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Archive for February, 2018|Monthly archive page

SingHealth’s software problem?

In Uncategorized on 28/02/2018 at 11:33 am

Maybe, they should call Apple for help? After all, Apple preparing to launch a network of medical clinics for its employees and their families, and Apple wants to replace yr doctor

Let me explain. My friend, like me, is another cheap skate and happy user of SingHealth. And we both use the one at Marine Parade.

About eight months ago, he was given a different medicine which upset him no end because it increased his monthly medicine bill to $42 from $12. I keep reminding him that as a fat cat, it’s still “peanuts” because our Porsche drving doctor friend tells us $30 for that medicine undercuts him. Anyway, he doesn’t want to get killed or robbed in JB.

On top of paying more, in the last six months he had to reschedule appointments twice because the appointment dates given were a week after the new medicine runs out (12 weeks supply each time). He realised this only when there are two packs (14 pills each) of said medicine left.

As the girls at the Marine Parade Polyclinic are not stupid or careless (In fact they are really good customer service officers), our conclusion is that there’s a software bug.

As for me, I don’t bother checking because I’ve been on the same medication for years. Once upon a time, u just walked in before the medicine runs out and ask to see the doctor. As a result I’ve built up a month’s buffer.

Nowadays, appointments have to be made. It helps cut down the waiting time, though.

Whatever, coming back to the problem, SingHealth is investigating.

 

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HoHoHo: More money for Budget

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 28/02/2018 at 5:50 am

Soon, Temasek will be contributing a bit more to the Budget.

“StanChart restarts dividends as profit returns” is the FT’s headline on the turnaround in StanChart. It stopped paying dividends several years ago.
And there’s still plenty of room for it to improve
[D]espite stellar economic growth in Asia, which accounts for over two-thirds of underlying pre-tax profit, the group is still destroying economic value. Return on equity, at 1.7 percent or 3.5 percent excluding exceptional items, is still far below the group’s cost of equity, which is probably more like 10 percent. Costs are rising, even as the group clamps down on loan losses.

After years of retrenchment, Winters needs turbocharged revenue growth and restraint on costs to hit his modest medium-term target for an ROE of 8 percent. Suppose operating costs grow just 2 percent annually, with flat loan losses and restructuring charges and taxes at 30 percent. StanChart would need 7 percent annual revenue growth to fulfil its aim by 2020, according to a Breakingviews calculation. That is more than double last year’s rate and at the top of the bank’s projected 5 to 7 percent range.

https://www.breakingviews.com/considered-view/stanchart-shareholders-pay-winters-a-compliment/

If things work out at StanChart (and elsewhere), maybe GST increase can be delayed? Dream on, pigs will fly first.

Update at 7.30am Chris K responded:

News like this does not impact the NIR Temasek delivers the budget becos the contribution is based on expected real returns over the long run.

I responded:

So long as no transparency shows how flakely is NIR. It’s want the PAP administration says it is.

S/o JBJ wants to like Pa?/ Lees’ feud

In Uncategorized on 27/02/2018 at 11:04 am

Seems like after failing to be someone who is respected or loved like Pa was (Even by those who like me who despaired that he was God’s gift to the PAP), s/o JBJ wants to emulate Pa by trying to get PAP to sue him until he is bankrupt and destitute like Pa was. (Related post: Doesn’t this remind u of another father and son?)

Ending an “analysis” of the Budget (Good in part like the curate’s egg, the analysis, not the Budget), he wrote

Heng and the PAP must be the only con men in history who have persuaded people to hand over their money in return for promising to halve it year after year and made them grateful into the bargain.

So he is accusing Heng and the PAP administration of criminal misappropriation like Roy Ngerng accused PM and the PAP administration of “stealing” our CPF.

Wonder if Heng has called Davinder Singh? Heng should sue for defamation if he wants to show that he’s a worthy successor of one Harry Lee.

============================

LKY on Heng

“Heng Swee Keat, now Education Minister, was the best Principal Private Secretary I ever had. The only pity is that he is not of a big bulk, which makes a difference in a mass rally.”

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The present PM last year failed this “sue and sue” test when he failed to sue his siblings after in the past suing and suing Oppo leaders and nobodies (Think Roy Ngerng) for defaming him.

Didn’t his Pa (Or was it Mao?) who said that the Party, People and Nation came before family? And I’m wondering why his sister is not calling him a “dishonourable son” for failing to sue her and their brother for defaming him.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple wants to replace yr doctor

In Uncategorized on 27/02/2018 at 6:03 am
 From NYT Dealbook
Tim Cook talked up Apple’s health care ambitions, hinting at a move beyond wellness apps and devices. (CNBC)

Amazon has invited hospital executives to Seattle to discuss expanding its business-to-business marketplace. (WSJ)

 

Why “Kee Chiu” got renamed “Kee Chui”

In Uncategorized on 26/02/2018 at 10:14 am

Chan Kee Chui’s (aka Chan Kee Chiu’s) latest attempts to talk cock, sing song

======================

See Chris K’s comments reported in https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/02/25/chan-chun-sing-says-severe-implications-if-singapore-does-not-have-sufficient-reserves-but-just-how-much-is-enough/)

===================================================

reminded me that when TRE republished Kidding me? Kee Chui potential PM? He from RI? there were a few cybernuts (Or PAP IBs?) who tried to slime me by pointing out that I should be using “Kee Chiu” and not “Kee Chui”, pointing out that Chan’s nick-name is Kee Chiu because he liked to use the term once upon his time. I have no objection to this criticism.

But they went on to say that I didn’t know the difference between  the tewo terms  because I wasn’t S’porean. Excuse me must know Hokkien to be S’porean isit?

Whatever if they had any brains (which they don’t being ratty anti-pAP cybernuts or PAP IBs), these guys should know that “Kee Chui” is now a more apt nick-name for him based on his verbal gaffes.

Beng pek ma?

And while focusing on his need for strong reserves, it seems critics missed this gaffe

In a democratic society, few governments will take this approach, informing citizens about a tax increase a few years beforehand.

We are a “democratic society” meh?

Worse, maybe even the cybenuts, and critics like TOC and Chris K believe that S’pore is a “democratic society”. If so what weed are they smoking? To be fair to them, maybe the PAP has put something, other than recycled water, into the water S’poreans drink.

My view? We are not a “democratic society”: The PAP way? is the CCP way.

 

 

 

 

New toys for SAF

In Uncategorized on 26/02/2018 at 4:14 am

Singapore is also said to be looking into buying F-35Bs, which could be deployed on a new, open-deck amphibious assault ship that it is building.

Extract from PAP-related think tank report

Well lookks like we changed our minds because Bloomberg reported that S’pore was putting on hold plans to procure up to 12 Lockheed-Martin supersonic fifth-generation F-35B stealth multirole fighter jets for the RSAF, according to the Pentagon’s F-35 program office.

In 2015, S’pore expressed interest in the F-35B variant, the F-35’s most complex model which was designed for use by the US Marines. The F-35B is capable of vertical or short takeoffs and vertical landings without requiring a catapult launcher.

FT description of Hongkies

In Hong Kong on 25/02/2018 at 2:28 pm

Hong Kong has long had a lively retail investor scheme. Hong Kongers do not care much for games of chance, like roulette or lotteries. They prefer wagers on games of skill like horseracing, mahjong – and leveraged equity trading. Warrants are a preferred vehicle. But the uncomfortable reality is that spikes in warrant trading volume are an excellent sell signal. An increase in retail trading activity often presages a market fall.

FT: Letter from Lex

Our Goebbels’ works: only for today 25% discount

In Media on 25/02/2018 at 6:19 am

Saw this yesterday

25% DISCOUNT! Yes, you read right. Tomorrow (25 Feb) is the birthday of S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s first Foreign Minister, who also wrote our National Pledge. 
However, did you know that he also wrote several short stories and radio plays before he became a politician? 
Some of the stories were so good, they were selected for anthologies in the UK and USA and translated into several languages, including French and German!

Find out more here: https://buff.ly/2CgI8fR

When I think of S. Rajaratnam, I think of Joseph Goebbels who was one of Hitler’s closest associates and most devoted followers. One could say the same of the relationship between Rajaratnam and one Harry Lee.

