Friday, July 30, 2010
Loved the parallel review of the new Cilantro with Sage. Best posting so far has to be on Nathalie's Studio, try and stop yourself from going to eat there after reading the posting. Good job dude!
(photos from Paranoid Android's site)
This second blogger is based in HK, Diary of a Growing Boy, and I have been following him for more than 2 years. He is in the hedge fund business and probably very successful at it, you need to be judging from the wines he has in his collection and the places he frequents.
"I picked a bottle of 1991 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses from the wine list to start us off. This was an amazingly beautiful Champagne... Nose was very sweet, with lots of caramel, honey, a bit of citrus fruits, nutty and a little metallic. "
I hesitated to link his blog for the longest time as some may think I am promoting snootiness and over-indulgence. His knowledge of wines is so thorough, and that can only be from someone who is a passionate alcoholic disguised by his love for great wines ... if you are going to be an alcoholic ... be a rich, passionate, knowledgeable one la.
I guess one can have over-indulgence as a trait. Food and wine, if you consume only the very best (life is too short, right) may sometimes blind you to be floating away from the reality of the real world - where 99.9% would probably never get to experience the indulgences you enjoy. There is a disturbing fine line between enjoying the best that life can offer, and calibrating your life's compass on the brutal realities and sufferings in the world. Too much can be numbing to the soul. Still, I salute and admire him.
I mean I won't pass up an opportunity to partake in a vertical sampling of Petrus from 1982-1993 in one night, if I can afford it ... but I can't be doing that month in month out without constantly checking and rechecking that a 'good conscience' is still in order.
Still, a brilliant food and wine blog in the luxury category.
some highlights on this jacky cheung's mini concert double-cd:
1) rogerwang's "love scale" is played by sham, another great malaysian guitarist
2) jz8's lydia chew sings backing vocals
3) jacky sings "lover's tears" in jazz style, delicious!
4) jacky sings his own classic "lei heong lan" in jazz and sam hui's "fut tew cheong" (an elvis presley's cover) in swing
5) malaysian great drummer, lewis pragasam plays drums
6) many songs with big-band backup in the album, fun!
4 malaysians involved in this project, you all should be darn proud!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Seven of the 91 European banks examined for their strength to withstand a crisis failed, most of them in Spain. Overall, the European banks were judged to be financially sound. The key is the fact that only 7 failed, and secondly they are just Spanish banks mainly, plus a couple in Germany and Greece.
Governments are already working with the seven weak banks, five in Spain and one each in Germany and Greece, to help them shore up their finances, said the Committee of European Banking Supervisors, which carried out the stress tests. Failing the capital strength tests were German state-owned lender Hypo Real Estate, Greece's ATEBank and five regional savings banks in Spain. Germany's case is a state owned, so just rectifying one state owned bank is a non issue. Greece with just one bank is a delight, considering the mauling the economy took over the past 12 months.
'The publication of the results and the actions that have been announced to address bank capital deficiencies promise to significantly strengthen the European financial system,' Mr Strauss-Kahn said. He said these steps complemented measures already taken, including the establishment of the European Financial Stability Facility and improvements in European Union economic governance and financial supervisory framework.US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also welcomed the release of the bank test results, saying the EU 'has made a significant effort to increase disclosure on the conditions of individual European financial institutions and enhance market stability.'
Goldman Sachs had earlier expected 10 to fail. A figure higher than 10 would have been a negative catalyst. The Goldman Sachs poll of 376 respondents, including hedge funds and long-only investors, showed European banks were on average expected to raise 37.6 billion euros ($48.4 billion) in extra capital following the tests, Goldman said in a note dated July 22.
Banks domiciled in Spain, Germany and Greece were expected to raise the most fresh capital, and the source of capital was expected to be split between the public and private sector, Goldman said.
As with any kind of stress test, there will be critics that they might be too lenient. While the modest findings cast doubt on the credibility of the bank tests -- released on Friday in a bid to restore investor confidence -- with the European economy apparently improving fast, some analysts said that may not matter.
