Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 / 2013





How will 2013 be for investors? On balance, I have to say it will be very good for global equities. Thanks to Bernanke's pronouncement, liquidity will continue to be ample, depressing interest rates. The certainty in maintaining low rates will now push a lot more funds on the sidelines to search for better returns. There is the one thing which is holding them back, the fiscal cliff. Even if no resolution is seen in the first week of January, it is not all bad. The ball will swing back to Obama and they will eventually come to some conclusion before January is over. 

There is a lot of pent-up demand for investment spending in the USA that will get unleashed next year. Businesses have delayed capital projects in anticipation of the fiscal cliff. Capital spending has been notably weak in the last six months, much weaker than during the rest of the recovery. So a political deal, or even just some clarity about the future, could result in a nice bounce back in capital spending after the beginning of the year.

Inflation will not be raising its head anytime soon because Iran and Iraq are ramping up production to make up for lost time, so much so that Saudi Arabia, the swing producer has been downsizing its monthly production to accommodate the rise in supply. If that is the case, it will prolong and help recovery.

Naturally, the case is a bit different with Malaysia and Singapore with the upcoming elections in Malaysia. We will have to wait out the outcome.

2012 The Year That Was


Best Commodity (+24%): Wheat prices rose in 2012 as drought cut into supply from the grain belts of Russia, Australia, and the U.S. Wheat is a $14.4 billion crop in the U.S., where it ranks fourth behind corn, soybeans, and hay.

Best Exchange-Traded Fund (+77%): Signs of a housing recovery sent shares of homebuilders soaring this year, boosting the IShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund (ITB).


Worst Commodity (-35%): Abundant supply is depressing coffee prices. Brazil, the world’s largest grower, has almost doubled its output in the past decade, producing another record crop this year.

Worst U.S. Large-Cap Stock (-43%): Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ)annus horribilis was marked by a third-quarter loss that was its worst ever, including an $8 billion writedown related to the dwindling value of its enterprise services business. HP later took an $8.8 billion writedown related to accounting problems at Autonomy, a software maker it acquired last year. In September, HP announced plans for 29,000 job cuts.

Worst Initial Public Offering (-30%): Facebook (FB) plunged as much as 53 percent after its $16 billion debut in May. The stock rallied on news that third-quarter sales rose 32 percent, beating analysts’ estimates.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Miz

I have been so looking forward to the movie. Les Miz is easily my all time favourite musical ever, beating out the grander Sound of Music, West Side Story and King & I. However, not everything works when you try to translate musicals to films, Sweeney Todd is one, Phantom was the other, because expectations were so high and the key is in the director and framing of the film.


It is easier for success for stage to go to film, it usually fails when its film to musical stage, e.g. Grease or Legally Blonde and even Lion King. I have watched the musical 4x in various places and owns the 10th and 25th cd dvd collection as well, so I am a die hard fan. 


Alfie Boe, one of the best ever Jean Valjean next to Colm Wilkinson. You should listen to them before you go hear Hugh Jackman's version.

First the casting, not many realise Hugh Jackman was an established musical stage performer before he became an action actor on film, so this choice was a guaranteed success. Owing to the proximity of film, one really must know how to act and not just sing. The worst casting ever was Russell Crowe as Javert, OMG his voice is so weak and unappealing. I cringed and cringed everytime he opens his mouth. When he only has to act, he is good.

When I heard Anne Hathaway was cast as Fantine, I had doubts. After the movie, she should win an Oscar, she is very very good. Eddie Redmayne was excellent as Marius, as was Samantha Barks as Eponine. Sacha Baron Cohen was a smart casting job in the funny role of Thenardier. As was Helena Bonham Carter as his raunchy wife. Everything was near perfect except Russell Crowe, can we reshoot the film without him.



The ever exquisite lea Salonga's brilliant turn as Eponine, after a few years she came back to Les Miz and played the role of Fantine as well.

The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on Les Misérables, the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The film is directed by Tom Hooper, scripted by William Nicholson, Boublil, Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who becomes mayor of a town in France. Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of Fantine, and must avoid being captured again by Javert, a police inspector.





Being written in French, it was all the more spectacular when you consider the lyrics being translated into English, extremely well translated I must say by Herbert Kretzmer. Though over the years, the musical has already been sung in 20 other languages worldwide.

Finally, more people can view the splendour of Les Miz. The songs are beautiful. Its a sad and depressing storyline though wonderful no doubt. Thankfully it had the Thernardiers for a bit of fun and jokes.

Hear Phillip Quast as Javert then you will appreciate how bad Russell Crowe's singing voice was.

The filming had a better effect in that actors were made to sing their lines live with a mic on their lapels (airbrushed out post production) with just minimal piano backing, the instrumentation came in post production and that added a lot of realism in the way the actors conveyed the songs. Its very different from the past where they engaged good actors but their voices dubbed with real singers, e.g. Audrey Hepburn and Deborah Kerr.


Be prepared to bring loads of tissues, you will cry buckets and then rush out to buy the CD collection no doubt.

