Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Our neighbour Indonesia

In Indonesia on 30/09/2010 at 5:51 am

Jakarta Composite Index had another record day yesterday, rising 0.7%, close to the  3,500 level and breaking fresh records for a fourth successive day.

On Monday, the index was up 2.1% , on volume of 7bn shares worthUS$699m changing hands. Indonesia’s buoyant economy and a rise in consumer spending are attracting investors, particularly foreigners.

Related post: trumpets pls.


S’pore and N Korea share a similar problem?

In Uncategorized on 29/09/2010 at 6:44 am

True I’ve blogged that S’pore is not N Korea

But does the elevation of the Dear Leader’s son to four-star general and other top posts and the Dear Leader’s sister promotion indicate that it has a small pool of talent, a S’pore-like problem. LKY has analysed that there is only a small pool of talent in Singapore from which to choose its leaders. Does N Korea have this problem?

And our Vivian B should be glad that he is not in N Korea or the Royal Navy

I mean his Kiddie Games’ goofs roll on and on long after the Games: the fiascos on the certificate  and F1 tickets are juz more signs of his failure to manage the Kiddie Games. But at least the Games didn’t have the problems that the Indians are facing organising the Commonwealth Games.

As I am no racist, I do not draw attention to VB’s race. Some Chinese chauvinist might.

Is buying rather than renting irrational?

In Uncategorized on 29/09/2010 at 6:02 am

We S’poreans buy rather than rent reasoning as follows.

We can use our CPF.

And if we rent, odds there is a gd chance that housing costs may turn against us; they may e.g. go up, leaving us without a good, affordable home. By buying early, we are hedged  against movements in the housing market. If prices rise sharply, then household wealth increases, enabling us to remain in the market. If it falls, the household has lost wealth—but housing is now cheaper.

The second point  is also the view globally except in places like France, Germany and Switzerland. Here people prefer to rent.

But there is a minority view that argues housing is a bad investment, because it exposes households to big long-term debt  and is undiversified. The risk reward ratio is not correct.

So far (in S’pore) history is on the side of the buyers. But past performance is no guarantee that it will be repeated.

So SDP, Tan Kin Lian: what about advocating that HDB rents properties for shorter periods at “fair prices”,  rather than selling them out for 99 years? The latter is after all only a long-term lease.

Minimum wages: the South African experience

In Economy on 28/09/2010 at 6:54 am

The sheriff arrived at the factory here to shut it down, part of a national enforcement drive against clothing manufacturers who violate the minimum wage. But women working on the factory floor — the supposed beneficiaries of the crackdown — clambered atop cutting tables and ironing boards to raise anguished cries against it …

[ ]made just $36 a week, $21 less than the minimum wage, but needed the meager pay to help support a large extended family that includes her five unemployed siblings and their children.

The women’s spontaneous protest is just one sign of how acute South Africa’s long-running unemployment crisis has become. With their own industry in ruinous decline, the victim of low-wage competition from China, and too few unskilled jobs being created in South Africa, the women feared being out of work more than getting stuck in poorly paid jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

Whither the price of oil?

In China, Energy on 28/09/2010 at 5:50 am

A stupid question. Upwards and onwards. Juz look at the small cap stocks in S’pore’s offshore marine industry.

But consider this fact reported in “The Squeeze”, Tom Bowyer’s book on the recent history of the oil industry.  China requires three times more oil and gas to manufacture the same item than US or Europe. The equivalent of 16m barrels of oil are wasted every day.

All this means is that if China can get more energy efficient, it can increase output, using less oil.

I’m an energy bull, but this statistic has me wondering if I shld be less bullish.

Helping the poor R creative accounting

In Uncategorized on 27/09/2010 at 5:29 am

Taken over a lifetime, a typical low-income family would receive from the state the equivalent of about half their total life earnings, [Finance Minister Tharman] said. These subsidies cover areas such as education, housing and Workfare …

Err for some reason this explanation of how much the poor get from the govmin sounds a bit like Enron’s accounting for profits on long-term energy contracts. Remember Enron estimated the profits that it expected to make over the life of contracts to supply energy. It then booked the profits up-front. One problem with this methodology was,” How can it calculate the future profits, given that the future was unpredictable?” E.G.There could be supply or demand disruptions. Likewise how does Tharman know the future earnings of a poor person?

BTW, Enron collapsed when investors realised that its profits were fictitious.  There were all manner of trickery used to create profits of which the way it accounted for long-term energy contracts was only one.