Five of Spain's smaller regional lenders, known as cajas, failed the test and their recapitalisation will almost complete a state-funded drive to consolidate the country's network of its unlisted savings banks. They need 1.8 billion euros, the Bank of Spain said. The fact that Spain has not triggered massive downgrades like Greece or Hungary, they should be able to raise the capital to avert the problems.
Banks in Germany and Greece were also seen as weak spots and in need of restructuring, but state-owned Hypo Real Estate was the only German lender to flunk and state-controlled ATEbank was the only Greek bank to fail.
The key is that no big banks failed the health check. The Committee of European Bank Supervisors (CEBS), a previously little known group with 25 staff at a small London office that coordinated the process, said its test was more severe than the U.S. process.
Europe tested how 91 banks would cope with another recession and losses on government debt after the Greek crisis hit markets and raised fears the euro zone could unravel.
It aimed to repeat a health check on U.S. banks last year that helped restore investor confidence and underpinned a recovery by bank shares. With latest data showing signs of a strengthening recovery in Europe, banks could find themselves in a healthier position than expected, perhaps explaining the muted market reaction.
The euro fell against the dollar as some investors cast doubt on whether stress tests were tough enough but German government bond futures fell on relief that they threw up no nasty surprises. European bank shares ended up on the week, before the results were announced, and the cost of insuring the debt of most European banks fell afterwards.Any bank whose Tier 1 capital ratio falls below 6 percent by the end of 2011 failed the test, and would be expected to raise funds to make up the capital shortfall. Of most concern to investors was that government bond losses were only applied to trading books, and not hold to maturity bonds, as the test did not consider there was a risk of any sovereign default.
Banks' holdings of government bonds were subjected to a 23.1 percent loss on their Greek debt, a 12.3 percent loss on Spanish bonds and a 4.7 percent loss on German debt, all based on 5-year bonds and their value at the end of 2009.
The hunt for weak spots in European banking has focused on Spain's regional savings banks, as well as regional German lenders, known as landesbanks. Spain and Germany have set up funds to help weak banks recapitalise and Spain wants more cajas to merge. The Spanish banks to flunk were Banca Civica, Diada, Espiga, Unnim and Cajasur. The worst case scenario included a 28 percent fall in Spanish house prices during 2010-11.
Banks that came close to failing with a Tier 1 ratio of less than 7 percent under the most stressed scenario included Germany's Deutsche Postbank, Greece's Piraeus, Allied Irish Banks, Italy's UBI Banca and Spain's Bankinter.
Last year's U.S. bank test helped draw a line under worries about the sector there and Europe's attempt to match it has faced splits in the 27-nation EU about how to model the test and how much to divulge. European banks have also already raised about 300 billion euros since the start of the crisis, whereas the U.S. tests kick-started the fundraising.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I am going to start to keep track of what I have been drinking. As one age, one tends to forget what one has drunk beforehand. I am no wine connoisseur, I only know I like it or not, don't ask me about the growth varietals, good years, etc... the subject matter is just way too wide.
Anyway, I had a mild drinking session with a couple of friends on Friday. Thought I should keep some notes.
Château Dutruch Grand Poujeaux 1996
This was the first, not knowing which of the 3 wines to taste first, we just went with the flow. It drank very well, not at all like an aged wine. The fruits were balanced. A bit salty but acceptable. (here come the snooty part) with notes of flowers and berries. Doubt the wine will get better with any more aging. Not bad 86/100.
Penfolds Bin 129 Coonawarra Shiraz 2002
One of only two Penfolds reds, Clare Estate being the other, to be matured solely in French oak - all other Penfolds reds make use of some American oak in the maturation process. Splendid wine. Can drink now and should be even better in a few years time. Tastes of black cherry and plum fruits on the palate.Like most great Aussie Shiraz, its a bit loud, voluptuous mouthfeel, oak, plum, fruit, spices, earthy. Very decent 91/100.
Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz Rutherglen 1995
This probably should have been drunk within its first 10 years. Now its on its last legs. Its still reasonable but the taste is mostly secondary fruit flavours (mocha, cedar, etc) all in the mix and the palate just holding on for dear life. Moderate but disappointing after being cellared so long 70/100.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Petronas is Malaysia's premier state-owned company, but as a publicly owned company it could be worth more than $200 billion and would dominate the country's stockmarket.
According to Deutsche Bank, Petronas could potentially make up 40% of Malaysia's weighting in the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index if it was to list in its entirety (MSCI is a free float-adjusted market capitalisation index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of countries in the region).
Based on a price-to-earnings ratio of 15 times, Petronas could be worth up to $207 billion, according to Investment and Pensions Europe. This would make Malaysia's largest state-owned company close to the same size as the country's total equity market capitalisation today, almost doubling the total market size to $464 billion from $257 billion.
Publicly listing more of Petronas's operations, say analysts and market participants, is critical to stimulating greater growth in the markets. According to Deutsche, if the government were to release a proposed 25% of its equity share, it could potentially bring Malaysia's weighting back on par with Singapore, which currently accounts for 6.6% of the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index. It would also put the country ahead of its biggest regional competitors, such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Malaysia currently holds a weighting of 3.8%, but the addition of more Petronas shares to the market could raise this to 6.4%.
To put this into another context, if the government chose to only release a further 20% of its equity interest in the company's downstream operations, such as its LNG [liquid natural gas] and refinery businesses, it could result in an increase to $191 billion from $79 billion of Malaysia's MSCI weighting.
Petronas's total listed assets on Bursa Malaysia currently have a total market capitalisation of $5.62 billion. Within the holdings group, the companies that have been listed are MISC, Petronas Dagangan, Petronas Gas and KLCC Property Holdings.
In April this year, MISC, which is a key subsidiary and specialist in global marine transportation and logistics services, hired J.P. Morgan, Maybank and Credit Suisse for the listing of its marine engineering unit Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE). Its IPO is now scheduled to take place in September. This follows a $1.5 billion rights issue for MISC in February, arranged by RHB Capital. A market capitalisation of about M$7 billion ($2.2 billion) is expected for MMHE, assuming a net profit of M$350 million and the company being listed at a price-to-earnings ratio of 21 times, according to analysts.
The announcement to list MMHE came as a surprise to some analysts. OSK Research, for example, had expected Petronas to list parts of its petrochemicals business instead, specifically Petronas Carigali and Malaysia LNG. OSK Research had calculated that the market capitalisation of Petronas's petrochemicals companies would be about M$50 billion ($15.1 billion). This is based on a 2009 net profit of M$5 billion for these two companies and the assumption that the shares would be listed at a price-to-earnings ratio of 10 times. Within the petrochemicals sector, a M$50 billion market cap dwarfs the local peers.
While the listing of MMHE is good news, from the analysts' perspective there is much more value for Petronas and the market if it was to list its more profitable downstream operations, such as the petrochemicals, LNG and refinery businesses. A partial listing of this nature would push Malaysia's Asia ex-Japan MSCI market capitalisation to $123 billion and the country's weighting to 5.95%.
Investors and analysts are pushing for such a listing because a move to further publicly list parts of its operations could result in other Malaysia-based companies following suit.
According to Dealogic figures, the Malaysian primary equity market reached its zenith in 2002 when it raised $1.65 billion. By 2008, this volume had dropped drastically to $174 million. If you look at other signposts, such as foreign direct investment (FDI), the nation is falling behind its peers. AmResearch estimates that 35.4% of FDI flows into Southeast Asia went to Malaysia in 1980, while less than 1% went to Vietnam. By 2008, both countries attracted about $8 billion in FDI each.
However, with the roll-out of the so-called New Economic Model and a commitment by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to lift the country from a middle-income to a high-income economy by 2020, the markets appear to be on the mend.