Hugh Jackman was unrecognisable in the first 15 minutes of the movie. You will love Anne Hathaway no end, her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream was stupendous, and I have seen some great ones on the musical stage. Strangely enough, Hathaway's mum used to play the role of Fantine on stage before giving the role up to have her baby (Anne).

Why is the musical so great, the music is incredible but the story was everlasting and relevant. Oppression, injustice, search for God and religion, redemption, sacrifice, fighting for a higher cause, the greatness of the individual in the grander scheme of things. 

In the beginning to adap Victor Hugo's book was not going to be easy, some of the memorable quotes from the book:

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.

Anger may be foolish and absurd, and one may be wrongly irritated, but a man never feels outraged unless in some respect he is fundamentally right. 

If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.

Superstitions, bigotries, hypocrisies, prejudices, these phantoms, phantoms though they be, cling to life; they have teeth and nails in their shadowy substance, and we must grapple with them individually and make war on them without truce; for it is one of humanity's inevitabilities to be condemned to eternal struggle with phantoms.

Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.

I do not understand how God, the father of men, can torture his children and his grandchildren, and hear them cry without being tortured himself.

Love almost replaces thought. Love is a burning forgetfulness of everything else.

There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philo-sophy there must be action.

Hence all things considered, the musical managed to captured most of the elements and philosophy in Hugo's book entwined with a wonderful story and score.

The great thing is that in the musical/film, they have crafted wonderful lines as well, very memorable:

Do you Hear the People sing? Singing the songs of angry men.

When our ranks begin to form...will you take your place with me? 
Let others rise to take our place, until the Earth is free! 


Damn their warnings, damn their lies! They will see the people rise! 


"i am reaching, but i fall. and the night is closing in. as i stare into the void, to the whirlpool of my sin"

"tomorrow is the judgment day, tomorrow we'll discover what our God in heaven has in store. one more dawn! one more day! one day more!!!!!!"

"He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?


"Without me, his world will go on turning- a world that's full of happiness that I have never known!" 

"red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past! Red, a world about to dawn. Black, the night that ends at last!" 

To Love another person is to see the face of god.


I'll sleep in your embrace at last!


Final Verdict: Very Good 9/10 (would have been 10/10 without Russell Crowe)

This song or rather the anthem Do You Hear The People Sing always make me reflect on our struggles as Malaysians in trying to advance for a fairer and more equal destiny. I hope to hear many of us sing this song leading up to the upcoming election ...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

China - Politics, Power, Corruption, Capitalism, Disenchantment

Sigh ... it happens everywhere, China is no different. The exception being, documentary reporting such as this do not excite or move most Malaysians anymore, we have tons of our own tales to tell. Btw, Bloomberg's website has been banned because of this story, which Bloomberg later expanded into a research project of enormous depth. Troubling for Beijing for sure. Now, the economic disparity is still not so great but its getting worse by the day in China. If people starts to suffer unemployment, you can bet your last dollar there is enough disenchantment for dislocation everywhere in China. Beijing has been extra careful and was vigilant in taking out Bo Xilai, but for every Bo there are another 100 princelings abusing their power. Certainly a recipe to be played out in the future, more transparency, less power?? ... if that is unlikely, then there will be blood and tears.



------------------------------


Lying in a Beijing military hospital in 1990, General Wang Zhen told a visitor he felt betrayed. Decades after he risked his life fighting for an egalitarian utopia, the ideals he held as one of Communist China’s founding fathers were being undermined by the capitalist ways of his children -- business leaders in finance, aviation and computers.

“Turtle eggs,” he said to the visiting well-wisher, using a slang term for bastards. “I don’t acknowledge them as my sons.”

Two of the sons now are planning to turn a valley in northwestern China where their father once saved Mao Zedong’s army from starvation into a $1.6 billion tourist attraction. The resort in Nanniwan would have a revolution-era theme and tourist-friendly versions of the cave homes in which cadres once sheltered from the cold.

One son behind the project, Wang Jun, helped build two of the country’s biggest state-owned empires: Citic (6030) Group Corp., the state-run investment behemoth that was the first company to sell bonds abroad since the revolution; and China Poly Group Corp., once an arm of the military, that sold weapons and drilled for oil in Africa.

Today, the 71-year-old Wang Jun is considered the godfather of golf in China. He’s also chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company that jointly controls a pawnshop operator and of a firm providing back-office technology services to Chinese police, customs and banks.

His Australia-educated daughter, Jingjing, gives her home address in business filings as a $7 million Hong Kong apartment partly owned by Citic. Her daughter, 21-year-old Clare, details her life on social media, from the Swiss boarding school she attended to business-class airport lounges. Her “look of the day” posted on Aug. 24 featured pictures of a Lady Dior (CDI) handbag, gold-studded Valentino shoes and an Alexander McQueen bracelet. Those accessories would cost about $5,000, more than half a year’s wages for the average Beijing worker.

The family’s wealth traces back to a gamble taken by General Wang and a group of battle-hardened revolutionaries, who are revered in China as the “Eight Immortals.” Backing Deng Xiaoping two years after Mao’s death in 1976, they wagered that opening China to the outside world would raise living standards, while avoiding social upheaval that would threaten the Communist Party’s grip on power.

