Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Analysis of International Monetary Relations – Part 2: Where We Are

These days, references to the Great Depression and the Bretton Woods system abound. Analogy with the past crises is supposed to shed light on the present.

In analogy, we seek to establish sameness between two disparate objects. “Bone to dogs is like meat to cats” highlights the universal need of animals for food. The analogy works because that need is a defining and unchanging attribute of animals.

History is dynamic. The snapshots of historical events – a Great Depression here, a monetary crisis there – might have some surface resemblance to some aspects of the current crisis, but they could offer nothing by way of understanding the problem at hand. The secret of understanding history is knowing the nature of its dynamism, the way the changes take place.

***

”A major lesson of the crisis is that the remarkable overall performance of the global economy between 2003 and 2007 contained within it the seeds of its own destruction”.
Thus spoke the U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner the other day in the Economic Club of Washington.

Has the crisis turned him into a dialectician? “The global economy containing the seeds of its own destruction” – Hegel himself could not have said any better.

The answer is No. His absurd time frame betrays his tenuous grasp of the roots of the crisis. (The time frame is absurd in terms of understanding the crisis, but it is not random. Geithner unwittingly ties the rise of mortgage products with the destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; 2003 is about the time Fannie and Freddie were neutered.)

***

The crisis we are witnessing is not the result of any exuberance in any particular period, however much the exuberance might have played a role in it. It is not the doing of rogue traders, unscrupulous speculators, careless lenders or irresponsible borrowers -- even though these elements were all present. Neither is it a Black Swan, a 100-year flood, or a once-in-a-lifetime event. All this by way of saying that it is not an aberration. It is the natural, necessary and inevitable consequence of the working of the so-called Anglo-American model of finance, rightly claimed as the most developed form of finance. This point is critical. The crisis came about because of, not despite, the system’s sophistication and is an inseparable part of it. The moment we approach it as an exception, we are lost.

***

The point about “natural, necessary and inevitable” outcome must be understood. The adjectives refer to a state of affairs brought about by the internal developmental logic of the system. Only knowing, conscious human action can interrupt or derail such process. Good intentions, grand ideals, great expectations and the like would not do; they are literally immaterial.

***

In the early days of television, there were grandiose predictions that the new medium would bring culture to masses. Banjos in Alabama were going to play Appassionata, mortgage-ridden farmers around Chicago, Chaconne. We know how that one turned out.

There is nothing preordained about TV turning into a vast wasteland. It could bring culture to masses. But the “business model” sets the direction and limitation of what can be achieved. Trash TV is the natural, necessary and inevitable fate of a medium whose raison d’etre is selling stuff to masses.

The same goes for the notion of the Internet bringing literacy to the masses. Or microloans brining prosperity to Indian peasants. Or casinos solving the housing and employment problem in Atlantic City – remember that one? You get the idea.

***

Finance capital has a distinct mode of existence which creates the realm of finance. The uncritical eye sees this sphere as something independent, different and separate from the “real economy”. Hence, the nonsense about whether the “real economy” – like pornography, never defined but always assumed to be understood – could be affected by the losses in Wall Street. You recall this was the intellectual question of the last year.

In reality, finance capital is an integral part of the economic system of a country. In its less developed stages, when its size is relatively small compared to the industrial capital and its activities limited to simple lending and borrowing, it has limited sway over the economy. As its size, reach and complexity increases, its influence likewise grows. This real-life development is reflected in the rise of the academic discipline of finance, which, originally a backwater part of economics, has come to dominate the mother science.

***

In its latest, historically most developed form, finance capital morphs into speculative capital. This is a gradual process, with the size of speculative capital constantly increasing. At this stage, trading, the mode of existence of speculative capital, begins to influence financial markets to the point that even public finance decisions must be made with an eye to accommodating its needs.
The government has taken the first step toward a revival of the 30-year bond, an unexpected shift that could provide an important tool to grapple with the nation’s troublesome budget deficit and its creaky pension system.
This is The New York Times, reporting the Treasury’s decision to reissue the 30-year bond. The paper frames the decision as the creation of a budget management tool, but few paragraphs later in the same article, the Treasury officials flatly refute that spin.
Treasury officials said yesterday that the decision had nothing to do with the budget deficits.
So what prompted the decision? Perhaps the following – again, from the same article:
Wall Street ... has been clamoring for a revival of the bond almost since it was abandoned in 2001 ... The 30-year bond is a longer-term security that is more volatile than shorter-term securities. And Wall Street traders love volatility because it is an opportunity to make money. The committee from Wall Street that advises the Treasury on the sales of government debt recommended this week that the 30-year bond be revived.

Still, where exactly was Wall Street's interest in reviving the long bond? Were there not sufficient amounts of Treasuries to play with?

The answer is No. The daily volume of the repo and tri-party repo market alone in which the U.S. Treasuries exchanged hands had reached and surpassed $6 trillion. That is, the entire public debt of the U.S. government was being turned over once a day. What was driving this feverish activity?

I touched upon this question in several places, including here, in discussion the structure of the financial markets in the U.S, and also here and here. I will return to this subject in detail in Vol. 4 of Speculative Capital. The critical point to note is that an increase in demand increases the price of treasuries and pushes their rates down. Treasuries rates are the frame of reference for all commercial rates in the U.S. and much of the globe. In this way, finance capital encourages borrowing by all parties, large or small, public or private. The U.S. consumer, whose real income has been falling since 1971, sees this as an opportunity. So the consumer debt soars and the reach of finance capital is extended.