I’m not saying that Tharman’s statement is  misrepresenting, inaccurate or misleading; or that the govmin is misleading S’poreans; or that the govmin will go the way of Enron. All I’m saying “How can he know? The future is uncertain.”

Price of unexploited oil

In Energy on 27/09/2010 at 5:24 am

If like me you ever wondered about the value of oil in the ground, it’s US$8.51a barrel.  Granted this valuation is about oil that is hard to extract: 350km offshore, up to  7km below the surface in the southern Atlantic Ocean, under deep water and massive layers of rock, sand and  salt.

Analysts think that US$6 a barrel is a fair price for this oil, given the difficulty of extracting it. But Brazil has sold the oil to Petrobras (Brazil’s government owns 40% and a majority of voting rights) at US$8.51 a barrel (42%)  price. It will get more Petrobas shares.

The minority shareholders hated this but gritted their teeth and took up their shares in Petrobas capital raising exercise.

that stock worth around $70 billion had been taken up—a world record, and more than three times the size of Agricultural Bank of China’s giant share offer two months ago. Of that total, almost $43 billion-worth of the shares will be taken up by the government in return for giving Petrobras the right to develop 5 billion barrels of reserves.

PE is useless

In Uncategorized on 26/09/2010 at 6:13 am

The price to earnings ratio is not a gd signpost when there are problems getting a grip with the earnings of companies and industries.

Minimum Wages: Issues

In Uncategorized on 25/09/2010 at 10:56 am

The justification for having a minimum wage is an issue of fairness as Gilbert Goh points out. Is it fair that the free  market rate is so low that it is below the rate that someone cannot support him or herself. Put it this way and given S’pore is a rich, developed city state, the govmin sounds mean to deprive S’poreans and others working here of a minimum wage.

If as a matter of  “fairness”, we should implement it, then the issue becomes what damage, if any, to the economy? And can any damage be quantified?

And then decide (assuming that it does damage the economy), whether fairness or “the greater gd” should prevail.

There are several empirical studies that suggest that a minimum wage moderately above the free-market wage would not harm employment much and could (in some circumstances) potentially raise it.

Let’s not mix the issues up, something that many on both sides of the debate seem to do. But maybe they mix up the issues on purpose: to try to win the debate.

Me? I think that fairness demands we have it, but I am concerned about the paperwork. Remember even businesses that are exempted, have to keep records in case the govmin comes ‘ checking. And smaller businesses that are not exempted, have to keep the same records as a GLC, TLC or MNC that has a large HR department.

MM Lee: Why not look East?

In Uncategorized on 24/09/2010 at 6:51 am

I was surprised to learn that MM was tot meditation by a Christian. All Christian practice is based on the belief of a personal god who cares, and MM admits that he is an agnostic.

Surprised that MM does not practice zen meditation which does not assume the existence of a personal god or even that a supreme being exists. Wonder if he has read Hagakure? This book is a  classic,  summing up of Bushido, the code of the Samurai. After all he, like them, is a proud agnostics feared for ferocity in combat.

But unlike them, he does not seem (based on the NYT interview transcript) to be serene. The Samurai trained themselves to be serene in the knowledge that they could die at any time.

But then maybe MM doesn’t look East because “Looking East” is Dr Mahathir’s territory? Carnivores respect each other’s hunting zone, so likewise elder statesmen each other’s fixations.

What price financial consumer protection?

In Uncategorized on 23/09/2010 at 5:25 am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that the US is setting up will be nominally*  part of the Federal Reserve, the US central bank. The Fed is required under the law to turn over 10 to 12% of its operating expenses — to finance the bureau’s work. This would have been roughly US $500m  in 2009.

If MAS, S’pore’s central bank, spent that percentage of  its expenses on consumer protection, this would amount to S$ 22m in year end March 2009.

Somehow I doubt if MAS spends that much.

*The Fed has no power to name, supervise or remove the bureau’s employees, or to interfere with the bureau’s work

StanChart a takeover target?

In Banks, Emerging markets, Temasek on 22/09/2010 at 5:24 am

(Updated on 13 October)

No not Temasek as predator. Remember it has 18% of StanChart.

But what abt JP Morgan? Top FT reporter Francesco Guerrera analyses

The international conundrum is more complex. JPMorgan earns some 75 per cent of its revenues in the US, a slow-growing, developed country. By contrast, Citi derives some 40 per cent of its revenues from Latin America and Asia, emerging economies with a bright future that are also HSBC’s stomping ground.