New Class
In three decades, they and their successors lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty and created a home-owning middle class as China rose to become the world’s second-biggest economy. Chinese on average now eat six times more meat than they did in 1976, and 100 million people have traded in their bicycles for automobiles.

The Immortals also sowed the seeds of one of the biggest challenges to the Party’s authority. They entrusted some of the key assets of the state to their children, many of whom became wealthy. It was the beginning of a new elite class, now known as princelings. This is fueling public anger over unequal accumulation of wealth, unfair access to opportunity and exploitation of privilege -- all at odds with the original aims of the communist revolution.

Bloomberg's Full Special Report: Revolution to Riches
To reveal the scale and origins of this red aristocracy, Bloomberg News traced the fortunes of 103 people, the Immortals’ direct descendants and their spouses. The result is a detailed look at one part of China’s elite and how its members reaped benefits from the country’s boom.

State Control
In the 1980s, they were chosen to run the new state conglomerates. In the 1990s, they tapped into real estate and the nation’s growing hunger for coal and steel. Today the Immortals’ grandchildren are players in private equity amid China’s integration into the global economy.

Twenty-six of the heirs ran or held top positions in state- owned companies that dominate the economy, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. Three children alone -- General Wang’s son, Wang Jun; Deng’s son-in-law, He Ping; and Chen Yuan, the son of Mao’s economic tsar -- headed or still run state-owned companies with combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011. That is equivalent to more than a fifth of China’s annual economic output.
The families benefited from their control of state companies, amassing private wealth as they embraced the market economy. Forty-three of the 103 ran their own business or became executives in private firms, according to Bloomberg data.

Wall Street
He Ping, who was chairman of Poly Group until 2010, held 22.9 million shares in the group’s Hong Kong-listed real estate unit, Poly Property Group Co. (119), as of April 29, 2008. Wang Xiaochao, the son-in-law of former President Yang Shangkun, another Immortal, owned about $32 million worth of shares in another property unit listed in Shanghai, Poly Real Estate Group Co. (600048), as of the end of June. Wang Jun owns 20 percent of a golf venture that counts Citic, the company he previously ran, as one of its main clients.

The third generation -- grandchildren of the Eight Immortals and their spouses, many of whom are in their 30s and 40s -- have parlayed family connections and overseas education into jobs in the private sector. At least 11 of the 31 members of that generation tracked by Bloomberg News ran their own businesses or held executive posts, most commonly in finance and technology.

Some were hired by Wall Street banks, including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Morgan Stanley. (MS) At least six worked for private equity and venture capital firms, which sometimes recruit princelings with the intention of using their connections for winning business.

Resentment Rises
“The Chinese Communist Party, pretty much led by these eight people, established their legitimacy as rulers of China because they were stronger and tougher than the other guys,” said Barry Naughton, a professor of Chinese economy at the University of California, San Diego. “And now they’re losing it, because they haven’t been able to control their own greed and selfishness.”
China’s rich-poor divide is one of the widest in the world -- 50 percent above a level analysts use to predict potential unrest, according to a Chinese central bank-backed survey published this month. Protests, riots and other disturbances, often linked to local corruption and environmental degradation, doubled in five years to almost 500 a day in 2010.

“Ordinary people in China are very aware of these princelings, and when they think about changing the country, they feel a sense of despair because of the power of such entrenched interest groups,” Naughton said.

Robber Barons
The lives of many of China’s 1.3 billion people have improved under state-controlled capitalism. Princelings such as Wang Jun have also played a central role in building the institutions that have underpinned these gains.

And some of China’s richest people didn’t need a famous bloodline to become wealthy. That includes self-made billionaires such as Liu Yonghao, chairman of animal-feed company New Hope Group Co., and Cheung Yan, one of China’s richest women as chairwoman of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. (2689)
Also, it isn’t unusual for rapid economic change to be shared unequally. The robber barons of the 19th-century U.S. and the rise of Russia’s post-communist oligarchs are two other cases. In China, however, where leaders still espouse the ideals of Marx and Mao, there is resentment over unequal opportunity and the privilege of the elite.

China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, 59, is himself a princeling, as a descendant of a revolutionary fighter and vice premier. So are three other members of the newly installed seven-member ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

Princeling Peers
Xi’s extended family amassed a fortune, including investments in companies with total assets of $376 million and Hong Kong real estate worth $55.6 million, Bloomberg News reported June 29. Bloomberg’s website has been blocked in China since the publication of the story.

Even some of the Immortals’ descendants say they are concerned about what they call the greed of their princeling peers.

“My generation and the next generation made no contribution to China’s revolution, independence and liberation,” said Song Kehuang, 67, a businessman whose Immortal father, Song Renqiong, oversaw China’s northeastern provinces after the revolution in 1949. “Now, some people use their parents’ positions to scoop up hundreds of millions of yuan. Of course the public is angry. Their anger is justified.”

Bo’s Downfall
In addition, people are angry about corruption among public officials, who are seen as taking advantage of their positions. At least 10 local government officials “have fallen” in corruption and sex scandals since Xi took office last month, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Dec. 13.