***

I repeat: finance capital is an integral part of a nation's economy. As it develops and expands: i) its reach extends beyond the national borders; and ii) it becomes the catalyst and enabler not only of the monetary relations but the economic relations as well. Globe-spanning operations of large corporations presuppose and rely on “sophisticated” capital markets.

***

As an example of economic relation, take the case of WalMart. The company produces virtually all its products in China. That is the main reason China has amassed $2 trillion reserves, about $800 billion of which is invested in treasuries.

Meanwhile, cheap imports from China enable WalMart to reduce the cost of living for all workers. That helps keep wages low and profits high for all corporations. At the same time, workers have to borrow the shortfall in their budgets due to their low wages. It is a perfect one-two punch.

***

The first and foremost order of a system is self-preservation. The “order” is not so much a conscious mandate but a built-in mechanism; a system without such mechanism could not exist and would not last.

Finance capital’s immediate self-interest, expansion through maximizing profit, collides with and contradicts its existence as a going concern. This is most vividly seen in the case of speculative capital – capital engaged in arbitrage. Arbitrage is self-destructive; it eliminates opportunities that give rise to it. The destruction you are seeing in all spheres of the economy, not in businesses anymore but in the business models, is the natural, necessary and inevitable consequence of what transpired in the past 35 years.

That is where we stand now, where money, to the tune of $13 trillion that the U.S. government has committed to every sphere of economic activity, cannot solve an economic crisis. That is what is qualitatively different about this crisis. And that is why it is no use looking back at the past crises for solutions; none will be found.

Why is it so tough to earn from stock market ?

The theory to earn easy money from stock market is one of the simplest theory in this world.  It is proven practical as well when some of the dumpest men on earth has successfully gained from it.  But yet majority of the so called analyst experts fail to predict the market correctly.  Why ?

In order to consistently earn money from an investment, one must KNOW the investment vehicle very well, how it works, the tips and tricks etc.  For example, in stock investment you need to know MOTS, Best Speculatable Price Range, Value a stock worth, trends, strategy to earn despite any movements, stock pick methods, successful trader methods, world influence, fee effect, ...

But in order to CONSISTENTLY earn from stock market, one must NOT follow too closely until emotion takes over the investment strategy.  In order NOT to follow too close, one MUST NOT KNOW about it.

So you must KNOW about it first, 
take action and then
NOT KNOW about it at all 
in order to become a TRUE investor.

It is almost IMPossible to Unlearn something once you learned it, especially when you have found a Winning Formula, it is Darn Tough to forget about something that you think is a sure win strategy, isn't it ?

Well, that's why its tough to earn from stock market ...

The Knowing part is the Science part, it requires a lot of logical thinking and analysis  ... the NOT Knowing part is the Art part.  Try to NOT KNOWing what you already know and you may feel the level of understanding you may need.  ( sorry for the creepy sentence, but its required to deliver the message )

Well, there you go, now you know why most people simply cann't make money from stock market consistently.  Simply because they fail to NOT KNOWing ... or forgot the Art part in stock investment.

Don't worry too much, there is also simple to follow methods to NOT KNOWing ... but thats future topic ...

Ironically enough if you DO NOT KNOW anything to start with but do the SAME Action as if those who know it, then you don't need to try hard to forget anything and yet able to enjoy the same big gain.  Thats why some old dump investors are earning so much better and more consistently than the experts ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

never knew this is how it turns out ...

Ironically enough on how the stock market turns out to be ...

Everyone was watching closely on politics, economy, commodities, oils and golds ... but at the end, its the pig who triggers the market crash ...


Most may say this is totally irrelevant and just an arbituary incident.  But I cann't help to think that 

recession brings out the greed
more people cut cost into the ethic arena
animals are not fed right
environment is not kept well
which eventually trigger the out spread of the micro organism ...

"If you big guys don't want the world, we will take over just like how you took over dinasour last time!" - virus said.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

another food price analysis obsession - burger


It’s Burger King, my favorite beef burger store !

 And this time is more serious analysis than previous queue-in-line KFC example.  It comes with proper price gap analysis and order optimizing system.  I had to analyse in proper spreadsheet before I place order.  ( can you feel the obsession I have with numbers yet ? )

It all started when I saw an advertisement that if you buy up to RM 50 in Burger King, they will give you one FREE Chicken Royale burger and a FREE Touch N Go card!  I do vaguely remember I need an extra TouchNgo card but I forgot for what reason!  Normal price of a TouchNgo card is RM 10, and the FREE burger would be around RM10 too.  So saving RM 20 out of a RM 50 price is a HUGE 40% discount !!  

All I wanted was just ONE Whopper and see what advertisement has up sold me to.

Ok, this is the price list ...

First, all upgrades from medium to large set add RM1 standard across the board.  Size upgrade for individual fries and drinks add up to RM 1.20 so ALL sets upgrade saves 20 cents.  So this is as straight forward as if you want to eat more, simply get the size upgrades on the set.

Then I check the price differences between Ala-Carte and medium set.  The set costs extra from RM 1.40 to RM 4.85 with an average of RM 3.50.  So I presume I do not want to buy the set if the set extra cost is more than the average RM 3.50, marked in pink color.

The set comes with fries and drinks.  If you want only one of the items i.e. drink, then the extra fries is NOT really a saving but a redundancy.  The drink is RM 3 and the fries are RM 3.55 so I use RM 3 as the smaller price item. So I also decided not to get the set if the ala carte to set cost more than RM 3, marked in peach color.