Goebbels, like Rajaratnam, was known for his public speaking skills.

But his greatest skill was in the use of propoganda

began to take an interest in the use of propaganda to promote the party and its programme. After the Nazi Seizure of Power in 1933, Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes.

Wikipedia

Rajaratnam was also good in controlling the media and spinning for the PAP.

But Rajaratnam was no anti-Semite. And he was the side that won.

PAP govt: Win some, lose some

In Economy on 24/02/2018 at 10:08 am

Rio Tinto, a global mining co, is planning another restructuring that will see support staff moved to one of three global hubs or here.

But Google said it was stopping booking most of its New Zealand advertising revenues in Singapore, a low-tax jurisdiction. This follows a similar change implemented by the company in Australia

Doesn’t this remind u of another father and son?

In Uncategorized on 23/02/2018 at 4:46 pm

The Scots beat the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The English were led by Edward II, the son of Edward I who conquered Wales and Scotland. After his death, the Scots rebelled and his son had to march north to suppress them:

The son of the mighty Edward I, Edward II had grown up in his father’s shadow. He lacked the strength of will to keep his own nobles in line, never mind to deal with the Scots. …

Edward II’s lack of political clout was matched by a lack of military skill. He had been raised in the military tradition of feudal monarchs, but had not taken to warfare like his father. His lack of confidence had stopped the English countering Bruce’s manoeuvres for several years, and that lack of campaigning meant that Edward could not match his opponent’s experience.

In short, Edward II was one of the worst generals ever to command an English army.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/history/scots-won-at-bannockburn-mud.html

UK followed S’pore

In Uncategorized on 23/02/2018 at 1:33 pm

A few years ago, the UK passed a law so that the govt can revoke the citizenship of a naturalised citizen when it is “conducive to the public good”.

So why our ang moh tua kees KPKBing about fact that S’pore’s constitution allows the state to revoke the citizenship of a naturalised citizen.

Ang moh can, S’pore cannot isit?

Property: Americans and S’poreans alike

In Economy, Property on 23/02/2018 at 4:56 am

In SIBOR up 25%, but property mkt is hot?, I pointed at riasing interest rates do not deter S’poreans from being bullish about property.

Seems the same is true in the US too. And maybe S’porean buyers are thinking like the American buyers.

Mickey Levy of Berenberg, who also offers this detail from the Michigan [Consumer Confidence] survey, widely followed by economists etc. More than half of Americans feel that their own household is better off than it was a year ago – the first time that has been true in too long:t appears that many people are taking rising interest rates as a reason to go out and buy a house now, before rates go up further. Mickey’s conclusion:

In the last year, we have emphasized that when confidence measures are among the highest of all of their historic readings—both on the consumer and business surveys—we find that they are reliable predictors of future consumer spending and business investment.  Accordingly, we take note of this strong University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index that was conducted during the abrupt stock market sell off.  If other surveys that mirror confidence also hold up, that would confirm our expectations that the economy is continuing to build momentum.

FT

Emphasis mine.

Getting out of Bitcoin

In Uncategorized on 22/02/2018 at 2:49 pm

Further to Bitcoin exchanges are not safe, on the first day of CNY, I heard of a cryptocurrency wannabe trader being made to take out his money (initial investment and profits in weekly tranches).

He stopped trading after this experience.

Lim Tean behaving like PAP?

In Uncategorized on 22/02/2018 at 4:43 am

His FB administrator took down a FB comment that is unflattering to Lim Tean’s image as a comic book superhero battling against injustice.

In  Where’s yr defamation video and jobs rally Lim Tean? yesterday, I reported that one Adrian Tan commented on Lim Tean’s FB

If u can do this video, why can’t u do a similar video on defamation. U promised the defamation video by September, then November 2017? It’s now Feb 2018. And pls remember that u raised funds from S’poreans for the video. Yes the Budget has no substance. But going by yr failure to release a video and organise a jobs rally by Nov 2017 as promised by u, u too got no substance.

Seems that Lim Tean’s administrator took down the comment.

There’s a rumour going round that his FB page was offline for a long time yesterday because in trying to delete said comment, the administrator took the page offline. What a cock-up.

 

“Why are stocks and inflation going up?”

In Financial competency on 21/02/2018 at 1:29 pm

Historically, rising inflation hasn’t always meant sinking equity markets. But some people worry all the same. The market historian James Stack told Jim Stewart of the NYT that high valuations and years of low interest rates mean “we’re dealing with what might be the most interest rate-sensitive stock market in our lifetime.”

NYT’s Dealbook

Where’s yr defamation video and jobs rally Lim Tean?

In Uncategorized on 21/02/2018 at 6:36 am

It’s February 2018 and he promised a defamation video and a jobs rally by Sept then Nov last yr and crowdfunded money for these events. No pix no sound since then: TRE cybernuts are like Lim Tean

I was reminded of Lim Tean’s BS because he has just come out with a video in which he criticises the Budget.

Very thick skin and stupid to criticise PAP when he also take money from public and do bugger all.

If u can do this video, why can’t u do a similar video on defamation. U promised the defamation video by September, then November 2017? It’s now Feb 2018. And pls remember that u raised funds from S’poreans for the video. Yes the Budget has no substance. But going by yr failure to release a video and organise a jobs rally by Nov 2017 as promised by u, u too got no substance.

FB comment by one Adrian Tan on FB

Guess he another Goh Meng Seng. Both were NSP Sec-Generals and are talk cock, sing song BS artistes.

With clowns like them opposing the PAP, the PAP doesn’t need enemies. In fact it can go into a GE after announcing a tax rise and win over two-thirds of the parly seats. And over 60% of the popular vote.

Thanks to clowns like Lim Tean and Goh Meng Seng.

Heng needs AI to help him in making Budget forecasts

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 20/02/2018 at 9:41 am

Because if my favourite fortune-teller had made the Budget surplus prediction of S$1.91bn that Heng made in 2017, she would lose all credibility. The 2017 surplus is S$9.6bn: 5 times or 503% bigger than projected last year. This is a miss of S$7.7bn, or, as Chris K points out, nearly 1.8% of GDP.

As usual the “blame” for the whooping error is put on stamp duty. And the next PM said this is a one-off. If I recall, this has happened more than a few times already. Still a one-off?

But Heng and the rest of MoF, and the entire PAP administration are not held accountable for getting the 2017 projected surplus horribly wrong.

Yesterday morning, in Budget: Consistently flawed/ Use more from Reserves meh?, I pointed out that the previous year’s Budget surplus is always bigger than predicted because

Consistently expenditures will be found to have been overestimated, and revenues underestimated

And that this tot was triggered by FT’s description of a Japanese mgt practice

[T]he pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism

Let me be clear. I am not accusing anyone in MoF or the govt of being  “deliberately deceptive”. Here in S’pore, the pattern of underestimating revenue and overestimating expenditure “is too consistent for comfort and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism”).

Chris K spotted two more whopping misses in 2017 that are likely to be repeated based on the forecasts for 2018

Land sales revenue is estimated to be 12,2b for 2018 but for 2017, land sales revenues are revised from 8.2b to 12.9b. A revenue miss of 4.7b.

Investment income pertaining to interest and dividends only is estimated at 11.5b for 2018. But for 2017, it was revised from 10.5b to 17.5b, a whopping miss of 7b. Why I say whopping? Interest and dividends from an investment portfolio are fairly predictable, what is not predictable is the change in market value of investments. But the latter is not included so why such a large miss?

In total, both land sales revenues and investment income are 23.7b estimated for 2018 and revised upwards to 30.4b for 2017.

Facebook

Coming back to Heng and AI, maybe MoF should use IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation to help it improve its forecasting techniques.

After all in 2014,

DBS Bank and IBM today announced an agreement in which DBS will deploy IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation to deliver a next generation customer experience. This collaboration is part of an ongoing journey by DBS to shape the future of banking.

 

What about benefits comparison table too?

In Economy, Media on 20/02/2018 at 7:31 am

When I saw this bit of propoganda for the GST increase, I couldn’t help but think:

They should also put the benefits alongside the comparison of the GST rates.

