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Showing posts from May, 2013

Europe and Its Politicians

Europe's unemployment rate increased once more -- now at 12.2 percent.  This is the highest level since data collection on European unemployment began in 1995.  Expect new records ahead.

Too bad if you are young and live in Europe.  The unemployment rate is above 25 percent for those under age 25 almost everywhere in Europe and is well above 40 percent in places like Spain and Italy (lets not talk about Greece...their data, at this point, is probably suspect).

Meanwhile, the IMF has noticed that taxpayer bailouts mainly enrich hedge funds.  Why?  Because after sovereign debt collapses in price, hedge funds come in and buy it for 20 cents on the dollar and then sit back to wait for the bailout.  So, who wins.  The average taxpayer simply transfers large amounts of private wealth into the coffers of rich hedge fund tycoons.  Great policy!

It is now dawning on the IMF that restructuring sovereign debt (meaning a controlled bankruptcy) is a far better idea.  It puts the losses where the …

The Significance of the Smithfield Acquisition

Chinese food giant Shuanhui  announced the purchase of Smithfield Foods this week.  This is a salient example of a process that has been underway for many years.

If one country has a 40 percent savings rate and another country has a zero percent savings rate, the country with the larger savings rate will, in time, buy all of the assets of the country with a zero savings rate.  That process is underway.

The US has had no net savings for several decades.  The reason for the absence of savings is twofold: 1) the private sector doesn't save because most Americans see no need; after all, the government guarantees income security and health care into old age (social security, medicare, medicaid); why bother to save (the Obama administration's recent suggestion to begin taxing IRA's provides some additional reasons for Americans to avoid saving); 2) the government sector is a big, big dissaver (that's what fiscal deficits are all about).

But America has investment spending.  Who…

Update: Gold Price Outlook (May 2013)

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Would you cut loss? Would you cost averaging? Or, would you accumulate at current level? These are a few questions from Gold investors since March 2013. What a difficult questions to answer... Here is our view on gold prices currently:

Our answer is to cost averaging or accumulate now, and hold it at least until September 2013. Why? Let's read on...
Lately, there is some good signs which favors gold prices in the short term: Federal Reserve chairman signaled records stimulus will continue until economy improves.Physical gold demand has surged after mid-April drops, especially from Asian consumers and central banks.US debt ceiling issue will be discussed again in September 2013, in which congressman will most likely to increase again, thus, printing more money.
If you're a technical guy, then let's look at the chart above.
A 'Double Bottom' pattern was formed and gold prices may rebound very soon. It will be a gain of almost 8% if it surges towards 1,500 level. That may …

Do YOU understand what is "Financial Planning"?

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We can't deny that everyone of us can't runaway from financial matters, thus, planning it wisely would put you on a better path to achieve financial goals as desired. Does this called "financial planning"? Hmmm... Many people think that financial planning is for high-income earner and the rich. But is this true? If not, what is it actually?

Generally, financial planning is a journey to achieve financial goals set with a comprehensive and systematic step-by-step process. It involves taking a broad view of one's financial affairs covering many areas of wealth management.
What's Included in Financial Planning?
Cash Flow management:assessing your current financial net worthbudgetingdebts eliminationsbuilding savings
Insurance planningensuring that our assets and family are well protected by having adequate insurance coverage
Investment planningthis is the wealth accumulation step, whereby investing a portion of your savings with the aim of getting a higher return.an i…

EPF Rules on Nomination (MUST Read)

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There is a chain email spreading about some EPF rules, that makes members worry such as below:
If ONE of your nominees in the EPF nominees list dies, automatically the whole arrangement (EPF Nominees list) is VOID. Meaning if, you only put in ONE name & unfortunately he/she dies before you? Automatically EPF will channel your EPF money to trustee of AMANAH RAYA upon your death.
Upon surrender to trustee of AMANAH RAYA, your children will have to battle the money through 3 channels;



Majlis AgamaPejabat TanahMahkamah

Is it TRUE ???
According to EPF, if a member has more than one nominee, and one of the nominees dies during the member’s lifetime, ONLY the portion that was bequeathed to the deceased nominee will be invalid.


Should the member later dies without updating his nomination, the other nominees will receive their portion accordingly. Only the portion that was bequeathed to the deceased nominee will be subject to procedures under ‘EPF savings without nomination’ in which the first p…

The Significance of the JP Morgan Fight

For the past 100 years, small investors and lower income Americans have been able to invest in public securities and make huge gains.  No one with a diversified portfolio of American stocks today has a loss.  More remarkable, anyone who has held on for twenty years or more has huge, huge gains.  And this same statement is true for nearly all twenty year periods since the 1930s (eighty years ago).

The success of the public markets has provided a way for folks without access to financial acumen to take on capital risk and be successful.  You would think such markets would be applauded.

Nope.

Here comes the left.  First Sarbanes-Oxley was passed to make sure that small companies faces huge hurdles in taking their firms public.  Then along came Dodd-Frank, a creature of the Obama Congress, that continued the process of crushing public companies with mounds of mind-boggling regulations.