Very soon, I have new order logic.  If I were to order sets in burger king, I should only consider whopper set and chicken tender set.  All other sets provide less value than these 2 sets.  And chicken tender set is the cheapest way to get your set.

So now I know what to order ala-carte and what to order sets, let match the RM 50 deal.  I wrote some formulas into the spreadsheet and auto calculate how much more to order in order to match my target.  Not to forget the 5% government tax in the calculation.  Items that can be purchased to match the target will pop up in green (in excel it would, not in google docs).

First select what I want to eat ... wait a minute, how to finish all these RM50 burgers by myself?  I quickly made a few calls and throw a small family dinner party.  The meal maker does not need to cook that much and the kids would love it too!  Add in a few more considerations like some doesn't eat beef etc.  Walla !!  Here is my order:

1 Chicken Tender medium set and ala-carte whopper, single mushroom swiss, fish, grill chicken and 9 pcs chicken tender.  Total RM 50.14 after tax.

Just in case they require before tax amount to be RM 50, I also come up with a similar order of:

1 whopper medium set and 1 chicken tender medium set.
Ala-carte single mushroom swiss, fish, french chicken, grill chicken one each.

Totalling at exact RM 50 before tax !

Did I just waste more money or have I just saved some?  I should have a great dinner party tonight and goes home with an extra TouchNgo card.  That couldn't be too bad right?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

KLCI 090423

It is rather interesting to see how KLCI performs opposite of the rest of the world.  Although today's world chart patterns are the same but KLCI stays above of previous closed price while others dangling along their prevous closed prices.  Which is still considered significantly out-performing.


There are a few indications from this scenario.  Most are bad and one posibility to be good.

Bad 1 : General public do not believe in correction and still trade in bullish mode.  (more than 60% of my trading friends are actually in this group too)  People are still rushing in hoping to get similar returns like the past few weeks.  Although some would still able to enjoy some quick profit but such a 'delay' correction will only cause a bigger than expected correction.

Bad 2 : Goverment agencies pumping fund into the market to substain the illusion of new PM effect.  Should it really correct later at worsen level, then what is doing now will make 'us' lose more of our EPF and/or tax money.  However, the few companies that are invested by the fund managers happened to be the ones that I can agree with (able to buy now to keep for the next 2-3 years).

Good 1 : Recent varies changes instilled in China and also a few other countries are mostly considered as the 'correct' moves.  The sign of China reducing its dependencies to the western world has already started.  Although the affected industries will never revive as it used to be, but a lot of new businesses are given the chances to mushroom too.  However, any kind of policies changes will take as least 1-2 years before any real benefits are gain from them.

After above qualitative accessment, let's look at the technical analysis.


Stochastic (14-5-5) has been long oversold so the trigger to crash isn't exactly apparent anymore.  But some experts do recommend 'stay away from market' based on this pattern alone.

MACD (17-8) is about to cross.  If markets stay at 970-975 for another day, the signal will be triggered.  The only worry is the fund managers will use this as the trigger point and market will crash from there onward.

Moving Average (10d) shows that as long as KLCI stays above 965 on Friday 24 April, it should be fine for another day.

Having seen all, I think that there are not much foreign fund in our market anymore.  So its only a game between the public and the fund managers.  Since the public seems bullish so as long as the fund managers do not trigger any panics, we can live through another week.

It would be very interesting to see if this 'delay' correction would actually cause a worse crash in the next 2 months to come, ie. touches 816.

As of right now, half of my long term fund is in place riding this up trend now.  All of my speculation funds are out of the market now.  I am staying away from the market, most probably no need to come back until 1 month later.

What is your view ?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Good Man in a Bad Business

David Kellermann, the acting CFO of Freddie Mac, was found dead of apparent suicide. He was 41.



Alas, poor David Kellermann. I knew him not. The news reports said that he was a “hard worker”, “a good guy”, with “extraordinary work ethic” and “integrity”. His apparent suicide in a weird way confirms that; imagine a good man with extraordinary integrity witnessing the going-ons in the mortgage industry. But being good is not enough. Like the charitable work of society ladies – sending get-well cards to wounded soldiers – it could be perfectly useless. Like the cultural activities of financiers – takeover artists underwriting operas – it could be downright detrimental. Sartre developed the notion of praxis – the activity of an individual or group in an organization with an eye toward some end – precisely to reach beyond the inadequacy of this in-itself do-gooding.



I cannot speculate on what David Kellermann was going through; if I did that I would be writing fiction. But I am certain that he did not know about the history of the destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that I chronicled in three parts here, here and here. Had he known, he would have been a more cynical man, but he would be alive now.



Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it kills you. Poor David Kellermann.

The Rights NOT to pay tax ?

This is a respond to Hafix's article and some readers' intrepretation on it
Hafiz is one of the columnists for Malaysia Insider and definitely one of the greatest writters you should read more if you are interested in Malaysia economy and politics.  Basically in his article, he mentioned that if the citizen loves the country more then everyone will be more willingly paying taxes.
While what the article says is true, but unfortunately it was read into a different kind of signal : "... we have the rights not to pay tax ... ".  A relatively destructive way to interpret the article, although Hafix may disagree.

Although what the article mentioned could be right on the disappointment we may have with the goverment.  But it doesn't give us any Rights NOT to pay taxes.  This example of doing evil upon the devil doesn't really work.