High-level corruption snapped into focus this year when Bo Xilai -- son of Immortal Bo Yibo and a member of China’s ruling Politburo -- was ousted from the Communist Party and accused of taking bribes, after his wife was found guilty of murdering a British businessman. Unless corruption is stamped out, “it will ultimately and inevitably lead the party and the nation to perish!” Xi said last month, according to the People’s Daily, a Communist Party newspaper.

The foreign ministry in Beijing didn’t respond to questions sent by fax asking how the government plans to deal with the influence of the princelings and whether their actions are fueling public resentment.

“When the top is corrupt, this is how it will be all the way down,” said Dai Qing, an environmentalist who grew up with many of the princelings in Beijing after being adopted by a famous general. “We don’t have a free press. There’s no independent supervision to prevent it.”

Offshore Havens
State controls over the media and Internet limit what is written about the families, cloaking their business dealings from the view of ordinary Chinese. What can be found in public documents often remains obscured by the use of multiple names in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

To document these identities and business interests, Bloomberg News scoured thousands of pages of corporate documents, property records and official websites, and conducted dozens of interviews -- from a golf course in southern China to the Deng family compound in Beijing to a suburban home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

At least 18 of the Immortals’ descendants own or run entities linked to companies registered offshore, including the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, as well as Liberia and other jurisdictions that offer secrecy, the reporting showed.

U.S. Attraction
While the Immortals vilified the “bourgeois individualism” of capitalist nations, almost half of their heirs lived, studied or worked abroad, some in Australia, England and France. The princelings were among the first to travel and study overseas, giving them an advantage not available to ordinary Chinese.

The U.S., which established diplomatic ties with Communist China in 1979, was the top destination: At least 23 of the Immortals’ descendants and their spouses studied there, including three at Harvard University and four at Stanford University, according to the Bloomberg data. At least 18 worked for U.S. entities, including American International Group Inc. (AIG) and the law firm White & Case LLP, which hired one of Deng’s grandsons. Twelve owned property in the U.S.

There is no accepted measure for the degree of control the princelings exert on the economy. Academics who study China estimate that wealth and influence is concentrated in the hands of as few as 14 and as many as several hundred families.

Family Control
“There were four families under Chiang Kai-shek; now we have 44,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard historian who studies elite Chinese politics, referring to the Nationalist leader who lost to Mao. “To change the system will demand some traumatic national experience, when people say, ‘enough is enough.’”

The people generally known as the Eight Immortals are now all dead, though all but three lived into their 90s. Their stature in China is on a par with that of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in the U.S. They are:
-- Deng;
-- General Wang, who fed Mao’s troops;
-- Chen Yun, who took charge of the economy when Mao assumed power in 1949;
-- Li Xiannian, who was instrumental in the plot that ended the Cultural Revolution;
-- Peng Zhen, who helped rebuild China’s legal system in the 1980s;
-- Song Renqiong, the Party personnel chief who oversaw the rehabilitation of purged cadres after the Cultural Revolution;
-- President Yang, who backed Deng’s order to carry out the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown;
-- Bo Yibo, a former vice premier and the last of the Immortals to die, at 98, in 2007.

They emerged from the Cultural Revolution after Mao’s death in 1976, during which many of them had been in internal exile, to find an economy in ruins. Gross domestic product in 1978 was $165 a person, compared with $22,462 in the U.S. With Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong booming, the Immortals were surrounded by capitalist success stories.

The victorious Communists had executed landlords after 1949. Farms had become People’s Communes. Factories belonged to the state. The Immortals turned that on its head in the 1980s: Farmers could lease land. Private enterprise -- at first on a small scale, later bigger -- was tolerated, then encouraged. Deng took the gamble that in order to stoke growth, some “flies and mosquitoes” could be tolerated, said Ezra Vogel, an emeritus professor at Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who wrote a 2011 biography of Deng.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Art of Telling A Lie


 Telling a lie is a .......


Sin for a child. 
Fault for an adult. 
An art for a lover. 
A profession for a lawyer. 
A requirement for a politician. 
A Management tool for a Boss. 
An accomplishment for a bachelor. 
An excuse for a subordinate and 
A Matter of Survival for a married man.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This & That

I am not much of a cookies fan but got a few presents, a couple of them came from Crabtree & Evelyn. I didn't know they made cookies!!! But they were more than excellent. I don't mind the calories cause they tasted soooo good. My favourite has to be Strawberries & Cream. Try them, they are absolutely divine.







I was in HK recently, and although I smoke cigars, I don't really like cigarettes. But I chanced upon the display by Kent which bamboozled me. Obviously in addition to the cancerous lung pic, the rotting teeth and gums ... they now added this which says that smoking will make you age a lot faster.

What I thought was galling: how come ageing means being much darker; this would attract tremendous outrage in countries like America, Australia for sure ...

Only in HK or China can they get away with this. So politically incorrect. Funnily, when I showed this to a group of friends, the ladies ALL commented that the first thing that is NOT RIGHT about the picture was "WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE A WOMAN"????? ......


