Thursday, February 26, 2015

India: Preparing for 100% Hinduism


I know what this extremist Hindu leader and Narenda Modi is up to but they have to be patient because they are not powerful or wealthy enough. They want to make India completely Hindu. They are more violent toward the Muslims but they can't be as brutal with the Christians because of the excellent work of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity.

So the first step is to diminish Mother Teresa's work. It is a familiar script which anti-Semites had used. They will keep trying and for as long as it takes even beyond their lifetimes, the task will be handed down to spiritual successors. India is being set up for a civil war over religin some day. Such a gifted people but also excelling in shooting themselves in the foot.

This is the sad fact of civilization. Always warring each other. A generation fought Capitalism versus Communism and duly forget that when there are no ideologies to battle over,  they will fight over religion and race.

Was Mother Teresa keen to make more Christian converts then? I think so but not in the conventional sense. With any religion, too much of today's proselytizing is about gaining converts nominally. The late mother's was after substance through the love of God. Nominal Christianity is about forms of expression e.g., like praying the sinner's prayer, attending church etc., but Real Christianity goes way beyond forms and achievements. It is about becoming a new being which the forms and achievements are only by products. True Christianity is diverse and living, Nominal Christianity is monolithic, predictable and utterly boring which is quite common giving outsiders a warped picture of the faith.

Therefore Mother Teresa didn't need to convert anyone to Christianity because she had gone beyond that. That is what the Gospel ought to be. It is irresistible because she brought the love of God to all of us.

Petrol profiteering in not illegal, so?


The oil companies here calculated they could get away with this and so they went ahead and did the dastardly act. In fact they have never stopped trying to make suckers out of us with the government looking the other way. Government believe that what is good for business is also good for us and fail to sense that it get less and less true with the years. CASE is  more a business than a consumer friendly organization helping business to be long term greedy because that is more sustainable than short term greedy. Without a little moral constraint from CASE, businesses will compete with each other going overboard over charging us. There will be a huge backlash and laws will have to be passed. Long term greedy is cleverer.

But CASE is losing its case as businesses rapacious appetites keep growing.

In this shameless age, who cares about ethics anyway. Winning out ranks ethical behavior now. Shame might even become an anachronistic entry in our dictionary eventually.

You want businesses to behave, you have to be prepared to pass the laws and enforce it. Or you could wait for consumers to be up in arms and pay a stupid political price.

Our greater loss is the sense of shame. Honor died long before we buried shame. Where is Lim Siong Guan?

Surprise shirts find

Hidden in the dark recess of a cupboard, lost and forgotten for ten years! Recently discovered by wifey.

When you have not missed it for this long, there is no hurry to open or use them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Budget 2015: A high earner example

Read some of the most inane comments which came with this item. To me Anthony Fok is quite clever. Prospective tutees will conclude this fellow must be very good at what he is teaching. ST just provided him free and the most credible advertising. What is paying more tax?

He is in a very sweet spot. The money folks are most allergic to taxes because it is the big killer for the magic of compounding returns. On the other hand this guy gladly and understandbly pays his share. Unfortunately many high income earners would really look askance at the additional 2% extra tax. The MOF must have worked the numbers and types that would be hit rigorously to be confident about this measure. Obviously the really rich do not so much raise their income as increase their wealth.

You see the government is careful to tax income and not wealth. Tax the latter and overnight you will have an exodus of the very rich out of here.

It is impossible to close the wealth gap, but we are ready to do something about the income gap. How much progress we can make here will depend on the external environment.

More than taxation, what the ultra wealthy fear is confiscation of their wealth. It is absolutely vital that to be a wealth management centre they must have total confidence this is a safe place to park wealth. Perhaps at the right time we can raise our taxes on them and they would also be happy enough to pay for that peace of mind.

But this is really hard to pull off. Unlike Switzerland we are geopolitically too exposed. Perhaps we can only be opportunistic but Switzerland will endure. Well the SNB wasn't very clever. Our MAS is much smarter.

Investing: Preparing the next gen of suckers


Read this yesterday afternoon as Tharman was delivering his budget speech. He was too slow for me and I told myself I would read his speech later - I haven't. Blog about this first. Gonna come back to this in a few years time. You also cannot tell when the kids are mature enough to appreciate this.

I see history repeating itself here. A new generation of investing casualties is being prepared for slaughter at some future date. Some parents will tell their young adult children to stay away from the stock markets because they had been badly burnt themselves and failed to take away any useful lesson. Some will try to guide their kids because they had been successful themselves but the record for transferring such skills is quite poor. Rarer than a large carat diamond are those capable of teaching others how to do this.

To do well there are only two ways. Either your are faster (also sometimes seen as early) or contrarian. In general being contrarian is the ultimate in being early because you have simply gone ahead and waiting for the herd to stampede to where you are! So in essence there is only one way for succeeding. I make it sound so simple but it is actually horribly hard to execute. The pull of the herd is like the gravitational force near a Black Hole. Very few escape. Unfortunately this has to be or the contrarian cannot succeed.

What is the difference between the trader and the investor? In my paradigm, the trader is the short term contrarian and the investor the long term one.

All successful trading and investing if you work through it intellectually is just successful contrarianism, value investing included. But I have not been completely honest. What about managing risk? Unfortunately most of us do not even know what risk is. That is why each new generation is destined to repeat the same old mistakes.


Budget 2015: Comparative wages


I haven't had time to read Tharman's speech. Perhaps this afternoon, but this chart through flipping the paper quickly caught my eye this morning. What hit me immediately is that when we compare ourselves against Japan, it is going to be really hard to grow wages. On balance the SGD must weaken quite a bit more. I don't expect Japan to pull ahead giving us room to chase them. Such is the sad situation they are in today.

A lot of problems come, and you feel yourselves hitting the glass ceiling when the economy cannot grow faster. People here underestimate how important it is to grow the pie. You cannot just assume that growth comes naturally.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Budget 2015: Upping income taxes


Raising tax rates on the top income earners is something we would never do unless it is going to be the fashion elsewhere too. In my living memory I could only remember them making it more attractive for the top earners. This is significant. It might not stop here either but we will look at what others are doing and decide.

There is only so much aid, benefits and rebates a government can give out. In fact I often wonder if they had collected too much that they have some to return. No doubt we also run a tiny government.