Those lenders’ competitive advantage is their ability to offer boring-but-lucrative commercial banking and cash management services to thousands of companies.

JPMorgan has a deep commercial banking network in the US – its most profitable business – but lags overseas.

The bank already works with more than 2,000 foreign companies but Mr Dimon would love to get that number to nearer 4,000 and do more with each of them.

To this end, JPMorgan is adding 250 bankers and $50bn in extra lending to lure foreign companies. But that could take decades and the bank might want to shorten the wait with bolt-on acquisitions (as its investment bank did with Britain’s Cazenove and RBS Sempra).

The recent moves by Heidi Miller, a veteran executive, to lead the international effort, and Doug Braunstein, a takeover specialist, to the role of finance chief, certainly point in that direction.

But, as my GPS intones when I get lost, “there is a better way” – in theory at least – and it leads to Standard Chartered.

A well-run, commercial and retail bank with strongholds in Asia, Latin America and Africa, StanChart could be the answer to Mr Dimon’s problems.

It would not come cheap – its valuation is well above JPMorgan’s – and a bid by Mr Dimon would trigger a war with HSBC and China’s ICBC, among others.

But JPMorgan’s good health affords its chief the luxury of time.

On 12 October 2010, StanChart was up 2% on rumours that JP Chase would bid.

S’pore’s a distant 4th but

In Banks, Economy on 21/09/2010 at 6:44 am

catching up. But Shanghai’s catching up fast.

Taz the conclusion of the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI).

London and New York with 772 and 770 points respectively out of a possible 1,000, are joint leaders (a two-point margin is  statistically “peanuts”). Hong Kong has 760.  Singapore is 4th, 32 points behind Hong Kong, but could soon join the top ranks (i.e. close the gap), according to GFCI.

Shanghai has risen  five places to sixth, which puts it in the top 10 for the first time since the survey began in 2005. There are now four Asian cities in the top 10.

Words of wisdom on property R govmin?

In Economy, Property on 21/09/2010 at 5:35 am

Well property counters are off, HDB prices softening. Forget abt market finding their own level. It’s all abt govmin policies.

So waz this talk of market forces?

As Siew Kum Hong blogged a moon ago: By mixing up the public policy goals of providing affordable accommodation and helping citizens plan for their retirement, the Government has ended up achieving neither, with public housing becoming increasing unaffordable and many retirees being asset-rich and cash-poor.

The point that I ultimately want to make, is that the “leave it to the market” message is deceptive when the bearer of the message is able to manipulate the market. Markets do not exist in vacuums, but are instead influenced by government regulations and policies. So when the Government declines to intervene or to change the underlying rules, it is really a conscious political decision to maintain the status quo.

His totful rant in full

IskandarLand: Getting desperate

In Malaysia on 19/09/2010 at 4:59 am

Looks like project promoters are scrapping the bottom in search of investors.

First it was the Arabs and Temasek and its TLCs and other S’porean GLCs. Then any foreigner, even SMEs from S’pore.

Now it is any M’sian company. Another grandiose M’sian project bites the dust.

Don’t be a wimp MM

In Uncategorized on 18/09/2010 at 5:39 am

MM thinks he is getting old. But here’s sumeone even older and still working hard.

At 103, Judge Brown, of the United States District Court here, is old enough to have been unusually old when he enlisted during World War II. He is old enough to have witnessed a former law clerk’s appointment to serve beside him as a district judge — and, almost two decades later, the former clerk’s move to senior status. Judge Brown is so old, in fact, that in less than a year, should he survive, he will become the oldest practicing federal judge in the history of the United States. Story

With ministers like Mr “Betterest” , Goofy VB and “Not what I meant” Peanuts Goh, MM is still needed to say it as it is.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

IS DBS now a screaming buy?

In Banks on 17/09/2010 at 5:16 am

Remember DBS  sold S’poreans and Honkies toxic notes and paid off Honkies but gave the finger to S’poreans?

Well Raju Rajan was the then head of consumer banking. He has “decided to pursue new opportunities outside DBS’. BTW before he became head of consumer banking, he headed DBS’s IT team. The failure of the systems was on his successor’s watch.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported he is going to Deutsche Asset Management. Death wish by Deutsche?

Now that Mr “destroyer of value” has left, is DBS a screaming buy?

