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Showing posts from May, 2009

USD Weakness Underpinning Stocks' Climb

If you look at the cumulative show of economic indicators, we are seeing some recovery. Naturally, economists being good economists, will NEVER embrace them as signs of total recovery, but will question the sustainability - thats what pisses me off about economists, one of many things. While economic figures are good, the one binding factor which is sustaining markets globally is the weaker USD. That alone makes US stocks that much more attractive. If US stocks are not falling, chances are good that the rest of the world will not be falling.

The one reason that could shake the upward climb has to be the North Korean situation, so monitor it closely.

Improving vital signs across the globe - from US GDP to Japanese factory output and British house prices to German retail sales - raised hope on Friday that the world economy was responding after months in intensive care. The US economy shrank 5.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2008, less than the previous estimate of 6.1 per cent and sl…

A Quick Run-Through Of Global Real Estate Hotspots

Real estate is a cumbersome slow moving asset. Its not like stock prices which can move up and down a few percent on the same day. Real estate is however a reflection of liquidity, a wealth indicator, a confidence indicator, a leading indicator, and a lagging indicator as well, depending on how you argue and look at things. Hence it opportune to have a peek at some real estate hotspots to see if the surprising bull run ties in with the investing situation in real estate.

AustraliaThe Australian housing market downturn is likely to be milder than in the U.S., UK and EU in 2009. Australia's house price correction had a head start going back to 2003. Furthermore, housing demand from migrants to the commodities-rich west and the chronic housing shortage in eastern Australia will keep prices from stabilizing back at pre-boom levels unless Australia fails to avoid a deep recession. Indeed, building approvals and housing loans to owner-occupiers began to recover since October 2008 after t…

Randy Roubini, Not That There's Anything Wrong With That!

Its a tough life being Nouriel Roubini. He has been written disparagingly a number of times for his now famous parties at his NY loft. Party-having economist Nouriel Roubini is no longer inviting reporters to parties in his vagina-studded we hear! *(A single tear)* So, what makes his parties so great?
"Fun people and beautiful girls," Roubini said, grinning. "I look for ten girls to one guy." His friend Bill Clinton, he added, is a fan of this ratio.
Nouriel Roubini has quite the reputation. A Turkish-born Iranian-Jew that was educated in Italy and the US, Roubini’s name recognition shot through the roof after his stubbornly bearish outlook on the US economy turned out to be true. Since 2008, the head of RBE Monitor has made countless appearances on most of the network business news channels, pushing his gloomy views of the US, and the world economy in general. His private party boy life came into mainstream media when a leaked email which Roubini invited his friend…

State Wealth Funds, Only In Malaysia

Well, we didn't know that our country can actually support so many sovereign wealth funds. A bit of trivia, the most number of monarchies in the world reside in Malaysia, by virtue of our Sultanate states within the country. Looks like we will have the most number of sovereign wealth funds within a country as well soon. Obviously, the Penang's initiative is to "counter reflect" how audacious the move by Terengganu was, and not an entirely genuine request. I guess Penang leaders will argue that it is genuine if we all treat things at face value.

The key point is that the Federal government will act as guarantor for the bond issuance by Terengganu. A similar backing will almost allow any state to start their own sovereign wealth fund, or should I say, state wealth fund. Cynical yet smart, now Federal government has to come up with a reasonable rebuttal on how to say no to Penang.

--------------------------- The Penang government today sent a proposal and letter to Prime …

How To Speak Like Obama

One of the main reasons why Obama is so popular and effective is his oratory skills. Yes, oratory skills can be honed. You can actually improve your public speaking skills by joining Toastmasters. You will learn how to develop the necessary skills in engaging your audience, build on your subject matter, learn about delivery, phrasing, etc... To get to Obama-level, you need natural charisma, much like JFK and Martin Luther King. Leadership qualities, to a large extent can also be honed, but to be a natural leader where people instantly look up to you is a quality that is hard to find. I have come across a few articles that tries to look at how Obama works his oratory skills. Here are the main points:

a) Always know your audience, their expectations, their anxieties, their concerns. When you speak to a group of parents-teachers, its different, when its with union workers about to lose a lot of jobs, its different, when its in front of TV, its different, when you are speaking to political…

Interview With Charlie Munger

Just who is Charlie Munger. To many people he is the other half of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett's partner, sounding board, confidant, strategist, etc... Charlie has often allowed Warren to hog the limelight, but his contribution has been significant as well. Just read Warren's notes and memoirs.

