Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why So Few Female Traders

When you speak off the cuff, silly sounding things can pop out. Thats why I am so reluctantly to speak quickly over the radio, and I need pauses so that i don't say things such as those said by Paul Tudor Jones.

Paul Tudor Jones, the billionaire hedge fund manager, at a charity fund-raiser in 2008.

For a billionaire hedge fund manager who carefully manages his public image, Paul Tudor Jones had a minor crisis on his hands. Mr. Jones, a billionaire and philanthropist of legendary stature in the minds of many Wall Street traders, was forced on Thursday to explain what he meant in remarks that surfaced in a video published by The Washington Post. The video, depicting a University of Virginia symposium in April, shows Mr. Jones trying to explain why there is a scarcity of female traders.

“As soon as that baby’s lips touch that girl’s bosom, forget it,” Mr. Jones, who has three daughters, says in the video. “Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down, is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience, which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby.”

“I’ve just seen it happen over and over,” he added. “I’m talking about trading, not managing.” The video was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

His comments went viral online and were widely criticized. In an e-mail sent to news outlets, Mr. Jones said he was speaking “off the cuff” and referring in particular to “global macro traders,” who work across multiple markets.

“Macro trading requires a high degree of skill, focus and repetition,” Mr. Jones said by way of clarification. “Life events, such as birth, divorce, death of a loved one and other emotional highs and lows are obstacles to success in this specific field of finance.” He added that success was possible “as long as a woman or man has the skill, passion, and repetitions to work through the inevitable life events that arise along the way.”

The episode was an uncomfortable turn for Mr. Jones, who earlier this month was called a “modern-day Robin Hood” by CBS News’s “60 Minutes” in a report on the financier’s charitable foundation.

Watching the video, there was a “pit in my stomach of how 1950s that is,” Alexandra Lebenthal, chief executive of the financial firm Lebenthal & Company, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday.

“I’m not sure that bonding experience of breastfeeding is all that wonderful,” Ms. Lebenthal added.

Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, said on MSNBC: “What you see in this is actually what a lot of men on Wall Street still actually think.”

Mr. Jones’s theory is “scientifically unsound,” Simone Foxman said in Quartz. “Women don’t produce as much cortisol when in risky situations and therefore — theoretically at least — aren’t as likely to be as overwhelmed by negative emotions.”

My View is that there is some truth in it, but very little in effect. Let's be honest, Paul is not the person who created the financial trading system, he merely commented on the reality. Truth be told, most good traders who happen to be men, are also mostly dead inside. Nuff said. The ability to focus and block out other thoughts and considerations are paramount to be a great trader. Let's be frank, how many of us can do that without our minds wondering and wandering. Great traders usually have very empty lives, have to keep drowning their hollow soul with liquor and checking their bank balance gives them the kind of temporary adrenaline high to remind themselves falsely that what they are doing is worthwhile.

The reason why most great traders are men lies in the society structure and biases - men still have certain advantages in terms of "old boys network", and preferential treatment when hiring traders. The whole system is geared towards a brutal Darwinian elimination process. Only the good survive the industry. When you have 980 men and 20 women in trading positions to start with ... isn't it normal to see the top ten traders being largely men, maybe 9/10 or even 10/10.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Silent Movie Man - Speaks For All

Everyone has seen some Charlie Chaplin movies, they were great and still are. That alone would have suffice in leaving a wonderful legacy of a life well lived. Not many has even heard of him speak, but if you watch his only snippet from The Great Dictator, where he spoke in his movie for the first and only time, ever ... you know he has an even greater soul. While disguised as part of a movie script, its blatantly obvious that he chose that one instance, that one platform to voice his important empathetic view - funny how much of that speech is still so relevant for so many people in so many places, ours included.

Good day to you, Sir Charlie Chaplin ....