Whatever, I note that HK does not impose GST.

Budget: Consistently flawed/ Use more from Reserves meh?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/02/2018 at 10:02 am

[Update at 5.25pm: Trumpets please

My prediction that GST increase would be announced but delayed is correct: Heng announced GST increase of 2% from 7% to 9% to “fund recurring government expenses”. Increase will take place between 2021 and 2025 in a progressive manner. Handouts of GST vouchers will be made permanent once the increase is put in place.]

“Thus has it always been, thus shall it ever be”.

The FT talking about how Japanese mgt do earnings guidance

[T]he pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism*

reminds me of our Budget’s forecast of expenditures and revenues in the coming year. Consistently expenditures will be found to have been overestimated, and revenues underestimated when the next Budget comes around the following year.

The result?

Economists expect bumper surplus for 2017

Part of headline from today’s ST. ST went on to gush

United Overseas Bank economist Francis Tan expects an overall surplus of $3.1 billion for FY2017, compared with the official initial estimate of $1.91 billion. UOB’s econometric model projects that the Government may see $2 billion more in revenue than expected, due mainly to higher corporate income tax receipts and stamp duties.

Mr Tan expects corporate income tax revenue to hit $14.8 billion, higher than the official estimate of $13.6 billion. If so, corporate income tax would regain its place as the largest contributor to revenue, ahead of the projected $14.11 billion net investment returns (NIR) contribution.

“Thus has it always been, thus shall it ever be” as the saying goes.

So remember that expenditures will be overestimated, and revenues understimated when we are told in the Budget statement that GST has to be raised because expenditure is rising for welfare and other goodies.

================

So why is there is surplus still?

Between FY2007 and FY2016, Singapore’s revenue has grown from S$43 billion to S$83 billion, based on revised FY2016 estimates. Over the same period, however, government expenditure has more than doubled from S$33 billion to S$71 billion.

Constructive, nation-building Today

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pressures-main-revenue-sources-prompt-govt-look-ways-grow-pie

And Err what about using more from income from reserves** and designating land sales as revenue, not chips for Ho Ching and GIC?)

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Whatever, my bet is that there’ll be an announcement of a GST increase of 2 % but that the increase will be deferred so that Tharman’s promise will be kept

To be fair to PM Lee, both the MOF and he have clarified that consistent with DPM Tharmans 2015 remarks, we do not have to raise taxes before the end of the decade.

So there’s really no need to get our fiscal knickers into a twist about GST or income tax increases till after the next GE folks..

Countering PAP’s BS that taxes must go up

——————————–

*”Earnings guidance in markets everywhere is often a victim of the management instinct to lowball first so as to triumph later with an overshoot. In Japan, though, the pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism. CEOs are not financially incentivised to reach for the stars, so opt for comfortable survival meeting targets they know are achievable.”

FT

**Long quote from https://www.theedgesingapore.com/how-will-singapore-fund-its-rising-budget-0

The reserve option

One other way of funding soaring spending on healthcare and social spending is to tap reserves built up over past decades. “If the government feels that, based on current revenue projections, it is not able to fund increased social spending and is looking for new sources of revenue, then its first consideration should be whether reserves should be tapped,” says Donald Low, associate dean at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

In a chapter in a book he co-authored, Hard Choices, published in 2014, Low argues that it is the baby boom generation — the group of people now entering or in retirement and at whom increased healthcare and social spending is targeted — that contributed the most to the accumulation of national reserves. “A significant part of our reserves is the result of fiscal surpluses generated in the 1980s and 1990s — the period when the baby boom generation was most economically productive,” he wrote. “Now that the generation that contributed the most to our reserves is entering retirement, it is only fair from an intergenerational perspective that the state reverses part of that transfer.

“To impose the fiscal burden of looking after the needs of the baby boomers onto subsequent generations in the form of higher taxes while continuing to accumulate reserves is not only unequitable but also inefficient… because continuing with a strategy of growing our reserves regardless of context implies a negative discount rate — that is, we favour the interests of a future generation more than those of the current generation… which has immediate needs.”

Singapore has, in fact, been tapping more of the investment returns of its reserves in recent years. In FY2016, Temasek Holdings was included under the so-called Net Investment Returns framework, which allows the government to spend up to 50% of its expected long-term returns. That year, NIR Contribution amounted to $14.37 billion and helped turn a $5.59 billion basic deficit to an overall surplus of $5.18 billion. The NIRC was the single largest contributor to the government coffers in both FY2016 and FY2017.

The NIR framework was implemented in 2009 to include expected long-term real returns on the government’s net assets managed by GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. It was a major change from the previous Net Investment Income framework, under which the government could only spend investment income comprising dividends and interest.

Yet, should Singapore not be careful about using its reserves to fund the Budget? Should we not hold on to it for that proverbial rainy day? “But isn’t it the case that future generations are likely to be richer, for one, and, with [total fertility rate] at 1.2, the future generation is going to be a smaller generation [too]?” Low retorts. “So, we’re saving for a future generation that’s likely to be richer and almost certainly a smaller cohort than the baby boom generation. That seems like a regressive transfer of resources.”

He adds, “I think we have a social obligation to reduce inequality. In Singapore’s context, given that the baby boom generation helped to accumulate a large part of our reserves, one way of reducing inequality would be to tap the reserves to fund their needs. Another would be to introduce or increase existing wealth taxes.”

Still, other analysts do not expect the government to make more changes to the NIR framework, at least for now. “I think it’s good policy to use the good times to save up for the future,” says Wan.

Temasek invests in Harry

In Private Equity, Temasek, Uncategorized on 19/02/2018 at 4:57 am
No not this Harry. 

But Harry a wannabe P&G, the giant (but sleepy) American consumer goods company.

From NYT’s Dealbook:

Harry’s raises $112 million to go beyond shaving

Since its founding nearly five years ago, the men’s grooming company has become an competitor to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette. Now its founders want to create what they describe as a next-generation P. & G.
The company’s new financing round, led by Alliance Consumer Growth and Temasek of Singapore, is meant to help it buy stakes in nascent consumer brands. Harry’s has already invested in Hims, which is focused on men’s hair loss prevention. But its founders want to go into products for women, babies and households.
More from Michael’s article:
“We’ve built a lot of infrastructure at Harry’s that we think we can leverage into new categories,” Jeff Raider, one of Harry’s founders, said in a telephone interview. “It’s something that we’ve been excited about for a long time, and we’re now at a point in our business where we can act on it.”

Bitcoin: Price on Fri

In Uncategorized on 18/02/2018 at 6:02 pm

Just under US$10,000, according to CoinMarketCap.

“Should we retire ‘buy the dip’?”

In Uncategorized on 18/02/2018 at 10:19 am

From NYT’s Dealbook

Should we retire ‘buy the dip’?
It’s age-old wisdom. But as investors worry about inflation and central banks raising interest rates unexpectedly quickly, is it still relevant?
More from Julie Edde, Bei Hu and Suzanne Woolley of Bloomberg:
“There’s sort of, ‘Everybody should buy a dip,’ which has become folklore in the markets now. I would say history doesn’t tell you buying dips is always the right answer,” Man Group chief executive officer Luke Ellis said.
Another investor, Ian Harnett of Absolute Strategy Research, recommends “sell the rallies” instead.

 

 

Airbnb is a hedge fund

In Uncategorized on 18/02/2018 at 4:15 am
The CFO of Airbnb, the home rental giant, “L.T.” Tosi set up a hedge fund of sorts at Airbnb, which was responsible for 30%  of Airbnb’s cash flow last year and made about $60 million, according to NYT’s Dealbook.

He has just left Airbnb, because according to Dealbook because it won’t IPO this yr

 

New Chinese way of screwing employees

In China on 17/02/2018 at 4:08 pm

From NYT Dealbook

HNA’s new money source: its workers
The Chinese conglomerate has about $90 billion in debt from splashing out on things like Deutsche Bank and Hilton Hotels. Its borrowing costs are going up, and asset sales are becoming necessary — it’s under the gun to find more money.

