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Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Emerging Mkts: Americans are losing interest

In Emerging markets on 28/02/2011 at 9:14 am

Why?

They are scared of the political risks as inflation becomes a problem in  emerging economies. And anyway, it’s time to take some winnings off the table.

WP: Strength in depth

In Uncategorized on 28/02/2011 at 8:57 am

When I was mean to WP in December when I blogged on the absence of its Sec-Gen or chairman at TOC’s Opposition forum, there were a few posers on TR saying that WP was pursuing a strategy of showing that it had a gd squad. Yah right.

Well last night Eric Tan (BTW I know him) showed that WP had another gd man (Gerald Giam did well in the Dec forum).  They have bench strength.

For those who don’t know his background, Eric has an MBA from a gd US uni (North West, I think), worked in the same MINDEF department as one Ho Ching, and has three smart daughters.

Why buy Japanese? II

In Japan, Uncategorized on 28/02/2011 at 6:33 am

Hedge funds are.

Why succession planning is not practised

In Corporate governance on 27/02/2011 at 6:41 am

Two gd reasons from FT’s Lex on why succession planning, much beloved by corporate governance advocates, is BS as far as directors are concerned.

Boards’ best laid succession arrangements – which usually focus on internal candidates who get along with the current chief executive – can work well if the boss leaves when a company is on a high. Should a crisis cause the chief executive’s departure, however, an outside, untarnished candidate may suddenly be preferred. Those cannot be chosen in advance.

Corporate governance groups like internal shuffles as they are cheaper. Boards do not; only a quarter of them actively developed internal candidates for future positions according to a 2005 Mercer survey. That might be surprising, since a clean succession reflects well on the board.

But constant monitoring and supervising internal rivalry is a pain for the outside directors. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Chee: Pls counsel RP on MSM relations

In Uncategorized on 27/02/2011 at 5:57 am

Nice of you to ask for everyone involved in the RP split to calm down. You are taking on the role of an elder statesman, sumething I never ever expected.

You and yr party have a robust and effective way of dealing with our “constructive”, “nation-building” and MM loving media. Could you get Danny to teach RP’s Sec-Gen the SDP approach to local MSM relations.

I’m afraid that RP Sec Gen did it again: his remarks to MSM left him looking again like a pedantic, sliming quibbler? Let me explain.

Mr Gilbert Goh wrote this scathing piece on his impressions of KennethJ.

MediaCorp’s free sheet reported, “Asked about Mr Goh’s comments, Mr Jeyaretnam would only say the former had applied for membership, but it was “never made official”.

Has the Sec-Gen forgotten that he wrote this introducing Gilbert Goh as RP’s new member?

Danny can teach the Sec-Gen the importance of silence or, at least, not saying things that put him in a bad light,

Mountains of diamonds

In Uncategorized on 27/02/2011 at 5:52 am

Juz remember that the diamonds are uncut and unpolished. So they are juz grey dirty stones.

A US-British team of astronomers has discovered the first planet with ultra-high concentrations of carbon.

The researchers say their discovery supports the idea there may be carbon-rich, rocky planets whose terrains are made up of diamonds or graphite.

“You might see land masses and mountains made up of diamonds,” the lead researcher Dr Nikku Madhusudhan told BBC News.

US$120 oil: Losers in region

In India on 26/02/2011 at 8:23 am

According to BarCap, the big losers are South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and India. US$120 oil would drag both Korea and Thailand into current account deficit (in Korea’s case, so would $110 crude). In Taiwan it would drag 4.3 ppts off the current account as percentage of GDP.

Casinos: The price of IRs

In Casinos on 26/02/2011 at 6:32 am

Because S’pore wants a casino to be only part of an Integrated Resort, the resort owner only pays 17% tax.  In Macau, which is less squimish abt living off the gambling industry, the tax rate is 39%

Between April and November 2010 the IRs paid S$420m in taxes.

If the IRS here had to pay 39% tax, S’pore would have collected S$544m more.