Another example of his great talent, he composed the music to Smile ... Michael Jackson's favourite song of all time. Charlie Chaplin, a man so devoted to make us all laugh, must have known what hurt is to come up with these two important contributions during his life on earth.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gotta Watch This - Miyoko Shida Rigolo

This is an exceptional piece of performance art. In fact, it is so much more than just exhibiting the powers of concentration. It is art definitely, loaded with meanings and inflections. The inter-connectedness of everything in life, its delicate balance ... seemingly unimportant (feather) yet it holds everything together. Its beautiful, moving and thought provoking.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Finally, .... 101 Proposals

Finally, somebody has decided to remake my all time favourite TV series, the Japanese romantic comedy 101 Proposal. You will cry buckets and laugh like a lunatic if you have watched it before. The remake is a China production with Lin Chiling, whom I have never thought to be much of a talent, but did well. The always funny and self deprecating Bo Huang. To consolidate a TV series into a movie is never an easy task, but its pretty good. 

If you have a few hours to spend, go watch the entire 12 episodes on You Tube. I have linked the first episode at the bottom (yes, got English subtitles).

The original 101st Marriage Proposal is a "Beauty and the Beast" story starring Takeda Tetsuya (Virgin Road, 3 nen B gumi Kinpachi Sensei) as a down-on-his-luck man who has gone through 99 omiai (arranged dates with the intention of marriage if the date goes well). Not particularly smart, nor handsome, nor rich, he is a man who cannot lie and of course, has a heart of pure gold. On the 100th omiai, he meets Kaoru (Asano Atsuko), an extremely beautiful and talented cellist who can't forget her dead fiancee.

So, Takeda has had 100 arranged dates with marriage in mind setting but its the 100th date that caused him to abandon the "arranged marriage" mentality and pursue true love and devotion. The entire series has him trying to pursue the girl and failing and failing, with comical results. Besides the many things that were seemingly incompatible, she cannot love again as she fears anyone she loves will die on her again like her fiancee. Why is the thing called 101 Proposals ... well ... the 101th proposal is by the girl asking Takeda to marry her, thats why.

Its such an iconic series helped by the ever brilliant Chage & Aska theme song Say Yes which can be heard throughout the series and also in the new Mandarin remake. A side note, am I the only one to notice that Takeda Tetsuya, the original lead, made a cameo appearance as the husband of the girl's teacher from Japan - what a gem of cinematic kismet.

The series was made back in 1991 ... but you can certainly see and count how many more recent movies have stolen ideas left right and center from the series ... HK, China, Korea, America...

If you do not have the time to watch the movie or the series, well at least watch the final 14 minutes of the original series ending as they provide the entire flashback of the courtship and ending. The series is infinitely better as its like 12 movies, and there are many great relationships .... the most touching is between Takeda and his good looking brother.

Watch the whole original series, start with Episode 1, there are 12. If English subtitles are not showing, look for the Caption button and turn to English.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Give Yourself Away

 ... are you a registered donor  ... if not, why not.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Alex Ferguson, Thank You Sir

Ferguson first few years were dicey, much like the first few years experienced by the last 5 Liverpool managers. In actual fact, he was almost booted but turned a corner and has not looked back since then. Continuity is so important and valued in being a football manager, something the modern game can no longer afford, or rather the owners cannot afford. Show me the results within 2-3 seasons or you are out. Molding a team requires time and in Ferguson's case his strategy was most prominent in the way he used the youth system, making it a celebrated channel for bringing up local talents.

In the present days of money buying talent strategy, Manchester United is Manchester United because we can proudly claim a large contingent of home grown talents and still a significant portion of players from the UK, something A LOT of teams cannot claim. At one stage, I though Liverpool was going to change name to Liverpool-Herzagovina.

The New Guy

The bookmakers is giving it to David Moyes, who, I must say has done wonderfully well with a limited budget and slightly above average team. He has shown that he can stick to it for some time. We should want someone who will stay around for at least 10 years. For Manchester United, its not just a manager we hire but a critical new family member.

But my preferred choice from day one has always been Martin O Neil, I think he is a bit more colourful and quite brilliant a manager.

