Monday, September 30, 2013

Americans Playing With Fire

Despite all the so called good news for the last couple of weeks (such as "no tapering", Merkel winning to further add to stability for EU, Yellen winning and Summers out thus favouring a longer period of non tapering, sell down in BRIC seemingly halted for the time being) ....

...we have a new coals being thrown into the cauldron. .. The shutdown ... actually the Republicans are at fault here, they are trying to stop or delay Obama's Affordable Care Act and make some changes to health ways as well .... even though Congress has passed this and Supreme Court has upheld its legality (so Republicans are trying to overturn or nullify the Courts I guess, why???... because they did not rule my way, don't they know big pharma owns the Republicans' asses!!)

What is more important is the debt ceiling which may be triggered come October 17 ... I think its a brilliant idea... why don't we in Malaysia pass a law that says if budget deficit rises above 4%, the government shuts down and all departments have to negotiate their budgets down to go below 4%. If there was a crisis which may require the budget deficit to go above 4%, that is fine but it can never go past 5%. Even if the latter were to happen the government will have 2 years maximum to get that deficit back below 4%. The long term target budget deficit should be 3%-3.25%.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering 9/11

It seems hollow for me to say that much of the rest of the world feels for America over the attacks. But its not really, as it hits all of us hard to think that such another group can inflict so much harm on so many innocent lives. USA stands as the grand marshal for the democratic world and some say capitalistic way of life. We can debate the pros and cons, but you can never imagine how the world would be like if USA did not behave like a sheriff - trust me, it would not be nice in Asia ... at all.

9/11 is worth remembering because the world is so fragile and we have to care for it. If you have not heard of Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond trading firm, you should read their story, they lost the most employees from that tragedy, but what they did after that was nothing short of inspirational. Not all people who work at financial markets are douche bags.

The reason Cantor Fitzgerald's chief executive Howard Lutnick didn't perish during the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center is because of his son.
That Tuesday morning happened to be the day his five-year-old son Kyle started kindergarten.  He and his wife both wanted to take him to his first day at Horace Mann School.
Lutnick was in his son's classroom when he first heard news of the attacks that would forever change his life and his firm.
Cantor Fitzgerald occupied the 101st to the 105th floors of One World Trade Center — just above the impact zone of the hijacked plane.
Cantor Fitzgerald suffered the greatest loss of life of any company that day.  The financial firm lost 658 of its 960 employees, almost two-thirds of its workforce. 
What's even more heartbreaking, Cantor Fitzgerald had a policy of hiring relatives, so those who lost someone at the firm likely lost more than one loved one.  
Lutnick lost his brother. 
Because the attacks had devastated Cantor Fitzgerald so badly, the firm was not expected to survive.  Remarkably, within a week the firm managed to get its trading back online. 
And Lutnick made a commitment to keep Cantor Fitzgerald going, despite the odds and the difficult choices that had to be made.
Lutnick made the controversial decision to cut off the paychecks to employees who were killed. 
Instead he gave the victims' families 25% of the firm's profits for five years, and 10 years of health insurance. 
Cantor Fitzgerald certainly suffered a tremendous loss, but it might also be one of the greatest comeback stories on Wall Street. 
Today, Cantor Fitzgerald operates in its Midtown offices at 499 Park Avenue.  The new offices are located on the second floor, hundreds of floors below the firm's position in the World Trade Center.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

S&M Show Podcast

Khoo Hsu Chuang, David Chew and Salvatore Dali discuss the changing landscape in English media with the arrival of Focus, The Ant and The Heat; the proliferation of sensitive issues pertaining to Iskandar Waterfront's IPO and its attractiveness amidst local and global market concerns. Pardon my mistake in referring to Iskandar Waterfront as IWK.

Song Pick:  A heartbreaking song about a young man coming to terms with his infatuation, as Renee was the band's bassist Tom Finn's girlfriend. Michael brown the keyboardist/vocalist met her 3 months after joining the band. The song has been covered by more than 20 established artistes. I picked Linda Ronstadt's version in 2006 as a mark of respect and salute to her following her recently being diagnosed as having Parkinson's and will never get to sing anymore.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Long & Short Winding Road

There are plenty of photos appearing showing Taylor Swift towering over almost all guys ... this was just too apparent with Bruno Mars. I am not a fan of either. Taylor Swift can change my lightbulbs anytime ... but she will definitely write about you in an unflattering light in her songs when you guys break up. Kudos to Bruno Mars for having the "who cares" attitude knowing full well how he will look next to Taylor. Thats sexy Bruno. Go to bed, we are all almost the same height. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Asset Class Returns As At 31 August 2013

August was a rough and tough month for the major asset classes, with one key exception: commodities. Now, why did commodities rose? I cannot pretend to know this. I guess there was a bastardisation of currency of any kind ... all papers are currency in one form or another, but commodities can be considered as hard assets. Temporary or start of fear mongering.