Marina Bay’s 57th-floor “skypod”, the infinity “skypool”, the world’s biggest ballroom and a huge shopping centre., and RWS’s Universal Studios set, and its continued detention of Flipper’s friends, are only possible because of the 17% tax rate.

I’d forgo all these for more money.

Oil at US$120: Buy M’sia

In Energy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 26/02/2011 at 5:45 am

As Asia’s largest net energy exporter, only Malaysia will benefit significantly from higher energy prices. With crude oil, natural gas and palm oil making up almost 30% of total exports, the country is experiencing a significant positive terms-of-trade shock, says Barclays Capital.

It says US$120 oil would add 3.1 percentage points to  Malaysia’s current account balance as a percentage of GDP, and 0.9 percentage points to Indonesia’s.

Reits: Debt levels

In Uncategorized on 25/02/2011 at 6:48 am

A few weeks ago, it was a great idea to buy those reits with relatively higher levels of debts on the ground that they could refinance their debts at lower levels. The cost savings be passed on to investors.

For the time being, this strategy had better be KIVed. 

RP: Media adviser needed

In Uncategorized on 25/02/2011 at 6:41 am

Benjamin Cheah here dissected the short-comings of the RP media statement, adding it needed a good copy writer.

I agree with him and would like to go further and propose that RP gets a gd media adviser to help its Sec-Gen from the shooting himself in the backside.

Let me give an example.

The opening words of the statement by RP’s Sec-Gen contradicts what the Sec-Gen had earlier told ST*.  

I can confirm today the resignations as reported in the Press, the statement read.

But by the time this was issued, it was already reported on pg 3 of ST, Mr Jeyeratam, when contacted yesterday, confirmed the departures but said the members had not resigned (My emphasis).

Instead, they had not paid their membership dues for more than six months and so their memberships lapsed in accordance with the party’s Constitution he said.

Big difference, legally.

So after quibbling over whether people had resigned, he conceded that they had resigned, but this still looks bad. Was he trying to slime those who left, before thinking better of it?

A gd media adviser would have helped him think thru the issues before he talks to the media or the public.

The Sec-Gen learns quickly from his mistakes, and can perform, witness this. But this was only after two gaffes: his comments to ST and the statement. If he had a gd adviser, these gaffes could have been avoided.

As it is, one gets the impression that he is too emotional, when it comes to non-economic matters.

———

*As he has yet to rebut ST’s reporting of his comments, I am assuming that ST reported his words accurately.

Oil: An alarmist call

In Energy on 24/02/2011 at 9:43 am

Japanese bank Nomura talks of a doubling in oil price to U$220a barrel if unrest in Libya continues.

Before you do anything stupid remember that Nomura called a buy on Indonesia and other regional markets last December. Waz that call worth?

RP: Boorish behaviour

In Political economy on 24/02/2011 at 6:02 am

When the news broke that there were resignations from RP, the Sec-Gen issued a statement. It made allegations and insinuations abt those who had quit:

– The timing of this departure, its highly co-ordinated and planned manner and the way the individuals then went to the Press, hardly seems an appropriate response to personal incompatibility.

– an action designed to do maximum damage to The Reform Party and gain maximum publicity for the political careers of the individuals involved.

then there was an account of an “ang pow” incident which seemed to insinuate that there could be corruption (although the Sec-Gen denied making an allegation of corruption.)

Contrast this with the response of Tony Tan and Hazel Phua. They wrote, In the short one year plus that we have been in the Reform Party, although we have our disagreements, we have also seen the SG’s drive and dedication.  Since we cannot achieve agreement, we do not wish to be in his way. 

They also answered the “ang pow” allegation, an explanation that sounds reasonable, though $400 sounds a bit too  rich for kids.

The Sec-Gen is a gd economist, speaker and writer. But he is no gentleman as this statement shows and his petulance over the leaking of his letter to SDA showed.

Now not being a gentleman may not be be important in S’pore*, but being accident prone is. Can anyone trust a guy who has been involved in disrupting three parties: SPP, SDA and now his own RP?