IDEAS' View Of Elections - "Partially free and not fair"


May 8th, 2013 by adminCategories: DemocracyDemocracyOpinionPublicationsNo Responses
Click here to download
Click here to download

IDEAS was accredited by the Election Commission of Malaysia (EC) to observe the recently concluded 13th General Elections. Our mandate was to observe, record, analyse and report events leading up to GE13, and subsequently recommend ways to improve any weaknesses found. We benchmarked our observation against the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections. We deployed 325 observers to 99 parliamentary constituencies in Peninsula Malaysia and 6 overseas polling centres.
Generally, we found that EC successfully ensured the overall process between nomination day and election day proceeded smoothly without any major glitches. Complaints have been filed about the possibility of phantom voters and the failure of the indelible ink to work as it should. Both are important issues that must be addressed. However, we position these two issues in the context of the wider lack of trust in the integrity of the electoral roll, instead of simply a weakness of the EC. In order to address the root cause of the problem, serious attention must be given to improving the integrity of the electoral roll. This involves improving the integrity of the National Registration Department’s database, which may not be within the EC’s purview.
It is important to examine the events building up to GE13 in order to get a better perspective. Taking a long-term view, we saw that (1) The media was heavily biased in favour of Barisan Nasional. State-funded media platforms have been abused to project partisan views to the public; (2) There were doubts about the EC’s impartiality and competency despite their many efforts to improve the electoral system. They were seen as being part of an already biased civil service. The fact that EC members repeatedly issued statements that could be construed as partisan did not help. Their defensiveness when criticised further angered the public; (3) Trust in the integrity of the electoral roll is low. This resulted in the public being very cautious when there were reports of foreigners being flown in, when they saw foreign-looking individuals, or when the indelible ink was seen as ineffective; (4) The Registrar of Societies did not treat all political parties equally, delaying the registration process of non-BN partie; (5) Constituency sizes are too unequal, allowing parties that win many smaller seats to win parliament, despite not commanding popular support; (6) Financing of political parties is not transparent, resulting in a big lack of clarity about the financial standing of the competing parties; (7) During the campaigning period, government and armed forces facilities were repeatedly used for campaigning purposes during the official campaign period; (8) Racial issues were dangerously exploited for political gains. There were many instances of BN fishing for votes by sowing mistrust between the Chinese and Malay communities.
Therefore, although the official campaign period and electoral processes may have proceeded smoothly and with minimal major issues, wider issues that are not within the EC’s purview have built up over the last few years. These issues conspired against non-BN parties, therefore creating a very uneven field. Due to these reasons, we conclude that GE13 was only partially free and not fair.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

S&M Show Podcasts

This week's topics: equity strategy after election, first tier, second tier and even third tier stocks

What It Means To Be A Leader & Servant of The People

Can everyone agree that politicians are servants for the people, elected by the people ... can all parties agree on that point? OK, let's move on ... so if there is a WAVE, be it Chinese, rural, Indian, Iban, retards, gays, mixed parentage, single mums ... any kind of WAVE la ... that voted against your PARTY ... 


If your party/leader/members were really servants for the people .... the first thing that should come to your mind is ..  WHERE DID WE GO WRONG!!! ... and not point fingers at your citizens!!!

When you accuse, it shows where your heart, motivations and intentions are ...

Why don't you be a servant of the people as all politicians should be, and ask the party themselves "DI MANA KAH KITA DAH MENGECEWAKAN RAKYAT ... menjadikan keadaan begini .... kenapa ada sekelompok rakyat yang berfikir demikian"

(Where did we go wrong, where did we fail our people that caused this group of people to vote against us)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Lots Of Questions, No Answers

The chart above is why so many questions have risen ....

Bridget Welsh also has her view on the situation below.

Disturbing questions surrounding GE13 polling

By Bridget Welsh | 12:05PM May 7, 2013
GE13 SPECIAL The GE13 results are in and the BN has managed to hold only power, winning by a 22-seat majority. This result is the worst performance for BN in Malaysia’s history.
For the first time, the incumbent government has lost the popular vote nationally (in 2008, it was only on the peninsula). The BN coalition has still managed to hold onto power. This piece, in a series analysing the election results, looks at the concerns raised regarding the electoral process and the potential impact these issues may have had on the final results.
In analysing the fairness of any polls, one asks whether the irregularities in the process could have affected the final outcome. Were the problems enough to change which coalition would have formed government? These issues will be debated and assessed in the days and weeks ahead. Let me share some preliminary observations that suggest that in this election, some things appear not to be quite right.
Integrity of electoral roll
This was the longest wait for an election, and both sides were extremely active in registering new voters, especially in the urban areas where the party machinery was well honed.

