Thursday, March 09, 2017

SGX Finally Wises Up

How long have I been harping on this issue? SGX have seen their volume traded, market activity and its robustness being sharply curtailed for more than 7 years. The problem started when you have TOO MANY LAWYERS and TOO MANY MBAs at SGX. What is textbook rules and MBA playbook may not work as well in real life. SGX or any market exchanges need to have a substantive number of advisors who are "market savvy" because if there are no trades, the exchanges will not be able to fulfil its main KPI. Yes, there are other KPIs such market fairness, biased trading, other prejudicial front running or trading based on insider information ... but they all run a poor second to market robustness. Without that, why have an exchange, because the main aim of an exchange is twofold: a) allow public and investing institutions  to participate in the growth of a company, b) to raise capital for a company's growth prospects. Any other aims are secondary at best.

The lunch trading trade-through rule was such a bothersome thing. To allow for seamless 8 hour trading seems the "right thing to do" according to MBA playbook - less fuss, no wastage of resources by not having a stop-start mentality, allowing the local market to "react" to market moving news from other exchanges during the day. Now, all that is fine and dandy but its a pretty silly thing really. No markets need to be live 24-7, if that was the case no markets can close then. Even COMEX and US exchanges close on weekends - things happen over the weekend as well you know.

When you institute a no break, the dealers and remisiers are put at risk as they are the ones getting the "no breaks". They have to have someone watching, key in stupid orders that are out of scope just in case they get done, etc... In reality the bulk of trading is done in specific periods of most markets: 40-50% of the days trades are done in the first hour, and another 20-30% probably done in the last hour.  Hence its quite pointless to have a no-break rule. Even if there were market moving news during the lunch break, the market will digest and adjust according when it resumes. No exchanges can do 24-7.

The wider bids are a must ... the usual MBA rule book will have you believe that the narrower the bid-ask prices, the higher will be the resultant volume. I believe that adage only works for very short term oriented markets such as commodities and their futures contracts. For stock trading, it is pertinent to be able to get in and out at a profit. If the bid-ask gaps were so narrow that I might have to wait for 3 bids up before breaking even, that is a deflating concept for most traders/investors. 

SGX now that you have done it for stocks over S$1.00 ... the more pressing thing is to revise the penny stocks' bid-ask. It is so silly to trade at 0.001 of a cent spread. Follow Malaysia's lead and trade at 0.005 sen spreads. Why do you think the penny stocks scene in Bursa is so much more active than SGX?

SGX proposes lunch break revival, wider bids
SINGAPORE: Singapore Ex- change Ltd (SGX), which runs the city’s stock market, is pro- posing to bring back a lunch break and boost minimum bid sizes as it seeks to boost trading.
The exchange operator is consulting the public on the plans, which it said will ad- dress market conditions and balance the diverse objectives of participants, according to a statement released yesterday.
It is proposing to introduce a midday trading break from noon to 1pm. SGX plans to raise the tick size for stocks and relevant securities trad- ing in the S$1 (RM3.15) to S$1.99 range, to one Singa- pore cent from half a cent. It also plans to widen a forced order range, which helps to prevent error trades.
SGX also said it will man- date that companies aiming to list on its main exchange must allocate at least 5% of their stock offering, or S$50 million, whichever is lower, to small investors. The ruling will kick in on May 2 and is aimed at having greater retail participation. The exchange in 2016 proposed a minimum of 10% or as much as S$100 million be distributed to re- tail investors.
SGX in March 2011 scrapped the break, which lasted from 12.30pm to 2pm every day, say- ing it could help add as much as 10% to volumes. The pro- posed midday halt is now seen to have minimal impact with only 5.1% of trading done dur- ing the hour, SGX said.
The daily value of shares traded this year have climbed 10% to US$839 million (RM3.73 billion) from 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Tuesday. An average of US$1.18 billion shares changed hands each day in 2010, before the intermission was abolished, the data show. Singapore’s stock market has the longest trading day among major ven- ues in Asia. — Bloomberg

Below was my posting back in March 2014:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What is ailing the Singapore broking industry? My comments alongside the Bloomberg article in blue.

Singapore’s shrinking brokerage industry is set to get even smaller as trading restrictions planned by regulators dent profits, according to a body that represents individual brokers.
The average daily value of shares tradedin the city, which slumped 40 percent in the first two months of 2014 from a year earlier, will decline further should rules be implemented that include requiring collateral for some trades and shortening the settlement period, said the Society of Remisiers, which represents dealers who work entirely on commission. Singapore Exchange Ltd. and the Monetary Authority of Singapore proposed the changes after a penny-stock rout in October erased $6.9 billion in market value of three companies over three days.
“More people will leave the industry as they’ll get less business,” Jimmy Ho, president of the Society of Remisiers, said by phone. “Once they cut the settlement period, there will be less speculative trading and it will drag overall volumes.”
The number of stockbrokers in Singapore fell 8.4 percent percent to 3,973 at the end of last year from 4,336 in 2011, according to data from the bourse, as the industry was buffeted by declining trading volumes and commissions as well as competition from online trading platforms. The city’s benchmark Straits Times Index trailed all its major developed-market peers in the past 12 months and slid 1.2 percent this year through yesterday.
Even after Singapore Exchange teamed with Singapore Management University and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. (CIMB) in April 2012 to provide training programs for the industry, traders’ ranks continued to thin. This year, the bourse partnered with the National Trade Union Congress’s Employment & Employability Institute to bolster interest in the profession.