The fundamentals of life is still simple.  The story of goverment didn't do a good job and therefore you don't need to pay tax only lead to 2 practical ends;

1) You decide to leave this country.  Then yes, abuse it and forget about all the family and friends who stay back.  Don't pay any taxes.

2) You still want or need or have to stay and work here.  Then you should still pay your taxes.  As for the disappoinment from the goverment, you should continue to can them into doing better, fix them!  At the moment you stop paying tax, you would also lose your right to fix the goverment.

Complain all you want to release tension, but when it comes to real pratical life, we should still do the smart actions - the right thing as well.


Friday, April 17, 2009

stock market cures all deceases

Opps, did I spell it wrong ?  ... cure all diseases that is ... :)

quick note 2009 04 17

If you are one of those who have been enjoying exciting moments for the past couple of weeks, buckle up and prepare to exit anytime soon ....

don't worry, you will have another chance again ... not too soon away ...

Traits of Successful Traders

I was clearing up my junk images and found this one.  I forgot if I have shared this before but it is a great reminder anyway ... and I forgot what the source is, sorry to owner.

The key difference between a self employed and a real business is that business has a proven running system despite who operate the system.

Same goes with investment, you either invest for fun or serious about earning an income

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FREE Personal Income Tax Software Released !

Although a bit late, but finally its released.  Or has it been released for sometime and only now they email me ?  Anyway taxsaya is one of the few great softwares given that we have limited choice in personal finance softwares for malaysian.


2008 version is much better than 2007.  You will have to download different version for different filing years. 

You will also need to uninstall previous version of 2007 if you want to work on your 2008 version.  Else the 2008 version will report problems looking for something from 2007.  This has already been reported to Taxsaya and may be fixed by the time you read this article.
Actually Taxsaya commented that you don't need to uninstall 2007 to use 2008's version.  Above comment is only specific to my own case.  When running the 2008 version, it will automatically import some of your 2007 info over so that you have less hassle.  Things like personal details, child, spouse, employment, rental property, insurance etc. do not need to be re-entered in 2008 version if you already enter those in 2007's version

2008 versions are concentrading on asking relevant and crucial questions and then give you the key information straight away.  This is much better when comparing to 2007 version.  But if you are using it for the first time, you may still find it cumbersome going through the wizard; which would be a feeling you should get over with if you are serious in your tax filing.

This is the screen you will see at the end.  Notice that they will tell you how many tips they think they can help you optimize your tax filing.  That is the part you will need to pay about RM 20 for it.


I haven't get the full version yet and I haven't explored all functions yet.  I am also not associated with Taxsaya and I don't get benefits from them.  But I admire their persistency in getting it through this 2nd year, despite the not-so-good 2007 version.  So in the good spirit of (1) promoting more people to care about their own income tax and also (2) encouraging local software development company (on personal finance software), I am thinking to sponsor this MYR 20 fee for my readers.  But I haven't figures out exactly how to do it yet.  It wouldn't be free money give away to avoid abuse, but rather something like if you buy some of my trading items up to RM 50-60 then I will sponsor the paid version of Taxsaya as well.


It would be a scam if the selling price of above items are higher than market price so I would throw in lowest price guarantee as well.

Or simply email me why I should simply give you RM 20 for free :)  I always appreciate honest and direct truthful sharing.  Decision to give would be at my mercy :)

Sorry above offer is NO LONGER valid.  After testing the paid version, I think its better to just use the FREE version first.  Unless you are REALLY HAPPY with it, then go ahead pay for it.  Otherwise, the optimization tips are just too simple and you are most probably already know those tips.  And usually not implementable at this stage of time.

Things that I think TaxSaya can improve on:
  1. Income Tax is not really an after event.  For example, 2009 income tax software should start to be used in 2009 itself, not in 2010.  Income tax planning for 2009 starts now and not next year.
  2. Tax optimizing is really an education, so a lot of tips and education notes should be shared on the same screen along the tax filing wizard 
  3. Other than the wizard, it should also provide a big screen facility for data entry, for some hard core tax filing people out there
  4. An online version that does not require upgrade and installation perhaps ?
  5. cater for business income ...
Try download immediately here, or actually you should visit their web site and let them verify your email first.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can 12% return cope with 3% inflation ?

('DiggThis’)
If you have an investment that consistently gives you a 12% return while you have been controlling your own personal inflation at 3%, would that mean you are financially free forever ?

The first trick you may think off could be the actual amount of money involved. For example, a $100 12% investment will never be able to cope with $200 3% inflation. But in this case, the investment amount starts at $567,803 and the annual living expense is $53,915.

So do you think a 12% return from $567,803 is able to substain 3% inflation on $53,915 ?

This is actually the 3rd part of Gabriel's story. ( part 1, part 2 )
If you are one of those who cann't believe 12% return is still not enough to substain even 3% inflation, then buckle up and stay very close to this blog as you may not believe still how under educate we all are in our personal finances.
As shown in part 1 of the story, this is the projection to the question above.



and these are the first few years of calculation:

$53,915 inflated 3% becomes $55,532 next year. $567,803 with 12% return becomes $635,939. Minus out the $55,532 becomes $580,407. These are the numbers for subsequent years.

Everything seems fine as the total investment capital keeps growing.

However ... things start to change about 15 years later when annual expense reaches $83,997 and capital changes from $692,754 to $691,887; marking the end of capital up trend.

As you can see, the investment capital is rapidly deprecating after that until it completely disappears 30 years later.