Many of the government incentives are aimed at attracting FDI. Previously, if a company was to list on the Bursa Malaysia, only a maximum of 40% could be held by foreign investors. Now, in certain sectors, foreigners can own as much as 70%. Plus, non-Malaysian investors can own 100% of a commercial property asset, if it is bought from a non-Bumiputra controlled entity.
Simply, reforms like this not only expand the investor pool but also potentially attract a more seasoned investor-base into the country.
This article was first published in the June 2010 issue of FinanceAsia magazine.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Roger Wang is Roger Wang, brilliant but more assured this time around, maybe he has gotten the hang of Chinese melodies. The album is coming out in early August I believe. Look for Roger's composition Love Scale, which was covered by Jacky Cheung as well in his last album.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It's been a long time coming but the imcomparable Junji Delfino - a celebrated singer, actress, writer and comedienne - will finally take the stage in her first on-woman show, rightly titled "Here I Am...Live". It's going to be a high voltage mix of music, hilarious commentary and fantastic autobiography that celebrates her 30th career anniversary and 50th birthday. Yes, she is turning 50 and she is going to raise the roof and tell the truth. Combining some of the greatest hits in jazz and theatre with her own brand-new material, she'll will be singing songs like "Papa Can You Hear Me", "Blame It On My Youth", "How Do You Keep The Music Playing", "Something Stupid" and the first single from her debut album "Here I Am". With a vocal brilliance best described as half laser beam, half lava flow, her show promises to swing with the vibrancy that has become synonymous with her name.
Reowned composers/pianists David Gomes and Michael Veerapan will partner as musical director for "Here I Am...Live". David and Michael's connection with Junji goes back to her first performances in KL at the famous All That Jazz club in the early 1990s. "Here I Am...Live" will also feature special guests appearances by the legendary Salamiah Hassan, and actors/comedians Jo Kukathas, Edwin Sumun and Patrick Teoh from Instant Cafe Theatre Company.
"Here I Am...Live" plays at the PJ Live Arts theatre in Jaya One (Jalan University, Petaling Jaya) from July 15-17. Call 03 7960 0439 (PJ Live Arts box-office) for tickets and bookings.
I have featured Lydia and Cher Siang's JZ8 album and you can have a listen to their songs on the audio box on the right. I was a bit hesitant with 2V1G as Regina has left the group and when Leslie said a guy is replacing her, I was more apprehensive. 2V1G's second album should be out in the first week of August, and I got to have an early listen to it in Leslie's car a few days back. My verdict: the new guy is very good, the second album is still very good even though it may not have as many popular big hits like the first album. Roger's playing is more confident and assured as I think he is more confident tackling Chinese song in the second album (as Roger's forte is more jazz and English tunes).
Date: 21st August 2010 (Saturday)
Venue: Bentley Music Auditorium, Mutiara Damansara
Time: 9pm – 11pm
Ticket Price: RM90
Booking: Ms Lim Su Li (017-6586513)
[Synopsis] - from pop pop music website:
Local Audiophile Music Labels, Musictoxin and Pop Pop Music, are collaborating to bring us some fresh, non-mainstream music made for those with discerning tastes.
The two acts they have produced so far, 2V1G (2 Voices, 1 Guitar) and JZ8 (pronounced as Jazzy Eight) have garnered a strong supporter base locally and abroad. Their record sales surprised even major labels who are predominantly concentrating on mainstream pop artistes. Indeed, Musictoxin and Pop Pop Music are pioneering a genre (audiophile music) never before heard in Malaysia.
Since their sold-out gigs at No Black Tie(NBT) two years ago, many have waited patiently for their repeat performance. .... now, 2V1G is back, with a new album, a stronger line-up and an all-around mature performance from Roger Wang, Winnie Ho and Jeffery Lim. The 2nd album looks set to become another best-seller in the music stores, emulating the 10,000 record set by their debut album.
Labelmate JZ8, the Piano-n-Vocal duo featuring Tay Cher Siang on piano and Lydia Chew on vocals, who has just released their debut album on 25th May 2010, is also eager to perform live. Since its album launch in May 2010, JZ8 has sold more than 3,000 copies alone in Malaysia.