Comment: SGX made the first boo-boo which killed market velocity, that is making the trading in penny stocks into decimal places. In Malaysia it is still minimum 0.005 sen per bid. Obviously when you staff SGX with more MBAs and legal heads, you are not going to get rules that promote trading. They went by the textbook rule in that the smaller the bids, the bigger the volume. Here is where textbook fails to understand market participants' psychology. In Singapore, there are too many penny stocks, and I mean really pennies ... those under 20 cents. When the bid and offer looks like this 0.033-0.034 it does not make for more attractive trading compared to Malaysia's 0.030-0.035 ... the psychology is that in a single bid traders and punters are already making money and able to cover comm, that makes it "attractive" to big punters or syndicates to move a stock a few bids. In Singapore, you would see huge volumes at every bid and offer thus making it arduous to move stocks. Penny stocks are by nature speculative and you have to make it more conducive for them not make it harder for them to make (and lose) money. Though your propensity to lose money would also shrink in Singapore penny stocks, that is not the aim of punters (minimise losses), its to make the big gains.

Industry Adjustment
“Brokerages are able to cope with fewer dealers because trading volumes are lower,” Society of Remisiers’ Ho said. “That’s a natural adjustment for the industry.”
It will be hard to draw young people, given the high risk and low commissions, said Yeo Aiqi, 28, who left Phillip Securities Pte, the city’s biggest brokerage by clients, in 2011 after working three years there.
“Stockbroking appears to be a sunset industry,” Yeo, who now sells women’s apparel at her online store, said by e-mail. “Trading volumes are low and commission rates are falling.”
The average value of shares traded on the Singapore bourse tumbled 40 percent to about S$1.06 billion ($836 million) in the first two months of 2014 from S$1.77 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Transactions in Hong Kong fell 11 percent in the same period, while those on Japan’s Topix index increased 17 percent.

Shrinking Commissions
To make the profession more appealing, SGX needs to address dwindling volumes to counter the decline in brokerage commission rates, which have fallen to 0.1 percent of the value of shares traded from 1 percent 10 years ago, according to Yap.
“Brokers have nothing exciting to recommend to their clients these days,” Yap said. “Trading was buoyant before I left the industry due to the influx of Chinese listings and now investors are avoiding such companies after a number of them got embroiled in accounting or stock manipulation scandals. SGX promoted the listing of real estate investment trusts in the past decade but interest in them is starting to wane.”
At least 28 Chinese firms on the exchange have been suspended or delisted since 2008. There were 144 China-based firms listed in Singapore at the end of February, according to the exchange. The FTSE Straits Times China Index of 31 mainland stocks sank 7.3 percent in the past 12 months.

Comment: Lack of cowboy-ness in SGX. When you sanitise the markets too much, it becomes boring. Every exchange needs a certain element of cowboy-ness (including markets like S&P500 and Nasdaq) to maintain relevance and interest. They way SGX is headed, you might as well list all boring ETFs and kill off the broking industry. When you shrivel the market into mainly blue chips that move, you institutionalise the entire industry. When the speculative counters do not present trading opportunities, investors and punters will just ignore and shy away. Casinos are there on the pretext that you can make supernormal gains, if that is not present, even casinos will close shop. What SGX has been doing for the past 7 years is like a casino which limits your gains, e.g. if you make S$10,000 then your bets are halved, etc... In protecting the investors, you can somehow err on the side of caution. There is little to justify the big salaries at SGX and the trading fees collected by SGX. They way they clamped down on "cowboy-ness" and the proliferation of REITs are just examples of going the "wrong way" unless what they want is to shrink the industry.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Master, A National Treasure

REPOST:  Its been more than two years since I posted on my sifu. This is probably the most significant posting I had done thus far that does not involve business or politics. My circle of close friends and business colleagues have benefited significantly from his treatment.

My Master, Dr. Law Chin Han (from my iPhone)

Where shall I start? OK, just based on real life experiences of those who are close to me. The entire Tong family (Bukit Kiara Properties) absolutely swear that he is the master of masters when it comes to acupuncture (and dentistry as well). To me, you can probably find many great dentists, but to find a real Master in acupuncture, thats a whole different ballgame.

I am not big aficionado of Chinese medicine or acupuncture initially. I guess you have to go through the whole shebang to appreciate the real life changing effects from a master.