Friday, December 21, 2012

Conditioning

Why Malaysian drivers drive like assholes?
Why Malaysians are inevitably late for anything and everything?
.................... (fill in your favourite grouses) ......
also applies to why people get married in the first place?



Ever wondered why Malaysian drivers drive like assholes??!! Surely we are not like that in real life, only when we get into a car that we become monsters. When we socialise we are totally different, very few of us actually have chips on our shoulders, get to know us or come to our house and we become the most gracious hosts on earth. If we go back to our small towns and kampungs, we are generally much much nicer. So how did we get to be so un-civic minded in many areas?

We speed up when we see pedestrians trying to cross the road, we speed up when cars want to cut into our lane .... Its not that we are inherently bad, I believe its conditioning. This can be explained with a most remarkable but true experimental project.

A group of researchers put 4 monkeys in a cage with a ladder in the middle with a bunch of bananas at the top of the ladder. Naturally the monkeys will try to climb the ladder, but every time one of the monkeys starts to climb the ladder there will be a couple of zookeepers with big hoses who will spray all 4 monkeys until the monkey that was doing the climbing stops climbing to come down. After a few minutes another brave monkey will try to climb the ladder again, and all of them get sprayed again.

Now this happened over and over again, and following the umpteenth time, every time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, the other 3 will claw and drag that climbing monkey from the ladder. Till none of the 4 monkeys will dare to climb that ladder.


Then they take one monkey out of the cage and introduce a new monkey. The new monkey will naturally climb up the ladder to try to get at the bananas, and it will be clawed and dragged back down before the hoses start. The more the new monkey tried, the more ferocious and nasty the other 3 will be to whack it down. Till the new monkey dare not climb anymore.

They then take out another of the original monkey and introduce another new one ... the same chain of events occur even though just 2 of the original monkeys know why they did not want to climb the ladder. They keep adding new monkeys and taking out the original ones till all 4 monkeys are new monkeys and yet they would be conditioned not to climb the ladder - but they don't know why really.

That is conditioning, how many things in life that we do are due to conditioning, and we ourselves don't really know the real reasons why we are doing it. In much the same way, plenty of expats after driving for a couple of years in Malaysia will end up driving like a Malaysian.

Civic sense can be ingrained, it can be taught, or we can be conditioned to do things a certain way ... only when we take a step back and reassess the reasons why we shouldn't be doing so, will we be able to rise from the pack.

Inherently most people do not behave badly but due to conditioning. If you lack self-awareness and do less self introspection which leads to more self actualisation ... we will just be among the running pack. It is precisely that that parents behaviour and instruction are so important to our kids.

We end up doing a lot of things because thats the way things were done ... we do not question enough why are doing it, should we continue to do it that way or should we change our attitude because they are inherently flawed.

I absolutely abhor the way some adults treat their maids. Can you imagine what the kids are learning from all that? Hopefully they have the character strength to re-learn only the good stuff and throw away the bad stuff, but that does not happen all the time. 

In the same way that our government instill fear and divide us along religious and racial lines, thats conditioning. To break out of that mould, we have to keep drilling down on proper reasoning and on what is right and wrong. Life is so complicated and a bitch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Japan's Double Barrel Luck


The Japanese markets have been in the doldrums for the longest, no thanks to the silly yen strengthening phase following the financial crisis as investors somehow still think the yen is a safe haven. The Japanese market has two things going for them this time: the Federal Reserve move which basically tells all that rates will be very low and they will keep printing liquidity into the markets, which negates the need for some to still park money in yen as safe haven; the LDP election victory which propels the markets to a "regenerative phase".

Following is the latest strategy report by Bank America Merrill Lynch on Japan:


LDP victory brings our bullish scenario closer   

With the LDP (294 seats) and Komeito (31 seats) combined (325 seats) now 
controlling a more than two-thirds majority (320) of the Lower House, it now 
appears more likely that the new Shinzo Abe administration will be able to 
exercise strong leadership. Though an LDP victory was widely expected, what 
has not been fully priced into the market is the degree to which the new 
government will be able to put through its legislative program relatively 
unhindered.  

Consequently, Shinzo Abe will need to act quickly to implement the policies he 
had set out before the election. Those measures we believe that have yet to be fully factored into the market are inflation targeting, and long-term fiscal 
expansionary measures including corporation tax cuts and a raft of spending 
measures included under the broad title of “national strengthening.”  


As the new cabinet is being drawn up, the focus is now on how and in what order of priority the new administration will put through its policy program, including drawing up a supplementary budget, expanding public works spending, reducing the rate of corporation tax and exercising greater influence over the BoJ’s monetary policy. For instance, if the government moves quickly to put pressure on monetary policy, we can expect the yen to continue to weaken, but if this is put off until after the new BoJ Governor assumes his post (April 2013), then in the near term we could see the market looking to lock in profits. However, at least we can say that waiting for weakness to seek buy-in opportunities is unlikely to be a viable strategy for the time being.  

Cut in corporation tax from 40% to 30% would raise ROE  

A reduction in the corporation tax rate from around 40% to 30% would, we 
calculate, raise TOPIX ROE from 7.8% (FY3/14 IBES consensus) to around 8.9%.  