It has a great chairman. It recently appointed two gd men as head of consumer banking and as S’pore country mgr. And it appointed Bertie Cheng as its adviser.  Mr PosBank had retired moons ago after DBS bot PosBank. Read the rest of this entry »

Missing the point Minister

In Uncategorized on 16/09/2010 at 5:28 am

Or rather evading the point.

The question asked was not whether the govmin would still have gone ahead to bid for the Kiddie Games even if it had known it would cost S$387 million to host it.  Nor was the question whether the Play Pen Frolics delivered value.

The question is “Why did yr ministry get the numbers wrong in the first place?”. VB never properly answered why he goofed so badly.

Now I don’t expect PAP MPs to remind VB to answer the question. Such a thing as comradely loyalty and mafia-like honour.

But I am surprised that the people-in-blue, the “my seat is mine to gift away to my Mrs” MP, and the NMPs did not press the point harder, if at all.

S’pore needed you Siew Kum Hong in Parly.

BTW I wonder if there is any point getting more peope-in-blue into Parly. The two of them in Parly are kinda quiet. Or maybe taz what MSM wants us to think.

Update on 17 Sept– Maybe this the reason why S’pore bid for BS Games?

Temasek: Financial engineering STATS

In Private Equity, Temasek on 15/09/2010 at 5:11 am

STATS ChipPAC, a chip-tester, recently raised US$600m. As STATS is undergoing a recapitalisation exercise, this means the $ will go to shareholders. Temasek has 81% of STATS.

Glad to see that that Temasek is using a private equity “trick” to enhance its returns. Borrowing money and using the loan proceeds to return $ to shareholders.  Every little bit helps post the losses on Shin, ABC Learning, Merrill Lynch and Barclays.

Maybe Straits Trading should try this “trick” as a way to reduce the the loans that Tecity is alleged to have taken out to fund its controlling stake in ST. It owns over 70% of ST and ST has lots of solid assets that would provide gd security for the loans.

But borrowers have to be careful. It’s OK if the borrower’s controlling shareholder is a SWF but not if is juz a family company. Cash flow projections may be wrong,  or bonds may mature at the wrong time.

Casinos: Could there have been corruption?

In Casinos on 14/09/2010 at 9:10 am

I’m very cynical, but it only struck me this morning that the buses to heartlands fiasco could be more serious than the incompetency of VB and his ministry, and  the gambling and tpt agencies.

We now know that the tpt agency gave approval for the bus services, but we don’t know whether it consulted the ministry and the casino agency, and when they became aware of the services. From their swift cancellation of the services one gets the impression they only just knew. This in itself raises questions of why they didn’t know earlier.

I tot it was the usual govmin goof up like the failure to anticipate that FTs would need public hsing and tpt, or the insecurity at SMRT terminals, or boasting that they could control floods, when they couldn’t. I mean these things happen regularly now that LKY is no longer running S’pore. If on;y we could clone MightyMind and Dr Goh at their prime.

But could there be corruption at some level in the bureaucracy of one or more of these organisations?  Could MM and the “Old Guard” fear of corruption be correct.

I hope the PM will tell us if there is evidence of corruption, and if there is, what is being done.

BTW I’m in favour of casinos but I’m also in favour of govmin walking the talk. Here it clearly failed for many moons to protect S’poreans from the marketing of RW.

China Black Swan risks quantified

In Banks, China on 14/09/2010 at 5:27 am

Morgan Stanley’s Qing Wang created a new tracking concept, the China Macro Risk Radar (CMRR). The  goal is to provide a framework to asses and monitor risk events of low to moderate probability (high probability events already have their own standing at the firm and are singled out in client calls) and high impact.

As part of its inaugural edition, MS has assigned 10 risk events to four different categories on the CMRR – each risk event is assessed according to six aspects, including its description, content, potential impact, likelihood, timeframe, and evolving direction. The top 10 event  that shld concern investors  can be summarized along the following four verticals:

Risk Category A: Macroeconomic

Risk Event 1: Massive NPLs

Risk Event 2: Local Governments Default

Risk Event 3: Economic Hard Landing

Risk Category B: Policy and Regulatory Changes

Risk Event 4: Rapid Wage Increase

Risk Event 5: Introduction of Property Tax

Risk Event 6: Resource Tax Reform

Risk Category C: Financial Market Shocks

Risk Event 7: Property Bubble Burst

Risk Event 8: Commodity Prices Spike

Risk Category D: External Shocks

Risk Event 9: European Sovereign Debt Crisis Redux

Risk Event 10: Trade Protectionism

A visual summary

DBS safer than OCBC and UOB

In Banks on 13/09/2010 at 5:53 am

According to Global Finance, DBS is the world’s 23rd safest bank. In Asia, HSBC is the safest bank (19th). But in Asia Pacific region,  Oz banks are even safer with National Australia Bank, Westpac,  and Commonwealth Bank (at 11, 12, and 13 respectively)