My business partner and very close friend went to him after 15 years of persistent gout problem, he will get his heavy attacks at least once a month, as regular as a woman's period despite being on the maximum daily dosage allowed on the whatchamacallit-purina thing. He has been to the best doctors over and over and still nothing. He had a few sessions and went off his medication, he has not had any gout problem now only a regular monthly visit to Dr Law.

Another friend of mine had a daughter around 8 years old but has never had appetite for food. She eats very little of everything, even candies or ice creams. Naturally, the parents have been to numerous specialists as well. She absolutely got her appetite back after a few treatments. yes, seemingly unbelievable but as parents you literally have tears running down your eyes to see that happen after years of frustration and heartaches.

A CEO friend of mine whose father was at terminal stage owing to long suffering diabetes condition, and losing a leg already to it, but has never been able to have a good night's rest for the longest time. A couple of sessions and he slept soundly and was very happy when he could finally sleep well. He passed away recently but at least he managed to get good rest every night in the final few weeks. The pain management by Dr. Law was probably one of the best gift his family could have given to the patient.

Before I share my own personal experience. Let's look at what acupuncture is. Acupuncture can treat respiratory threats such as acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis, bronchial asthma and acute bronchitis. It is effective for the eye: acute conjunctivitis (pinkeye) and near-sightedness in children.

For treating gastrointestinal disorders: hiccups, gastritis, hyperacidity, ulcers, constipation, diarrhoea, paralytic ileus and colitis. 

Muscular and neurological disorders such as: migraine, headache, paralysis after a stroke, bladder dysfunction, pain in the ribs, frozen shoulder or tennis elbow, Meniere's disease, bed wetting and osteoarthritis.

Why is Dr Law a master? I call him that and many of his patients will call him that after benefiting from his skills. He is a master because he is precise. In 1985 he developed a computer program relating to acupuncture and the best time of the day to treat certain disorders. He has developed his own diagnostic machine that can tell him all he needs to know from your one ear and his needle hooked to the machine. He also uses the machine to detect the exact point on your body, marking them before putting in the needles. Many other acupuncturists rely on guesswork and estimation.

He has even managed to detect hepatitis using his machine with his needle at your ear. There are many other cases which are not the norm for acupuncturists, which he has managed to treat well: such as epilepsy, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure to the extent of stopping Western bp medication, and even weight loss management.

Dr. Law is the founder and President of Malaysian Acupuncture Society from 1982-1993. He has successfully treated 60 drug addicts in 1982 during a stint at the Pudu jail, totally weaning them off drugs with acupuncture. The results were recorded in a research report "Using Acupuncture To Deal With Drug Withdrawal and Drug Addicts", which gained acknowledgement from WHO.

Dr. Law is a generous spirit, he devotes 3-4 hours for two nights a weeks to treat the under privileged at a certain center. In the past he has ventured to northern Thailand to treat the poor as well.

Well, who needs acupuncture? Everyone really. Dr. Law will basically get your vital organs to function much better. Owing to the largely sedentary lifestyles of most, we will get our usual aches and pains, kidneys and liver not functioning optimally. Instead of them operating at 60% or 70%, why not get them to be at 90% or better. Its certainly not just for old folks as I see plenty of people in their twenties and thirties coming to the center as well. Many of his patients fly in from overseas for regular treatments as well.

Dr. Law Chin Han, born in 1946, graduated from the National Defence Medical Centre, Taiwan with the degree specialising in Acupuncture in 1972. His office is located in Selayang. Its a very neat 4 storey corner shoplot and he occupies the whole thing. Ground floor is reception, there is a lift, 1st Floor is for Acupuncture, with 8 beds and 3 nurses. 2nd floor is for dentistry. He has his own farm where he grows organic fruits, you can sample his farm produce at the clinic, they are free for all, the durian ice cream is very good, sometimes you get rambutans as well and many other fruits.

The address: MERIDIAN ACUPUNCTURE & STROKE REHABILITATION CENTER / LAW DENTAL SURGERY (LASER CLINIC) 21, Jalan 3/3C, Sri Utara Batu 7, Off Jalan Ipoh, Batu Caves. Tel: 03-62518913, Mobile: 019-2157762
Mondays       9.15am-7.00pm
Tuesdays      9.15am-5.00pm
Wednesdays 9.15am-7.00pm
Thursdays     9.15am-1.00pm
Fridays         9.15am-7.00pm
Saturdays    9.15am-7.00pm
Sundays      9.15am-1.00pm

On Jalan Selayang, you will go past Taman Wahyu and see Tesco on your left, turn left just after Esso station, turn right and you will see Meridian Acupuncture.

My Own Experience: I have high blood pressure, much of it is hereditary, without medication my bp will be 150/110. For the longest time, even with medication, it will go to 130/90 at best. Seriously, after a few sessions, I have cut my medication in half, and my bp is steady at 122/82, how unbelievable is that. Dr. Law assured me that if I continue to monitor my bp at home, and keep reducing the medication, I should be drug free within 6 weeks. After that its just regular maintenance visit to his clinic once a month.

