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Showing posts from March, 2009

Grave & Deathly Humour

People who can laugh at life and at themselves are fun people. Death is a serious thing, but you can pass on with character and wit, or any way you want as long as you have sorted out your afterlife during your lifetime. Some might say grave humour is in bad taste, ah, shaddup already, go dig a hole and plant yourself. My favourite is the last one... I told you so... so many times!!!

At least when your family and friends visit your grave, they smile and remember what a character you were.

No Alternative Available For Now To Replace USD As Reserve Currency

Special Drawing Rights have captured the market's imagination in recent days. Behind the scenes, Chinese and Russian officials have harping on it, and the head of China's central bank posted a report suggesting that SDRs should have an expanded role in global finance, including as a super-reserve asset. In a presentation to the Council on Foreign Relations, beleaguered US Treasury Secretary Geithner appeared to some to initially be open to such proposals.

Governor Zhou Xiaochuan.In it Governor Zhou argues that the world needs a new and better reserve currency, one not dominated by a single country, and that it is in the best interest of the world that this reserve currency be created by a body like the IMF.

Many people are unfamiliar with SDRs. Special Drawing Rights were first issued by the IMF in 1969, as Bretton Woods was straining and fears there was not enough gold and dollars, the main reserve assets, were growing. SDRs are a basket of existing currencies. The basket gets …

Ratings Agencies Still Scot Free

For all the anger being lashed out at bank employees compensation. Bank CEOs have been grilled, even Greenspan has been lambasted (rightly). But what about the ratings agencies?? They were mostly responsible for the growth of CDOs, rating them AAA when only a small component of those CDOs consist of AAA borrowers. Without their implicit approval, the investment banks could not have managed to lure so many investors to buy these so called triple A rated papers. Just a notch below AAA would have seen these CDOs growth cut by a substantial amount. Its not the first time ratings agencies have "helped" to create troubles for the global financial markets. You can name Enron, Worldcom and now CDOs. These buggers get their rating fees upfront and not even a slap on the wrists. I would suggest that Moodys, Fitch and S&P be fined the sum of all fees received from rating the CDOs for 2004-2008. There has to be punitive action. I certainly hope that the upcoming G20 meeting will see…

Li Ka Shing Says It Is Time To Buy

Li Ka Shing says it is time to buy. Let's not be so cynical on his opinion. At least he didn't ask all to buy 2 months ago, or 4 months ago or even 6 months ago. Hence I would view his opinion with some merit.
New York Times: The oracle of Hong Kong has spoken. And his message: it’s time to consider buying stocks and real estate. Li Ka-Shing reported on Thursday that his companies had severe profit declines in 2008, but he said that “if you buy in a slow market, in the medium term you get good returns,” The New York Times’s Bettina Wassener reported.The proclamation on Thursday by Li Ka-Shing, the self-made billionaire who controls some of Hong Kong’s largest companies and carries enormous sway among investors throughout Asia, was made at a rare public appearance. Exuding confidence, Mr. Li joked with reporters and looked anything but depressed about the sharp fall in profit his companies reported Thursday.Whether Mr. Li is proved right about stocks and property — and he certai…

Overly Aggressive Retrenching Is A Western Disease

Every time recession hits, its the MNCs who will be the first to retrench workers. Yes, you can argue that on an export destruction platform, but that is just part of the real story. Generally, local companies "are not as quick" to fire or retrench staff than say MNCs.

If you look at what has been happening around the world, almost all listed companies have enforced some sort of retrenchment or cost cutting exercise. From the GMs to the Sonys to even pharmaceuticals and construction firms. No industry is spared.

Don't you find it interesting that Malaysian companies, in general, list and unlisted, are not quite so trigger happy.Companies in developed markets tend to follow the mantra that the CEO is responsible for the fortunes of the company. The big movement over the past 15 years to tie CEOs compensation (and those of senior management) to the share price returns has produced a magnifying glass effect on management's behaviour and financial figures.

Everybody knows…

Hedge Fund Top Earners

Even with such an exceptionally bad year like 2008, many regular top hedge fund earners still make their billions. James Simons will always stay near the top because of his patented trading software which spots the oversold and overbought areas and ekes out the differences. Still, we should feel sorry for James Simons because he made only $2.5bn in 2008 compared to $3.7bn in 2007. Simons' fund does not take in any more new funds for a number of years already, they manage funds that have stayed invested with them in the first few years of inception and now mainly manages their own employee funds. I think the trading software was so reliable that they can charge a 40% share of profits compared to the usual 20%.

John Paulson continues to make real dough by shorting the mortgage lenders and banks. Soros is still there, great investor indeed. Surprisingly Druckenmiller also made the top ten in 2008. He was Soros' right hand man before striking out on his own.

