Saturday, 7 March 2009

Analysis: How to Allocate China’s Foreign Exchange Reserve

China should gradually reduce its dollar holdings and invest the money in foreign resources, gold, and other currencies.

Can Stimulus Light China’s Consumer Fire?

Boosting consumer spending is a key goal for policymakers as they flesh out China’s 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package.

Cloudy Forecast for China’s Solar Pacesetter

Falling demand tied to the global economic slump is pressuring China’s leading solar power supplier and its charmed chief.

Second board, IPOs not expected until market starts to stabilise

Beijing will not launch a long-expected growth enterprise market or resume initial public share offerings unless officials are convinced this year’s stock gains are sustainable, sources close to regulators said.

Services outsourcing seen as new growth engine

China’s desire to expand the out-sourcing of services requires the support of tax incentives and policies, industry experts say.

Watchdog calls for two-layer media system

Media that are not designated “official” should operate according to a market-oriented model, with official media remaining as propaganda mouthpieces and performing ideological control functions, said the chief of the mainland’s press and publications watchdog.

Sports bosses argue legalised gambling would boost economy

Liberalising gambling laws could help the mainland survive the global economic downturn, sports officials said at the annual meeting of parliament this week.

Heritage body vows better strategy on lost relics

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has pledged to heed public calls for a better strategy relating to lost Chinese relics overseas after it was criticised for failing to be more active in opposing the controversial auction of two bronze animal heads at Christie’s in Paris last month.

Sino-Env appoints financial adviser

Faced with the threat of a change in shareholder control, Sino-Environment Technology is seeking the advice of nTan Corporate Advisory Pte Ltd on all implications and the measures needed to keep its business going.

TTL sues ex-CEO for $423k

TTL Holdings is suing its former chief executive officer and director, Ho Kang Peng. The plastics components maker filed a writ of summons with the High Court of Singapore against Mr. Ho on Thursday.

3 Guangzhao directors call it a day

Three independent directors of Guangzhao Industrial Forest Biotechnology Group have resigned with immediate effect. Lew Syn Pau, Yong Wan Hong Jean and Ong Kian Min have also given up their respective appointments as chairman and members of the audit, nominating and remuneration committees.

Prices of golf club membership holding steady - for now

Stock prices have tumbled to their lowest levels since 2003. On the property front, asset writedowns and landbank provisions have begun. The job market is facing its worst crisis in years. And the global financial market and system remain in meltdown mode.

Beauty China’s big expansion plans

Mr. Wong - needs to raise cash before HK$80.8m loan matures this year

8-10 firms still eyeing key stake in Straits Asia, says CEO

Mr. Ong indicated that any deal would have to be at some premium to Straits Asia's current share price

Late payers making it ugly for Beauty China

The financial crisis has exacted a heavy toll on Beauty China’s balance sheet, with a startling rise in the number of cash-strapped customers defaulting or deferring payments.

Straits Asia set to add another coal mine

Mining company Straits Asia Resources is close to acquiring a third coal mine in Indonesia, chief executive Richard Ong said yesterday at a press conference.

Cities cracks down on running bosses

Pearl River delta cities in south China’s Guangdong Province are seeking ways to fight bosses who run away while defaulting workers wages amid global financial crisis.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Citigroup stock falls below $1 for first time

The price of a Citigroup share on Thursday fell below $1 in a sign that investors are losing confidence that the lender, which operates in more than 100 countries, can be restored to health after $37.5 billion of losses in the 15 months ended December 31.

Bear turns bear

Steven Leuthold, whose Grizzly Short Fund makes money for investors by betting companies will fail, says he wouldn’t invest in his own fund now because the U.S. stock market is close to its bottom.

China promises spending, but it might not be new

Warning that China faces “unprecedented difficulties and challenges,” Prime Minister Wen Jiabao outlined a barrage of construction, increased subsidies and economic measures Thursday aimed at continuing his nation’s modernization despite the world financial crisis.

Downturn humbling blue-chip stocks, once Dow’s pride

After months of breathtaking declines, this is what Wall Street has come to: Blue-chip companies, once considered safe investments and cornerstones of the U.S. economy, are akin to penny stocks.

Undisclosed losses at Merrill Lynch lead to a trading inquiry

One Merrill Lynch trader apparently gambled away more than $120 million in the currency markets. Others seemingly lost hundreds of millions on tricky credit derivatives.