He has also been treating my inner body organ-fats, my kidney and stomach for better digestion, metabolism and reduction of gut size. The vain-pot in me also had him reducing my soon to appear double chin, he is amazing. There are other points he will occasionally take care such as reducing my appetite and improving my blood flow.

It is recommended that you take a blood test first at another clinic and show him the results. He needs the info on your cholesterol, LDL, HDL and prostate if possible. Be honest and tell him everything that bugs you. I had sinus that I didn't even know I had, which was why he said I slept with my mouth open, leading to loud snoring, dry throat, susceptible to cough. etc.  I must say the needles next to my nose were a bit of a pain, but now I sleep with my mouth close and snoring has subsided.

Once in the clinic, the doctor will ask you your history and then proceed to diagnose you with his machine, needle on your ear, from there he will be able to tell how healthy you are. He does not need more patients, he does not need more money, hence he is not the type that tries to drag out your healing process for his benefit.

This and many other reasons is why he is a National Treasure. If anyone is more deserving of a Tan Sri-ship, I know of no one other than Dr. Law. Its not only Chinese who come to his clinic, he has lots of Malay and Indian admirers as well, and a few Datuks to boot.

 He will then mark out the spots with his machine and needle on the points for the actual needles, telling you what each needle is for. Usually he uses 8 needles per patient but if you can withstand it, he can use more needles. The needles are then hooked to another small machine. The nurse will explain which button hooks to which needles, you yourself will turn on and control the electronic pulses to those needles. The higher the pulses, the better the treatment. Of course, its all up to your level of comfort, no one is pushing you to take stronger than what you are willing to take. You are supposed to increase the pulses every few minutes.

Is the entire process painless? No, but its not as bad as some people make them out to be. I do not have a high tolerance of pain at all, in fact after a while it can become addictive like massage. I now doze off after 15 minutes for the 30 minute treatment, it gets so comfortable, seriously.

Now, I have no aches or pains anywhere and feel more refreshed after each night's sleep, like someone pumped more oxygen into my bloodstream. The great thing about acupuncture is that you are not asked to ingest any medication, no invasive medication that leaves lots of bad stuff in your body, no invasive stuff that whacks ten other things around your body when trying to kill one alien object.

Do your self and your family a great favour, improve the functioning of our organs, rid of our body toxins, eradicate our aches and pains - what have you got to lose? seriously, Dr. Law does not need the money. One session is RM100, or you can sign up for a course of 5 sessions for RM400. The more loyal ones will sign up for the extended package of 21 sessions for RM1,200. 

Not only that, from his clinic hours, you'd find two days where he will close early ... for those two days he will go to a location near Genting to treat people for free. But please make an appointment or be prepared to wait for up to an hour.

Why isn't more people more aware of his existence? Maybe because its an Eastern treatment methodology, there are also good ones and not so good ones, and Dr. Law is one of the evry best for sure. For over 40 years, he has been doing wonders for many, and his charitable works as well. I and many who have benefited from his expertise, skills and generosity of spirit, applaud him.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Being Human & Humane

I have said this time and again... money cannot buy EMPATHY or BASIC HUMAN DECENCY. I think there should be a test before a family can hire a maid. So many people have revealed what assholes they are by the way they treat their maids. 

I have seen maids standing next to the restaurant table because there was no more space to seat them. The family and friends continued to eat. What do you think the kids will be thinking? They'd be thinking that "there are certain human beings that can be treated differently for they are lesser of a person" - and they will carry that mindset throughout their lives in every facet.  I'd rather eat somewhere else where the food is less tasty. The examples of pathetic behaviour by employers are too many to mention in one posting.

I voiced my opinion as above and many people will say to me that you cannot trust your maids, that they might steal or run away. Oh, you mean, they are human and can act badly like you and me? How would you like if you were "sentenced" for crimes you might commit? Limiting freedom for fear of what bad influence you might pick up? Its heinous and despicable.

Your inconvenience, incurred cost, difficulty in getting a maid, bad experiences DO NOT stand up in the court of human decency if you use that defence for behaviour/rules that are less than human and humane.

If you happen to be religious - thats one fucked up FINE EXAMPLE of you being changed for better, cause your heart is still screwed up no matter how much you pray, how many times you pray, how often you to these institutions for fellowship or how fervently you protests wrongdoings. If this is happening in your household, get that right, ask yourself why and why not.

p/s YES I have had maids before... yes, one has ran away before, and one even got pregnant by her boyfriend ... and I would still NOT change one IOTA... its basic human decency to give them one day off at the very minimum. You can tally up 100 excuses why they should not... but think again if your mum or sister was the maid in question.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Oh My Valentine, Please Sign The Prenup!!!

