Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Lately, I have been swarmed with work as interest rates adjustments and new guidelines have opened new lines of negotiations which have proven to be lengthy and tedious. I am not even sure how it suddenly turned to May, where has the time gone?
Surprisingly I am not feeling as tired as I used to. Perhaps I do get a sense of fulfillment from getting things done. Who knows? I may be motivated afterall.
Meanwhile the Canadian real estate is showing signs of activity which the only reason I can attribute to is the low interest rates. Of course seeing how the rents have not fallen as much as the prices to purchase homes, real estate acquisition has become more attractive even in turbulent times.
Will it last? I doubt it but since interest rates are not going anywhere till next year, I would assume the activities and prices to more or less maintain unless the government decides to go innovative like using quantitative easing or some other crazy idea.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Yen will likely weaken for the rest of the year because of its weak trade numbers. The strength of its currency actually hurt Japan badly because it is an export dependent country. However if the global market goes into mass panic, we could see the Yen strengthen while its economy weakens. Yet, I doubt that will happen as most people are now more prepared for the worst than better.
Times are difficult but will especially be so for the Euro which lags behind U.S. in feeling the effects of the full-blown recession. Even though they have been reluctant to cut interest rates, this quarter they are expected to cut to 1%. Throw in the 2 elections in Europe in 2009 for new Chancellor of Germany and European Parliament, you will likely see the Euro under even more selling pressure.
The Canadian Loonie’s recent surge will likely continue if oil price continues to inflate though lack of demand and alternative substitutes will eventually curb the oil price climb. However, unless oil climbs to ridiculous levels, I do not see a competitive substitute any time soon. As for the falling bond yields which makes Canadian investments less attractive, I believe they will be offset by the stabilization of the Canadian real estate and banking industry. Actually, I am feeling optimistic about the Canadian real estate because demand is unusually high recently probably indicating some unknown favorable criteria it possess. It's weird but I hope it is in a good way.
Recently I pondered why many people neglect to use bonds which are excellent and effective indicators to predict future economic activity and future levels of inflation, both of which directly affect the price of everything from stocks and real estate to household items. Some may argue that we are in a global recession now so we do not need yield charts to know that things are not looking bright. But nonetheless, it is a waste not to understand how useful a bond yield curve is. Do you know the bond yield graph reads the fed funds rate, market consensus of future economic activity and interest rates. In addition, the slope of the graph can tell you expectations of short-term interest rates. In short, you can predict the potential of the market. More information never hurts.
So this is my advice for prudent investors: if you want to play the game well, you need to learn all the rules well first and do your homework. If not, I reiterate: it is best to stay away.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Oh, don't you just love irony? Doesn't it just warm your heart to know that no matter what kind of a mess we have created, we can always play with numbers to make us look good or at least not that bad?
"So Citigroup is profitable because investors think it’s failing, while Morgan Stanley is losing money because investors think it will survive. I am not making this up. "
Thursday, April 23, 2009
How naïve do you have to be to believe that the good times will last forever? Then again how naïve do you have to be to believe that the good times will return soon or has already returned? We have to learn that true wealth creation is dependent on growth and productivity, not financial and monetary manipulations. Until our markets return to monetary policies that create wealth the proper way, we will continue to suffer from decreased overall production, productivity rates, inflation, and the systematic destruction of savings.
Perhaps we are just starting to see the true face of capitalism which is not understood by most investors including fund managers. What we were taught in our business and economic schools have us believe that money and value are disconnected. As such, we can and should manipulate money without consequence. No ethical dilemmas and no need for environmental considerations as long as there is profit to be made. We have deluded ourselves into thinking there is a free lunch. The stock markets have turned into casinos rather than the capital markets they were created to be. Somewhere along the way, we got lost. Ironically, your average ecologist will have a better understanding of genuine economics than an economist - balance of systems, growth, populations, demographics, resources, rates of consumption, production.
For me, I am fundamentally disapproving of jobs with financial titles which do not entail real services. By real, I am referring to full disclosure of information related and unrelated, educating the clients on of the fundamentals of what they are interested in getting involved in, as well as managing wealth in an ethical manner without exploitation of others. Easier said than done. The system at hand is already corrupted, built on lies and illusions. Since no one wants to work for nothing, the system is driven by profit rather than the common good.