French, Dutch and German banks occupy most of the top positions in the Global Finance survey, which uses  long-term credit ratings from agencies Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, and analysis of total assets owned by the 500 largest banks in the world to do the survey.

The safest bank is Germany’s KfW , followed by Frances’s CDC and Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) of the Netherlands.

US banks are dogs (and taz insulting dogs), with BNY Mellon at position 30,  JP Morgan Chase (40), Wells Fargo (42) and US Bancorp (47).

More funds to choose from

In Uncategorized on 12/09/2010 at 9:28 am

JPMAM chose Singapore for its new regional South Asia  (Asean, Australia and India) HQ because of its close links with the last two countries, and its membership of Asean which is aiming for free movemen” of capital by 2015. It was likely to concentrate initially on “white label” funds in most Asean countries. These are funds marketed under the names of other financial institutions.

Following Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and India, Singapore is the latest and  seventh Asian market in which JPMAM has launched retail funds. There will be 21 S’pore registered funds. They will focus on emerging markets and natural resources and will be distributed through banks and financial advisers. It had only dealt with rich people here before.

Casinos: Answers needed

In Casinos on 11/09/2010 at 6:27 am

After the Kiddie Games fiasco looks like Vivian Balakrishnan goofed again. It’s getting to be a habit — remember his tirades against the poor, and the homeless and the delay in building a new sports complex.

OK, I’m a bit unfair as the latest goof should be shared with the statutory agency regulating the casinos. And perhaps LTA as surely the bus service must have needed LTA approval?

VB’s ministry and the agency have implicitly admitted that they shouldn’t have allowed the bus service to the heartlands when the ministry said it  and the Casino Regulatory Authority would issue a directive yesterday to stop the shuttle services provided by casino operators.

What is worrying is that despite the service starting officially in June, the authorities only said a few days ago that they would investigate the service. They didn’t know earlier? Or they didn’t care?

If the former, there are all kinds of security implications. If the authorities didn’t know something that was openly done in  contravention of the law, this means that those who want to plant bombs can be reasonably assured they wouldn’t be detected.

If they didn’t care, waz all the talk abt protecting S’poreans against the ills of gambling worth?

And if they didn’t know until recently, why they  didn’t know? And what steps is the PM taking to improve open source and covert intelligence gathering?

And if some ministries or agencies knew, and others didn’t, why wasn’t info shared and why those that didn’t know,  find out. I mean the services were not covert.

I hope the govmin comes clean about when it knew abt the heartland bus service, and if it knew early, why it didn’t do anything for months?

Did some MasterMind realise what VB and clowns were doing or not doing, and break  skulls?

This after all has implications on S’pore’s image for being a gd place to do business because the govmin is efficient, something VB has tarnished with the Kiddie Games and the delay in building a national play pen.

Update 14 Sept

StanChart: Getting too aggressive?

In Banks, India, Temasek on 10/09/2010 at 5:11 am

Is Standard Charterd (which like HSBC) had a good crisis taking on too much risk? We shld care as Temasek owns 18% of StanChart, and StanChart  is one of its best performing investments.

Ranked 14th among merger advisers in India in 2009, StanChart is now number two (and could be soon Numo Uno) by financing takeovers in the world’s second-fastest growing major market for M&A deals, Bloomberg reports.

The problem is that in the 1980s and 1990s, major US investment banks  and European universal banks  got into serious trouble by financing takeovers in the US. The deals went sour when the economy collapsed. The banks had tot financing takeovers was a gd way (“no brainer”) of getting into the lucrative M&A game.  They forgot that these loans are margin financing by another name.

Is StanChart repeating the same mistake?  Maybe it thinks India’s economy may never collapse. But never take for granted anything about a country that needs “divine help” to get ready for the October Commonwealth Games.

Casinos: Why govmin investigation only now?