Let's take religion out of this first. There are obviously going to be two sides to this issue. In favour: they are being realistic as at least 40%-50% of all marriages end in divorce depending on which country data you are taking, and you want things to be easier for both sides if it should end, the amount of time spent wrangling in divorce courts is such a waste of time. Not in favour: destroys the very essence of marriage (lifelong concept); dilutes the importance of marriage, partnership, trust and romance.


Straits Times: 'Prenuptial deals: Court clears the air', as the validity of prenuptial contracts (prenups) are on the minds of many young couples thinking of tying the knot. The divorce of the Dutchman and his Swedish wife generated much interest here as, before this landmark case, the courts had not indicated specifically whether such prenups should be upheld. Since the couple had entered the prenup before a notary, such an agreement should be given much weight.

Prenups are authorised by law in some countries like Thailand. A man who is thinking of marrying his Thai girlfriend should seek advice from a lawyer familiar with Thai law, more so if the couple live in Thailand. Prenups are valid in 50 states in the United States. Case law is sufficiently developed and a well-drafted prenup can withstand the closest scrutiny. On the other hand, prenups are not recognised in Britain. However, some weight may be given by the court, which will take the content of the agreement into account when reaching its decision.
It used to be that only those with vast fortunes to protect considered a prenup as part of their wedding plans. Now, however, it is not just the rich and famous who iron out their financial obligations in the event of a divorce before they even take their marriage vows. Such steps may not be necessary for every couple, but in the light of the rising divorce rate and more common second marriages, many couples welcome the suggestion of a prenup.

Couples entering their second marriage often execute an agreement to protect the interests of their children from a prior marriage. Young professionals turn to prenups as a way to protect the rewards of their personal success. Even couples without much assets look to prenups as a way to avoid an acrimonious battle over what they accumulate during the course of the marriage.

To ensure the agreement is binding, the parties must make a full and fair disclosure of their financial worth. It is also desirable to have each party seek advice from their own lawyer. Since an agreement signed today may not be fair in the future, the parties can agree to make adjustments based on factors such as length of marriage or a change in relative earning capacities.

As celebrated English judge Lord Denning once said, divorce and financial matters are probably last on the list of things a couple want to contemplate on their wedding day. In the proper context, however, such a discussion can lead to a prenup that both parties view as a precaution designed to prevent a prolonged and expensive divorce settlement.

More often than not, one partner has greater assets and stands to lose a larger sum in the event of a divorce. Other considerations to think about include one spouse who will support the other through university (and wants an equitable share in future financial gain), or if one partner already has children from a previous marriage.

Be that as it may, the prenup should be entered into voluntarily; it should not be unconscionable. It should not be so one-sided and oppressive that no one in his right mind would sign it without duress. Enforceability is more certain when the prenup does not harshly and unfairly eliminate a party's rights to property acquired during the marriage.

In short, prenups will eliminate a long and costly court battle if there is proper disclosure by both parties, and the terms of the agreement are not harsh and unconscionable.

My views:

1) Prenups should be encouraged if one party's assets/ net worth is 90% or more of the combined couple's net worth. If its not, I would rather say forget it and just carry on.

2) Prenups does not give the richer party the right to take back all he/she brought to the marriage - the party still has to bear the cost of raising the children, alimony/palimony, sharing of assets acquired during the marriage, etc... But it does give some clarity: for example when Mr. Hui married Lee Kar Yan, I would be very shocked if she did not signed a prenup. As rich as Miss Lee is (maybe to the tune of US$20m), that is nothing compared to Mr. Hui's net worth which is more than US$500m. Hence a prenup might read something like this:
- if divorced within 5 years, she will get US$25m
- if divorced within 10 years, she will get US$50m
Some prenups can be very detailed, especially when it comes to kids, but that's another thing.

3) The more you can agree in a prenup, the more you will understand each other. Trying to be romantic in not having a prenup is naive and silly as you have a very good chance (backed by solid empirical data testing) of ending up in divorce courts later. Then you will spend hundreds of hours arguing over who gets what, how much to pay, which house you want, whose momentos are those, which school to send the kids, is having two maids too extravagant, etc... thus enriching the lawyers - ever seen a rich lawyer not having a prenup??? If a rich lawyer lives in a country where prenups are not allowed, well that's why those rich lawyers don't go around philandering so much... now you know why. I have never heard of a rich lawyer with a mistress, and being caught... wonder why??!!

4) Those sticking to the romance of not talking about money and assets are deluding themselves. It may not sound romantic but its very liberating. One of the biggest problems with marriages is the fact that many are entering with differing assumptions and belief systems, and both sides don't know that of each other.

5) If you think that prenups are a bad omen for marriages and are doomed to failure, then why do we even buy insurance policies, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, medical insurance, or for any other matters that touch our lives? The reasons are the same, it makes good sense.

6) Those who are the poorer partner in a marriage do not need to fear prenups. Most will still be much much better off financially in a divorce even with a prenup. If your net worth is zilch and your partner is worth US$30m, rest assured that he/she will put in the prenup that you will get a lump sum (which will not be close to 50%) of maybe 5%-15% of his/her net worth.