*Example- the letters of condolences that MM, PM and SM sent to the sons of JBJ

Why buy Japanese?

In Japan on 23/02/2011 at 7:19 am

If one is a value investor of the school that believes in buying stocks trading below book, then look East to Tokyo.

Prices are so depressed that, at the end of December, nearly two-thirds of the 1,700 companies listed on the Tokyo exchange’s main section had price-to-book ratios below 1. That means, in effect, if one of those companies was dismantled and sold off for its parts, it would fetch more than its market value.

“These stock prices are saying there’s no hope whatsoever for Japanese companies, and that’s simply not true,“ said Tony Roberts, who manages a $2 billion-dollar Japan fund for London-based Invesco Perpetual. “There are lots of great companies in Japan that add a lot of value,“ he said.

NYT article

 

LKY on investing

In Uncategorized on 23/02/2011 at 7:00 am

In 1965, a very busy and difficult year for him, he is reported to have found the time to  say,”S’poreans must learn not to be credulous. Never believe a story just because it is in print, whether in a newspaper or magazine. “

(Hmm sounds like sound advice when one is reading the coverage of the Budget by SPH and MediaCorp.)

He continued , “Never act on speculative reports, without your own investigation and checking.”

*No, it’s not from Hard Truths, but from “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, with Forward by Dr M.

Waz the point of stability?

In Economy, Political economy on 22/02/2011 at 8:43 am

We are told that stability is to be prefered over democracy because investors want stability. But the rapid collapse of the autocratic governments in Tunisa, Egypy and Libya should make one reflect whether stability is over-rated. These countries economies and politics are now in utter chaos.

India, S Korea, M’sia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan (with their messy democracies) are safer places to invest in. They may be less stable than places like Libya and Egypt, but they don’t go from stability to chaos in 21 days.

SGX: An approval too far?

In Uncategorized on 21/02/2011 at 5:53 am

Taiwan, HK, Korea draw unloved Singapore-listed Chinese firms while SGX does its version of Operation Market Garden, a military fiasco, immortalised in the movie “A Bridge Too Far”.

The plan required the seizure of bridges across three rivers and several more canals by airborne forces while armoured divisions made a dash along the road linking all the bridges.  All this while fighting the Germans, If the plan worked, the Allies would outflank the German’s Siegfried Line by driving into the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland.

The operation failed because it  required all the main bridges to be captured and for the armoured divisions to overcome the German defences swiftly. But the terrain was ill-suited for armoured warfare.

Sounds like SGX”s bid for ASX. The takeover must be cleared by the Foreign Investment Review Board, the Treasurer and then enabled by legislation.  Taz like seizing all the bridges.

As to bad terrain, the Greens and independents don’t like it.. One reason they don’t like it is because the Singapore government is itself a shareholder in SGX through its investment arm, Temasek (it will own almost 15%  of the merged group).

Finally, there is the fact that the Oz government government has singled out sovereign investments in Australian companies as a concern.

So I’m glad to hear that SGX has other plans if its plans to takeover ASX fails.

Lao Tse and Hard Truths

In Uncategorized on 20/02/2011 at 7:32 am

MM seems to follow the principles of the  neo-Confucian, Legalist school of Chinese philosophy. There is another strand. This is what the Tao Te Ching has to say abt the difference between “hard” and “soft”.

The living are soft and yielding;

the dead are rigid and stiff.

Living plants are flexible and tender;

the dead are brittle and dry.

Those who are stiff and rigid

are the disciple of death.

Those who are soft and yielding

are the disciples of life.

The rigid and stiff will be broken.

The soft and yielding will overcome.

———

When life begins

we are tender and weak

When life ends

we are stiff and rigid

All things, including the grass and trees,

are soft and pliable in life

and dry in brittle in death

So the soft and supple

are the companion of life

While the stiff and unyielding

are the companions of death

An army that cannot yield

will be defeated

A tree that cannot bend

will crack in the wind

Thus by Nature’s own decree

the hard and strong are defeated

while the soft and gentle are triumphant

Tao Te Ching

How to manage yr reputation online

In Internet on 19/02/2011 at 7:19 am
  • Be proactive. Monitor what’s being said about your business
  • Collect customer testimonials.
  • Don’t fake reviews. Someone will find out
  • Respond to negative reviews quickly. But be kind
  • Buy every url that implicates your name
  • Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin profiles are all indexed high by the search engines

Source: Michael Fertik, Herb Tabin and Craig Agranoff.