The final coup d'etat is now underway in the JP Morgan struggle.  If "shareholders" force JM D…

Why IRS Scandals Will Never End?

The tax laws and IRS enforcement efforts are guaranteed to result in political favoritism on a grand scale.  Why?  Because they are complicated and ambiguous.

The American people do not understand the tax laws in their own country.  One suspects that tax specialists don't understand these laws either.  That leaves a lot of latitude to regulators.  They can pick and choose, as we now know that they did in recent years.

Every so-called tax reform simply puts more complicated things into the tax laws.  

The income tax needs to be abolished.  There is no generally agreed way to define income (that's the main reason why tax laws are so complex).  Even value-added tax concepts suffer from problems of definition.

Better to go to a uniform national sales tax.  That could be easily understood by all Americans.  The only way a national sales tax could become problematic is if there were exceptions (for food, medicine, etc.).  There should be no exceptions.

Imagine how much time and money cou…

New Fund: OSK-UOB Absolute Return Fund

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With market continuously rotating between "risk-off" and "risk-on", an absolute return mandate with the adoption of a dynamic asset allocation approach would be a good vehicle to ride out the volatility. With the fixed income market having outperformed over the last 5 years, there is a high possibility that good quality equities - those with earnings growth and clarity supporting healthy dividend payouts would find favour.

This is a wholesale fund which aims to achieve medium to long term (3 - 7 years) capital appreciation through investments in equity and equity related securities of companies, and exchange traded funds with the potential to deliver total return in excess of the fund's benchmark return (8% growth per annum).
Investment Strategy Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) will the focus of this fund, either through equity or equity related or exchange traded funds. The manager views the region as a vibrant economic growth region supported by factors suc…

Meanwhile, On The Government Front

According to President Obama, we need more government.to provide 'fairness' for the American middle class.  The latest series of scandals -- Benghazi, the AP snooping situations, and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, should serve to show why government is not likely to be the solution to the problem of getting the economy going again.

Government scandals are not new and are certainly not limited to the Democrats.  Republicans are just as willing to bend government to their will as the Democrats.  That's why government is not the proper place to put our trust.  Our trust should belong in the free market, not in the bureaucrat, who may have another agenda.

Regulators can have a will of their own and it is very hard for the average citizen or company to fight them, especially when the regulators are willing to bend the law.

Free markets don't have political biases.  Free markets are all about individuals trying to make a better life for themselves and their families …

Are You Still Unhappy With Wall Street?

Those who invest in the US stock market have nothing to complain about.   Stocks are on a tear in 2013 and have produced returns north of 8 percent annually over the past 100 years.  What else does that well?

It has been almost impossible to avoid a lush retirement if one simply salted away money into an index fund regularly over the past 40 years.

So why do you continue to hear that Wall Street cannot be trusted and why do Congress and the Administration continue to try to crush Wall Street under a sea of litigation, regulation, and hyperbole.?

Will we really be better off without Wall Street?  The average American has had the rare ability to simply plump his money down into an index fund and retire in splendor ($ 2,000 salted away in an IRA annually produced over $ 2 million in 40 years).  I guess this kind of independence is too much for politicians to bear.

No one who has ever purchased an index fund at any time in history and still owns it today has a loss.  In fact, it would be hard…

A Malaysian Guide to Home Buying Fees & Charges

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Like any other country, buying a house and taking a home loan / mortgage in Malaysia involve legal fees & charges - which many people fail to take into consideration especially when they’re buying a property for the very first time. So to all Malaysians buying your dream houses right now, allow iMoney to show you ALL the fees and charges involved when you buy a house or apply for a home loan.



Jamie Dimon's Lament

Shareholders will vote soon.  Right.  Wrong.  Shareholders typically have no idea that they are shareholders.  Shareholders' agents -- pension funds, endowments, foundations, money managers -- these folks vote the shares, acting as agents for shareholders.

What do these agents think?  They think that capitalism is fundamentally flawed and that corporations spend too much time seeking profit opportunities.  Instead, public companies should be more concerned with 'activism.'

How does this help the ultimate shareholders?  It makes them poorer.  Retirement income is lowered and assets are frivolously wasted by the so-called agents.

But, what do the agents care.  It doesn't affect them in the slightest. 

In the name of corporate governance reform, these 'agents' are trying to impose an outside (of the company) Chairman of the Board for Citigroup, replacing Jamie Dimon and pushing Dimon to a subsidiary role.  This would recreate the corporate governance structure that pr…

Cantor Off Track

Eric Cantor has mostly good ideas, but his latest effort at appearing 'kindler and gentler' is a good example of modern Republican policy initiatives at their worst.

Fearing the appearance of always saying no, Republicans like Cantor look for ways to push 'feel good' concepts to compete with Democrat 'feel good' concepts.  Cantor's bill to provide for time off instead of cash for overtime pay is a good example.  What Cantor should be doing is trying to repeal the overtime laws, not make them even worse.