Which is why it appears to be asking employees for cash, according to Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li of the NYT:

In an email dated Jan. 4, one HNA unit told employees that it needed nearly $8 million to fund a duty free business. It advertised a 9.8 percent annualized interest rate. One week later, HNA’s media and entertainment arm said it was looking to raise nearly $80 million from employees, pledging strong returns and a plan to build up the business.

Mkts: Why happy days are here again

In Uncategorized on 17/02/2018 at 4:54 am

Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund manager, “calls top in 10-year Treasury yields at 3%”. It
says US inflation picking up but only gradually. It’ll buy 10-year Treasuries if they reach a 3% yield.

Bitcoin: Happy days are here again?

In Uncategorized on 16/02/2018 at 11:34 am

On Thurday NYT time

Bitcoin’s up 12 percent over the last 24 hours, at $9,972, according to CoinMarketCap.

NYT;s Dealbook

Year of the Otter

In Environment on 16/02/2018 at 5:10 am

“It’s our year. In S’pore’s national language, we are known as “anjing ayer”: “anging” is “dog” and “ayer”* is “water”. So it’s our year.” (More: Why Malay name for “otter” is apt)

Didn’t want to disappoint them by telling them that today is the start of the “earth dog” year. 2042 is “water dog” year.

Whatever they should go tell McDonalds and other hypersensitive KS ang moh consumer brands afraid of being bombed by Jihadists or boycotted by Muslims to replace “dog” with “otter” in their versions of the Chinese zodiac. I’m sure these MNCs will listen to the “water dog” argument. And at least in S’pore, the Chinese would not be too upset.


*Or “air” as it is now spelt.

 

 

How a UK town is coping with less FTs

In Economy on 15/02/2018 at 11:05 am

Harrogate is nice spa town in the North of England.

Its good schools, pretty Victorian terraced houses and proximity to the Yorkshire Dales mean that it frequently tops lists of the best places to live.

In the noughties, FTs flocked there because businesses needed employees to cater to an increase in tourism and other service-related industries. But

Every year since 2012 more foreigners have left Harrogate than have arrived, according to official figures.

As a result wages at the lower end have gone up 9%

Unemployment has fallen to 3.6%, below the national and regional levels, allowing some workers to drive harder bargains. Though real median wages in Harrogate have not changed much since 2014, at the lower end they have risen by 9%.

https://www.economist.com/news/britain/21736178-harrogates-downward-migration-trend-few-years-ahead-britains-how-it-faring

Employers and property owners  are also working smart

Attaching furniture such as bedside tables and toilets to the wall, rather than resting it on the floor, makes cleaning underneath quicker, and might make it possible to employ one cleaner fewer.

Employers are also changing processes and using more machines.

Has lessons for us as the constructive, nation-building media spins the need for FTS by the cattle truck load: How to get S’poreans to welcome mass immigration

 

Hellish journey: PRCs returning home for CNY

In China on 15/02/2018 at 5:38 am

As most PRCs take the slow train home for the reunion dinner, they have themselves to blame for the smelly part of the ordeal.

Unilever brought deodorant to China dreaming of a market with 2.6 billion armpits, but struggled against beliefs that it’s healthy to sweat. Other companies have hit similar cultural difficulties. (NYT)

NYT Dealbook

If only they didn’t love smelly armpits, the journey home would be a little more pleasant.

PAP got a point on welfare programmes

In Economy on 14/02/2018 at 10:26 am

[M]y first wish is that Medishield Life be expanded to cover evidence-based healthcare interventions. I raised this at the IPS dialogue with DPM Teo Chee Hean last month and his response was to cite the classic neoliberal argument* that if you provide free medical care, a “buffet table syndrome” will result. This means that individuals will get all kinds of diseases and treatments just so that they can enjoy the free medical benefits. This is not his fault, it is a widely held belief among health economists from various right wing think tanks primarily in the United States who have advanced this argument.

Dr Paul Tambyah

http://yoursdp.org/news/paul_tambyah_39_s_speech_budget_2018/2018-02-12-6222

(Do read the speech from the only adult in the SDP portiburo. If only Mad Dog would step down and Dr Paul replaces him, the voters perception of SDP would change, enabling the SDP to be the Opposition not the Wankers’ (Or it it “Worthless”?) Party But Mad Dogs don’t do resigning, only biting. Sad.)

The PAP would also make the point that all welfare programmes grow and grow, as expectations rise. This in turn overwhelms other worthy state expenditures. Are they wrong?

Here’s what’s happening in the US

the crucial driver of US indebtedness is not military or discretionary domestic spending. It is the spending on “mandatory” entitlements, primarily social security payments for pensioners and healthcare programmes for the elderly and the poor. Along with interest on the nation’s debt, these make up more than two-thirds of federal spending, a proportion that is expected to grow. In the absence of a debate about how to reduce spending on big entitlements, or how to generate more revenue to support them, political fights like the one just resolved are theatre. They have the potential to do damage if they go wrong, but no chance whatsoever of changing the long-term outlook. The trajectory of the US debt burden is disquieting. The country is headed, by all accounts, for deficits of at least $1tn a year, which amounts to 5 per cent or more of gross domestic product. The total stock of US debt, now standing at 80 per cent of GDP, will pass 100 per cent before a decade is out if current policies are sustained.

FT

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, has just urged Congress to tackle the ballooning national debt, saying it posed a “dire threat” to economic and national security.

Btw, I’m sure Dr Tambyah would consider the FT and the the US intelligence community to be major part of the neoliberal establishment.


*Why you think he started sending potential ministers to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard? Harvard is a another major part of the neoliberal establishment.

Bishan otters PAP members?

In Environment on 14/02/2018 at 4:51 am

Or did the otters got co-opted into being constructive, nation-building animals? Did the otters got paid for this?

Seriously, this video shows the PAP, knowing that we love the otters, and are using them to influence us

Whatever fun to watch.

Heng, can be PM meh?

In Economy, Political governance on 13/02/2018 at 10:25 am

Two major biz trade groups are publicly very unhappy with Heng’s Industry Transformation Maps. Looks like bizmen and corporate executives don’t think much of the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), drawn up by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s  Committee on the Future Economy (CFE)

The ITMs, which make up one of the key strategies outlined in the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) report, have come under the spotlight recently amid questions from business and industry leaders about its relevance.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/looking-ahead-to-budget-2018-what-it-could-mean-for-businesses-9943406

And he’s suppose to be a contender to PM? I mean did anyone say that Ah Loong’s economic strategies drawn up when he was a minister or DPM (Economic restructuring: This time, it’s really different) were anything less than greater than great? He was the Messiah, Moses and Jesus Christ Superstar all rolled into one, even though Ong Teng Cheong was more popular with the masses.

The Association of Banks is one of the unhappy business groups:

At a pre-Budget roundtable organised by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) last month, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, who speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Association of Banks in Singapore, questioned if the ITMs can keep up with the rapid changes in each industry.

“The blueprint and roadmap that you put in place will be outdated by six months so what we have to create is not a transformation roadmap but transformation capabilities,” he said. “We need to take our ITMs to the next level, which is to create the industry’s capacity to experiment and rapidly change.”

Then there’s the Singapore Business Federation

Also speaking at the roundtable, Singapore Business Federation (SBF) CEO Ho Meng Kit noted a disconnect between the ITMs, which are led by Government agencies, and the “realities of the industries”.

He added that he was concerned about the ITMs being developed for the bigger firms and risk leaving out “the long tail of SMEs in the same industry that are not as productive”.

(And btw this is damning for the Ministry of Trade & Industry

According to the SBF’s latest survey, half of the roughly 1,000 businesses surveyed said they still do not know enough about the ITMs to assess their impact*.)

I repeat again:

[H]e’s suppose to be a contender to PM? I mean did anyone say that Ah Loong’s economic strategies drawn up when he was DPM (Economic restructuring: This time, it’s really different) were anything less than great?

For the record, I predicted many moons ago that Heng would be PM: The next PM has been unveiled.

===================

*Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said on Feb 5 that “it is not possible for the Government to reach out directly” to all enterprises. In a written response to a parliamentary question, Mr Iswaran stressed that unions, trade associations and chambers (TACs) “must help to propagate the message”, while business owners “must also take the initiative to find out more about the ITMs”. He’s got a point that ‘business owners “must also take the initiative to find out more about the ITMs”’.

