platform.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day - Let The Man Be The Man He Is

I never thought a simple posting like this could have struck so many chords. We all love our mums, and rightly mums get most of the accolade, Mother's Day is always bigger than Father's Day. This posting got xxx FB likes, I still cannot believe so many felt the same way. Its like we are so connected in what's deepest in us. I may not know all my readers personally, but I feel so humbled to know you all feel the same way. Its not easy to be a blogger, if there are 100 readers, there'd be 4 or 5 who will just hate your guts and they will post nasty comments to let you know that - even though out of the 100 ... 70 or more may like you, but most will not bother to write and tell you nice things, thats the reality when you put yourself out there ... hence reading the comments for this posting was very shocking and restored my faith in humanity. I thought I had to say this, made me realise what I thought was something simple was probably my most important posting because so many people really cared.
I had a good chat with a friend about dads growing old. I assume we are all filial sons and daughters. When our dads grow older and older, maybe some will have retired from their careers by now. I wonder how many of us "love our dads" in the way that allows him to continue to be the man that he is.

Dads who are now retired are dads from a different era. Most of our dads are the strong silent types, not like many of the younger dads nowadays who will try to be good friends with their kids. 

A man of the house usually takes the lead in the household. He takes care of the paycheck. He calls the shots in many areas of the household matters. When they retire, they may not have access to as much "money as before" - gee, do you ever wonder why, thats because he has brought you guys up, send you guys to further your studies, even finance your first car or even your first home, down payment for this and that. Flying you back from overseas, etc... 

Now he may be pushing 60 or 70, he may be living primarily off what you kids give him. We somehow think if we give them a few hundred or a thousand or two ringgit a month, we have done our part. Your dad is still the man he was, faults and all. He used to call the shots, ask you guys where you like to have dinner, ask you guys what you want for your birthdays.

Now, he has to take money from you guys. Funds may not be so "loose". When you guys take him out to dinner, he doesn't have the "right" to pay for you guys anymore. Heck, he may even shy away from ordering whatever he likes from the menu or dictate where he wants to have dinner. He may not even be able to just take your mum wherever they wish to go for holidays. 

In these very many small ways, he is not "allowed to be the man he used to be". We as children should empathise with that. If we can afford it, we should give him more than what he needs to survive. We should allow our father to be the father he still is. 

A person's spirit is the hardest to please and easiest to break. Love comes in many disguises. Love is not just money but our attitude as well. Reconsider how we love our dads. Mine is no longer around. If your dad still is, be thankful, and be the better son and daughter. Love your dad better.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

After Breaking Bad ...

Its a kind of depression after you have devoured Breaking Bad the series cause almost every other series do not match up. But you get over it. Here are my recommendations on top notch series to watch, or worth watching:

Kristen Bell is amazing and sexy and Don Cheadle highly watchable. The series is about a group of management consultants who flit from client to client spinning lies and data points. A lot of conniving, sex and manipulative behaviour. Into their fourth season.

 Into their third season. Extremely good. How to get things done in politics, by any means. The relationship between Kevin Spacey's character with Robin Wright's is convoluted to say the least. Very addictive.

 Also into their fourth season, a series about a lawyer, and one non-lawyer who happens to be the best lawyer amongst them. Solid.

Saul was a critical character from Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan is at the helm again for this prequel of sorts which traces the early days of Saul before Breaking Bad. Very Vince Gilligan, all the camera techniques and story building is there. The good thing is that in addition to Saul, you will find at least two more characters from Breaking Bad in the new series. The first few episodes were very slow moving but stay with it. Its very good.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Game of Thrones Truism

The post-it notes indicate when a character is killed off .... in the bloody Game of Thrones. Must be the worst job security when you are an actor in the series.