Even factoring in the more robust voter registration efforts, changes in electoral procedures to register people where they live rather than where they are from, population demographics, and possible housing developments in different seats, the increased numbers in the electoral roll are significantly not in line with historical patterns of voter registration. This out-of-line pattern is in every state, except Negeri Sembilan.
The figure that stands out in voter increase occurred from 2004 to 2008 in Sabah. The questions about the electoral roll in Sabah have been long standing, and are the subject of the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry into Immigrants.
These increases from 2004 through 2008 are by any measure – huge – in places such as Liburan, where caretaker Chief Minister Musa Aman state seat is located, in Semporna, the seat of Shafie Apdal and in Ranau currently held by Ewok Ebin.
Yet, after 2008, while the numbers have dropped, there is still on average 21% new voters in Sabah seats, a high number not in line with demographic trends. Migration appears to continue be a factor shaping voter numbers in Sabah in this GE13, despite calls to tighten the flows.
We also find that new voters have flooded states like Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Johor in GE13. The average increase in voters nationally between 2004 and 2008 was 8.2%. In the run-up to GE13, the voters registered doubled to 19.4%. The national and statewide averages however obscure the differences among different seats within states. It is clear that some seats have been special recipients of new voters.
Much has been made of the 28% of new voters in Lembah Pantai. This seat is actually on the low side compared to others. Consider the whopping 61.5% increase in Tapah, recently re-won by BN, or Subang with 52% new voters, won by Pakatan with a larger majority this election but shaped heavily by Pakatan’s registration of new voters.
A total of 90 seats, or 41% of all parliamentary seats, have more than 25% new voters. Many of these were in races with tight contests in 2008, and continued to have tight contests in GE13. The new voters has advantaged the opposition in urban areas, but benefitted the BN in rural and semi-rural areas or in states where the machinery of the opposition is comparatively weak, such as Johor.
Such races also won by BN that had large number of voters include Cameron Highlands (20%), Pasir Gudang (39%) and Tebrau (45%) in Johor. While some of the increase in the latter two seats might be explained in part by development, bizarrely there are sharp increases in voting populations in the remote interior state of Pensiangan (33%) and remote coastal seat of Kota Marudu (32%) in Sabah. These abnormal high increases raise questions.
The placement of new voters is even more intriguing when studying the actual polling stations results. Many new voters are concentrated in more less populated areas within constituencies, often in rural and semi-rural seats.
This is where the questions over the large number of unexplained voters grouped in bunches in places like Bachok (21% new voters and won by PAS with less than 1% margin) and Bukit Gantang (29% of new voters and won by PAS with 2% margin) come in.
It appears that the localised remote placements of new voters may have had an impact. For example, the placement of 3,600 new voters in a remote Felda schemes occurred in Segamat, which was won by the BN with a 1,217 majority. The voting in this Felda scheme was over 90%, with one stream at 99%. In 2004, the voter turnout in this area was much lower.
This spike pattern of voter turnout in particular polling stations was found in Terengganu in 2004, when the BN wrested back the state, and questions were raised at that time as well.
Spike patterns out of line
This GE13 spike in voter turnout at the local level is being witnessed in specific places across the country. With the national level of turnout at 80%, the spike patterns that are well out of line with historic patterns of voting behaviour raise questions, even accounting for the overall rise in participation and voter turnout.
Another pattern in the placement of new voters beyond tight races involves prominent leaders getting large shares of new voters, such as Najib Razak’s own seat Pekan with 38% new voters, or Rompin represented by Jamaluddin Jarjis at 29% new voters. It remains unclear why these largely rural constituencies would have such large voter increases.
Generally out-migration areas such as Perak and Pahang receiving large numbers of new voters does not conform with population patterns. Why are places with people leaving to work outside get sharp increases in voters?
The lack of clear transparent explanations on why voters are registered in some areas in such high numbers this election, compared to past patterns in these areas, understandably raises questions.
Many seats that were lost by the opposition or were in tight races have large number of new voters, including, including Tanah Merah (24%) and Balik Pulau (25%), although in some cases the opposition picked up or retained seats with large voter increases in these seats, such as Kota Raja (47%) and Kuala Nerus (25%), among others.
This issue of voter registration and voter turnout levels needs further study, with more information on who are these new voters and their pattern of voting. The fact is that the polling station results will show the spikes at the local level and careful study will tell us statistically the impact of these new voters on electoral outcomes.
The Electoral Commission (EC) and electoral administration as a whole are facing a real trust deficit. A reliable electoral roll is essential for any fair elections. Repeatedly questions have been raised about the veracity of many new voters.
Election watchdog Merap and others have time and again drawn to the questions of electoral roll integrity. Before the polls, these matters were essentially ignored or dismissed. To date, the scope of phantom voters and questionable placement was not fully known. Now the results themselves will show the impact at the local level.
This is why the sharing of all results through the Borang 14 is essential in order to make a systematic and thorough assessment. Preliminary reviews of results are already raising red flags as they have shaped the outcomes at both the parliamentary and state levels.
Early and postal voting