 

 

 

 

 

Why our housing valuations look decent?

In Hong Kong, Property on 13/02/2018 at 4:36 am

I was fooling around with this https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2018/02/daily-chart-5 and among other things compared S’pore property valuations with that of HK. Something didn’t seem right about the S’pore valuations when I remembered some Bloomberg stuff I saw in 2016.

This is something cybernuts don’t tell us, especially the one who jets in from HK on his private jet to lecture us on why life in HK is a lot better in HK and why we must all sing “The East is Red” and even the Malays and Indians must be Chinese patriots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of public housing, housing here is a lot more affordable.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-06/singapore-crushing-hong-kong-in-race-to-bring-down-home-prices

Now if the PAP administration were a lot less obssesed about “stealing from the reserves” and “market pricing” (Market pricing? Market market pricing when the state is the largest player in the market what with its control of supply?), housing here could be a lot more affordable.

Coming back to local property prices, if u had keyed in S’pore in the Economist’s interactive model, like I did, you would have seen that valuations (historical and present) here are pretty decent. I suspect public housing data is included. Even if this is not, the public sector housing affects the private sector valuations.

 

 

Kidding me? Kee Chui potential PM? He from RI?

In Political governance on 12/02/2018 at 9:40 am

The academics and the anti-PAP cybernuts who claim that Kee Chui is likely to be the next PM must either be really stupid, or really trying to sien us?

I mean who can reasonably conclude that Kee Chui is the material that PMs can be made off?

Two weeks ago, High Court judge See Kee Oon questioned an appellant’s use of a letter from her MP Lam Pin Min (Sengkang West) to play down the offence she was convicted of. (Juz wondering? MP White Horse? Or spouse White Horse or grassroots tua kee?

Kee Chui, Minister and Chief Whip, was then quoted by ST as saying that the PAP has “no specific governing rules” on the sending of MP letters to the courts or other agencies or ministries.

A retired district judge, Mr Low Wee Ping, who was the Registrar of the Subordinate Courts and Supreme Court in the 1980s, in a letter to ST, said one Harry Lee had instructed all MPs, in writing, that they should not write such letters to the courts.

Mr Lee was also of the view that if the MP’s constituent resident perceived his sentence imposed by the court as lenient, he might attribute it solely to the MP’s letter, and, therefore, feel obligated or grateful to vote for the MP in an election wrote

Also

MPs approached by TODAY, such as West Coast GRC MP Patrick Tay, said they are aware of the “long-standing practice” for PAP MPs not to write to the courts on behalf of their constituents*.

So what does Kee Chui do? Scholar and ex-SAF commander makes a U-turn on PAP MPs writing to court.

In his letter to PAP MPs on Friday, Mr Chan wrote that PAP MPs have, “as a norm” over the years, refrained from writing to the Courts on behalf of their constituents.

PAP MPs, he said, “must not do anything that may give rise to any misperception that they can influence or interfere in the judicial process”.

“When approached by constituents over matters that come before the Courts, PAP MPs may write to the Ministry of Law (on procedural issues) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (on prosecutorial issues). This has been the general practice, and will remain so,” he added.

In his letter, Mr Chan reminded his fellow PAP MPs that the courts have “clear and strict procedures to uphold the independence and integrity of the judicial process”, and are in the best position to evaluate the evidence and merits of a case.

He added: “The separation of powers has never been in question even when the courts have received a letter from an MP, directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, to avoid any doubt or public misperception, may I remind PAP MPs not to write to the Courts on behalf of their constituents.”

Today

Like that can become SAF commander and minster meh?


Kee Chui’s other major cock-up

PAP: Chinese defecate in public, Indians clean up

Remember PM signaled him to listen to how a minister should explain things?

If he were ytansport minister, S’pore would suffer a catastrophic breakdown of train services, and Changi airport would close.

________________________________________________________

And PM in waiting? Like that can be RI boy? But then he was only in RI for Pre U. Even TLK was in RI for four years. But even in RI for six yrs is no guarantee of not being a cock: think TJS.

Like that cybernut should earn millions.


*OK, OK this appeared after he wrote letter but if these MPs knew, how come Kee Chui didn’t know?

When MU nexts meets Sity

In Footie on 12/02/2018 at 4:33 am

Before next derby match againt Sity, MU’s African players should ask to be allowed to sacrifice an ox for luck. Against Sity MU needs all the luck it can get. Sity has Allah cheering it on.

Egypt football champions sacrifice ox for luck

After losing one match and drawing another, staff at Al Ahly in Egypt have sacrificed an ox and distributed the meat to the poor in the hope that it will reverse their fortunes.

The defending champions suffered their first league loss since June 2016 when they finished 3-2 away to Misr Al Makassa earlier this month.

Last Friday, they drew 1-1 with hosts Tanta.

Al Ahly are currently third in the Egyptian Premier League after 11 games – they are four points behind the leaders Ismaili who have played two more matches than Al Ahly so far.

BBC report

Maybe Everton did this? It has lots of Players from Africa, had a string of bad results but juz won 3-1.

 

Mkt falls: Trump’s take, Trump’s role

In Uncategorized on 11/02/2018 at 10:50 am

Trump tweeted last Wednesday, “In the ‘old days,’ when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!”

More seriously, NYT’s Dealbook writes

 The political question: What does this mean for President Trump, who has touted stock market gains as a measure of his success?

More from Ben White of Politico:

“This is a risk that the president clearly set himself up for,” said Charles Gabriel of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington research firm. “Until now, Trump’s had kind of a free ride in this market and taken so much credit for it, even though so much of it was due to easy-money policies from Janet Yellen and the Fed. Now she’s out the door and volatility is back.”

There’s another way of thinking about Mr. Trump’s role, Andrew writes in his latest column:

Investors believe his policies to stoke growth are going to work so well that they will overheat the economy, and force the Federal Reserve to try to slow things down.

Trump has point on free trade

In China on 11/02/2018 at 5:28 am

Trump doesn’t believe in free trade and decries that China is a beneficiary of US free trade policies.

China juz following US’s playbook of overtaking the UK in the late 19th century, early 20th century.

China’s economic success lays bare an uncomfortable historical truth: No one who preaches “free trade” really practices it. (NYT)

NYT Dealbook

Trump not that stupid. Btw, he went to Wharton.

Bucking bronco US mkt

In Uncategorized on 10/02/2018 at 10:57 am

S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq stage late comeback after wild swings on Friday: with traders and investors imitating cowboys riding bucking broncos in rodeos. Note in rodeos, the horses usually win, as comboys bite the dust.

US stock markets continued their wild ride on Friday, ending one of the most volatile weeks in trading since the financial crisis as international stock markets continued to fall, spooked by fears of more rapidly rising interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which lost more than 1,000 points on Thursday, rose 30 points on Friday morning as the more broadly based S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq also moved into the black only to shortly lose those gains. By noon the Dow was down over 200 points and then rallied to end up over 300 points.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/09/us-stocks-heading-for-worst-week-since-financial-crisis-as-wild-ride-continues

Mkt that has fallen 50% in a month

In Uncategorized on 10/02/2018 at 5:46 am

The combined value market value of cryptocurrenciies has fallen from more than US$800bn to less than US$400bn in a month, FT reports.

As for Bitcoin, it’s back above US$8,500, having fallen to below US$6,000 earlier in the week. It rose above US$19,000 towards the end of 2017. Now taz real volatility.

The PAP never sleeps

In Political governance, Public Administration on 09/02/2018 at 11:02 am

Well it’s Budget Day, so, With the Budget 10 days away (Sorry I got my dates mixed up, I tot it was today when I first did the piece this morning: 5.00pm)) it’s a good time to remind the anti-PAP types that the PAP is always preparing to win the next general election.

———————————————–

The PAP, like City, never sleeps

The PAP is already preparing for the next General Election (GE) – possibly to be held in 2021 – and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has been appointed to lead the process of identifying new candidates.

PM on 1 December 2016.

And immediately after the results of GE 2011, Ng Eng Hen, said the PAP campaigning starts next day.