What better time than this to feature these two talented acts on the same stage? The organizer certainly thinks this is the right time.
Together, 2V1G and JZ8 are going to thrill your aural senses with a Double-Bill concert held at the very classy Bentley Music Auditorium at Mutiara Damansara come 21st August 2010.
The night promises to be a night where simple, tasteful acoustic music will tug your heartstrings and make you feel warm and cozy inside. 2V1G and JZ8 will sing many Chinese classics from the albums, as well as English evergreens. They will also have a crossover section where the two acts play on the same stage!
Come and witness a new chapter in Malaysia’s music industry where a new genre of music promises to enchant a whole new generation of music lovers!
【他們從來沒有離開過我們】 eagerly awaiting 2v1g
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Malaysia is supposed the second cheapest place on the index followed by China. Is this a reflection of competitiveness? Or a reflection of how many "things are subsidised" in that country? We all know the answer.
Now, let's do a Big Mac index of our own but this time use the cost of buying a car - I bet you we'd rank second from the top, just below Singapore compared to the rest of the world. How in the world do we get to be one of the most expensive place on earth to buy a car??? Again, we all should know the answer.
What's really pathetic is when you divide the cost of a car with the average wage earned per country - I am bloody sure we would be NUMBER ONE in most unaffordable list.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
On Tuesday, blue-chip property developer Henderson Land said that all but four of the 24 luxury condominiums it had sold last October for record prices at its 39 Conduit Road project were canceled by the buyers. The company, which is controlled by billionaire Lee Shau-kee, booked a loss of 734 million Hong Kong dollars (US$94.2 million) from the cancellations.
Bonnie Ngan, a spokeswoman for Henderson Land, said Wednesday that the cancellations were "very standard" in the industry, and that "there was nothing un-transparent about what happened." Ms. Ngan said the company had pocketed these buyers' initial deposits and would put the condominiums back on the market. Of course the deposits were forfeited, but the question is the magnitude of the cancellations, 20 out of 24 sales???
The ramifications could be broader for the industry, as the government vows to crack down on developers' sales practices amid fears of a property bubble and anger at the city's powerful developers. On the same day that Henderson Land announced the sky-high sale prices at 39 Conduit Road last October, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang was delivering a policy address vowing to tamp down property prices.
After Henderson Land announced its sales, home prices jumped in the upscale Mid-Levels District where 39 Conduit Road sits. Some analysts said the announced sales had a knock-on effect on sentiment in the broader property market, putting further upward pressure on prices in a city where mass-market apartment prices soared about 30% last year.
After the 39 Conduit Road sale, Hong Kong's government began requiring developers to make transaction information available to the public five days after an initial sales contract is signed. It has also introduced measures, guidelines and requirements that it says has enhanced the transparency of home sales and protected consumer rights.The news was all the more significant because it was the same 39 Conduit Road which saw the most expensive apartment transacted a few months back. Yes, it was Henderson Land again. The 39 Conduit Road sales generated attention in part because of Henderson Land's claim that it sold one 6,158-square-foot unit for a record US$56.6 million which set a world record price of HK$88,000 ($11,300) per square foot.
Now there are claims that the record sale was actually cushioned by giving the buyer deeper discounts on other purchases of Henderson Land's developments. The unit, which was marketed as sitting on the 68th floor of the building, was actually just on the 44th floor. I guess thats what happens when you take out all the 4's and the entire 40th-49th floors as well, but then doesn't 68th floor then sound like a "trick" when you are nowhere near 68 storeys high. Maybe fengshui is not that unreliable after all, as the 68th floor in actual fact is the real 44th floor, a real fengshui no-no.
I guess the key factor in all this was the fact that most, if not all of the 20 buyers who defaulted sent in their default notices through the same one lawyer firm - interesting. Of course why would Henderson Land create such an artificial buying support only to pull out en masse, as any sane person would know that that would trigger massive ill-will and negative publicity?