In Casinos, Economy on 09/09/2010 at 7:41 am

Update 10 sept 2010 — RW Sentosa to desist from targeting heartlanders

It shows that RW tot that govmin’s talking the talk that casinos waz for foreigners and that it wanted to protect S’poreans was juz that: talking the talking. And can it be blamed? The bus services started in June (though as I wrote below I saw a sign in February offering the service) but only  two days back did the govmin start investigating.

Once it did so, RW pulled back. MPs should ask which govmin department knew abt this servive, and when. And if a dept knew early, why wait until few days ago to investigate. And did RW have to ask for approval, and did it?

Original piece follows.

I am surprised that the govmin is only now investigating the free bus rides to RW Sentosa. I had assumed that the govmin had been aware of and approved of bringing heartlanders to gamble at RW. Yes I tot the govmin was that cynical: talking the talk on the evil of gambling, but walking the walk on GDP growth by helping the corporate sector.

Hey after all VB throws S$300 billion at some kiddie games but is mean with the poor and homeless, so it is not unreasonable for me  to be cynical.

The fact that the govmin is only now investigating indicates it didn’t know of the buses. Kinda worrying? If it wasn’t aware of this public fact (I saw signs in Bedok and AMK), then what hope of catching mad Paki bombers who wish ill on S’pore. BTW mad Pakis who wish ill on S’pore, don’t throw bombs. Get people to support the PAP and you may achieve the same result.

I am even more surprised to hear of the service beginning only in June. In February I had seen a sign near a bus stop in Bedok indicating that it was a pick-up point for a free bus service to RW Sentosa. Read the rest of this entry »

GIC: a problem at Citi

In Banks, India, Temasek on 08/09/2010 at 5:49 am

Some analysts and accounting experts (among the latter Lynn Turner), a former chief accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission,  say Citi must set aside funds to cover US$50bn of deferred taxes.

These assets  are important to Citi. At the end of the second quarter, deferred tax assets made up more than a third of Citi’s tangible equity. So if he had to set aside funds, this would reduce its capitalratios and weaken its balance sheet.

To avoid setting aside funds, Citi has to be confident it will earn US$99bn in taxable income during the next two decades. It says it can.

However as  its pre-tax losses in 2008 and 2009 topped US$60bn, these critics ask why it should be trusted.  They have a point, while between 2002-2006 period Citi had annual pre-tax profits of at least US$20bn, this got wiped out by the recent losses.

Err so will this “30-yr” investment be around in 30 yrs time, let alone make money for GIC, as MM predicted? Remember Temasek cut loss on its Merrill Lynch investment, after doubling down, and juz before market turned.

And you dare ask us to be rational SM?

In Uncategorized on 07/09/2010 at 6:10 am

Taz what ST headline said.

If you said that, who you trying to” sien”

Was the government of which you are part rational when it decided to increase the number of FTs substantially without at the same time beginning the upgrading of the infrastructure needed to support an increase in numbers? If this had been done, S’poreans would not be bitching abt the failure of the govmin to prevent the escalation of HDB prices, and the overcrowding of the trains? Was it rational to get S’poreans upset, when a little planning could have averted the aggro?

Was it rational for yr wife to say “peanuts” about TT Durai’s salary?

Was it rational for Temasek  to sell its BOA shares,juz after  MM said the banking investments were for the long term?


No not straying from investments. By staying in S’pore (unlike someone’s daughter*),  I have decided to invest in S’pore , emotionally financially and in person.

* I note MM’s children are all here. Whatever bad things S’poreans may say about him, he walks the walk. For that let’s respect him.

Where did S’pore goof in high tech entrepreneurship?

In Uncategorized on 07/09/2010 at 5:38 am

I came across this article about how the Israeli military powers its high tech industry.

Israel’s army does not just train soldiers …  it nurtures entrepreneurs.

Teenagers conscripted into high-tech units gain experience “akin to a bachelor’s degree in computer science”, says Ruvi Kitov, co-founder and chief executive of Tufin Technologies, an Israeli software firm. Almost all of Tufin’s employees in the country are, like Mr Kitov himself, veterans of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). One of the firm’s cash cows is software that finds spam servers and blocks their transmissions. It is based on IDF cyberwarfare technologies that developers first used as soldiers.

As our whole military set-up is based on the Israeli model, and S’pore and Israel have good R&D and venture capital ties at the state agencyl level, how come we don’t have such successes? It’s not as though we don’t want such successes.

Are S’poreans incompetent? Hence the need for FTs?