7) Prenups do not cause marriages to fail, marriages have been failing very nicely without prenups, OK!

8) Those religions which says that marriage is forever tend to frown on prenups. Well, without the prenups, these religious marriages almost have the same divorce rate as the rest of the population. No need to hide behind the sanctity of marriage and excuse yourself from helping one another face these important issues better.

9) Some will say that if they go down a road expecting it to fail, they'd rather not take that road. That is so naive, nobody wants marriages to fail, but they do fail. The divorce rates is at least 20% or higher - that is a given, whether you have prenups or not. Having said that, have you ever noticed how people at weddings are probably the most optimistic people on earth. The well wishers, the smiles, the laughter, the excitement of starting a new journey with glee and anticipation.... all optimists... if they know that their marriage has about 2 in 10 chances of failing, that would take some of the steam from the souffle ... but then again, any excuse to be drunk is still a good idea.

10) Those who say they enter a marriage based on trust... well and good, but what are you trusting in??? That your partner will act and behave in the manner that you know. Well, all who say that should go to divorce courts and sit in a few cases - see where the trust, patience, understanding have gone to... We have been deluded by notions of undying love, everlasting loyalty, unshakable romanticism, profoundly deep love from story books, TV and the movies .... I am not saying they do not exist, they do, but still you must be realistic.

11) Marry for the right reasons - Many will cite love, many more will justify their love of the person's character, even looks, disposition, genuineness, gentleness, their level of intelligence, their humouristic ways, even the way they speak, the way they carry themselves, how they treat us, etc... but to cite that you love them partly because of their net worth is close to being vulgar and despicable. But you and I know that that is a significant reason for marriage in many cases. By not talking about it is naive and even maliciously fraudulent. People will speak of the need for security (money), comfort (money), ... but will not mention the real M word. MY advice is, be clear and be outright with it, it will bring your relationship to a much higher level.

I have no issues with prenups, I think they are great provided the prenups are crafted with care, love, respect and good wishes. It is so much easier to agree on these things when things are going well... how to agree on those things when the relationship is down in the dumps?? Anyway, I'd probably don't have to ask my future wife to sign a prenup, in all likelihood, I will be the one being asked to sign one.

Love in all its grandeur and glory is wonderful and perfect. To strive for perfection and ultimate bliss is to be human. To fail is also because we are human. We are fallen beings, do not think that we are angels on earth. Its not heaven yet though we may like to think that sometimes.

p/s photos: Gigi Lai Chi

Ngui Chap Wong @ Plaza Damas

It's location prob made it hard to be discovered. It's at Plaza Damas but not inside the mall. It's among the rows of shops outside the mall. It's on the higher floor as well, same row as Blue Cow butcher. If u like beef stew ... it's vg. The broth is more like thick soup with deep beefy flavours. The beef parts are well stewed n melts in your mouth. 8.5/10 @Ngui Chap Wong Cafe .. n they do cold pressed juices too.

You see the little plate of chilli,... wanted to call for more but I thought I try first. Damn... it was strong, shocking right for beef stew, and that small amount was sufficient for the whole bowl.

Their last day will be CNY eve lunch only. They will be back open TUESDAY 31 January (4th day CNY) ...when most other shops will be closed. Hint, hint.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CLSA FengShui Predictions 2017

After a fowl year in 2016, how will you and the Hang Seng Index fare 
with the plucky Rooster in 2017? Our 23rd Feng Shui guide offers an 
alternative look at what’s in store this year to help the luck flow in your 

Feng Shui masters are valued in the Orient by those looking to foretell 
the future. If you're running a hedge fund, no doubt you'll take our 
sorcerer’s view on the year ahead with a pinch of salt, but curiosity if 
not superstition may get the better of you. 

So scroll on down and chick out all manner of forecasts for the year 
ahead. Our longstanding health warning holds: don’t get your feathers 
ruffled and take it too seriously! - CLSA

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bank Negara May Have Switched On A Bull Run

Post Published: 5 Dec 2016
Update: When I wrote the post, the majority canned my piece. But this is not a "I told you so" thing. It is so easy to be a critic, let's see how many would be willing to call me and say they were wrong. I bet you very few. When you post an opinion, the internet is a ghastly thing - it allows for unfettered brickbats that has little or no justification or arguments except "I don't think that's true". Is this all ego and pride? Do we all want "acknowledgement" and "praise"? Having a blog for 10 years, I have seen enough. I am also OK when people disagree but at least show some decency and point out why when you disagree. I don't need to be right all the time but at least I dare to say it and put it out there. The world is not all bar room talk... talk cock and thats it, nobody remembers. Make it count, people.

p/s the bull run has started on the local bourse a few days back...

The brave new rules in a brave new world by Bank Negara have set many tongues a-wagging. The media has been having field day slamming the "likely causes" of a weakening ringgit. Let's not get into that for now - we all know whats bringing it down. Let's address the consequences, the aftermath ... for now.