So a 12% return on half a million can only substain a 3% inflated $50,000 for 30 years! 30 years is VERY far from eternity at all.

The case is quite ok for Gabriel because he is already 68 years old now and he has another backup fund other than the numbers shown here. But if this is a total retirement plan for a 30 years old person, this will only last him until 60 years old. Not to mention the potential short fall on the 12% return in some years and 3% inflation seems like a very tough target for a 30 years old person in today's environment.

Consistent 12% return is very close to the top performance you can ever get. (imagine Warren Buffect's average return from 1999 to 2007 is 9.23%). And a 3% inflation comes with very little hobby life style and I would consider it far from luxury. So even the best return can only last the most controlled life style for 30 years

Just like how other articles have been emphasizing, put down ALL your numbers on a paper, not just look at the overall concept or just the interest rate. Every case could bring a different result but if you look at the real numbers, you will put all other doubts and tricks away.

( part 1, part 2 ,part 3)

You may also be interested in these articles:

Friday, April 10, 2009

10 value buy on consumer stocks ?

Saw a site that recommends 10 value Consumer stocks to buy base on what he learned from Benjamin Graham
  1. DNP
  2. EKOWOOD
  3. IBERHAD
  4. IQGROUP
  5. JMI
  6. LIIHEN
  7. MINTYE
  8. PROTON
  9. SERNKOU
  10. TOMEI
After gathering all the numbers for these 10 companies, this is their EPS



Some EPS are trending downwards so I would ignore them for now.  So I would only have a few left

EKOWOOD ( best formation )
IBHD ( has quite a few negatives )
LIIHEN 

TOMEI ( has a down trend but I just want to keep it in my consideration list as it is the best among the other down trends stocks )

These are their respective EPS trend graphs

Next I calculate the value of their stocks using this site with the following assumptions
use the lowest PE in past 10 years
use the 2 years EPS that can best match EPS growth trend
use 2008 EPS as the last known good result
I then find out the stock price that is worth me buying using the following assumptions
average of 15% growth yearly
for the next 10 years
a 50% safety margin ( I want to buy $2 with only $1 )
and these are my target buying price



Lets take a look at the technical charts for these stocks.  Basically these stocks have no volume which mean once buy in, you would have to at least keep for 3-5 years.  There is no apparent room for speculation.


After checking the last closing prices, EKOWOOD and LIIHEN both are just marginly under my target buying price, which smell like opportunity.  IBHD's price is $0.78 while my target buying price is $2.50, the difference is a bit too big which may require a re-examination to see what has happened.

So far all above are the stuff what you can get out of the numbers.  Lets take a look at the qualitative sides too.

Ekowood deal with wood and have a lot of trading sources all over the world.  While wood is not exactly a rising business, but if done correctly the resource is limited and supposinly the price can easily be appreciated.  However, Ekowood is too large and may not be easily transform into the new era of wood business.  Its not a business that will go away tomorrow but I do not forsee them to excel anymore.  Unless serious business model change is in place.  With only MYR 30 millions, you can take over the management to instill this change but TSH wouldn't let you.

LIIHEN is selling furniture, although also mostly wood based but they present themselves as the integrated solution provider.  Furniture isn't exactly a must buy item in consumer market.  So I do have doubts in any furniture based businesses that if they can survive through the next 2 years.  Before investing in LIIHEN, I may want to meet the management in LIIHEN and see what they plan to overcome today's problem while have big dreams to set for 5, 10 years future.  Without that, I wouldn't simply pick them.  I would also wait until mid of next year before heavily investment in them.

If you don't know IBHD, then you should know Sanyo electrical products.  They also built I-City in Shah Alam which is supposed to be the hot of the century.  If you are a Malaysian and don't know about I-City, then you may feel they aren't really that successful as a property developer neither.  Which I wouldn't disagree.  They tends to always spend a lot of money to make an event very hot for a very short time, but then without any supporting system at all for the crowd to come in and turn the marketing talks into real sales.  Imagine you see a flyer and call in but find that the operator do not even know what his own company is selling ?  If someone pick up your call at all.  This is one of the typical business that you need to know more internally what their linkages are economically and politically.  I don't have those knowledge and I usually stay away from it.  But if one day they have heavy volume traded, it could become a great stock to speculate in.

Summary
Out of these 10 stocks, I would put EKOWOOD as my top choice.  Followed by IBHD and Proton for future speculation targets.

Other Related of Supporting information

if you are ready to invest in stocks, you should also know


China shows some brains ...

By now most should have at least heard that USA is to be blame when they define their own USD currency as "value" and not gold anymore, just in case you still don't know yet, you may read here.


Whatever it was, the fact is USD is the definition of value in today's world simply because everyone agree to use USD as the standard currency in international tradings. When you travel oversea to a less popular country, you are most likely not able to get the currency of that country from the exchange shop in your own country. Instead, you will have exchange to USD and then when you arrive at the destination country, you may exchange your USD to the currency of that country.

During this world recession, everyone is thinking to break away from this association with USD. However, most of the continentals have made their comments that they wouldn't be able to do it. The most disappointing one is from Europe, "It is not easy to use a new currency standard.", they said.


However, today I over heard a TV news saying that China is now starting to quote all international trades in RMB especially with near by regions like Taiwan and South East Asia.