BBC Online article

Wedding budget breakdown advice

In Uncategorized on 18/02/2011 at 6:37 am

45% of total budget should be spent on wedding reception – venue, food, drink and cake

5% on ceremony – venue fees, wedding rings, bell ringers and choir

8% on all flowers

5% on transport – bridal cars and additional cars

10% on photography and videography

12% on wedding attire including dress

15% on everything else – stationery, gifts for bridal party, wedding insurance, wedding night accommodation and honeymoon

Source: Wedding planner Sarah Haywood via BBC Online

S’pore Inc: 21 years and still in transition?

In Corporate governance, Political economy on 18/02/2011 at 6:34 am

All my old colleagues have left. I am alone of the old team. I am staying on for a while to help the transition. According to “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, Forward by Dr M, this was said by LKY at Davos in February 1990.

As it’s 21 years since MM said this, we can only conclude that for MM, time passes very slowly: the US is on its fourth president (two of them serving two terms), China has had several leadership changes, M’sia is on its third PM, and Indonesia has had five presidents.

And little us are still transiting leaders?

But maybe the on-going transition is the fault of GCT and LHL? They are slow learners, GCT not mustering his ABCs by the time he stepped down as PM?

BTW, in 1990, the Internet had yet to spin its web, the US was the unchallenged Hegemon and China wasn’t yet an economic superpower.

How time flies, outside S’pore’s political system.

Monopoly: Updated for 21st century

In Uncategorized on 17/02/2011 at 10:01 am

[I]n the center, instead of dice and Chance and Community Chest cards, an infrared tower with a speaker issues instructions, keeps track of money and makes sure players adhere to the rules. The all-knowing tower even watches over advancing the proper number of spaces.

NYT article

Lesson for our SWFs

In Corporate governance, GIC, Temasek on 17/02/2011 at 9:18 am

I’ve ranted at how Temasek and GIC allowed investment banks to short change them (and us) in two IPOs:  the share prices traded way above IPO price on listing,

Well it’s nice to see that the Indonesians screwed the investment banks over the Garuda IPO, the share price falling 20% below IPO price, with the underwriters stuck with abt half of the shares,

Now I’m not saying that our SWFs should play that rough with the investment banks — there will be adverse consequences for Garuda when it tries to raise more money and the Indonesian authorities when they try to sell other companies — but our SWFs should try to keep the premiums to around 5%. It’s hard, but they shld try.

Office reits: OCBC is bullish

In Property, Reits on 16/02/2011 at 6:29 pm

OCBC Investment Research, late last week wrote, We found a few common themes in the guidance given by office Reit managers. Firstly, most office Reits with Grade-A office assets expect negative rental reversions to bottom out by end-2011.

In FY2010, negative rental reversions were still prevalent in some Grade-A properties such as Six Battery Road and One George Street. One Raffles Quay and Suntec City also saw y-o-y declines in gross revenue contributions, but this is expected to turn around in 2011-12.

According to CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), Grade-A rents averaged $9.90 psf a month in Q4 2010, reflecting an increase of 10 per cent q-o-q and 22.2 per cent y-o-y. Read the rest of this entry »

GIC: Hawaii, Miami here we come

In GIC on 15/02/2011 at 3:17 pm

GIC has offered to pay Us$1.5 bn for five resorts reports Bloomberg. Among the resorts: the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, Hawaii, and the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami.

Better and funnier than Hard Truths

In Political economy, Wit on 15/02/2011 at 3:15 pm

Get hold of this: “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, Forward by Dr M.

http://www.mphonline.com/books/nsearch.aspx?do=detail&pcode=9789679695663

Like Hard Truths, it quotes MM. But unlike HT, it keeps its quotes pithy and concise. MM should have consulted Francis Seow, and not ST, on how to produce a book that the young will want to read.