A weak ringgit is not all bad, unless you are travelling or importing stuff. Just travel domestic, and I don't have much sympathy for traders, I mean, they do not really add value, they just import and distribute at a higher price. If they cannot pass the price increase onwards, then biz will be affected, so let it be.

The fact that from now on companies have to convert 75% into ringgit of their proceeds IS A VERY MAJOR THING. I suspect the majority of listed companies with foreign proceeds have been largely keeping them in foreign currency for the last 12-18 months.

Let's be honest here, the ringgit is suffering largely due to the "confidence" issue, if our own major exporters keep keeping their foreign currency proceeds and not convert to ringgit, it can only exacerbate the situation. Its like your family has a crisis and all your members are deserting the clan. 

Then there are the exporters who are appealing for that figure to be 50% instead of 75% in order to keep buying "raw materials and goods". That very appeal shows that they have been keeping much more than 75% for I don't know how long - what about the "supernormal gains" these exporters have been reaping from "translation gains" for the past 12-18 months ... somehow just vanished in thin air!!??

Now, they cannot do it. I think for at least 1/3 of the listed firms that have been profitable, being forced to convert to ringgit will actually realise a lot of gains. Yes, these gains are one-off but still gains. Fr profitable exporters, they'd be profitable already at 3.5 to the dollar ... give them 4.0 or 4.4 ... they are laughing silently.

So, yes, Bank Negara has fast forwarded the next bull run, which I anticipate will NEED a few ingredients:

1) better oil prices (done, with the recent OPEC deal)

2) China led investments - construction, infra

3) strengthening ringgit from lows - done with BN's latest move

4) the speculation over upcoming elections

You will be getting very good results from most affected listed companies for their next 2 quarters - which will be further catalyst to the run.

So, you heard it here first!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Passengers - Go Watch It

Passengers. Brilliant story telling. Visionary yet believable. Like Martian, only better. Space travel, science, romantic, desolation, philosophical, mortality n its devastation, spectacular imagery. Being human n humane. 9.7/10

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Casinos In Japan - An Assessment

This was considered unimaginable 15 years ago, but a group from LDP finally managed to push through the new bill. The new bill proposes allowing large-scale projects that will combine casinos with hotel, shopping and conference facilities. Attracting tourists is one of the key economic policies of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and supporters say these developments will bolster the country's flagging economy and help support tourism after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The law urges the government to prepare legislation within one year to deal with problems connected with casino resorts, including gambling addiction and ways to prevent the involvement of organized crime groups.

Likelihood To Go All The Way: Despite a 2-1 disapproval by the public, the likelihood of this plan to come to fruition is very high. As you know to even get passed the Lower House would have required a lot, a lot of stamp signatures and collusion. Hiroyuki Hosoda, head of the main pro-casino parliamentary group and one of three casino proponents recently named to top LDP spots - is the key reason why as long as LDP is around and in power, this will get through. Japan's international tourism arrivals was 19.7m in 2015... compared to 30m for Macau and 15m for Singapore - so safe to say, the tourism angle will push the deal through.

Beneficiaries: Although the top operators' share prices went up slightly on the news, there are really only two serious contenders for the two casinos. Sands and Genting, fullstop. Why? Balance sheet strength (very important to the Japanese).GENS has cited potential passing of the Japan integrated resorts bill as one of its main reasons to sell its Jeju casino stake and get back S$588 million ($413.60 million) of capital. The other reason has to be the "Singapore experience" - which the Japanese can see, watch and follow. They would have liked the detailed planning, great execution, good rules to govern and restrict local population from over-gambling. They will probably frown on the Vegas experience - too gaudy, too bawdy and anything goes. They would have frowned at the Macau experience as well - uncontrolled chaos, overbuilding, soul-less, not family oriented enough, only bringing in "real hard core gamblers" (when they really want a more holistic family thing).

Local Beneficiaries:  Fuji Media, Tokyotokeiba, machine makers Sega Sammy and Konami Holdings Corp, as well H.I.S. Co Ltd  - a major travel agency jockeying to develop a casino in southern Japan. Property developers such as Mitsui Fudosan and Tokyo Tatemono.

The KEY:  In things like these, it is what ISN'T said that is more important. In order for Sands and Genting to nail the deal - its the partners they go with. The committee will have a handful of "important enough" local partners on their list, but will probably not enunciate them. It is up to the two to guess. It is always important for the Japanese to "balance the scales", i.e. who loses out in this new development should be "compensated somewhat. Currently the pachinko gaming has the biggest pull in gambling plus horse racing. Will need to "appease" the two. How big is pachinko gambling you say ... in 2015 it was approximately US$190bn.