I always have doubts on China's capability to take over USA's responsibility on world finance simply because no brains were shown from China ... well, history starts to change. The transition may happen earlier than I previously predicted after all.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

FREE eBook Released !! eMoney Tips 0904

This is properly the FIRST group writting project in Malaysia, for FREE !  It consist of varies different topics written by very different people.  It should be quite interesting bed time or tea time reading material.  Anyone is welcome to write something too !  Do leave feedback !  Download the ebook here



These are the Contents in this ebook along with my comments.

Creatively Invest Your Money by Amey
I agree mostly that the best time to enter stock market is when it is low.  He even talks about starting your own business verse investing in stock market.  Most of the content in this article is about get creative and manage your 'income', not a part of the finance plan itself in malpf's definition.

Investment diversification is a genuine financial “free lunch.” by Larry Russell
This typically talks about how good diversification is.  But since he didn't mention over diversify could be bad.  I would suggest readers also check out the other side of this story and decide a balance when pratising diversification concept.

Larry is properly the highest profile guy in this ebook edition.  But these contents are also what malpf refers as 20th century methods sometimes.  Its good fundamental knowledge and all, but we will need something more in today's challenges.

But this article is the BEST write up, most suitable for ALL to read and great writting skill in all aspects.

8 Great Tips to Make Your First Million by Jacquelyn
Indeed all are great and important tips to make and keep the million.  Most tips are toward entrepreneurship and how you should become smarter etc.  None on how to still make my million if I am dump and lazy.  Which sometimes is what malpf talk about.

Renting a Property by Mohd Fauzi Puniran
5 basic steps on renting out your property safe and sound ways.

10 tips to stay poor (or things to avoid) By Bob
This is a take-a-break reading material.  Fun to read and all but still many of us indeed commit to exactly doing what keep us stay cool .... no I meant poor ...

Turbo Charging your Financial Transformation by Father Sez
Most probably sharing his very own experience how he did exactly that, turbo charged his own financial transformation.  So very 1st hand info and practical stuff to follow through.  Start a blog can turbo charge your ...

10 Ways How to Make the Recession Works for You by Yow Chuan
One of the best write up.  Contents well structured, followed with self opinionated stories and compensated with great self-drawn-cartoon.  But I got offended personally when he asked me to quit my drinking in order to make recession works for me :p   ... and even draw a carton for that some more !

How To Survive in a Bear Market  by Tushar Mathur  ( not shown in the content section but in page 32 )
3 simple straight forward and practical things to do during a bear market.  Exactly how and when to apply which method could be contraversy.  And that could be very good extension topics for malpf to cover in future.

How to Find a Good Financial Advisor By The Financial Blogger
wow, this is an article hard to comment because I both love and hate it.  Its basically sharing real concerns about non expert managing your finance including yourself, the financial idiot.  If you think he is a financial planner ofcourse he will tell you to use a financial planner therefore all his words are all nonsense; then you may be passing out a great opportunity.  ( but I didn't say he is all right neither ).  The disagreement part is malpf promotes self manage own finance and it should be done in a bold and straight forward way.  If there are truth in personal finance, even an idiot can get it right without understanding much as long as the he did the right things as per the truth.  Which is the opposite of what this article talk about.  Basically he asks everybody not to listen to me anymore :p

Gold Investment In Malaysia by Carson Ding
Simple, straight forward and facts oriented, all Malaysian wanted to invest in gold should definitely read  this. Ironically, this ebook is published 5 minutes after I posted up an article about the same topic too.  And the content is almost exactly the same!  I don't think I can convince anyone I didn't copy Carson's article but it proves to me that Malaysia is really having limited resources in gold investment since both my research and his experience is exactly the same.

How to know if a real estate is worth investing? by OngKL
A bingo article on property investment.  Too bad his experience is more on southern Malaysia, while the most happening area is in central region.  But in fact, it doesn't matter, just like any other investment, when the numbers are right, the investment will most probably turn out the way you want it to be too.

Is It Alright that We Buy Insurance Only After We Get Married? By Loke Cheng Leong
Very short write up but cover all the concerns needed for the above question.  If you are asking that question, this is a must read also.

Accounting Loss vs. Real Loss By Jadelynn
As always, usually I don't really get how an accountant thinks.  Sorry but either this is a plain comparison between paper lost and actual lost or there are something more to it.  Err, no, that is it !  If you don't know wha tis paper lost vs actual lost yet, then read this gua !?

Budget by saltlamp2u
This is actually an article I forced my staff to submit.  Apparently they made it too sale oriented where at the end they ask you to buy salt lamp.  And the transition from the article to the sale pitch is not smooth at all.  Well, cann't complain when you force someone to do something can you ?

Why do Rich People commit suicide during recession? By MTSen
Actually quite poorly written, I am not sure what he is saying.  I think its something about "you should have a solid finance plan or else you may kill yourself even if you get very rich in future".  And he emphasizes that income is not part of the finance plan, as in it doesn't matter how rich you are, your personal finance plan should be an independant entity.  But this guy needs to learn some content management writtings.

All Money Made is Equal by KCLau
I don't know and I cann't be sure.  Together with his recent article about Dummy Finance, I think his recent preaching is matching more and more toward malpf's.  Indeed, no matter what money you got, you should treat it as an income and start saving a portion of it the very FIRST thing you do.  Oh ... that's not what the article say, its just what malpf says .....



So guys, have fun reading this FREE ebook and do leave comments what you think about it so we can improve the next time.  The team is aiming to make this a eMagazine instead of just an eBook, targeting to publish monthly.  Honestly I don't think that is a good idea but I will be wrong if all of you submit your articles too !!  

or simply send me anything and I will make them into a submitable format to kclau's requirments - at my own paste.  And I have to warn you, that could mean forever :P

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where to Invest in Gold

son of the gun, 5 minutes after I published this article, I found that Cardon Ding has just written almost exactly the same article in a FREE ebook, download here to view all great articles of this group writting project !