GIC weighs its options

GIC officials 'are looking at all options on how to limit the damage,' said one person familiar with the matter. 'I wouldn't be surprised if they cut their stake to avoid a huge loss through dilution, but there is no decision yet.' A Citigroup spokesman in Hong Kong declined to comment.

HK to settle trade in yuan

China will soon allow Hong Kong to settle cross-border trade in the Chinese yuan, the central bank governor said Friday, in a move seen as a step towards the greater convertibility of the currency.

Wife slasher tells CJ: My spouse drove me nuts

A former investment analyst poured out his grievances before the Chief Justice yesterday during his appeal against the four years in jail and eight strokes of the cane he got for slashing and stabbing his wife.

UBS resists giving US clients’ names

It tells Senate it regrets breaking US tax laws; calls for diplomatic resolution

Four Singaporeans make it to Forbes Asia philanthropy list

Most notable is Melissa Kwee, with her plans to hire migrant workers

Human rights: Beijing gives Washington as good as it gets

Once again, hours after Washington issued a report condemning China’s human rights record, Beijing retaliated by issuing one deploring the situation in the United States.

Chen to woo foreign media

Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian and his supporters are planning to woo international media to pressure the government for his release.

May Day ‘golden week’ gets nod

Beijing will allow local authorities to reinstate the week-long May Day holiday in an effort to stimulate tourism spending.

Shanghai trade fair sees deals fall 39 percent

Despite hopes for economic recovery, China’s exporters failed to get much encouragement this week from a major trade fair where deals fell nearly 40 percent from a year earlier, with bigger drops for some industries.

‘Swiss gigolo’ on trial

‘I live off money that women give me,’ the so-called ‘Swiss gigolo’ told his country’s police in 2001.

Park in Korea

Chio Bu (or Kang?)

She (was a he) is Non Poy.

DJIA - Rebounding?

For East Asia, crisis prompts a rethinking of dependence on exports

As trade withers around the world and freighters sit empty, some of the most vulnerable economies are proving to be small, international crossroads like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan - and that is prompting a rethinking of their economic development strategies.

How China’s Resource Reach Spread Abroad

Overseas resource deals used to be controversial, or failures, for China. Chinalco’s latest bid for Rio Tinto may change all that.

China bankruptcies create cracks in global supply chain

China’s hopes for a speedy export recovery from the global crisis could be undermined by the weakest links in its powerful supply chain - smaller companies too damaged by the downturn and credit crisis to get goods to market.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Buddha Bar 'sealed'

The trendy bar opened its first Asian franchise here late last year, renovating a historic former immigration building in the plush Menteng part of town and decorating it with large Buddha statues and images.

Work it out

Exercise will benefit your health provided you use the right duration, intensity and frequency. Find out how.

Stripped Icebergs

Amazing striped icebergs

Icebergs in the Antarctic area sometimes have stripes, formed by layers of snow that react to different conditions.

Blue stripes are often created when a crevice in the ice sheet fills up with melt water and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form.

When an iceberg falls into the sea, a layer of salty seawater can freeze to the underside. If this is rich in algae, it can form a green stripe.

Brown, black and yellow lines are caused by sediment, picked up when the ice sheet grinds downhill towards the sea.

Latest Design?

Abruptly, expatriate bankers are cut loose

Also out of date: “FILTH,” which stood for “Failed in London, try Hongkong,” using an old British spelling for Hong Kong. A long list of U.S. and European investment banks have been trimming staff in Hong Kong as well, although not on the same scale as in Europe or the United States.

China outlines ambitious plan for stimulus

Warning that China faces “unprecedented difficulties and challenges,” Premier Wen Jiabao outlined a barrage of construction, increased subsidies and economic measures on Thursday aimed at continuing his nation’s modernization despite a world financial crisis.

Massive bonuses might actually cause poor performance

Wall Street’s multimillion-dollar bonuses have long roused the populist ire. Bankers routinely defended their excessive pay saying it simply amounted to exceptional rewards for exceptional performance. The implication was that if you cut bonuses, you’d cut performance. My research suggests otherwise. Very large bonuses actually can cause job performance to deteriorate. Super-sized pay can take executive’s minds off their jobs and onto their bonuses.