————————————————

It’s already preparing to win over another segment of the population in time for the next GE. The millennials are being courted:

Young couples will soon be able to move into their new homes quicker, as the Government is looking to shorten the wait for public housing.

When implemented, the move will see the waiting period for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats dip to two to three years, from the current three to four years, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong last week.

ST sometime back

And the elderly (and their children and grandchildren too because less state help means they have to pay and pay more for the needs of the old) are being given more goodies

Amid the rapidly ageing population, healthcare expenditure with a strong social focus to support seniors to age in place will be one of the “big items” in the Budget, said Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah.

We already know GST will go up, but the timing, what are the “offsets” (after all our money) and how will everything be spun is what be known later today.

 

Return of volatility on Thursday

In Uncategorized on 09/02/2018 at 5:21 am

“It makes sense. I am sure I am not the only person who thinks shorting vol at these levels is a good idea,” said Pravit Chintawongvanich, head of derivatives strategy at Macro Risk Advisors. “Markets are not typically this volatile for very long.”

FT quoting trader

Err late Thurday, volatility as measured by Vix index rose back above the 30% mark (It was above 50 on Monday)as the S&P 500 is back in negative territory for the year. Called the “fear gauge” the Vix index moves above 20 typically mark a period of extended volatility for the equity market.

Wonder if trader still has a job? Or that his firm still exists?

Why GDP is magic

In Economy on 08/02/2018 at 11:30 am

 

Recently, I wrote

The 2017 GDP growth of 3.5% was dismissed by anti-PAP types (nutty and sane) saying it’s mainly due to electronics which doesn’t employ many S’poreans because it’s a capital intensive industry. And it gave them the opportunity to diss the focus on GDP growth.

Impt of electronics to S’pore and rest of Asean

Here;s why they have a point on GDP

Magic numbers A lot falls through the cracks when tallying up gross domestic product. The big dumb number ignores the quality of growth. It confuses new technological efficiencies (which sometimes result in job losses) as a slowdown in growth. The more society grows, the less real growth is captured in the digits. (World Economic Forum)

FT’s Due Diligewnce

The link to the WEF piece is titled “5 ways GDP gets it totally wrong as a measure of our success” and is a reprint of an FT article.

Once upon a time thigs were different

Here’s something that came across my FB wall. MTI data shows that growth averaged 10 % p.a. in the 70s, with manufacturing sector’s share of GDP grew from 14 % in 1965 to 24 % by 1978.

Production work was boring but she stayed on because of her close friends in the line. Maryati worked at Rollei in the 1970s and then at Seagate in the 1990s (in the interim she took care of her children).

She became a ‘lead girl’ at Rollei in charge of about 15 operators, and was in fact selected for training in Germany but because she was pregnant she was unable to go.

Maryati’s husband Hassan was a security guard at Rollei from the beginning in 1971 till the company shut down in 1982. They met at Rollei. To my surprise, Hassan had many interesting stories to tell of his time at Rollei.

As Maryati explained, the operators knew production, but security guards knew people.

Hassan became a delivery driver and then a taxi driver when Rollei closed. Maryati was retrenched when Seagate downsized and moved from Ang Mo Kio to Senoko.
It was really good to speak to Malay workers who played a part in Singapore’s industrialisation.

Maryati at her work: for the photos I am thankful Rollei made cameras and she had to test whether they worked!

Theatres of History & Memory: Industrial Heritage of 20th Century Singapore

When strong GDP growth benefited the ordinary worker

Global economy like a poker game using borrowed money?

In Uncategorized on 08/02/2018 at 4:27 am

The recent volatility in the markets and just before that the very good results of two leading private equity houses (Blackstone and Apollo and whose founders are billionaires) reminds me that Marriner Eccles, Federal Reserve chairman from 1934-48, once said

The United States economy is like a poker game where the chips have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and where the other fellows can stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit runs out, the game will stop.

He could be describing the global economy, not just that of the US.

And it looks as though the cost of borrowing is going up a lot more, and faster than expected.

Six yrs ago, today’s Federal Reserve president said,

[W]e look like we are blowing a fixed-income duration bubble right across the spectrum that will result in big losses when rates come up down the road. You can almost say that is our strategy.”

He now has to live with the consequences of a strategy (QE) that he wasn’t that comfortable with in the first place.

But relax the equity melt-up is coming. One final orgy on the way.

 

 

 

Freedom to be offensive: West following PAP’s lead?

In Uncategorized on 07/02/2018 at 11:10 am

Talking about Western liberal democracies, the Economist wrote sometime back

it is worth remembering that in the distant and not-so-distant past, the authorities took it as read that certain ways of thinking and speaking were so manifestly dangerous and disruptive to society that they should be prevented in every possible way. The “freedom to be wrong” is a new and precarious concept, and there is no guarantee that it will survive.

In our time, there are plenty of ideas that are viewed in the liberal Western world as not merely wrong but obnoxious and outside the limits of decent discourse: holocaust denial and openly racist or sexist ideas would be high on most people’s lists.

https://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2017/08/inquisitors-internet

So the PAP’s views that race matters, or cannot be offensive or obnoxious (all of which incidentally originally came from the British colonial administration*: Even PAP govt thinks ang moh tua kee) is being copied by the ang mohs?

After all a very recent European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR is an organisation of the 47-nation Council of Europe) ruling accepted that liberty of expression carried certain responsibilities, including a duty not to be “gratuitously offensive or profane”: https://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2018/02/advertising-and-faith

Not really because as Cherian George last week (before the  ECHR ruling was made public) in response to this question

Q: Can you comment on the differences between Singapore’s laws on hate speech and those of Western Europe? I ask this question because the defenders of Singapore’s restrictions on freedom of speech almost always bring up Germany’s laws on holocaust denial and other restrictions on speech.
said
Even Germany, which treats hate speech very seriously, only prohibits speech that carries a real risk of actual harm, like promoting discrimination against minorities or causing them to live in fear (and of course inciting violence and genocide, which even the Americans are willing to regulate). But in Singapore, the government also prohibits speech that offends people’s feelings, even if there’s no objective harm that would arise from it. That’s the difference. When you legislate against insult or wounded feelings, the way Singapore does, you are allowing the law to be used as a weapon to silence speech that may be quite necessary.
But given his views on the PAP, he would say that, wouldn’t he?
———————————————————————-
*One law in the UK for the British establishment (the plebs didn’t matter in Victorian and Edwardian times), but another law for “lesser breeds” that needed to be kept in check, lest they overthrew the natural order of things. Remember that like S’pore today, the British empire was multilingual, multiracial, multireligious and multicultural, and there wasn’t any aspiration to be
one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,

Mkt falls must make Trump haters happy, but maybe not

In Uncategorized on 07/02/2018 at 5:34 am

With Donald Trump having successfully persuaded the populace to treat the rallying stock market as a validation of his young presidency, and a meaningful achievement in its own right, the administration is now stuck, and has to give excuses when all of the year’s stock market gains are wiped out. This shows that claiming credit for the strong stock market was always bad politics (as I have made clear more than once).

Oddly, Mr Trump has not tweeted about the stock market since January 20 (when he referred to a “Record Stock Market”). The corollary to claiming credit for a stock market rise was always that it carried the risk of taking the blame for a subsequent fall.

John Authers, FT columnist

He spoke too soon because S&P was just up 1.7% to 2,695, its best day since Donald Trump was elected US president. I’m sure there will be Trump twit on this fact.

Social etc divisions in S’pore

In Uncategorized on 06/02/2018 at 11:27 am
Hong Chong Wen posted this on FB

Bitcoin falls are worse

In Uncategorized on 06/02/2018 at 6:02 am

Think equity and bond mkts falls are bad?

Well according to Reuters, Bitcoin on Monday fell 8.1% to US$7,524, its lowest level since November 18, 2017.

So far Bitcoin has fallen 40% this yr from its Jan high.

And more UK banks are thinking of joining Lloyds in banning the use of credit cards to buy Bitcoin: UK bank bans Bitcoin purchases on its credit cards.

Banks don’t want the credit and reputational risks involved. BS that they want to protect customers.