When an experience investor does not know what the future holds, he invests in gold.

The best way to invest in gold is to buy the purest form of physical gold as possible, namely the bullion bars or coins.  If given the option, bars are better than coins.  In principal the less art work the better.  The more art work on a bullion will usually comes with higher price spread.  Bullion price spread is usually 3% to 7%



The most common Malaysia gold bullion in Malaysia is the Kijang Emas Gold Bullion Coin.  I only know you can get them from Maybank, you can check current gold counter rate here and it can be purchased from selected Maybank branches nationwide





UOB also offer saying that they have widest range of gold bullions and it seems they do provide narrower spread (2.6% onwards) in their price list.  You will need to call or email them for info.

There are also some retail sellers like   Poh Kong and PAMP but they don't guarantee buy back at market rate or they may buy back at 15-20% lower than market price.

Other sellers like myNetGold, Gold2Trade, R2Gold, SecureGold aren't really proper gold investment.  As of right now, I don't see them any better than a private company's shopping vouchers.  If you must deal with one, I myself may start looking at Public Gold, which has nothing to do with Public Bank.  Its just a tiny company in Penang.

However, those un-real gold sellers can be a good medium to 'speculate' gold price.  If that is your main goal then you may also open a gold investment account with Public Bank or Maybank.

Generally if you cann't afford even one ounce of gold bullion (MYR 3,000), then you should forget about gold investment.  But you still can speculate them using virtual accounts as mentioned above.  

The heavier bullion bar you buy, the smaller the price spread it is.  There is a saying that for about MYR 100,000 the spread can be as small as 1%+ which makes it extremely attractive over a shorter term accumulation says 1-3 years of fighting inflation during economy down turn.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Analysis of International Monetary Relations – Part 1: How We Got Here

No economic event in the 20th century had a greater impact on world affairs than the Bretton Woods Agreement. The regime of fixed exchange-rates that it established and the collapse of that system after 25 years under the strain of its internal contradictions are both watershed events in the history of the world in general and finance in particular.

The foundation and the driver of the Bretton Woods system was the convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold. The U.S. undertook to deliver 1 troy ounce of gold for every $35 dollars that foreign nations’ central bank presented to it. The exchange rate of major currencies was fixed against the dollar and, by extension, one another, to prevent manipulative devaluations. At the time of the signing of the Agreement in 1944, approximately 75% of the world’s gold stock was in the U.S., so there was no question about the country’s ability to honor its promise. (The stock was created because the U.S. companies that sold goods to the warring parties sensibly refused the European currencies for payment and demanded gold instead.) Dollar holdings, furthermore, earned interest. Gold did not, and had additional insurance and storage costs. So the foreign central banks that got hold of dollars did not convert them into gold. They kept them in dollar-denominated assets and earned interest. The dollar became as good as gold – even better.

In this way, a national currency became the means of settling the international balance of payments. It was an unprecedented regime. The U.S. could create dollars from thin air – via either bank reserves or the actual printing of paper money – and present them as payment for the goods and services that it acquired from abroad. This was an extraordinary power and privilege that solidified the 20th century as the American Century.

You know the rest. To finance his expensive War on Poverty and an escalating war in Vietnam, President Johnson resorted to creating money. Soon, the volume of dollars in the international channels of circulation reached a point where it was impossible to redeem them at the rate of $35 per ounce of gold; the redemption would have emptied Fort Knox many times over. The time had come for the Bretton Woods Agreement to go.

On August 15, 1971, President Nixon went on TV to announce a series of measure to fight inflation – as dollars were now everywhere, causing a rise in prices – and mentioned, almost in passing, that the U.S. would no longer honor conversion of dollars to gold; if you were holding dollars, you were stuck with them. That was the end of the Bretton Woods system and the regime of fixed exchange rates.

For the next couple of years, an informal arrangement by the major central banks managed to hold the exchange rates within a narrow band. In 1973, that arrangement, too, collapsed. Currencies were thrown into the market place to find their “correct” exchange rate in the interaction of supply and demand.

***

The “oil crisis” hit the U.S. in 1973. Virtually overnight, the price went from $2 to $8 a barrel.

Everyone knows the crisis was caused by the “oil embargo”, a piece of knowledge qualitatively on par with knowing that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow caused the Great Chicago Fire.

Here is what happened.

Prior to 1973, a barrel of oil was at $2:


What would happen if the left side of the above equality increased? We would then have:


In economic parlance, this condition is called an oil glut. In an oil glut, oil is cheaper because the same $2 would now buy more oil.

Now, what would happen if the right side of the equality increased?


In this situation, confronting the same barrel of oil is many more dollars; more dollars correspond to one barrel of oil, which is another way of saying that more dollars are needed to buy oil.

This condition is not called dollar glut. It is known as the “oil crisis”.

***

Just how many dollars were in circulation could be surmised from the price of gold that passed $800 in the 80s, which is why, long after the “embargo”, the oil price kept going up. The driver of the price was not the scarcity of oil, but the abundance of dollars.