Schedule  

The next BoJ monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 19-20 December, at 
which additional easing is a possibility. At this point, the market is not expecting explicit inflation targeting to be adopted. On 26-27 December, Shinzo Abe should be officially appointed prime minister at a special Diet session, immediately after which the new cabinet will be announced. Abe has expressed his intention to visit the US in January, so we expect significant diplomatic activity including related to China. From end-January to February we expect a supplementary budget to be unveiled comprising a boost to Apr-Jun GDP and confirming a hike in the rate of consumption tax. In March, two new BoJ Deputy Governors will assume their posts, followed in April by the new BoJ Governor. We expect government and BoJ links to become even stronger, and an increasingly dovish bias in central bank policy.  



When previously elected prime minister in 2006, Abe’s first visits were to China and South Korea to patch up relations that had previously worsened, and this time around we again expect him to take similar practical steps to deal with currently stained relations, though there is a risk of provocative statements being made.  

However, if the cabinet line-up is decided in order to balance factional interests, then the policy program implementation may not be as speedy as the market is hoping. If the cabinet includes a large number of younger politicians, as per the current shadow cabinet, it would strengthen the hand of prime minister, and consequently increase the possibility of the policy program proceeding in line with Abe’s intentions as indicated in speeches etc to-date.  



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jacky Cheung Tribute Concert

Try not to miss this if you are a Cantopop fan. The 3 singers are bound to give an exhilarating performance, they are very good singers in their own right. Brought to you by PopPopMusic, the premium niche music label that brought you wonderful music by artistes such as 2V1G, JZ8, Winnie Ho, Zyan, Roger Wang, Tay Cher Siang, ... The band will be led by maestro Tay Cher Siang, probably Malaysia's top jazz pianist now and a brilliant arranger as well. The 3 singers are Jeffrey Lim (2V1G), Worm Lee Jenn Nam and an exciting new female voice in Yeh Foong.

Bookings are going fast for the 2 nights only event @ NO BLACK TIE. Cover charge is RM50pp. Call Leslie at 012-2083790.

19th & 20th December, Wednesday & Thursday
9.30pm-11.30pm



Friday, December 14, 2012

More Business Stories .....

A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff were happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries - anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers. For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.

Most folk assumed it was because they ran a successful business.
In fact it was the other way around...
A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!
The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed however was the owner's attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!
Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, "What's so great about business?" Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.
Anyhow, the Business Is Great! badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:
  • the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
  • the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
  • the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
  • the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people's work and businesses
  • the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
  • the new things you learn every day - even without looking to do so
  • and the thought that everyone in business is blessed - because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.
And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they'd usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity. It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
"The badge came first. The great business followed."
I cannot emphasize the importance of being positive. It is contagious and puts our mind on the 'right path'. Reasonable skepticism is good to discover faults and find room for improvement, but the over riding attitude must be positivity - it hints at what is possible and probable; it allows us to assume risk from a position of strength; it builds camaraderie and team spirit moving in one direction.
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Once there was a very rich and greedy man. He loved and hoarded jewels. One day a visitor asked to see them. So the jewels were brought out, amid much expensive security, and the two men gazed at the wonderful stones.

As the visitor was leaving he said, "Thank you for sharing your jewels with me."
"I didn't give them to you," exclaimed the rich man, "They belong to me."
"Yes of course," replied the visitor, "And while we enjoyed the jewels just the same, the real difference between us is your trouble and expense of buying and protecting them."

Greed, ownership, accumulation of wealth, proper perspective of wealth, hoarding or enjoying life.
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"God, I've been thinking.." says Eve one day.
"What's on your mind Eve?" says God.
"Well, I know that you created me and this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful creatures, but lately I've been feeling that maybe there's more to life."
"Go on..." says God.
"Sometimes I get a bit bored - I fancy a bit of fun. And I get a bit fed up with all the heaving lifting and carrying, and warding off the mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, not to mention that bloody snake. This garden can be dangerous place."
"I see," says God, pausing for thought.
"Eve, I have a cunning plan," says God, "I shall create Man for you."
"Man?" asks Eve, "What is Man?"
"Man..." says God, "Is a flawed creature. He will have many weaknesses and disgusting habits. Man will lie, cheat and behave like an idiot - in fact mostly he'll be a complete pain in the backside. But on the plus side he'll be big and strong, and will be able to protect you, and hunt and kill things, which might be handy sometimes. He will tend to lose control of mind and body when aroused, but with a bit training can reach an acceptable standard in the bedroom department, if you know what I mean."
"Hmm," says Eve, "Seems like this Man idea might be worth a try, but tell me God, is there anything else I need to know?"
"Just this," says God, "Man comes with one condition... In keeping with his arrogant, deluded, self-important character, Man will naturally believe that he was made first, and frankly we all have better things to do than argue, so you must keep all this a secret between us, if that's okay with you. You know, woman to woman.."
Business is still a male dominated arena. One must know how man behaves and what makes them tick. Too often, the ones with the ego will lose to the one who understands there are infinitely more important things in life than ego to succeed in business strategy.