This is not to discern the necessity of these financial jobs. I admit wealth management is not a common skill. It is time consuming and heavily reliant on sharp judgement and experience. However, does it justify the ridiculous salaries and bonuses some of these so-called professionals are getting? At the end of the day, the so-called investments are good bets at best and these advisers we are relying on are not much better than us at predicting the market future.
Upon reflection, the biggest problem is a lack of understanding of the risks you are taking. Misinformed and misled perhaps but it would be irresponsible to put all the blame on these professionals since greed has blinded most people leading them to make less sound decisions. Education plays a big part of who we are and how we work. It is therefore important to recognize that the education we have been given are always flawed. Simply because there are so many unknowns and questions unanswered that all the education can do is prepare you for the society at large.
Pity that as people learn to survive in society, they learn to forgo whatever little moral standards they have left. Sad but true, morals and ethics have no value today. It is hard to imagine a society without any moral standards but purely legal oblilgations but clearly this is our future judging from the path we have chosen.
As age catches up with me, I have come to realize that experience is much more valuable than education and I lament how much time I have wasted in school. Of course you still need basic education to hone the skills for adaptation but life should always be about living rather than learning. Your life accomplishments should not be about what you have done and achieved but how you choose to live your life and how fulfilling it has been for you.
We still have a long way to go.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-one-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Is this a trick question?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh.... I was getting laid!
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you kiddin' me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It still baffles me that the governments are still resorting to rate cuts despite examples like Japan that prove rate cuts are ineffective in midst of recession shock. Accomodative(cheap) credit and government spending has dire consequences even if it does pull the economy out of the dumps.
In the last century, we had two global wars and one global recession. After which, the "Era of Plenty" Model was created and widely embraced:
• Zero or limited responsibility (corporation)
• Positive Interest Rates regime
• Income/Spending/Excise taxation
On the other side of the hour glass, there is the "Era of Scarcity":
• Full Personal Responsibility
• Zero Interest Rates
• Asset based taxation
• Borderless world (free movement of people, money, and goods)
The New Era is dawning upon us. As incomes and spending power decline worldwide, government revenues plummet reducing effectiveness of their policies. Initial response to increase taxation rates inevitably lead to innovative tax evasion. Since all policies has little or no effect, all the government can do is to continue to draw on debt to pay for what it cannot afford. The bill is then sent to the citizens. The vicious cycle continues, spiralling out of control.
Maybe it is time for the governments to recognize and reduce their roles accordingly. It is a difficult time, let's not make it harder than it has to be.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Cleveland and Lakers are still cruising. Spurs(team of dirty plays) was beaten by the rejuvenated Mavs. Honestly, who could have expected the Mavs to click and play on the same page suddenly? Derrick Rose has been phenomenal as he can led Chicago over the defending champs, Boston which probably stands no chance without Garnett. I am less intrigued by shooting teams such as Hornets and Hawks which will have great games and then embarrassing ones. Miami is too young even if Wade sold his soul to the devil. Then it brings us to teams which have been used to disappointments – Houston and Denver. You know he has game as Yao Ming had a perfect night – 24 points, 9/9 FG and 6/6 from the free throw line. How about J.R. Smith? I knew he is good, but damn!! He has matured into a monster. I never really liked Billups but Mr. Big Shot has really molded this unstable team into a contender. Meanwhile…… where are you, Portland? This is the team that has beaten the Lakers twice this year but their performance on Saturday was just ugly.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Many people think that they can get cut-throat good deals at foreclosures. Why? Simply because owners have to sell, they are forced to. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. So far, all the foreclosures at court that I had attended ended at a ridiculous selling price. Overpaid? Hardly. But they are definitely close to market value. The prices are ridiculous because many people will, in the heat of the moment, get carried away and overbid. In other words, they paid more than what they actually wanted.
But let’s assume that every bidder is rational thus every bid is in the low bracket, the court will still have to evaluate whether the bids are close to market and whether reasonable marketing has been done by the assigned sales agent.
In a nutshell, once you get to court, the chances of getting a great deal are slim.
The best deals usually come during the redemption period (usually 6 months) before any judiciary actions would be involved. Of course since most owners would be embarrassed if their financial woes were publicized, the knowledge of a case in default is usually restricted to the lenders, the agents involved and the borrower. So for the general public with no access to the lenders and agents, tough luck, they would simply be left out of the loop till the matter has gone juridical.