Home prices in Hong Kong have risen 5.7 percent this year, adding to 2009’s 29 percent advance and raising concerns the market is overheating. Hong Kong builders often sell apartments before they are completed, drawing in customers by showing models of the homes.
4) South Africa
Mish correct said that a better measure would be the long run price to rent ratio, which is the last column on the table provided by The Economist. If you are not staying in it and you can't rent it, there is no accrued value, its just speculation. We find empty apartments and houses throughout Asia, but prices are hovering on the high side still. I find one of the weakest argument is the foreign buyers argument, yes if they are buying to stay or rent, but if its empty, its empty demand.
Another hole with the foreign buyers argument is "its so cheap compared to their own markets" - sooooo what???!!! People may have a lot more opportunity to make 5x your salaries, do you? When you talk to property agents nowadays for properties above RM1m, thats their mantra. They conveniently forget that the basis of property is "rental", "cost of capital or interest rate" and "affordability ratio".
I don't need to elaborate on each of the three for you readers, you can make your own conclusions. The affordability ratio used to be 3x-4x your annual salary, now its acceptable to be 5x-6x. What that means is if you make RM120,000 a year, you should be able to afford a RM600,000 property based on 5x. Any higher you would be shitting bricks in a slowdown or if you lose your job. In fact in Australia, Singapore and HK, the affordability ratio jumps to 8x-10x. This basically means that they at least half their net pay into servicing the mortgage. If you argue on that point alone, then Malaysian property has some space to go up ; )
Anyway, back to the long run price to rent ratio, the most overvalued would be:
1) Australia 61%
2) HK 53%
3) Spain 50%
4) Sweden 39%
4) France 39%
6) Britain 33%
In that measure Singapore is not too expensive, which I would agree. You buy a S$1.5m apartment, you should have no problem renting it out for S$4,500 a month fully furnished or a yield of 3.6%. In KL, you may still get that but man, you have to be lucky to get it rented out at that price.
Property prices and bubbles are not as liquid like stocks. They may not fully correct, they may be able to wait for fundamentals and earnings to catch up if they were lucky. Right now in the high end, everybody is buying everybody's property. We see Singaporeans, Chinese mainland citizens, Indonesians and even HKers buying Malaysian property. Malaysians are also big buyers of Singapore property, make no mistake about it. Chinese citizens have been big buyers everywhere. Until something drastic happens to one or two of these economies, there are probably not going to be too many forced selling, just empty houses and apartments.
The Economist: In recent months several countries have experimented with measures to cool bubbly property markets. Yet since The Economist’s global round-up of housing markets was last published in April, house-price inflation has accelerated in some of the very countries where the authorities have intervened to slow its rise.
Asia has been at the forefront of such interventions. In February Singapore’s government raised down-payment requirements and imposed stamp duties on all residential properties sold within a year of purchase in a bid to curb speculation. Despite these steps prices in the island nation rose by nearly 40% in the year to the end of the second quarter, after a rise of just over 25% in the year to the end of the first quarter. Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong to become the frothiest housing market among those we monitor.
House prices in Australia rose by 20% in the year to the end of the first quarter, faster than the 13.5% recorded in the 12 months to late 2009. More concerning, however, is our analysis of “fair value” in housing, which is based on comparing the current ratio of house prices to rents with its long-term average. By this measure Australian property is the most overvalued of any of the 20 countries we track. A frothy property market was one of the reasons for the Reserve Bank of Australia raising interest rates six times between October and May.
Mish's Global Economic Analysis: In judging Singapore the "frothiest" the Economist is looking at rate of change. I would call Australia the "frothiest" based on valuation. Spain surprised me because I had assumed the economic implosion might have washed more of its bubble out.
However, my friend Bran, who lives in Spain and emails me nearly every day says "If all the unsold property were released at prices that would move the units, 50% is not far off, and it could be more than that. Moreover, 50% isn't even harsh at ground level when you have seen prices go much more than double in a few years."
