Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Funny Ad

Apparently, this commercial is very funny in Hokkien.

Living The Life We Want (Revisited)

A special person shared with me last week about attending a talk by a 'wise person', and that it is important to "learn how to let go". To let go of our bad memories, failures, unproductive ways, etc... To which I replied that "we always hold onto people who don't love us or people who hate us or people who make us mad or people who take us for granted ... we also care too little for the people who love us unconditionally, the people who adore us, the ones who still stick around in spite of all your shortcomings". Such wasted priorities. Live the life we want, don't resign to fate, don't waste it waiting for those who never intend to turn up, don't waste it on bad memories of those who wronged us, don't dwell on regrets and failures ...

I think this might be an advertising thing, but magnificently crafted and very meaningful, and probably based on some 6 old foggies' true life story. Love the Chage Aska song in the background, On Your Mark.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Debasement Of Major Currencies

Since the global economy largely went off the Bretton Woods system where gold deposits was secured by issuance of currency, we have not encountered such a drastic debasement of major currencies. Basically when a country prints their own currency without "significant backing or financial reserves", you are assuming the rest of the world are idiots. If Malaysia tries to do that, nobody will accept the ringgit at 3.0 vs the USD, it becomes monopoly money.

However, the USD is a reserve currency, closely followed by the Euro and the British pound. Its OK to print as long as the central bank also "withdraws" the money from circulation later on. Do you see that happening over the next 5 years?

Supposed when you print (irresponsibly), the worth of that currency adjusts itself in the markets, but we all know that has not been the case. 

First, if a country prints more currency to manage their affairs, this results in higher inflation. This is what most developed countries are doing today. Secondly, and most importantly, the value of the country's currency becomes less valuable due to inflation (currency debasement) since over time inflation is a killer of currency value. Finally, the cost of borrowing will eventually rise. This becomes tricky because when the cost of borrowing rises it becomes much more difficult to repay the borrowing. A vicious cycle can develop. We are seeing that today with Greece.

However, we see little inflation as we are all in a liquidity trap. Banks and other institutions just hoard the money. If the samae amount of money goes to work in the system, you have a strong multiplier effect, which meant that more funds will chase for the same goods and services, thus driving up prices of everything, stock prices and real estate included. Again, none of that has happened in those country.

However when things really "stabilise" in Europe and the US, we will see the above chain reaction. Technically, when that happens the central banks should "withdraw" some of the printed money from the system. However, they are unlikely to do that till much much later, and even that, rest assured it will be a minor fraction of the amount they actually pumped. Look at the "amount of currency debasement" by the central banks. It has gotten to a point of no return.

So, who loses out, the rest who did not print their currencies irresponsibly. The more we invest in USD, Euro, the more we are showing our backside and telling them to please screw us.

Everything being equal, if they die, its no good for the rest of the world's economies. Is that part of the insurance we pay? So, when you buy that New York or Florida apartment, when you buy the high yielding foreign currency bond, think again. The rest of the world MUST PUNISH these "bad behaviour".

So, we have to strike a balance. If you are very rich, try to shy away from assets denominated in these currencies. As I think they will not do the prudent moves over the longer term. Its best to consider other asset classes that will be able to withstand the cycle of currency debasement, which has reached gigantic proportions.


Arable land with a dependable climate

Oil-refining capacity

Electricity generating capacity

Water-treatment capacity

Drinking water, bottled or piped

Coastal access, harbours and ports


Real estate in long-standing, distinctive locations

Antiques, fine art, stamps and coins

Commodities without futures and options markets

Or, if you are just another middle class person like me, if you have excess cash, put in HKD and SGD. The latter is financially one of the strongest currency. The former is very ripe to unpeg from the USD, which should bring forth at least a 20% revaluation. No way can the HK economy continue to be pegged to the USD. I suspect they will revert to a combination peg of the yuan, yen, euro and usd .... sometime. When will that happen? When the USD falls into a hole (i.e. dropping more than 30% in a year in value).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tributes By Elton John and Barry Gibb

Barry Gibb has paid tribute to his brother and Bee Gees bandmate Robin by releasing a touching farewell video.
The remembrance clip, set to the Bee Gees ballad Heart Like Mine, features never-before-seen home video footage of the Gibb brothers as kids, as well as career highlights and live performances.