The other key is selecting the location/partner - should not be near major cities, but accessibly via bullet trains/express rail because with 19.7m annual tourists a year, this will boom towards 30-40m a years when it actually opens, hence the need to divert. Plus it should not be near Disney's two resorts.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Covered Warrants - The Not So Silent Killer

One should never never punt on warrants with less than 1 year to expiry, especially covered warrants. I can safely bet that anyone who trades in covered warrants in the course of a year will have a 90% chance to sustain losses. 

Unfortunately, our markets have been in the doldrums for the past 6 months or so and that has caused some die hard players to only consider covered warrants, esp those index covered ones, in particular the highly volatile HSI covered (which kind of acts as a proxy to the even more volatile China exchanges).

Just have a look at the daily volume rankings, its always the covered warrants for the past few months. Strange as it may seem, if things continue, our local exchange will be trading mostly other countries' covered index warrants for the longest time - esp if the big guys introduce the Nikkei covered as well.

Why investors will lose big in the long run:

1) Time Value - These covered warrants are usually short in terms of time to expiry, usually less than 12 months. Investors are usually lured into covered warrants when their absolute price are less than 30-40 sen because they think they get a lot of leverage. But to get to 30-40 sen, it also usually meant that there is less than 6 months to expiry, and trust me, the time value diminishes rapidly. Even if the linked product stays stationary, you will find the price of the CW dropping.

2) Your opponent - Unlike a company's warrant, in CWs there are teams of experienced traders (issuers) with sophisticated models fighting you on the other side. If you think the role of issuing house is to MANAGE their gammas and betas, YOU'D be very wrong. The safest way to make money for issuers is just to manage and capture the premium, manage free float, and make sure you are well hedged. MUCH LIKE THE CASINOS - they almost never ever lose... so guess who wins and loses in the end. Better to go Genting, seriously.

Even when you keep wanting to buy, they will keep giving you the volume to buy. They can keep throwing new shares at you as long as the equation is right. What you see on the screen being offered is never what they "really can sell" to you.

3) Volatility - The die hards will say they trade only the highly volatile CWs such as HSI. Yes, thats a better strategy but I can also tell you that the higher the volatility, the higher the premium that is priced into these CWs, and it will take a hefty whack in movement to erase the premium before you see good gains.

4) One Sided - You know very well the issuers KNOW you can only take ONE SIDE of the equation. So overtime you show up on the screen, either you are buying or buying. At any point in time, they know how many people are long or short out there. Imagine playing black/red, but you can only bet red and the odds are always 0.7 to one instead of 1 to 1.

5) Timing - The nature of the product necessitates the need to TIME your entry point accurately. So, unless you are the type that can walk between raindrops to avoid getting wet - fergedaboudit.

The next time you think of trading a CW... just picture the trading/hedging teams at the banks, you can almost invariably see them laughing and chuckling to themselves at how easy it is to make money from the market (that means you and me).

p/s my first 8 years of my career was spent placing, trading and managing the house book on Japanese corporate warrants for Nomura and James Capel

Friday, November 11, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Law & Dis-Order ... Must Watch

I like TVB series generally but most are nothing much to shout about. But I must strongly recommend this one, Law Disorder ... about a bunch of lawyers in a firm. Its conniving, devious, thrilling, plot thickening with every episode and plot twisting till your stomach turns ... a place where no one is obviously the hero, a place where no one is entirely blameless or evil. 

I must commend on the new bunch of writers. Human relations are callous, no more Mr. Nice Guy TVB feel-good touchy-feely stuff here, everyone has their inner motivations and not all are grand and altruistic at all. There are no permanent friends or enemies, its gripping... if only every boardroom meeting in reality were like that.

Morality is always not set in cement, values can be argued, and there is no black or white, just different shades of grey. Watch it it, its better than Suits and Boston Legal.

Monday, August 22, 2016


What can we surmise from the major asset classes table below? A lot. Bear in mind that these returns are priced in USD, which has generally performed well against most currencies this year.

Major developed equity markets had a largely rough first few months in 2016, thanks to Brexit. However the recovery was quite sharp too in July, compared to the overall YTD performance. Are there anything the markets are not afraid of anymore. There is a running theme across the asset classes - negative interest rates in some developed nations. You can literally see that impacting across the board.

Emerging markets equity had an even better performance YTD, and rallied alongside developed markets last month. When priced in USD, it also meant that the actual returned were further enhanced in local currency (for most).

Where you find the greatest impact of the negative interest rates theme - REITs, foreign, US and emerging markets bonds... look at their YTD gains in USD.

As you are beginning to see the movement and adjustments by bond funds into "other bonds" away from negative interest rates zones, you are also seeing the movement of "new money" NOT away from bond funds gradually. Those funds that had to be in bonds are already swishing and realigning themselves.

The bastardisation of currency (excessive QE) also meant that there is a major shift into "real assets"... in our case REITs and gold. Gold has surged 27% YTD and I do not see that ending anytime soon.

Oil has given back half its rally in just last month. Even then, it was not enough to roil the markets anymore. We are shifting into the negative interest rates zone, whereby hot money are now having to look elsewhere for yields.