In Canada, the bubbles are where the most people live. The US is misleading because some markets are hugely overvalued while others are approaching reasonable valuations. Florida has without a doubt crashed and in vast sections of sparsely populated Midwest farmland, the bubble never expanded much in the first place. Thus, averaging out the US (or Canada) is not is not the best way of looking at things.
Mike in Toyko writes
Love the blog.
We bought a beautiful house in Tokyo in 2005 directly from the original owner. He had paid $3.5 million dollars for the house when it was new during the peak of the so-called bubble economy in 1989. We bought it from him at the fire sale distressed price of $800,000.
Because we bought it directly from the original owner, we didn't have to pay any sales tax and saved 5% right there.
Well, that's been 5 years ago. This is a fairly posh neighborhood and next door, two dinky brand new homes were built a over year ago that were on the market for about $1.6 million dollars... They didn't sell at all. In fact, I never really saw any people coming to look at them at all.
Yes, Tokyo is expensive, but would you pay $1.6 million dollars for a two-bedrrom house that has no yard or garden and the floor- space is about as big as a typical American two-car garage?
Finally, I heard the real estate company and builders just wanted to get rid of these lots as they continually cost money to keep them "new" and they sold the houses for about $700,000 each.
Maybe Tokyo or Japan's housing prices are 30-some percent undervalued, but you wouldn't guess it by the lack of new home construction and the "For Sale" signs that sit in front of these homes for over a year...
Mike in Tokyo
Monday, July 12, 2010
By Sefal Opod – July 8th, 2010, 4:32PM
$4 Million p.a. Package on Offer
NEW YORK, NEW YORK–Top US Investment Bank Goldman Sachs is said to be offering a US$4 million per year package for the Paul the Oracle Octopus to head up its proprietary trading book.
Goldman will convert part of its trading floor in its New York Headquarters into a fish tank for Paul and put boxes representing different markets, stocks, indices, equities and bonds for Paul to choose from. They hope this will translate into more profitable business from them. Paul will work closely with the Head of Global Strategy to recommend asset allocation strategies.
Also the rounds is a rumour that Merrill Lynch are bidding for Paul to replace their entire research team.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Psychic' octopus Paul picks Spain to win World Cup
Viva Espana ... "psychic" octopus Paul picks Spain to win over the Netherlands. Photo: AFP
Let the fiesta begin. Spain will win the football World Cup for the first time in their history, according to Paul, the "psychic" octopus with a perfect prediction record.
The eight-legged oracle, who has become a World Cup sensation by correctly predicting all six Germany games, very quickly plumped for Spain live on national German television.
Earlier, the two-year-old mollusc medium also said that Germany, his country of residence, would defeat Uruguay in the third-place play-off game.
Making his prediction ... Paul picks Germany to beat Uruguay. Photo: AFP
In the now familiar routine, two boxes were lowered into his tank, each containing a mussel and the flags of the two opposing teams.
The tentacled tipster went straight to the Spanish box, wrenched open the lid and gobbled the tasty morsel.
But the art of football predicting has become a dangerous job for the English-born clairvoyant cephalopod with some bitter German fans threatening to turn him into sushi after he predicted a semi-final defeat for the Mannschaft.
Paul's home, an aquarium in western Germany, has received death-threat emails saying "we want Paul for the pan", said entertainment supervisor Daniel Fey.
"Since yesterday our colleagues have kept a very close eye on Paul," Fey added.
No less an authority than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero has called for octopus bodyguards.
"I am concerned for the octopus ... I am thinking of sending him a protective team," joked Zapatero on Radio Cadena Ser.
Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian has called for the creature to be given an "immediate" free transfer to Spain to "ensure his protection."
Stung by Paul's "treachery" at picking Spain over Germany in the semi-final, some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs.
The honour of Paul's mother was called into question, according to witnesses.
Friday's prediction is expected to be the last for Paul, who in octopus terms is a pensioner, at the grand old age of two-and-a-half. Octopuses generally live three years at the most.