The montage, which Barry posted on his YouTube page, is titled Bodding - Robin’s nickname. The singer lost his battle with cancer at the age of 62 on Sunday and Barry, the sole surviving member of the trio, has yet to make a public comment on his sibling’s death.

Robin’s twin Maurice died in 2003 of complications linked to a twisted intestine.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/barry-gibbs-touching-tribute-to-robin-20120524-1z7ax.html#ixzz1vn6Y7nWV

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kagemu - Absolutely Brilliant!

Call it modern art, modern dance, creative graphics ... you cannot deny the creative geniuses behind this two performers. Black Sun is a meticulously choreographed projection of motiongraphics onto dance,combining traditional and modern elements of Japanese culture and martial arts.  Artist Nobuyuki Hanabusa and dancer Katsumi Sakakura, together known as Kagemu, have since been widely imitated by others....

The Bee Gees or The Beatles

It is common to hear The Beatles as the best group ever in terms of musicality, composition and longevity. So what about The Bee Gees? Now that 3 out of the 4 brothers have left us, maybe its time to reassess the true worth and rightful standing of The Bee Gees.

Why The Beatles is so famous? Their music was mind changing, innovative, and brought a whole new meaning to rock and roll. Their members' lives were esoteric and hogged the media. They proclaimed for world peace, engaged in Eastern philosophies, they were cool to the max ... they were anti establishment. They rooted for the hippies, the disenfranchised, the disenchanted ... They were more than musicians, they were more than performers. The media loved them. They Brits were proud. The Americans wanted to call them their own. The whole world wanted to love them because they were "cool".

The Bee Gees were enormously successful in the early years, on par with The Beatles. Maybe because they did not do as much drugs as The Beatles? They were not as cool, they were regarded as "middle of the road" stuff. Good stuff but not lasting, so they say. The Bee Gees did not have a "home". The Australians did not really "own" The Bee Gees, the band members did not really identified themselves as Australians. The British did not really adopt them as their own. Their success in the US was always muted at best. Nobody wanted to "own" them as their own.

The Bee Gees' longevity in the business was more than double that of The Beatles. we all know how difficult it is to have a musical career lasting more than 10 years, particularly if you are in the singer-songwriter group. If you were a really good crooner, you can last ages, like Sinatra, Buble, Striesand, etc...

While The Beatles basically stopped in the 70s, albeit The Wings were excellent and George Harrison had some sparkle, plus John Lennon created some fine transformational stuff. The Bee Gees reinvented themselves in the late 70s and were quite instrumental in being a major player in the disco era. Now, the disco era was frowned by most music critics as being a fun but shallow part of musical history, but hey, disco was a critical part of musical history whether you like it or not. Even now, people keep going back to the fun times of 70s and 80s music in radio stations and just look at the reissued CDs that are selling nowadays, its the 70s and 80s music.

Many critics used the disco era music to further downgrade The Bee Gees' achievements. Having said that i think their Spirits Having Flow album was easily the landmark album in the early 80s.

The Beatles albums remain iconic and stood the test of time, The White album, Abbey Road, Sgt Peppers, etc... nobody really bothered with The Bee Gees. One thing which The Bee Gees may have lost out was their lyrics, which The Beatles were more subtle and have higher ambitions in conveying their messages. But having said that, much of The Beatles early stuff were also shallow type of lyrics.