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This is a true story. Some years ago the following exchange was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.
An interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory. The dialogue went like this:
Interviewer: How long have you worked here?
Production Lady: Since I left school (probably about 15 years).
Interviewer: What do you do?
Production Lady: I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.
Interviewer: Have you always done the same job?
Production Lady: Yes.
Interviewer: Do you enjoy it?
Production Lady: Oooh Yes, it's great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.
Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief): Really? Don't you find it a bit boring?
Production Lady: Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits...

  • Do not impose your own needs and ambitions on to other people who may not share them.
  • Don't assume that things that motivate you will motivate someone else.
  • Recognise that sources of happiness may vary widely between people.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Equities' New Bull Run Started

The equity markets had a double boost last week thanks to Federal Reserve's QE3 (quantitative easing part 3). The Fed will start by buying $45bn worth of long term Treasury bonds and up to $40bn worth or mortgage backed securities each month till labour markets improve. The smarter move by the Fed this time is that its a continuous monthly action, and will continue basically till labour markets improve, i.e. drop in unemployment. These actions will go a long way to restarting a new uptrend for global equities. The combined $85bn buying will keep interest rates low for sometime still thus forcing more funds to seek out higher returns, e.g. moving into equities.

An equally important development was the weakening of the yen, which looked like the start of a sustained weakness in the yen. This has started a rush for Japanese exporters by investors. Following the QE3, it appears investors see no more need to hold the yen as a safety haven. That being the case, the Japanese economy badly needs the yen to weaken even more. Hence its a timely boost for Japanese equities as well.


The ringgit opened firmer against the greenback in early trade today following improved sentiment for risk appetite across the region, dealers said. At 9.23 am, the ringgit was quoted at 3.0500/0520 compared with yesterday's close of 3.0520/0540. The increased risk appetite was boosted by the US Federal Reserve, which in turn will benefit globally as the move will see more money being pumped into the world's largest economy. After a two-day meeting which ended yesterday, the central bank announced new stimulus, which, among others, will see interest rate decisions tied to unemployment rate and inflation. It would also keep short-term interest rates close to zero until the unemployment rate, currently at 7.7 per cent, dips to 6.5 per cent. 

Previously, the US Federal Reserve had said that interest rates would hover near zero until at least mid-2015. Besides, the central bank decided to introduce a replacement for Operation Twist, the expiring programme introduced last year of swapping short-term Treasuries for longer-dated ones. Previously, the goal of Operation Twist was to lower long-term interest rates to stimulate the US economy. This new asset purchase programme has been dubbed as quantitative easing four (QE4). With QE3 and QE4 together, the central bank will likely purchase US$85 billion a month of Treasury securities, stacking the Fed's portfolio with government-backed investments for an extended period. 
 
On the local front, the ringgit was mostly higher against other major currencies. The local currency rose against the Singapore dollar to 2.4980/5012 compared to 2.4984/5010 yesterday and appreciated against the Japanese yen to 3.6571/6612 compared to 3.6810/6856 Wednesday. It gained against the British pound to 4.9190/9229 compared to 4.9214/9256 on Wednesday but declined against the euro to 3.9839/9874 from 3.9713/9749 previously.

 The Starbiz had the headline as "higher risk appetite for ringgit", well, not really, its the start of a huge inflow of foreign funds. Thanks to the above factors, a lot of fresh funds have jumped into mainly indexed local stocks over the last few days. Many indexed stocks have just surged past their 52 weeks high or close to it: UMW, SK Petro, and most of the banks. The buying has been ferocious in local telco stocks. Generally the second liners and speculative stocks will take a backseat when the index stocks are surging. Once the indexed stocks have stabilised, you should see strong rotational plays in second and third liners.
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So, How Much Money Did Psy Made From Gangnam Style?

Well, not from CDF sales, thats for sure ... even online music sales were pathetic. People doing music should pay attention. If someone like Psy makes less than $100,000 from CD and online music sales ... are you certain you have aligned yuour music business model properly.------------------------


As Gangnam Style gallops toward 1 billion views on YouTube, the first Asian pop artist to capture a massive global audience has gotten richer click by click. So too has his agent and his grandmother. But the money from music sales isn't flowing in from the rapper's homeland South Korea or elsewhere in Asia.
With one song, 34-year-old Park Jae-sang — better known as PSY — is set to become a millionaire from YouTube ads and iTunes downloads, underlining a shift in how money is being made in the music business. An even bigger dollop of cash will come from TV commercials.
Google detects videos that use copyrighted content. Artists can have the video removed or allow it to stay online and share ad revenue with YouTube. 
From just those sources, PSY and his camp will rake in at least $US7.9 million ($A7.5 million) this year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press of publicly available information and industry estimates. But for online music sales in South Korea, he'll earn less than $US60,000.
Raking it in ... PSY and his camp will earn at least $US7.9 million this year.
Raking it in ... PSY and his camp will earn at least $US7.9 million this year. Photo: AP
Here's how it works.
YouTube
Gangnam Style, with its catchy tune and much imitated horse-riding dance, is the most-watched video on YouTube ever.
South Korean singer Psy performs his hit Click for more photos