Sumehow I doubt any bookseller will bring this in.

M&A: The wisdom of kids

In Wit on 15/02/2011 at 7:29 am

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY? (written by kids)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.

– Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.

– Kristen, age 10

2. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.

– Camille, age 10

3. HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.

– Derrick, age 8

4. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

Both don’t want any more kids.

– Lori, age 8

5. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.

– Lynnette, age 8 (isn’t she a treasure)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.

– Martin, age 10

6. WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?

When they’re rich.

– Pam, age 7 ( Love her )

-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.

- – Curt, age 7

-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.

- – Howard, age 8

7. IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.

– Anita, age 9 (bless you child )

8. HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?

– Kelvin, age 8

And the Favorite is …….

9. HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.

– Ricky age 10

The genuis of Jobs

In Telecoms on 14/02/2011 at 9:55 am

The iPhone is only 4% of the mobile phone market, in sales terms,

But it accounts for 50% of the profits of this market.

Lalang is M’sian?

In Uncategorized on 13/02/2011 at 5:01 pm

When I did O-levels Geography many yrs ago, I was tot that the weed that we know as “lalang” is a native weed of S’pore, Malaya, Batam, Bintang and Sumatra i.e. it is indigenous to this region,

So I was surprised to read a SunT article that described it as a “M’sian weed” rather than a native weed.

Even our “lalang” must be FT is it?

Why PAP can’t do coups or violence

In Economy, Political economy on 13/02/2011 at 6:21 am

Sumetime back I flippantly blogged on a “Klingon election”.

Seriously this or military intervention is unlikely because it will shake confidence in the rationality of the PAP internationally, especially its willingness observe the letter of internationally accepted rules.

S’pore is trying to attract foreigners to set up oil  and chemical plants, and R&D facilities here. These projects are expensive and have long lead times. So if there is military intervention or “Klingon election”, they will fear that somewhere down the line, their expensive investments may be at risk.

Then there is plan to get more MNCs to base their regional HQs here. Overturning a “freak” result will scare them away because they want a quiet place.

And then there is the attempt to build a wealth mgt centre to rival Switzerland. Would people want to keep their money in a country where there is a military intervention or “Klingon election”? Next time, their assets could be seized. Read the rest of this entry »

The fragility of everything

In Uncategorized on 12/02/2011 at 8:23 am

A MONTH ago Ahmed Ezz was one of the most powerful businesspeople in Egypt. He controlled about 40% of the country’s steel production, oversaw the rigging of the election for the ruling party in December, and, most important of all, was a bosom buddy of Hosni Mubarak’s son and heir apparent, Gamal.

Today he is a has-been. Protesters have demonised him and torched his company headquarters. The old guard has dumped him as a liability. He is under investigation, his assets have been frozen and his right to travel has been restricted. Western companies that cultivated Mr Ezz wasted their time and money. Economist

This was written before Mubarak resigned yesterday.

Can’t blame MM can you? Related post

Read the rest of this entry »

Casinos: Junket operators have to be whiter than white

In Casinos on 10/02/2011 at 5:28 am

For the casinos, this means no biz from junket operators likely in the foreseeable future. So only income from the small gamblers of S’pore, Malaya and Indonesia, and in-house high rollers where they assume the credit risk. The fourth leg — high rollers courtesy of junket operators — is still missing.

Going by this BT report, before CNY, Junket regulations, on the very tough rules on junket operators that S’pore is putting in place, it is clear that the authorities have decided that they would rather lose high roller traffic than risk S’pore’s wealth mgt and banking aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »

The impt of first principles

In Uncategorized on 09/02/2011 at 5:15 am

A comic story that illustrates the impt of knowing cause and effect.

How to get to Heaven from Scotland ….

I was testing children in my Glasgow Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting into heaven.

I asked them, “If I sold my house and mycar, had a big jumble sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?”