I have compiled The Beatles' great songs that marked their career, most were hits but I have included others which have been significant as well:

A Hard Day's Night
A Taste of Honey
Across The Universe
All My Loving
All You Need Is Love
And I Love Her
Back In The USSR
Can't  Buy Me Love
Come Together
Day Tripper 
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Drive My Car
 Eight Days A Week
Eleanor Rigby
Get Back
Good Day Sunshine
Hello Goodbye
Helter Skelter
Here, There, Everywhere
Hey Jude
Hippy Hippy Shake
I Am The Walrus
I Feel Fine
I Saw Her Standing There
I Should Have Known Better
If I Fell
I Will
I'll Follow The Sun
In My Life
Let It Be
Love Me Do
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
No Reply
Nowhere Man
Obladi Oblada
Paperback Writer
Please Please Me
Please Mr Postman
P.S. I Love You
Shake Rattle and Roll
Rock and Roll Music
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
She Loves You
She's Leaving Home
Strawberry Fields
The Fool On The Hill
The Long and Winding Road
Ticket To Ride
Twist and Shout
We Can Work It Out
When I'm 64
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
With A Little Help From My Friends
Yellow Submarine
You've Really Got A Hold On Me
You're Gonna Lose That Girl
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away

65, thats 65 fucking awesome songs. What about The Bee Gees?

Chain Reaction
Come On Over
Don't Forget To Remember
Fanny Be Tender With My Love
First of May
For Whom The Bell Tolls
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart
How Deep Is Your Love
I Started A Joke
I've Gotta Get A Message To You
If I Can't Have You
In The Morning
Islands In The Stream
Jive Talking
Lonely Day
Love So Right
Love You Inside Out
Melody Fair
More Than a Woman
My World
Mr. Natural
New York Mining Disaster
Nights On Broadway
Night Fever
Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away)
Rest Your Love On Me
Run To Me
Spicks and Specks
Spirits Having Flown
Staying Alive
This Is Where I Came In
To Love Somebody
Too Much Heaven
Warm Ride
Woman In Love
You Should Be Dancing
You Win Again

That's 47 great songs. Not bad at all. Fair to say, The Beatles output were more vociferous and had more quality but The Bee Gees are not far behind. Nowadays, its not cool to like The Bee Gees. That should never be the case. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trump Says "Get A Pre-nup, Mark!!!"

How to piss off your girl friends ... start a conversation about pre-nups. Well, Mark Zuckerberg's got $19bn now, and he also just got married. You cannot say pre-nups are silly because about 50% of marriages end in divorce. I think Mark is the kind of guy who would probably offer at least $500m to his wife if they ever get a divorce, if so, I think that's more than fair. Better stop talking now before I get bombarded.

 p/s Trump is an asshole ...


They were words of wisdom from one billionaire to another - whatever you do, make sure your intended signs a pre-nuptial agreement before you marry.

But when Mark Zuckerberg wed his long-time girlfriend, a day after the stock market in New York valued Facebook at $US104 billion ($105.7 billion), it was unclear whether he had taken property mogul Donald Trump's advice.

Like the rest of the world, Trump was unaware of Zuckerberg's forthcoming marriage to Priscilla Chan when he mused on the implications for their relationship of the 28 year-old's wealth following Facebook's public flotation.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at their wedding ceremony in Palo Alto.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at their wedding ceremony in Palo Alto. Photo: AP/Facebook
With a 28 per cent stake in the company, Mr Zuckerberg's worth stands at more than $US19billion .

Trump told CNBC: "So he's gonna be worth like $US18, $US19 billion, you're telling me ... he's got a girlfriend ... does he get a pre-nuptial agreement? They get married, and then for some reason over the next couple of years they get divorced and then she sues him for $US10billion and she hits the jackpot."
Asked how much the new Mrs Zuckerberg should receive from a pre-nup, the three-times married Trump said: "I'm notoriously cheap with these things, I think if she made $US1 million, that would be very good."
Warning ... Donald Trump.
Warning ... Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
Zuckerberg and Chan married at their home in Palo Alto, California, on Saturday in front of 100 guests, mainly family and colleagues, who were told it was a party to celebrate 27-year-old Chan's graduation from medical school last week.