Why is the government defining overtime?  Why isn't that something that should be worked out between employer and employee?  Why presume that one size fits all?  Arranging overtime should be strictly a discussion between employer and employee.  Government bureaucrats should take a hike.

By introducing legislation like this, Cantor joins a long list of Republicans that seem willing to outdo their Democratic brethren in pushing the government into more nooks …

Hold The Applause

The stock market roared on Friday, relieved, one supposes, that the onset of a new depression has not yet begun.  A paltry 156,000 new jobs were created in April, which, normally, would be bad news.  But previous month's revisions gave 2013 a monthly average of over 200,000 jobs created per month.  That was better than previously thought, but is dismal and inadequate to reduce unemployment unless folks simply quit looking for work.

Since Obama took office, 9.5 million Americans have given up looking for work.  Why bother, when there are alternatives?  Besides, the Obama Administration and the Congress have made it almost un-American for businesses to hire anyone, so why not go with the flow.

It's pretty amazing that the pitiful record of the Obama Administration on the economic front has now become acceptable.  Europe has gotten use to the spectacle of double digit unemployment and widespread economic stagnation.  It looks like America is following suit.

13th General Election and the Property Market

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General Election is coming. One of the hotly debated topic would be the escalating house prices and the needs to provide more affordable houses to Rakyat. In line with that, iProperty.com has done a survey on "The 13th General Elections and the property market" with 2275 Malaysians respondents. What did they said?



Created by Iproperty MY, the number one website in Malaysia. Whether you have a house for sale or are looking to buy.

3 Possible Election Outcome & Share Market Reaction

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* Note: This is NOT a political post. Instead, we're talking about share market movement based on possible election outcome. Abusive comments are strictly prohibited and will be remove automatically.

Local investors have been staying sideline for months ago. Do you started to feel itchy now? Honestly, this is the feeling of mine as an investor, from being active to passive lately. I can't wait to start investing again in share market. However, we shouldn't simply jump in next Monday, right? Let's see the 3 possible election outcome and how market may react accordingly...
OUTCOME #1: BN retained power Judging by the strong influx of foreign funds flooding local share market prior to election, this is definitely their expected outcome. If materialize, Monday market generally will rally. However, I expect this kind of rally will be short-lived, and turning downward after that. Why? Simply ask yourself these questions: When is the better time to take profit if not that time?


O…

Keynes was right: rate cuts don't work

Today the ECB lowered their lending rate.  They are moving toward the US Federal Reserve effective target of zero interest rates.  It's done nothing for the US, why should it offer any hope for Europe.

Keynes argued persuasively in the 'General Theory' that, absent the 'animal spirits' of entrepreneurs, lowering interest rates may have little or no effect on a stagnant economy.  He was right.

Lower rates don't make an employee that is paid $ 50,000 in wage and salary but costs $100,000 to hire (because of government) worth doing.  You can subsidize rates --make them negative -- and it won't matter.

An economic policy that confiscates profits from businesses, pushes labor costs to a multiple of what the employee actually receives in income, arbitrarily outlaws important free-market economic initiatives (Keystone), and rewards political cronies (Solyndra) is not likely to produce economic growth quite apart from the level of interest rates.

Tinkering with Fed pol…

The 3rd Way of Shopping ?

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Most probably you are reading this while shopping, waiting for your wife/girlfriend trying on a new dress or shoe? Congratulation... You're never be more relevant to read this article. Wait, what is the 3rd way?

1st way ---> Cash
2nd way ---> Credit Card 3rd way ---> ???
Introducing the NEW concept of shopping...

The whole idea behind 3rd way is to promote responsible shopping within our community. With proper planning, you can avoid spending all your cash on the item you want.

Instead, you can shop and be rewarded with the interest rates from saving the extra cash reward. You can plan to spend your money for a gadgets, a journey or whatever items and get amazing deals and pay in the future, helping you to get the things you want hassle free.
After changing the buying concept, you will arrive at an interesting question: "If shopping could be free from pain of credit and the guilt of cash, what would I buy?". Happy answering...
Yup. This is the new concept that is simila…

From the European Front

While yields on Italian debt are lower, the rest of the economic news continues to get worse.  Unemployment in the Eurozone reached 12.1 percent on average according to figures released this week, while major strikes and employee walk outs plague Greece, Spain, and France according to today's NY Times.  The European economy is still in free fall.

Surprisingly, you hear almost no news about the European economy other than self-serving statements from Euro-officials about how the crisis is over.  The crisis is not over; it is deepening.

Politically, Europe is moving toward the extremists on the right and on the left.  The European center, devoted to big government and the welfare state, is losing credibility with voters. The great European experiment has run out of (other people's) money.  Now the day of reckoning is at hand.

Americans traveling in Europe report increasing street crime, especially in frequently-visited tourist areas.  Life is changing in Europe and it is not gettin…