Or is there sumething wrong with the system here, the failure of the military to emulate the Israeli military  in producing high tech entrepreneurs as a by-product of national service?

A limitation of financial ratios

In Uncategorized on 06/09/2010 at 6:43 am

Let’s say you own an investment property yielding 7 per cent against 10-year bonds below 3 per cent. Trying to understand what that means is difficult because a yield comprises a numerator and a denominator. Is it that your property is extremely undervalued relative to the income it generates? Or does the outlook for rents – the numerator – make that return unrealistic? Confusing things further, perhaps returns on government bonds are out of whack. From today’s Lex.

The same applies to other ratios especially where either the numerator or denominator is a guess (OK forecast). Think Dividend Yield,  Price to Earnings etc etc.

Taz why investment is soo tricky.

And SM wants us to think of the poor?

In Uncategorized on 05/09/2010 at 8:15 am

Bit rich of SM to ask us to think of the poor*

How can SM have the moral authority to say this when

— Vivian Balakrishnan (SM’s rumoured protegee)  said in 2007,“How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?” when MP for Jalan Besar GRC (a PAP GRC) asked the government to raise Public Assistance for those in need. The monthly assistance was then somewhere is region of S$300.

— a PAP MP said (two recessions ago) that to discourage S’poreans from getting S$50 transport vouchers , people had to humiliated?

If the ruling party is so disdainful of the poor, why should we care about the poor?

*”It’s important for those who are facing problems of success – like inadequate car parks and housing at the top end – to think of those who are struggling to make a living everyday. There are many people who are not able to benefit from our overall success. So just remember that, as we also try to solve our own problems at the top end,” SM Goh said.

Emerging mkts or developed mkts?

In Uncategorized on 04/09/2010 at 10:25 am

Surely it’s a no brainer? But as turkeys don’t usually call for Christmas, maybe this guy is worth a listen to

Michael Ganske, head of Emerging Markets at Commerzbank, says if the world avoids the dreaded double dip, investors should start looking elsewhere for growth. Better value, he thinks, will be found in developed markets.

“It is the mistake that everyone makes,” he says.

When the global economy starts to recover, they often double up on their holdings in emerging markets when in fact there is better value to be had in the developed ones.

“You should certainly hold your developing stocks in the recovery, but there will be better growth opportunities in specific stocks, well placed for a recovery in US and European markets.”

S’poreans, Temasek may have a problem

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/09/2010 at 6:52 am

Of the 90 publicly listed Chinese property developers listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, almost two-thirds of them reported negative operating cash flows for the first half of 2010.

This makes clear why the Chinese authorities had earlier asked the banks to use a 60% haircut in estimating residential property  losses.

Looks like trouble for the Chinese property developers and banks may be coming sooner than later, and for China bank bull Temasek. A repeat of Merrill Lynch and Barclays?

Remember Temasek owns 4% of Bank of China; and 6% of  China Construction Bank. And StanChart is a cornerstone investor  in Agricultural Bank of China with abt 1% paying US$500m for this privilege). Temasek owns 18% of StanChart.

And what about CapLand and KepLand, with their biggish exposure to Chinese residential properties?


Carrefour: S’pore SALE

In Uncategorized on 02/09/2010 at 6:13 am

The first round of Carrefour’s auction of its SE Asian assets had attracted a pack of more than 10 bidders on Tuesday night.

Confirmed bidders include Dairy Farm, the Singapore retail group that owns the Giant and Cold Storage chains and UK retailer Tesco. Tesco is also the market leader in Thailand and Malaysia with market shares of 13 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Aeon, Japan’s second- largest retail group, and Casino, another French retailer, were also bidders.

Some of the bids (Teco, Aeon and Casino) covered all the stores, while others are for the 40 Thai supermarkets alone (Dairy Farm), or for the 19 Malaysian and two Singapore assets together.

Carrefour is likely to get  its target price of US$800m-$1bn for the 61 stores in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

What do pharma and extractive industries have in common

In Uncategorized on 01/09/2010 at 6:04 am

One is high tech, researching and manufacturing in “clean” labs. Carbon footprints are tiny by any measure. The other is dirty and environmentally unfriendly.

But they both make money from assets that have a limited life.

In the case of pharma, once their patents end, they face competition from generics. This affects their margins.

Miners and energy companies dig holes in the ground to extract minerals, and oil and gas respectively. The mines and fields too have limited lives.

Moral of the story: Always look below the surface when analysing. Don’t be fooled by superficial appearances.