The groom donned a dark blue suit, presenting Chen with a "very simple ruby" ring he designed himself. News of the nuptials was shared, perhaps inevitably, via Facebook, with Zuckerberg posting a wedding photograph as a "life event".
Chan updated her relationship status to "married". Friends said the timing of the wedding was not related to the flotation. Instead, they had wanted to wait until after Chan's graduation. Now a trained doctor, she intends to qualify as a paediatrician.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are seen in this screengrab of a wedding photo posted on Zuckerberg's Facebook page.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are seen in this screengrab of a wedding photo posted on Zuckerberg's Facebook page. Photo: Reuters
The wedding date may, however, be key if the couple do go on to separate.
If the couple did not sign a pre-nup, holding the wedding after Facebook's flotation is likely to have saved Zuckerberg billions of dollars in the event of divorce. Under California law, divorcing spouses are entitled to half of all assets and income accrued during a marriage, but usually have no claim over wealth built up before the wedding.

If a pre-nup was agreed the law gives a seven-day cooling-off period between the drawing up and signing, meaning the exact details of the flotation could not have been included. Zuckerberg could have asked Chen to agree to limit a divorce payout to an amount or accept a percentage of his wealth at separation. Ray Martin, of CBS Moneywatch, said anyone who had substantially more wealth than the partner or a "unique" and marketable skill or talent should consider asking their intended for a prenup.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/19-billion-and-just-married--i-hope-zuckerberg-got-a-prenup-says-trump-20120521-1yzkp.html#ixzz1vSt2NaMg

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cartoon For The Weekend

This is pretty funny and insightful. Facebook friends and real friends are totally different OK. But if someone posted pics of "the person's funeral", maybe he/she will get a few hundred LIKEs.

Thought For The Day (Week, Year ... everything)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Too Funny, Had To Repost

I think I posted this four years back. Its the funniest game show where the "students" are not supposed to laugh or else will get whacked. All you need is a basic understanding of foul language in Hokkien.
Funniest Taiwan Game Show

Though I am English-ed, I do enjoy some of the Taiwanese TV shows, esp the funny game shows. Probably can make sense of 50%-70% of the Mandarin spoken. But when they revert to Hokkien, they lose me totally, except when its vulgar language. The most talented presenter, Jacky Wu, in the Ultimate Game has as part of his show a classroom where everyone cannot laugh or else they will be caned. This time around, they had two old foggies who have a load of problems speaking in Mandarin, and end up with vulgar language intonations unintentionally. Its brilliant and very funny.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Refreshing - The Band Perry

Finally, something refreshing from the music scene. Have you heard of The Band Perry. They are a group of 3 siblings, playing country pop rock. The group is composed of siblings Kimberly Perry (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Reid Perry (bass guitar, background vocals), and Neil Perry (drums, mandolin, accordion, background vocals).  What sets them apart is their smart lyrics. Always laced with humour, dark humour sometimes, and when angry, loaded with funny sarcasm. The songs are pretty good too.

Ladies will love this song, they will sing to their hearts' content especially following episodes with lousy ex-boyfriends. Enough said.

Another one for the ladies. This time they will sing this Double Heart with gusto to guys who try too hard, too fast, too eager ... very funny lyrics. It seems that plenty of their songs are about guys being assess, You Lie, another vociferous angry song about those lying sons of ...

My favourite, If I Die Young. A dark song but beautiful nonetheless.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

The title was the big hit by The Clash. Its not so much about Greece leaving the E.U., its about the countries that "can" follow after that. If Greece "can" leave, Portugal and Spain could follow. Greece in itself is a small problem to the rest of the world. However, the Greeks will HAVE TO take their medicine one way or another - by following the austerity measures set by E.U. or go it alone. The former will see tightening of belts but in a controlled manner. The latter will see massive hyper inflation and devaluation of the drachma. Just remember Argentina and Indonesia.
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Once the rest actually sees how tough it is for Greece to go it alone, I don't think ANY other country would want to risk leaving E.U.

But what we all want to know is how it will affect the local markets. Have to go down in sympathy for at least a day. I don't see how, why, this can drag the rest down. If anything, funds will flow out of Europe to other stabler performing regions. This event does not qualify as a reason or catalyst for a sustained bearish sell down.