“NO!” the children answered.

“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the garden and kept everything tidy, would that get me into heaven?”

Again, the answer was ‘No!’

By now I was starting to smile.

“Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave sweeties to all the children, andloved my husband, would that get me into heaven?”

Again, they all answered ‘No!’

I was just bursting with pride for them.

I continued, “Then how can I get into heaven?”

A six year old boy shouted, Read the rest of this entry »

China Water Play: and its not an S-Chip

In China, Infrastructure on 08/02/2011 at 9:44 am

United Envirotech is owned by local blue chip UEL

OCBC likes the stock despite revising its value downwards by 5% to 0.65. When report was issued on 2 February, the stock had closed at 0.455. Read the rest of this entry »

Keep at it my fellow bloggers II

In Internet on 08/02/2011 at 5:33 am

There’s gold at the end of the rainbow and we’ve doing gd in the meantime. At least most of us are.

AOL to buy Huffington Post in US$315m media merger

Property prices will hop-a-long

In Economy, Property on 07/02/2011 at 8:57 am

The govmin is stepping hard on the brakes to prevent property prices from being a one way bet, and to appease those S’poreans who missed the boat.

Some of those who missed the boat are daft enough to expect a property collapse. Why shld it?

FTs are still flooding in; interest rates are low; credit is easily available (bit harder than the recent past, but still easy); people are more optimistic despite the efforts of ToC, TR, WP, SDP, Tan Kin Lian and Goh Meng Seng*; and the economy is expected to do 5% this yr.

The US is printing money, some of which will find its way here,

Then there is the Budget which shld more money in our pockets, so that we can afford to take out bigger mortgages.

And best of all. It is difficult for any government to stop the momentum of rising property prices. Despite the attempts of the Chinese authorities  over the past year or so, property prices continue to rise. Juz more slowly.

If you believe property prices will ease-off significantly, keep on whistling in the night, or pray that there will be a global recession. The data shows that 2008 excepted (when M’sians flooded in and bot because of fears of instability in M’sia), property prices fall 20% when there is a recession.   

*If they are believed, most S’poreans are poor and unhappy. S’poreans are unhappy but they are not poor. They can afford the interest payments on mortgages on S$500,00 HDB flats. They are unhappy because they are envious of richer S’poreans.

S’pore Inc: The Achievement Test

In Political economy on 06/02/2011 at 2:53 pm

Here’s an idea (from the NYT) that could make a difference in the usually sterile election debates.

The best way to measure government is not by volume, but by what you might call the Achievement Test. Does a given policy arouse energy, foster skills, spur social mobility and help people transform their lives?

Translated into the S’pore context: Do the govmin policies on say casinos, housing, FTs, breeding, transport, education or R&D arouse energy, foster skills, spur social mobility and help people transform their lives?

Debate.

“Hard Truths”: an exercise in futility? II

In Uncategorized on 05/02/2011 at 8:45 am

ST’s editor, Han Fook Kwang, has a lot to answer for if the young do not read “Hard Truths”. He has said that it was he who advised MM to use the Q&A format.

But would the young want to plough thru the book or watch the interviews? My informal, unscientific surveys would indicate not.

Waz done is done, MM should hunt for a graphic artist to turn his book into a series of graphic novels. “Hard Truths from the Grave” anyone?

“Hard Truths”: an exercise in futility?

In Uncategorized on 04/02/2011 at 6:15 am

In “Hard Truths”, we see how MM perceives the world: one wrong step (say Opposition wins one more vote) and it’s downhill on the steepest of  a slippery slope. Everything is fragile and if there is no control, something will go wrong.

This attitude reminds me of the tragedy of the life of Sigemund Warburg.

Sigemund Warburg, another control freak and visionary genius, was described thus: “He walks through life like a character in a Greek tragedy, forever expecting the worst to happen, the last man in the dead centre of a hurricane, continually amazed that he is still alive. The frightful sound of the Erinyes [ancient Greek personifications of Fate] is always in his inner ear — especially when all goes well. That, he feels is the moment when one must watch out for the danger signs. “

And who are we to say that congenial pessimists like MM and Sigemund Warburg are wrong?