Charles T. Munger is a man of many interests, much like his hero Benjamin Franklin. Self-taught in a range of disciplines, he's a strong advocate for interdisciplinary education saying, "If I can do it, many people can." A student of physics and mathematics before entering law school, he left his mark on the legal profession early in his career by co-founding Munger, Tolles & Olson in 1962—a firm that is today consistently ranked at the top of its field. Now an icon of the business world, he joined forces with Warren Buffett in the mid-1960s—leaving law to become vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and a partner in one of the most successful firms in the world. Over th…

Dissecting Nouriel Roubini

Just who is Nouriel Roubini? A lucky guy? Like I always say, if you are bullish or bearish long enough, you will eventually be right. My two New York fund manager friends who were down a few months back told me that Roubini is a party animal when he is not speaking like a diplomat on TV. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

The following is a revealing piece on him from The New Republic:

Some economists--strict academics mostly--have long considered Roubini a quack. They sneer at his approach, which is wide, deep, and deeply unconventional. When he travels, for instance, he says his research includes talking to "everyone from the airport cab driver all the way to the finance minister." One prominent economist who studies recession indicators recently slammed Roubini for his "subjective," "wild man" predictions because they don't always rely on econometric modeling. And Roubini certainly didn't help his case at an IMF conference in September 2…

The World's Biggest Debtor Nations

The world's biggest debtor nation is surprisingly not the USA. The best way to calculate that is to look at external debt as a percentage of GDP. When you go past 100%, its dangerous times. HK is surprisingly at #4 but one must also look at their financial balance sheet as a whole - HK is an anomaly. Looking at the list one can now easily understand why Milton Friedman thinks that the Euro is a very flawed currency, and may not even outlast one major recession - its happening now, let's see how things turn out.

1. Ireland - 811% External debt (as % of GDP): 811%
External debt per capita: $549,819

Gross external debt: $2.311 trillion (Q4 2008)
2008 GDP: $285 billion
2. United Kingdom - 336% External debt (as % of GDP): 336%
External debt per capita: $153,616

Gross external debt: $9.388 trillion (Q4 2008)
2008 GDP: $2.787 trillion
3. Belgium - 327%External Debt (as % of GDP): 327%
External debt per capita: $155,362

Gross External Debt: $1.618 trillion (Q4 2008)
2008 GDP: $495.4 billion
4. Hong…

2,000 Movies All On One DVD!!!

How do you like to store 2,000 movies on ONE DVD.... a piracy business owner's nightmare, so too for movie companies and producers... how easy will it be to duplicate and transfer if you could store in the one DVD. You could be a traveling piracy dealer with just a notebook and that one DVD.

Dr James Chon of the Swinburne University of Technology, holds up a DVD containing new technology that can store data in five dimensions.
May 21, 2009
Australian scientists have unveiled new DVD technology that stores data in five dimensions, making it possible to pack more than 2000 movies onto a single disc. A team of researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, have used nanotechnology to boost the storage potential nearly 10,000-fold compared to standard DVDs, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature."We were able to show how nanostructured material can be incorporated onto a disc in order to increase data capacity, without increasing the…

The Best Malay Album Thus Far

I think this proposition would not result in any heated debate. One may quibble that all but one song were by P.Ramlee and not "original", but what is an album but a collection of songs, hopefully presented in a thematic way. Without doubt, Sheila Majid's Legenda album is so way way up there in terms of quality, musicality, the high level of musicianship, the superb production, the meticulous thought behind the concept and integrity of the album in order to be a fitting tribute to P. Ramlee - these were just some qualities attached to that album. The contribution and creative strategy by Jenny Chin, Fauzi Marzuki and Roslan Aziz cannot be understated. Sheila was all the way behind the conceptualisation of the album.

The album started off with a dream like sequence, as if it was beginning to tell a story, a dream of days where life was simpler and much better. Where good is good and people generally behaved better, where people do not have guess your motivations or motives…

Sharing The Music

Many of you might not miss my Radio Jukebox by Imeem. For those who do, the reason why I took the thing out was that Imeem finally settled with the music companies, in that when users put the jukebox outside of Imeem, they will only play each song for 30 seconds, which is quite annoying. So, I took it off. If you want to hear the full songs and playlists, you have to listen to them at the Imeem site. As in most things in life, they are a lot better when shared out. Those who liked my selections (I think I have over 30 playlists), you can access the songs through the site via my account:



password: Salvatore


(wait for 30 seconds)

It will then load all my songs playlists. Left click on any playlist will reveal the songs. Right click on the playlist, then click VIEW PLAYLIST will play the songs in a new tab.


p/s photo: Nia Ramadhani

Dissecting Temasek

Temasek now has a professional outsider as CEO following Ho Ching's resignation. Of course you can put a spin on the motivations and pressures and developments which led to that. Herein lies the trouble with many big asset management unit. Is it a personality driven outfit? Is there just one person dictating matters? Safe to say that Temasek have very well paid sector leaders managing their portfolio. How does the asset allocation strategy work? Every company has their own culture and ways of doing things. For a proper fund manager to work well, they have to believe what they bought and believe that when they sell, its their call. Anything else that gets in the way would diminish the "empowerment" element.

Good fund managers need to have the autonomy, yes they can be part of the strategy exercise on capital, currency and asset allocation meetings... but when the decision to buy and sell arrives, it has to be the fund manager's call. If everything is collective, then …