Since people are forced to sell, there must be good deals around. Yes there are, but you shouldn't expect to take your chances in court. For high leverage, there are insurance agencies such as CMHC that would undertake the risk for a premium. They will buy the properties when defaulted and pay off the lenders. In such cases, any property sale is at full discretion of the insurance agencies and does not need to involve the court. This simplifies the complex procedures somewhat and shortens the time involved. More importantly, since the court is not involved and therefore less restriction on price, there would be cases where the properties will be sold at much lower than market price simply for liquidation.
While the course I took pertains to Canadian foreclosures, I find it reasonable to assume that most courts would not be permitted to sell at any price they deem fit without justification. All in all, the foreclosure process will be long, tiresome and complex with little likelihood for a great deal.
Is it worth it?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Mercedes-Benz will restyle the S-class for 2010 model year. For those who are waiting for the S-class Hybrid Sedan, your wait may finally be over.
Lots of changes have been made in this model year and I am not about to list it all. The one innovation that strikes me is the new S=class will come with readout displays and a splitview screen. Check out the promo below.
Release date: August 2009.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Director : Hyeong-cheol Kang
Starring : Tae-hyun Cha, Bo-yeong Park
Synopsis : Former child star turned radio DJ, Nam Hyeon-soo, is shocked when a teenage girl turns up claiming to be his daughter and announcing to the media how difficult her life has been growing up without a father figure. Not believing her story and hoping to stem the backlash against him, Hyeon-soo decides he has to find out whether or not this girl is telling the truth or not.
So yesterday night for some reason, I was basking in the warmth of my blanket and hungry for some laughs. I found myself wandering around PPS and finally just randomly picked a movie to watch. It turned out to be the perfect supper - warm, cozy and fun-ny.
Anyways, so I ended up more awake by the end and thinking to myself how I appreciate different things in life. For movies, comedies I prefer Korean and American spoofs, horrors and other sick stuffs I like Korean and Japanese, thriller no one does it better than Hollywood and then there are history and drama which Chinese have the edge.
Lately, there is a looming sense of loneliness. Perhaps that is why I can relate to this show and feel a deeper appreciation for my family. Yes, I miss you guys.... even if I don't show it enough.
Friday, April 10, 2009
A.K.A.: 伊藤 由奈 (Itō Yuna), 伊藤 クリスティーン (Itō Christine)
Birthdate: September 20, 1983
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Origin: Oahu, Hawaii, United States
Occupation(s): Singer-songwriter, actress, composer, spokesperson
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Oh, feels like rage building and blood boiling. Just simply beautiful.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 180,000 light years, this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also the largest and most active such region in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc. The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC, where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. At its core lies the extremely compact cluster of stars (~2.5 pc diameter) - R136a - that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible.
The closest supernova since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.
Monday, April 6, 2009
For the perfect racing experience, Elite Sim has created the Elite Racer Pro Simulator - a fully adjustable racing seat to fit all sizes, a revolutionary vibration technology, a huge 32-inch Sony 1080p LCD screen, a full Sony Bravia 5.1 surround system, a high-end PC with 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive, a Nvidia SLI graphics card, the very famous Trackstar 6000 wheel and a state of the art paddle set that has been fitted to the steering wheel.
There is no pricing available or details on availability of the Elite Racer Pro, interested gamers will need to contact through the Elite Racer Pro website.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Birthday: December 3, 1982
Blood Type: A
Now. Everyone can use a little sexiness and HOTness!!!
A wiki search actually brought up some interesting information. For example, this lady is into S & M. Actually she is probably the M.
Arguably the prettiest AV star ever and good at what she do (both I assumed based on the large fan base she has). If you know otherwise, please let me know.
Meanwhile, I would have to check my sources to make sure of the quality of her work…… like any responsible editor will.
P.S.: To find the prettiest AV star, I googled to find a huge list of Japanese adult stars. The results were inconclusive and hard to generalize as people seemed to vote not on looks but rather popularity. I picked her among several popular choices such as Sora Aoi and Minori Aoi based on my own standards. I think Sora would probably win the Cutest AV Star award instead.