Europe's ruling elite is now openly talking about whether Greece might leave the euro, breaking a 2.5 year taboo.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the EU President, Jose Manuel Barroso, were among those saying that if Athens could not abide by the rules they would have to leave.

Here three experts analyse the potential consequences – collapsing banks, soaring inflation, but also look at the possible salvation.

Costas Lapavitsas
Professor of economics, School of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of London

Greek exit from the euro is approaching and it has little to do with state incompetence. The fundamental reason is cumulative loss of competitiveness for Greece and other peripheral countries, mostly because Germany has kept its labour costs frozen for years.

Since 2010 things have become worse as austerity increased the burden of debt across the eurozone. Greece can no longer handle the discipline of European monetary union, and Portugal, Ireland and Spain are likely to follow.
Greek default and exit would remove the pressure of debt, boosting competitiveness, lifting austerity and allowing for proper restructuring of the economy and society. In the medium term the results would be better, but in the short term the shock will be severe – made worse by two years of "rescue", which will have brought 20 per cent contraction of GDP and 25 per cent unemployment by the end of this year.

The first step for Greece should be to denounce the bailout agreements and default on its debt, opening the path for aggressive cancellation. Exit will follow, presenting three sets of problems: monetary, banking and commercial. The main difficulty of policy would be to keep these separate as far as possible.
Kitty Zhang Yuqi
Briefly put: the return to the drachma should be sudden, accompanied by a short bank holiday and immediate imposition of capital controls. For a period the new drachma would circulate in parallel with the euro and possibly other state fiat money.

There are €35 billion ($45 billion) of banknotes in Greece, mostly under mattresses. If they could be mobilised, a lot of problems would be made easier.

Banks would find themselves in the firing line as assets and liabilities would have to be converted. To protect depositors, but also to control credit in order to prevent a wave of company bankruptcies and support employment, banks should be immediately nationalised.

The Bank of Greece should rapidly build mechanisms to generate liquidity independently of the European Central Bank.

The exchange rate of the new drachma would collapse in the open markets, making it difficult to secure supplies of oil, medicine, foodstuffs and other goods. As far as possible, the exchange rate should be managed; there should also be administrative controls to ensure that vital goods reached key enterprises as well as the weakest during the first critical months.

After the initial shock, the fall in the exchange rate would prove positive for the economy. Greece remains a middle-income country with a substantial productive sector that could recapture the domestic market once imports became more expensive. There is plenty of productive potential in Greece.
What the country truly needs is an industrial strategy as well as redistribution of income and wealth. That is also why default and exit are necessary.
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Nick Parsons
Head of strategy at National Australia Bank, London

The choices facing Greece are deeply unattractive. On a three- to five-year time horizon, there is no policy option that will turn a bad situation into a better one, and the likelihood is that it will become even worse for many of its people. If Greece stays in the euro it faces a long, slow depression in an effort to remain solvent. If it exits, it could see the collapse of the domestic banking system, the decimation of private savings and a crippling increase in the cost of imported goods and energy.

Greece could claw back some competitiveness through devaluation, making its exports cheaper. But the markets would demand devaluation, and then some. The drachma was fixed at 340 to the euro when Greece joined the single currency. But if a new drachma is introduced at parity with the old currency, then €1 would quickly buy about 1000 drachma, or possibly even more.

Just look at the evidence of Argentina, which in 2002 decided to abandon the fixed 1:1 US dollar-peso parity, which had been in place for 10 years. A provisional "official" exchange rate was set at 1.4 pesos per dollar, but within six months the market rate had jumped to 3.90. The peso had lost almost 75 per cent of its value. Savings were effectively expropriated and import costs tripled. It was a far from painless transition.

A similar fate awaits a post-euro Greece, with capital controls, border controls, and a potential EU exit.

But a Greek exit does not mean the end of the euro. It will, instead, mark a new beginning. Germany has a long and proud tradition of currency strength, but it could not cope with going back to the deutschmark because it would rocket in value and destroy the country's competitiveness.