Gangnam Psy-style

South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney. Photo: Reuters
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • Korean pop sensation Psy.
The viral video has clocked more than 880 million YouTube views since its July release, beating Justin Bieber's Baby, which racked up more than 808 million views since February 2010. PSY's official channel on YouTube, which curates his songs and videos of his concerts, has nearly 1.3 billion views.
TubeMogul, a video ad buying platform, estimates that PSY and his agent YG Entertainment have raked in about $US870,000 as their share of the revenue from ads that appear with YouTube videos. The Google-owned video service keeps approximately half.
PSY and YG Entertainment also earn money from views of videos that parody his songs.
Google detects videos that use copyrighted content. Artists can have the video removed or allow it to stay online and share ad revenue with YouTube. In the last week of September when Gangnam Style had around 300 million views, more than 33,000 videos were identified by the content identification system as using Gangnam Style.
But since YouTube can be accessed from all over the world, wouldn't Asia be responsible for a significant chunk of the $US870,000? The countries with the second and third-highest views of the video are Thailand and South Korea.
"Ads rates vary depending on which country the video is played. Developed countries have higher ad rates and developing countries lower," said Brian Suh, head of YouTube Partnership in Seoul.
And the country with the most views of Gangnam Style? The United States.
Legal downloads, CDs
Gangnam Style has been downloaded 2.7 million times in the US and has been the No. 1 or No. 2 seller for most weeks since its debut, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The song sells for $US1.29 ($A2.19 in Australia) on Apple's iTunes Store, the market leader in song downloads. Apple generally keeps about 30 per cent of all sales, so the PSY camp could be due more than $US2.4 million.
How much PSY keeps and how much goes to his managers, staff and record label is unclear. South Korean industry insiders said PSY likely gets 70 per cent and YG Entertainment 30 per cent for US downloads.
But earnings from downloads in PSY's homeland are far from an embarrassment of riches.
South Koreans pay less than $US10 a month for a subscription to a music service that allows them to download hundreds of songs or have unlimited access to a music streaming service. That makes the cost of a downloaded song about 10 cents on average. The average price for streaming a song is 0.2 cent.
PSY's cut for downloads is 14 per cent. That falls to 7.5 per cent for streamed songs. Yes, 7.5 per cent of 0.2 cent. And that's before PSY's Gangnam Style co-composer take his share. The biggest cut goes to his agent and online retailers.
According to South Korea's national Gaon Chart, Gangnam Style was downloaded more than 3.6 million times and streamed around 40 million times as of November. That adds up to a little more than $US61,000.
It's likely the fast fading music CD industry generated even smaller revenue. PSY's 9 per cent cut from sales of 102,000 CDs in South Korea would earn him $US50,000 or more, according to an estimate by Kim Dong-hyun, a senior manager at Korea Music Copyright Association.
As for many other parts of Asia, illegal downloads and pirated CDs are so pervasive that only a small minority are willing to pay up for the legal versions.
TV commercials
PSY has been jetting around the world, performing on shows such as The X-Factor Australia and NBC's Today Show in the US, but such programs usually cover travel costs and not much else, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert trade magazine Pollstar.
It is television commercials that are the big money spinner for the most successful of South Korea's K-pop stars. PSY has been popping up in TV commercials in South Korea for top brands such as Samsung and mobile carrier LG Uplus.
Chung Yu-seok, an analyst at Kyobo Securities, estimates PSY's commercial deals would amount to 5 billion won ($A4.4 million) this year.
The money is cool. The products not so much.

PSY is now the face of a new Samsung refrigerator and a major noodle company.
The family
A fact little known outside South Korea is that PSY's father, uncle and grandmother own a combined 30 per cent of DI, a company which makes equipment that semiconductor companies use to make computer chips.
It's a stretch to plausibly explain how the success of Gangnam Style will boost DI's profits but that doesn't matter to the South Korean stock market. Perhaps inspired by the pure power of pop, DI shares surged eightfold from July after PSY's hit reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the UK singles chart.
It was time to cash in for PSY's grandmother, who sold 5378 shares for about $US65,000.
The share price has fallen since then but is still about double what it was before the release of Gangnam Style.
PSY's agent YG Entertainment has also done well. Its share price is up about 30 per cent since mid-July. The value of CEO Yang Hyun-suk's stake has swelled to about $US200 million, making him among the richest in South Korea's entertainment industry.
The future
The question now hanging over PSY is whether he will replicate the blockbuster success of Gangnam Style or end up remembered as a one-hit wonder.
"When this slows down, what comes next for PSY?" said Nielsen analytics vice president David Bakula. "Is it the evolution of a new musical style, something audiences are going to be craving en masse, or is it something that's just a passing fancy?"
Analysts say Gangnam Style alone will not be enough to propel PSY into the ranks of musicians such as Adele and may not even be enough to make him the top-grossing K-pop star. That will depend largely on his upcoming album, which PSY said will be released in March.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/cashing-in-on-gangnam-styles-youtube-fame-20121206-2awly.html#ixzz2EGU7dTsu