What would you rather have? $10 million guaranteed or a coin toss for $100 million? The expected return of the gamble is 5 times larger.
Before you make your decision (most people would make the wrong one), let me point out a few principles:
- Utility diminishes the more money we have. Hence $100 million won't make you 10 times more satisfied than $10 million.
- There are more opportunities to make smaller amounts then a lump sum which makes it easier for risk diversification.
- Probabilities suggest that there can be no one who can always win. Therefore, All-In bets will always lead you to lose everything.
- You hear stories of those who took the big gambles and won. You seldom hear about the guys who took the gamble and lost. Those who remain successful, have changed their risk taking mentality once they have won.
- There is a difference between a bet and a calculated risk. The calculated risk is a decision made under conditions of known probabilities as opposed to uncertainty. 50% may not necessarily be a bad bet if the stakes are in your favour.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
My toothpaste taste like wasabi, there are mouse traps on the floor.
Who took the batteries out of my shaver, drew graffiti on the wall?
Was it you who played these cruel tricks, left no handle for the door?
The shampoo washed my hair blue, the gel turned it partly white.
Someone mischievous has taken my glasses and hid them out of sight.
It’s time for my spaghetti lunch and someone left me a spoon.
Oh, you must be out there laughing as I cry from salt on my wounds.
My pants split when I sit and my shirt scratches an itch.
I swear to God that evil prankster, a lesson I will teach.
Then a letter came addressed to me and I hid behind a stool.
When opened, laughter sprung out cheering “Happy April’s Fool!!”
He believed their destinies were meant to entwine and perhaps it was his unwavering sincerity that moved her. On their first Valentine's, he took her to her favourite Jazz pub, "The Momenturs" where they first danced. They shared a ginger ale and laughed at the innocence of youth. After that as he walked her home under the stars, they danced again, drunk with romance. They kissed for the first time. That moment , he knew she was the one.
Life was hard but they were happy. They scrapped by without any luxuries – no television, no nice clothes and no house of their own. In 12 years of marriage, they moved 6 times, 5 to a rented place then finally to a little apartment they bought. The day they moved in, they cried in each other’s arms. They just needed to be with each other. Love to him, was having someone to share life with. And he shared every moment with her.
There were very difficult economic times, but they never once fought over money. He was a good man - non-smoker, non-drinker, non-gambler and non-womanizer. He did not spend for himself, marked by the same old closet since marriage. But he would buy her the clothes she liked and saved all the best fruits for her. Every little surprise warmed her heart because everything she wanted but never asked for he knew and would get for her.
Then one day, her body check revealed a stomach tumor. The doctor dismissed it as minor, but he insisted she see a specialist just to be sure. She obliged.
When the news came, “It might be cancer.”, she almost fainted, mind blank and all she could do was fall into his arms with tears welling up. She did not want to lose him. And he could not imagine losing her.
“It will be okay. You will be fine. We will get through this. Believe in yourself. Believe me.”
Before the operation, he silently packed her belongings. He did not let her see his tears but he could not stop his hands from trembling when he had to sign the consent papers in front of her. This was the man who would be calm and unfazed if the world collapsed. There was nothing she could do. Her hand borrowed his tears softly, kissed it as if for the last time and said,
“Wait for me.”
And he did. He was there when everyone had left, he was the first person she saw when she woke. His hand tightly intertwined with hers saying he was always there. Worn down with deep dark circles, he was beaming with a smile.
“It’s over. The results are in. It is benign.” He cried. She cried. There were tears of endless joy.
She took a good look at him. It has been so long. “You lost weight.”
After discharge, they went home to a strange place. He had sold their home to raise the money in case another operation is needed. By day, he took extended leave to accompany her to the hospital everyday. By night, he had to take care of the kids and work with the realtor on the house sale. It wore him out but he did it all while carrying a smile to care for her. He smiled so that she would not worry. That is how he loved her. Silently, unconditionally and beyond limits.
Just then she leant over and tenderly stroked his forehead. Brushing his hair back and away from his eyes. She cupped his face with her hands, looked deep into his eyes and asked, “Do you know why I married you?”
“There is a man who knows how to love a woman. He makes her feel like the most special woman in the world every single day.” She drew him closer.
“Because you have given me what no other man can give. And….” Her lips breathing into his.
“I love...” He silenced her with a kiss.