Whats more glaring were the REITs being hammered, US and foreign ... the rebalancing of yields is under way. In anticipation of higher interest rates, REIts which have stable yields and payouts may not be seen as that attractive. 

Emerging market stocks and bonds continued to have a horror year to date. 


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Teresa Teng Duets With Jay Chou

Amazing CGI, Jay Chou duets with Teresa Teng ... not your usual old clips video meshed on screen ... the CGI takes in her voice, nuances, body movements to recreate the hologram, which not only allowed Teresa to sing her old songs but also sings Jay's new song with him ... mesmerising. Go to link, the play button is on top right.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Cooking With Dali - Braised Spicy Garlic Ginger Fish Head

I love fish head, steamed, stewed or curry ... there is this old shoplot on Jalan Pudu that serves a wicked version of spicy fish head. They use black bean sauce. I promised to uncover the dish and I think I have finally succeeded. Can open shop selling just one dish like them... lol. 

As this is my own recipe, a lot of it is agak-agak to get the right taste to suit yours, use your taste buds, but I think I have uncovered the basic ingredients.

I used two grouper heads for this, can ask your supermarket butcher to cut and clean for you.

You can use black bean sauce if you like, I chose Lee Kum Kee's Guilin Chilli Sauce for this dish.

The base looked ominous doesn't it. You know its going to be a kick ass dish. Cut up 3 red chillies, 3 green chillies. Use Bentong ginger, slightly less than palm sized, sliced up. Bentong ginger is almost like a fruit which you can eat plus it brings forth the very essence of ginger as well. Diced roughly 10 cloves of garlic (the whole thing is called a bulb, the segments are called cloves).

Some people will coat the fish head with corn flour and fry them first. DON'T DO THAT! It kills the natural taste of the fish. No frying for me, but I will marinate the fish head first by pounding two thumbs sized Bentong ginger till its mashed up, put in one tbs of soy sauce, two tbs of Shiao Hsing wine (yellow rice wine) and 1tbs of white pepper into the mix, mix well in the pestle and mortar. Squeeze the juices onto the fish and coat well, toss well. Put in fridge for at least one hour.

Since its home cooking I used grouper but almost any fish head will do. A trick is to get parts of the belly of a fish sliced up as well. The gelatinous parts are the best and works very well.

Use 6-8 tbs of good sesame oil into a hot wok. Drop in sliced ginger first, then the chillies, later the garlic - fry for 3-5 minutes.

Put in 6 tsp of Lee Kum Kee's Guilin Chilli Sauce into the mix and fry for two minutes.

Here are your arsenal for the base. Use them however you like to create your own broth. My version is 4 bowls (rice bowls size) of Chicken Broth (can get these from good supermarkets). 1 tbs of oyster sauce. 1/2 tbs of dark soy sauce. 1/3 bowl of same rice wine. Put all into the wok plus 3 tbs sugar. Taste the broth. You can tweak it till you are happy.

Put in the fish head, medium fire. You need to cook for 15 minutes. If you have fish belly, put that in only for the last 5 minutes. Stir to ensure even cooking but do that only once every 2 minutes. Parts of fish will break up but thats OK. Its a lot of fun to find bits of fish parts with chillies and ginger sauce to go with the rice.

To finish, you really need to thicken the broth with cornflour/water. I used 2 tbs of corn flour, can use more, the thicker the sauce the better. Wallah ... that with a bowl of hot piping rice, kick ass man.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Go Watch "We Are The Millers"

Markets were slow, hence bummed around the malls and the only reason I would even watch We Are The Millers was because of Jennifer Aniston. My expectations were sooo low, thinking it would be another romantic comedy, a regurgitation of the usual plots.

Barely 10 minutes in, I realised this was a M or Adults only movie. The dialogue is refreshingly real, just as normal people would use foul language here and there, appropriately. Its a very very funny movie. There are plenty of laugh out loud and long scenes as well.

A wonderfully surprising, entertaining movie. The entire cast was very good and funny, watch for Emma Roberts and Will Poulter, the two teens. The entire movie cast looked like an ex-Saturday Night life crew and there more hits than misses. You must also catch the closing credits with the bloopers, you will love it.

Countries Stock market's Capitalisation As A % Of GDP

 Why is the figure important ... if you can strip out foreign listings and non related listings (inclusive of SPACs) and maybe some REITs th...