***

Conservatives applauded the collapse of Bretton Woods. The gold would now stay in the U.S. (The Wall Street Journal still calls the event “closing the gold window”, implying a beneficent banker to the world who got tired of being beneficent.) Milton Friedman, given open access to the media, endlessly made the case that floating-rate mechanism would solve the balance of payment problems once and for all. If a country’s balance of payments deteriorated, its currency would weaken, resulting in less import and more export. This would restore “the equilibrium”. That is what he actually said.

More astute, less partisan people, though, mourned the collapse of the Bretton Woods. They though it signaled the end of the U.S.’s global supremacy. Indeed, it was difficult to see how the loss of a proverbial golden goose – the ability to print dollars to pay for goods from all over the world – could be anything but a setback. Even an astute practitioner of international finance such as Paul Volker titled his book, Changing Fortunes, by which he meant the fortunes of the U.S.

***

The realm of finance capital is the realm of theory. Practitioners know as little about it as biased ideologues and outright fools, which is why no one saw what was coming.
In the post-Bretton Woods chaos, it became impossible for corporations to plan with any degree of confidence. An adverse exchange-rate movement could wipe out the hard-earned profits of a full quarter or even a year. There had to be a regulating mechanism. In the absence of government authority, the only remaining source of discipline was private finance–finance capital–which stepped in and assumed the role of regulator.

Governments achieve stabilization through decree; finance capital does it through arbitrage. The most important point in the rise of arbitrage trading is that the practice develops logically from hedging and, on paper, is indistinguishable from it.

I showed in Vol. 1, how, from the ashes of Bretton Woods, speculative capital rose to dominate the financial markets. The new phenomenon seemed to have the potential for boundless expansion, only if the “stifling regulation” inhibiting its growth could be done away with. That brought Reagan to power. And then Thatcher.

Awestruck academics could not see the speculative capital. It was too abstract a concept to lend itself to their comprehension. What they noticed was that a “new paradigm” had taken hold in the U.S. and U.K where credit could be expanded on-demand without limits.

The currency of the new paradigm, the material form in which it manifested itself, was the dollar. It had to be, thanks to its abundance, ease of conversion and universal acceptability. So, once again, the U.S. and its currency assumed centrality in the world of international finance, only this time, the U.S. could issue dollars without any accountability or the need for keeping an anxious eye on its gold reserves. Good times were going to be had by all involved.

The “paradigm” lasted about 25 years, the same time it took for the Bretton Woods to collapse. This one ended in 2007.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is your Finance all about money ?

Sorry for the silence, it seems that I may get tight up for a while recently.  You may have already observed that I no longer have time to find cartoon for my articles :)  I started writting for other publication so I get a bit confused and find it hard to balance the content between this blog and the other responsibility during this transition.  But there are so many more drafts to be released in this blog.  Bad Debt topics have a lot of hanky panky so I need to spend more time before proper release for public reading.  So I hope you guys do enjoy reading and do comment more so that I have better clues what articles to put up during the limited time I have now.

I have shared Gabriel's story, a 68 years old who used to be typical middle income group who sort of make it in his finance planning.  His neighbours don't even know him by name, his ex-colleges don't even remember him when they met on the street, his clients don't remember using his services, but yet he makes it better than many others who are holding high positions in careers, running a much more bigger scale business than him.

But his case doesn't come easy as a matter of fact.  It wasn't easy for him to save money in banks actually.  That were wars all around and everyone kept all their stuff under their own pillow - the safest place to be at that time.  There was only one choice when he invested in mutual fund and even newspaper warn people to be careful because the private mutual fund was ran by someone without linkage to bumiputera.  It was considered as the biggest scam at that time.

Gabriel first kid went to local university.  Gabriel taught well to his kids on finance matters.  Well actually no, he just taught his kids on income matters.  His first kid worked part time since high school and earned half of the expenses during his degree years.  

When the 2nd kid started to hint wanting to get foreign education, Gabriel made an interesting move.  He migrated to Australia.  It costed him MYR 3,000 at that time.  ( It costs more than MYR 10,000 now without a consultant ).  He didn't really like it there but it wasn't a decision for him anyway.  Eventually both of his 2nd and 3rd kids graduated with Australia degrees.  Costed him less than his first kid's degree.  

To him, this migration was the biggest sacrifies he made for his legacy, you can observe his business income was negative during that time, the only year his business runs a lost whole his life.  Because he thinks helping his whole family settling down in Australia was more important.  But this move also brought him some surprising result, that he actually retired earlier than he thought would be.

There are quite a few more interesting stories about Gabriel, but most of them are based on the same principal. 

When you need to achieve something in your finance matter and get stuck with the numbers ie. not enough money.  Try to elevate a little bit and ask yourself, what was it you are trying to achieve again ?  Most often one is pursuing the figures or money too hard that they forgot what the real purpose was.  

When you focus on the real purpose and not the money itself, you may suddenly realize money is not the only way to achieve your purpose.  And sometimes, you may find certain ways to achieve your purpose without money at all.

If the whole purpose of your personal finance is all about money, then you do not need personal finance planning actually.  What you need is to dedicate your whole life to making income.  Perhaps bank teller would be a good start.

So, is your finance all about money now ?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

1view 09 04 02

I have been away mostly today and I have to admit although I do expect bullish but I didn't expect it this strong. Today's market performance is the first time shacking my confidence that market will drop to much worse during mid year.

The drop of gold price actually confirm stock up trend so although it will eventually come down but the up trend will last at least some more days.


I may profit take some of my speculative stocks tomorrow or early next week, keep my long stocks and continue to accumulate more bullets for later this year.

I get all these from stock.malpf.com, you may view there in real time too.