Wonder when the banks here will ban the use of credit cards to buy Bitcoin?

UK bank bans Bitcoin purchases on its credit cards

In Uncategorized on 05/02/2018 at 5:23 pm

Lloyds Banking Group, a major UK bank, has banned its customers from today from buying Bitcoin on their credit cards following a sharp fall in the value of the digital currency.

It will not apply to debit cards, only to the banking group’s eight million credit card customers.

Lloyds fears people are buying Bitcoin to make a profit if its value rises but face debts if it falls.

It is concerned it could end up footing the bill for unpaid debts should the price continue to fall.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42940728

 

How to get S’poreans to welcome mass immigration

In Economy, Political governance, Property on 05/02/2018 at 10:25 am

The calls are getting louder, with more and more voices making the case for Singapore to relook its position on the foreign manpower issue, in the face of a severe demographics slowdown*.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/big-read-foreigner-issue-are-we-ready-rethink

The above and a similar ST article a few days earlier is evidence that the constructive, nation-building media is again preparing the way for the flood gates to be opened and for FTs to be allowed in by the cattle truck load (not like now by only the A380 or 747 cattle class load).

The stories reminded me also that

“Opposition to immigration is largely cultural and psychological. Policy options will therefore have to address this.”

Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck University of London, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/why-culture-is-more-important-than-skills-understanding-british-public-opinion-on-immigration/)

Eric Kaufmann was talking about the UK, but what he says also applies here.

So somehow, I think talking in general terms that the economy needs FTs wouldn’t work. Think the Population White Paper (Population White Paper: PAP’s suicide note?) which didn’t convince S’poreans that we need FTs by the cattle-truck load.


A personal view

As I’ve blogged before, FTs by the cattle-truck load is good for me personally because of the wage repression effect, stronger GDP growth, rising property prices etc. But still I’m not even in favour of FTs by the A380 load. I want FTs by the A350 or 787 business class and first class load.

__________________________________________________________

So if the PAP wants to use culture and psychology to get S’poreans to welcome cattle truck-loads of FTs, the constructive, nation-building media should tell S’poreans what will happen to the value of their “affordable” HDB flats that they are paying for via 25-year mortgages, if said FTs are not allowed to come in by cattle truck-loads to beat up taxi uncles and professional women. After all, falling HDB, and private property, prices are a consequence of weak economic growth, which will result from restrictions on immigration: at least according according to the “experts” quoted in the said articles*.

As Moneytheism (particularly the Propery cult) is our religion, the message will sink in very fast that S’pore needs FTs by the cattle-truck load to prevent HDB prices, and private property prices, from collapsing.


*The article goes on

Last December, economists said it may be time to re-look the Government’s stringent immigration policies following a UOB report on Singapore’s “demographic time bomb” which will start ticking next year, when the share of the population who are 65 and over will match that of those under 15 for the first time.

In January, Monetary Authority of Singapore chief Ravi Menon devoted much of his speech at a high-profile conference on the topic, making an impassioned plea for Singapore to “reframe our question on foreign workers”, given the limited scope in raising birth rates and labour force participation rate (LFPR). This was followed by a commentary penned by National University of Singapore (NUS) academics urging the Republic’s universities to admit more international students, in light of falling numbers.

Dr Chua, the Maybank economist, questioned how the targets could be met based on the current workforce size without additional foreign manpower, even after taking into account those who are displaced from positions becoming redundant.

“Manpower policies will need to be fine-tuned…Singapore’s transformation roadmap cannot be fulfilled without some flexibility in its manpower policies,” he said.

Dr Chua reiterated that relaxing foreign manpower restrictions during economic upcycles will allow Singapore to capitalise on growing investments and demand. “If restrictions are too tight, business will choose not to invest in the first place,” he said. “That in turn hurts job creation and opportunities for Singaporeans.”

He added that foreigners also “pay their fair share of taxes and contribute to the overall fiscal position, reducing the tax burden on citizens”.

 

 

Bitcoin exchanges are not safe

In Financial competency on 04/02/2018 at 5:35 pm

Did you know this?

A third of the world’s bitcoin exchanges were hacked between 2009 and 2015, say US authorities.

FT

The FT reported this in its article about the U$500m theft of XEM coins by an anonymous hacker from Coincheck, a Japanese virtual currency exchange. It claimed the day before the theft that “Cryptocurrency exchanges are already down to 1.5 players. We’re top …”

“Will crypto-crime end the Bitcoin bubble?”

In Financial competency on 04/02/2018 at 10:42 am

But first, did you know virtual currencies lost US$100 billion in 24 hours on thursday?

Coming back to:”Will crypto-crime end the Bitcoin bubble?”

Likely because the marshalls are taking more action because criminals are trying to take advantage of the interest in crypto-currencies.

[T]he cyber-security firm Digital Shadows produced a report on the latest fashion in cyber-crime: profiting from the crypto-currency boom.

The report – titled The New Gold Rush – details the various types of scam, from fake ICOs to raids on exchanges to simple phishing attacks. Its author, Becky Pinkard, tells Tech Tent that cyber-criminals have decided to jump on the bandwagon as the frenzy of popular excitement about the rise in value of Bitcoin has grown.

“We have people all the way down to my grandmother asking about Bitcoin and what it means and whether I can make money from it,” she says.

“What that does is then create the type of exposure that criminals need in order to come in and take advantage of folks who don’t really know what they’re doing.”

Digital Shadows has been scouring criminal forums on the dark web and has found plenty of conversations about ICOs – and how to profit from them.

“Just set it up, people will come and they will drop the money on you,” said one comment.

The mood about ICOs and other manifestations of the crypto-currency boom certainly seems to have shifted this week. Facebook has announced that it is to ban all adverts promoting any kind of crypto-currency product.

Meanwhile there has been a sudden slew of prominent thinkers casting doubt on everything from the value of Bitcoin to the significance of the blockchain technology underpinning it.

The boss of MIT’s Media Lab, Joi Ito, wrote a piece headlined The Big ICO Swindle. The respected economist Nouriel Roubini weighed in with Blockchain’s Broken Promises, casting doubt on a technology that proponents claim has great potential, whatever happens to Bitcoin.

Such downbeat assessments, combined with growing regulatory pressure, seem to be having an effect. Bitcoin and other so-called altcoins have taken another sharp lurch downwards in recent days,. The crypto-bandwagon may not have halted but at least one of the wheels looks like it is coming off.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42917172

Facebook: Don’t sien me leh

In Internet on 04/02/2018 at 7:18 am
Facebook was intended to be as wholesome as apple pie?

From NYT Delbook

Here’s what Samidh Chakrabarti, a product manager at the tech giant, wrote in a post on the company’s Hard Questions blog:

Facebook was originally designed to connect friends and family — and it has excelled at that. But as unprecedented numbers of people channel their political energy through this medium, it’s being used in unforeseen ways with societal repercussions that were never anticipated.

Mr. Chakrabarti added that while the company was slow to address Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, it’s working to prevent it happening again.

I tot it was all about attracting eyeballs and ad revenue by way of trolling, echo chambering and the enabling of fake news. And to Make America Great Again by helping Trump become president.

Why ST journalists must be happy

In Media on 03/02/2018 at 11:42 am

Constructive, nation-building ST (and other constructive, nation-building SPH, and constructive, nation-building MediaCorp) journalists must be pretty happy that in 2017 journalists globally have achieved the biggest gain in credibility relative to other “groups”: see chart below. Err somhow I don’t think this applies here because I just read this On media, politics and stranger thingshttps://www.facebook.com/notes/cherian-george/on-media-politics-and-stranger-things/10154934466551612/

Read it.

Related post: “Fake news: Just make mainstream media more credible”

Ranking of most reliable sources for people

 

“Is Someone Manipulating the Price of Bitcoin?”

In Financial competency on 03/02/2018 at 7:21 am
(Added at 11-05am: Btw it’s down 40% since 1 January. Sorry for the omission.)