About 97 per cent of the eurozone's population will continue to use the single currency and their leaders will circle the policy wagons to protect what is left.
A Greek exit could be the trigger for a stronger and more stable euro, led by politicians and institutions with a clear interest in both its success and theirs. After a very difficult summer, should Greeks choose self-determined, rather than European-imposed pain, the outlook for financial markets should be much brighter by the year end.
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Ray Barrell
Professor of economics, Brunel University, London

Should we stay or should we go? This is the question Greek voters must now ask themselves. Each must do a careful cost benefit analysis, looking at the gains from being in the euro and the European Union against the costs of leaving. If the Greeks leave and default on the rest of their debt, there is a good chance they may not be welcome at the European Union's tables. The benefits of leaving are transitory, while the benefits from staying may be permanent.

On balance, the advantages would press the Greeks to stay. Some of the advantages of being in the EU could be kept with an association agreement, such as Norway has, but it would be harder to influence trade and competition policy, and subsidies would dry up.

The euro raised growth in the past. Leaving the EU would mean slower growth for a period. Similar estimates exist for the benefits from monetary union for the core countries, but these benefits from increased flows of investment and greater competition still lie in the future for countries such as Greece.

Their potential would be lost on exit, and if there were no benefits from leaving, the Greeks would be poorer in future than if they had stayed.

The gains from leaving would be immediate, with a devaluation restoring competitiveness and raising employment. However, borrowing costs and inflation would climb and be more variable with a floating currency. The need to reform the labour market would be less pressing, and raising the retirement age from the lowest in Europe could be delayed. But taxpayers would soon have to face the reality that they would have to pay for those pensions and support all the other structures that need reform.

Economists normally advise that bygones should be bygones, but this might be the time to remember past favours. Outside the euro the Greeks would not have been able to borrow 200 per cent of their GDP to finance a higher living standard, and restructuring their debts would have been more expensive.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/what-happens-if-greece-exits-europes-single-currency-20120515-1ynvo.html#ixzz1uthxvulG

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Funnies

This is too funny, the guy is patience personified (lol) ... How should one react? By keeping silent? Some people just doesn't deserve a driving license.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Oil Prices and Stock Markets

You want bull markets, well, brace for higher oil prices. If you want to think that equity markets can go higher than current levels, are you prepared for oil to be in the region of $110? Airlines stocks brace for another shock? Oil and gas stocks may have more upside? What is important to consider is how OPEC views the current prices. Realistically, their minimum for most of them is around $80 for them to balance their budgets. They are happy of course with rising prices but they are also circumspect as to prices not being too high as to derail the recovery process for the US and EU. Looks to be staying highish for a few more weeks.

High energy prices are supposed to be bad for profits.  But that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad for stocks.
Tobias Levkovich, Citi's top U.S. equity strategist, discusses the relationship between stocks and oil in his latest Monday Morning Musings note.
The S&P 500 has climbed a relatively impressive 11% year to date despite the recent retrenchment, easily outpacing Europe though lagging Asia, but it is a bit surprising to note that the S&P 500 Energy sector in only up 1.9%, underperforming the S&P 500. All the while, oil prices have climbed roughly 4%, even as it has backed off from highs seen in February. Investors argue that there is an Iran risk premium in the crude markets but it is also interesting to recognize that there is bullishness in the futures markets over oil based on CFTC data. Yet, at the same time, investors have become far less excited about Energy stocks, with our institutional client survey conducted several weeks ago finding less interest in energy names relative to the two prior surveys in October and January. To be fair, this may reflect more optimism on the greenback which would influence per barrel prices as well.
Nevertheless, the equity market has been linked quite tight with oil prices over the past five years (see Figure 3), thereby making the recent divergence a bit more interesting. We suspect that some of the difference may be coming from the new developments in the US energy industry tied to technologies allowing for more deepwater drilling, horizontal drilling, shale gas and tight oil...
Here's a look at that remarkable correlation:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/citi-oil-stocks-correlation-2012-5#ixzz1tb7eeBkF