Thirteen years after his death, SG Warburg, the UK merchant bank Sigemund Warburg founded was sold to Swiss Bank for a pittance.  When he was running it, it was the top UK investment bank. It was not as though he had dumb successors, the place was a meritocracy.

The world of finance had changed, and his successors had a run of bad luck when carrying out their chosen strategy. This is not to say that the strategy was right: in hindsight they should have become a boutique, not a full service, investment bank.

The irony is that the rich-kid cousin he looked down on as a dilettante and bum did better than he did in continuing the family tradition: banking. Two investment banks connected to the cousin (one he co-founded in the US, one he returned to in Germany) are independent, thriving and still retain the Warburg name.

Luck is all.

Keep at it my fellow bloggers

In Internet on 04/02/2011 at 5:25 am

Latest VC trend is to throw money at the likes of us.

Gd year of the rabbit.

Breeding like rabbits is not enough leh

In Uncategorized on 03/02/2011 at 10:05 am

Rabbits in danger of going extinct in 2011. Pixs

Water, the new oil

In Infrastructure on 02/02/2011 at 2:45 pm

AGRICULTURE and water investments will be the best performers over the next 10 years, according to BlackRock founder and CEO Larry Fink.

“Go long agriculture and water and go to the beach,” said Mr Fink, whose creation was now the biggest funds manager in the world, with $US3.5 trillion ($3.07 trillion) under management — more than the GDP of Germany.

“Put those investments in the bottom drawer for 10 years. It’s unlike anything else we have in the world.”

Agriculture and water would even beat energy investments, he said.

“They’re finding lots of ways to find new energy — Israel’s going to be an exporter of natural gas and I’m hearing there’s more oil under Iraq than Saudi Arabia, for instance, although it’s not secure.”

Part of WSJ story

Well on SGX, we got Hyflux and at the shitty end of water plays we got CitySpring and Asia Water.

“Truth”: What is it?

In Uncategorized on 02/02/2011 at 5:27 am

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth,” Marcus Aurelius

I think the PM and the Malay Minister were trying to say this in their response to MM’s “Hard Truths” abt Malays, but didn’t have the courage to openly contradict MM on whether there is such a thing as “truth”? And I am supposed to be willing to die for cowards like them? Would they be willing to die for me, seeing that they don’t dare openly contradict MM on a philosophical point?

FYI, Marcus Aurelius was no head-in-the-sky philosopher.  

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman empire during that empire’s Indian summer. He fed the Christians to the lions because the Christians were “distinct and separate”, threatening from within the cohesion of an empire based on integrating people of different religions and races under Roman rule.

He led his armies against the barbarians and the Parthians that were threatening the empire, and defeated them.

Finally, he wrote “Meditations” which is still read today.

Notes on revolutions

In Uncategorized on 01/02/2011 at 9:47 am

Interesting this from a BBC blogger

An authoritarian regime depends on fear. A security machine can appear all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing. But, in the face of a popular revolt, can disintegrate swiftly. The sheer numbers on the streets of Cairo have given people a sense of their own power. Their fear of the regime has gone. Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese and Indian ways of getting marriage partners for kids

In Wit on 01/02/2011 at 8:37 am

Chinese parents meet in informal markets in city parks to exchange details.

In India, parents treat this like an MNC recruiting employees. They go to uni campuses and interview.

What do Pakis do? Visit terrorist trading camps?

Budget goodies: Jam tomorrow?

In Economy on 01/02/2011 at 8:36 am

We’ve been told that there will be budget goodies (there’s an election a’coming) and that this budget will be for long term gd of S’pore.

As a massive income tax rebate or a GST rate cut will not be gd because we have an overheated economy (look at inflation and property prices), the likely solution will be a repeat of 2001. All Tharman has to do is to cut and paste his predecessor’s package of goodies. The finance minister then is now our PM. Read the rest of this entry »

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