Given that the price of Bitcoin price has just fallen below USA$8,000 for first time since November 24, “Is Someone Manipulating the Price of Bitcoin?” (the title of the u/m piece from NYT’s Dealbook) is laughable because price manipulation must have been the other way or failed:

New questions about Bitcoin’s price

Regulators are increasingly worried that Bitfinex, a widely used (and famously opaque) exchange, has been propping it up. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has subpoenaed the company, whose Tether digital token is often used to buy other virtual currencies.

More from Nathaniel Popper of the NYT:

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new Tether were created; almost always when the prices of other virtual currencies were heading down. The Tether were used on the Bitfinex exchange to make big purchases of Bitcoin and other tokens, helping push their prices back up, according to multiple analyses of data from Bitfinex.

“This became more and more concerning, because every time the markets went down, you have seen the same thing happen,” said Joey Krug, the co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, which runs several virtual currency hedge funds. “It could mean that a lot of the rally over December and January might not have been real.”

Where we stand: According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin is trading at $9,545, down almost 7 percent over the last 24 hours, Ethereum’s Ether at $1,099, and Ripple’s XRP at $1.05, down 7 percent.

The digital money flyaround

• How Goldman Sachs was rushed into supporting Bitcoin. (Bloomberg)

• Meet Bibor, a proposed interest rate for lending Bitcoin. (Bloomberg)

• Samsung is making specialist chips for mining virtual currency. (CNBC)

____________________________

Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Amie Tsang in London.

How Trump’s trolling works

In Uncategorized on 02/02/2018 at 2:53 pm

Because

For every step that President Trump takes in debasing discourse, his opponents manage to go one step further.

FT columnist


A local ang moh tua kee posted on FB a story about a Muslim Canadian girl who lied about an attack on her. The local ang moh tua kee attacked Trump as a liar.

I commented that the story was not about Trump. She replied that she stood by her comments that Trump lies.

Hours later realising that she could be seen as implying that the gal was right to lie because Trump lies regularly, she said she didn’t condone the gal’s behaviour.

Taz how Trump gets under the skin of those who hate him: especially those who espouse “left-liberalism which celebrates civil rights”.

———————————————–

And

The focus on his ludicrous ego and ignorance may make us feel superior. But that is all it appears to be doing. He will not be toppled by us jeering at a picture of his enormous arse or reports of his word salad on climate change, his links to Russia and his comments about pussy-grabbing. Not as long as he is supported by racists, the far right, Christian fundamentalists, the global business elite and his own party. And he is. It is time to get serious about what drives this presidency. At the moment, the joke is on us.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/jan/29/donald-trump-rethink-our-resistance-ikea-spiked

And as usual the whining liberal from the Grauniad* doesn’t tell us how to fight him because she doesn’t have a clue. Talking cock, singing song like our anti-PAP cybernuts and ang moh tua kees who don’t know that paramactol is available here ot that estate duty has to go up 4000% if it is revived to replace a 2% rise in GST.

Steve Banon’s plan to get Trump elected “was to create such a cacophony of indignation” that the progressives would lose their focus. He was letting Trump be Trump for a strategic reason: to make the progressives angry and so lose focus. It worked then, and it’s working now, even if he’s no longer advising Trump: the progressives are still losing their focus in their indignation and anger.

—————————————–

*The Grauniad is a nickname for the UK national newspaper, the Guardian, because of a now ill-founded reputation for typos. The name was given to it by the satirical magazine Private Eye.

Wikipedia

Why 30-year old HDB flats difficult to sell/ Why PAP rule will end in 2029

In Banks, CPF, Financial competency, Financial planning, Political economy, Political governance, Property on 02/02/2018 at 7:19 am

A doctor turned fat cat investor responded to Jialat for PAP where I reported a property saleman (OK, OK, he’s title is “research director”) as saying “From the ground, homes with leases of less than 60 years took longer to sell, and at a much lower price …”. (Background reading for those who have not followed the problem with HDB leases of less than 60 years: HDB flats: 35 is a dangerous age)

He wrote

Since 2016/2017 HDB flats older than 39 years have seen a “cliff drop” in prices due to:
(1) Reduction of CPF quantum that can be used for properties with less than 60 yrs lease;
(2) Age of buyer plus remaining lease must be >= 80.

In many mature estates undergoing SERS activities, the price of 40+ year old flats are having 35% discounts against nearby brand new “subsidized” BTO flats. Even with marketing efforts extolling the “higher chance” of SERS for those older flats, buyers are not buying it.

This mini cliff drop has been exacerbated since LW [Lawrence Wong] did an about turn against Old Fart’s & Woody’s asset enhancement propaganda.

Currently majority of HDB flats are still within 25-38 yrs old. The above problem will get worse over the next 10-15 years.

This gives PAPies another 2 terms at least to continue milking Sinkies.

Assuming the next general election is in 2019, this means the PAP will lose power or its two-thirds parly majority in 2029 or thereabouts. Mad Dog will then be 67 and Dr Paul will be about 65. If Mad Dog becomes PM jialat. If Dr Paul becomes PM, let the good times roll.

So if SDP is still headed by Mad Dog as is most likely because he’ll knife Dr Paul in the back to ensure that he’ll rule the SDP, I’ll be forced to vote PAP for the good of S’pore. So I hope he steps down soon.

 

Bitcoin keeps on falling, amid more bad news

In Financial competency on 01/02/2018 at 5:47 pm

January has been the worst month for the virtual currency in three years, with its price down 30 percent. And it’s because of the very thing that Bitcoin and other digital currencies were supposed to be free from: central authorities and regulators.

(NYT Dealbook)

What the central authorities and regulators are doing to make mining or trading virtual currencies a lot harder:

• The S.E.C. froze a $600 million initial coin offering by AriseBank.
• China has continued to clamp down on Bitcoin mining.
• South Korea is still weighing legal checks on virtual currency trading.

Then also Facebook’s ban ads for digital money

But amid all this, NYT Dealbook reports

The Japanese messaging service Line has plans to open its own virtual currency exchange, while the embattled publisher of Penthouse magazine wants to promote its own adult-entertainment-focused token.

Weak productivity: PAP’s Frankensteinian monster

In Economy on 01/02/2018 at 7:16 am

When I read the u/m from Rana Foroohar, a FT columnist that I love to hate (usually so pretentious and full of BS and who refuses to accept that Trump the bum is doing some good), I couldn’t help but think of the S’pore economy which the PAP administration claims it created:

— looking at the “supply side”: all those FTs;

— “capital intensity of the most innovative sectors – like pharma and high tech – is quite low”: pharma and high tech are high on the PAP administration’s wish list of investments that we must have;

— “the most digitally advanced industries – again, software, biotech, etc – aren’t the biggest employers.”: throw in the oil refining and petrochemical industries and that describes to a “T” the industries that are paid and paid to come here; and finally

— “The industries that are labour rich – retail, healthcare, education, public sector – are both tech and productivity poor.”: think of our huge finance sector (13.1% of GDP in 2016). The “retail, healthcare, education, public sector” are all part of any modern economy, so the PAP administration’s can’t be faulted for encouraging their growth.

Here’s what the FT columnist wrote:

According to James Manyika, the head of the McKinsey Global Institute, weak productivity – a real mystery in a time of such dramatic technological change – is down to a cocktail of issues that we aren’t looking at in the right way. First, demand is weak in most parts of the developed world, yet economists studying productivity typically look more at the supply side. Second, the capital intensity of the most innovative sectors – like pharma and high tech – is quite low relative to the past (they just don’t need big factories or expensive equipment). Third, in the past, big productivity gains were seen when the biggest employers made large tech jumps. Yet today, the most digitally advanced industries – again, software, biotech, etc – aren’t the biggest employers. The industries that are labour rich – retail, healthcare, education, public sector – are both tech and productivity poor.

FT

The kind of economy we have

— lots of FTS;

— with capital-intensive hi tech, oil refining and petrochemical industries that don’t need much labour; and

— finance which is labour rich, productivity poor,

was created by the governing party, the PAP, which has ruled since 1959 this de facto one-party state.

And which said party is louding KPKBing has a productivity problem

Which begs the question, “Do PM and his team deserve their millions?”: At 8.38 pm January 8, PM’s pay would pass Ah Beng’s yearly salary.

After all, they created an economy that is inclined towards low productivity.

What do you think?