Queries about the early and postal voting have also emerged. Here the question is about double voting, with individuals having the opportunity to vote twice. Postal voting numbers increased in this election. Historically, there have always been questions about the veracity of postal voting, with reports questioning that this voting is secret and others arguing over the accuracy of the results.
There have been improvements in recent years over postal voting involving polling agent access to this process in many locations. Yet, even with these improvements, questions about whether postal voting is fair and accurate remain.
In this election, further questions emerged over the numbers and placement of these postal voters in different constituencies. Many tight races, such as Sibu, had increases in postal voters. In some cases, the list of names of new postal voters were reportedly not provided openly.
Early voting, an estimated 240,000 people, is also a new addition for this election and being queried. Early voting includes many Malaysians within Malaysia, such as the wives of army officers and journalists who can vote before polls.
There was not a clear distribution of the list of early voters provided nationally, and in some cases even individual candidates were not able to access the names of who were the postal and early voters.
No clear explanation was given to why some constituencies received early voters and others did not. Importantly, this information was not properly shared so that it could be verified. Furthermore, there were unexplained instances when the numbers of early and postal voters increased. In Lembai Pantai, for example, the number stated was 200, but 600 showed up. How did this happen?
Given the reality that the indelible ink was in many cases not indelible, the possibility of double voting exists. On voting day there are numerous reports of individuals finding out that someone had voted fraudulently using their name, leading to concerns also about electoral disenfranchisement.
There were also reports of non-Malaysians being transported to the polling stations by buses and even flown in, some of these believed to be phantom voters. The scale and impact of these on the results is not yet clear, but given the combination of a non-transparent early and postal voting process in various locations and non-indelible ink issues on election day, and sightings of non-Malaysians in contentious seats, troubling questions are being raised.
The close results make these issues and questions more salient. A total of 72 of seats (or 32%) were won by less than 10% margins of turnout. Twenty percent of seats, 44 seats, were won with less than a 5% margin. The closeness of these races could easily have come down to a few voters. These razor-thin margin seats were won by both sides, but given the questions raised about the process of voting in these close seats, they need to be carefully reviewed.
To date, the total number of seats affected by either non-transparent new voter increases and early voting allocations and unexplained incidents of disenfranchisement appears to be more than the actual margin of victory for the BN. These reports need to be properly vetted and verified, but fundamental questions remained.
A spoilt-vote victory
Finally, this brings up the questions on the election night itself. There are queries surrounding the recounts and spoilt votes. How many recounts which overturned the results at the last moment were there? In Perak, for example, three state seats – three is a famous number in Perak – Alor Pongsu, Manjoi and Pangkor results were overturned at the last minute. Questions were also raised at Kamunting as well.
The need for transparency at the final count is essential for a fair election. When the EC asks people to leave and there are new ballot boxes seen outside of a polling station, as was reported in Lembah Pantai, there are questions. It is not fully clear what exactly happened with the recounts in Perak and elsewhere – as there were numerous recounts nationally this election – but the climate of distrust that has permeated the assessment of the election process raises doubts.
In the days ahead, a better sense of the numbers and recounts will emerge. With reports of sudden changes in the voting results such as Bentong and Labis, questions are being raised. Many people cannot understand how a result that was statistically a large margin ahead could be overturned. These need to be clarified, particularly in Bentong where the margin was larger.
Part of the problem is that in some cases, the number of spoilt votes exceeded the actual majority in places where recounts took place. Here are some of the seats at the parliamentary level where this happened: Kuala Selangor, Cameron Highlands, Bachok, Bentong, Sungai Besar, Kota Merudu and Baram won by the BN and Sepang and Kuala Nerus won by the opposition. Another seat with high spoilt votes is Segamat, at 950.
What distinguishes these close recounts from the famous cases of Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh losing in 1999 with more spoilt votes than the majority, is the process of the administration of the indelible ink in this election – before marking the ballot paper – thus staining the papers and contributing to higher spoilt votes.
This pattern of higher spoilt votes than actual margins of victory was also replicated at the state level as well in many areas, where only a few seats mattered for who should win state power. The process of administering the ink appears to have had an impact on the results in some areas.
It is important to be careful when reviewing the election results and not rush to judgement about what happened and why. It is also important to see the election holistically. The focus here has not touched on the use of money in the campaign, which was rampant, labeled ‘bombing’ in Sabah, or the mainstream media reporting.
The aim has been to raise the preliminary questions revealed in the results and the impact actual numbers of voters associated with the election. As the evaluation of the election moves forward, the call to answer these questions will only increase and intensify. Further study and analysis is essential.
Nevertheless, from the non-indelible ink and spikes in voter turnout to being not allowed to vote, concerns with the electoral process itself are not sitting right with many in the public, and this is not just supporters on one side or another. Transparent and truthful answers are both needed and welcomed.
DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University. She is travelling around Malaysia to provide her GE13 analyses exclusively to Malaysiakini. Bridget can be reached at