2007's top earn…

Scholarships For Performing School Leavers

Below are some sites which offer scholarship programs. Maybe the young ones will find them useful. Do pass on to your nephews and nieces.

MARA Scholarship Programs

Yayasan Proton Scholarship

PTPTN Education Loan

The Star Education Fund

Astro Scholarship Award

PETRONAS Education Scholarship Programs

2007 MNRB Scholarship Fund

OCBC Bank Scholarship

Bank Negara Scholarship

ABM 50th Merdeka Scholarship

Curtin Sarawak Scholarship

The University of Nottingham Malaysia CampusHigh AchieversScholarships

HELP University Colleg…

Guarded Optimism On Geithner's Plan

The under-pressure Tim Geithner, in probably his last ditch effort to save his career, will bring out his toxic asset plan today. From available information, I am optimistic and I believe markets will see it that way as well. This could sustain the rally for another couple of weeks. What is important is that the plan will start to "move" the toxic assets. Questions over the pricing will be secondary in my view as once things get transacted, it will eventually find a proper pricing level. The fact that reputable outside managers will be involved is a good start.

Brad de Long did a quick FAQ on the new Geithner plan to be unveiled today. The plan will be buying as much as $1 trillion in troubled mortgages and related assets from financial institutions. The plan is likely to offer generous subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax investors to form partnerships with the government to buy toxic assets from banks. To help protect taxpayers, who would pay for the bulk …

Jom Makan, Ipoh Mali

Many friends will ask me to take them back to Ipoh for a food trip. Its silly to compare Penang food with Ipoh food, they are so different. When I was growing up, there were ZERO bak kut teh stalls in Ipoh, except for one sole coffee shop that brews one large pot only on Sundays, and I still remember buying back for my grand-dad almost every other week. You need to be in Ipoh for 2 full days to sample the important eateries. I cannot quite provide exact directions to all, the city is so small, just ask and you will get there in no time. Had to steal the photos from the many wonderful food bloggers cause I don't really go around snapping photos. So here are my top must-go spots:

1) This coffee shop called Xin Quan Fang sells Ipoh famous dry curry mee. It’s located at 174 Jln Sultan Iskandar Shah, Ipoh. Business hour: 7am to 2pm. The very thick curry sauce comes in a small extra bowl if you ask for it that way. Its the heady mix of siu yoke, char siu and chicken and...

2) Once you hav…

Marky Mark On Markets

Well, we have two Marks. Marc Faber, the famous Dr. Gloom and Mark Mobius, the Yul Brynner wanna-be from Templeton Emerging Markets. Surprisingly, both sounded pretty similar this time around.I generally agree with both, but 20% in 2009 is a bit low to me.
Marc Faber: China and other emerging markets offer value over the next two years as growth picks up, investor Marc Faber said. Investors should buy stocks and other assets in China after the market falls to its 2008 low to profit from an expected recovery, Faber said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. China is the world’s best-performing stock market this year. “Rapidly growing countries have setbacks from time to time,” Faber, the publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report, said in Hong Kong. “I think we’re going to test the lows again, but over the next two years, it’s probably a good time to invest.”

The MSCI World Index has retreated 18% this year, extending last year’s record 42% slump, amid concern the widening fi…

Financial Markets Are A Sham - Stewart/Cramer

Readers of this blog will be aware of how much I adore Jim Cramer (not). Hence when news leaked that Jon Stewart was doing a full show with just Cramer, I know it would be merciless on Cramer. As much as I think Cramer is an idiot on markets, I think he does not deserve the full whacking by Stewart. Cramer is first and foremost an entertainer, then a market commentator, he then tries to pick stocks. If you watch his antics, he is more of a momentum trader - if it swings down he will turn very bearish and vice versa, all in a matter of days, I seriously don't know why people will watch him - but because its America, out of 100 million viewers, you will still be a hit if only a fraction of people watches you.

If you click on the link you can watch the entire Daily Show episode. What Jon Stewart tries to do is to be the layperson savior as he lays blame on the financial experts trying to hoodwink the rest of the world…

Gillian's Predicament

Since the private photos were uploaded early last year, I have basically not commented even once on them. I have been reading the news and developments, and have just finished watching Gillian's recent interview with Stephen Chan on Be My Guest. There are a few certainties here:

1) the photos were private and what people do in private should be their business, even celebrities have the right to privacy

2) hence the leaking or distribution of the photos through the internet is a crime by the person who copied and posted the photos, the people in the photos did not commit any crime

3) there are many who condemn the celebrities who were in the photos, why the rush to judge, who has the right to judge, let him/her who is without sin cast the first stone, who are we that can stand on a pedestal and cast judgments and make degrading remarks on them

If this was in western media, most people would have shrugged them off after a few days, but because we are in Asia, dignity and moral decency s…