Currency Realignment Battles

The amount of liquidity swishing in the global economy, it is unlikely to see any equity led correction in the forseeable future. Cyprus was but a blip, maybe if the same thing happened to Spain or Italy would we see anything resembling a major correction. No one seems to be ready to take back the liquidity from the financial system, not anytime soon. 

The rising tide has brought up most equity markets, however, some hefty action may be seen in currency realignment battles. Why? Since most major economies are setting interest rates close to zero, that is as good as it gets to try to pump up the economy. What is left is a corresponding decline in purchasing power which lifts competitive advantage to further boost their economies.

Japan has thrown a spanner into the works by being aggressive in printing money following decades of inertia. When that happens, it negates the weaker Euro and US dollar, which may curb their economic intentions. 

The Australian dollar ... judged to be the world's most overvalued currency at the moment.

Safe havens such as yen, Swiss, the loonie and Aussie currencies may have seen funds leaving their shores as the need for safe havens seems to be dissipating. That could be because the US economy's recovery seem to have a bit more legs in it, plus Asia and Latin America are holding well. China seems to have navigated its excessive speculation in property and stock markets well enough by driving it down without a hard landing. China still has to grapple with State companies debt levels and some inroads seem to have been made there.

So, how should the currency wars play out. Soros was rumoured to have been shorting the Aussie dollar but the rumoured size of $1bn is not going to move markets. I would still short the Aussie dollar, not on betting on interest moves, but on usual holders of high interest rate papers in NZ and Aussie bonds (i.e. Japanese) to liquidate to move back to Japan as thing are rosier there.

Overvalued currencies are there for many reasons: mainly because they were largely unscathed from the 2008 crisis and a solid local economy.

The most undervalued major currency has to be the HKD. Its economy is not tied to the US but the currency is. What you get is smart investors would just keep piling into HK dollar assets until it is so frothy that they cannot take it anymore but will change it to a different basket weighted currency of yen, yuan, dollar and euro. The HKD is so artificially weak which is good for the local economy, tourism and MICE related events. I guess they will wait till things boil over in property and stocks before they have the political will to act.

For the rest of the year, these are my shorts and longs:

SHORTS - Aussie dollar, NZ dollar, Canadian loonie, Japanese yen

LONGS - Malaysian ringgit, Indonesia rupiah, Thai baht, HKD, Taiwan dollar, Chinese yuan