France and Germany at odds at crucial time

Now, with the financial crisis showing no signs of bottoming out, the opportunity for Paris and Berlin to promote unity should have been ideal. Instead, they have adopted opposing tacks over how Europe should respond to the global meltdown.

Wine consumption may be linked to lower risk of esophageal cancer

But people who drink wine are generally different from those who drink beer and liquor, experts noted. They tend to come from higher income brackets and to be more educated, and it is hard for researchers to know whether it is the wine or some other aspect of their lifestyle that protects their health.

Not all economists are Keynesians

Many economists, including Nobel laureates, disagree with the Obama administration’s economic recovery strategy

Downturn effect: China and Japan go different ways

At opposite ends of the spectrum in this regard are China and Japan. While China’s proactive and aggressive strategy of spending on infrastructure and other public works projects seems to be paying off, a devastated and supine Japan makes only feeble gestures towards economic stimulus and pines for a return to the status quo ante

Don’t write off palm oil and related plays yet

International crude palm oil (CPO) prices have plunged from their record high of US$1,400 a tonne last year to below US$600 now, and the Q4 results of listed stocks such as Golden Agri and Indo Agri have not been encouraging either.

Beijing advised to cut purchase of US Treasury bills

Some leading Chinese economists have suggested that the government drastically reduce its purchase of Treasury bills from the United States. The advice comes within days of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, urging Chinese leaders to continue buying Treasury bills.

Auction of bronzes puts Paris’ reputation at risk

China turned up the heat on France yesterday over the controversial sale of two bronze animal heads, with National People’s Congress spokesman Li Zhaoxing warning that the auction might have compromised the perception of Paris as the world’s heritage capital.

Backers threaten to free Chen

Supporters of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian yesterday threatened to break into a detention centre to free the ex-leader, who is being held on corruption charges.

World misunderstands China’s military expenditure

What China includes and does not include in calculating its military budget is the reason the outside world fails to understand its real defence expenditure, military experts said.

Premier Wen reaffirms 8pc growth, but no new stimulus

Premier Wen Jiabao assured on Thursday that mainland will achieve 8 per cent growth this year despite a deepening financial crisis, setting out export support and spending programmes to shore up the economy.

ERA pays flipping profit to couple; agent and his boss quit

A Couple who successfully sued estate agency ERA Realty Network for flipping their apartment has got back the money that the agents made on it, with interest.

Young not as multilingual

Young Singaporeans are not as multilingual as their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, a symposium was told on Thursday.

Singapore GDP shrinking 8% may be probable - LKY

Lee said GIC bought “too early” into global banks such as Citigroup and UBS, which were both hammered by the financial meltdown that quickened in the second half of 2008.

Singapore May Be Followed In Race To The Bottom

Singapore’s Straits Times Index is the only index in the Asia ex-Japan group now trading below its October 2008 trough. But with other economies in the region faring at least as badly as Singapore, if not worse, that looks somewhat unfair.

The Greatest Depression Under Way

“The Greatest Depression” that The Trends Research Institute forecast, well before Wall Street or Washington would acknowledge recession, is upon us.

The global financial markets are collapsing.

Singapore Banks’ Book Value May Take AFS Hit - CSFB

Credit Suisse reiterates Underweight call on Singapore banks, warns available-for-sale securities (AFS) related destruction in book value likely to continue. Says shareholders’ equity hit last year by mark-to-market losses on AFS, which is key as banks are valued on their book value. Notes AFS securities are 123% of DBS’s (D05.SG) shareholders’ equity, 194% of UOB’s (U11.SG), 158% of OCBC’s (O39.SG); estimates that if corporate bonds marked down by another 10%, equities by 20% with government bonds unchanged, DBS’s book value will drop 6%, 13% lower for UOB, 8% for OCBC. Rates all 3 banks Neutral but says DBS top pick with S$9.50 target price; has S$5.00 target for OCBC, S$12.00 target for UOB. DBS +0.3% at S$7.21, OCBC +0.5% at S$4.27, UOB +1.0% at S$9.23. (KIG)

No new stimulus package from Premier Wen’s working report

Disappointment to the market expectation, there is NO new stimulus package announced by Premier Wen’s government working report today. The government still targets 8% GDP growth and CPI controlled under 4% in 2009. Although no new stimulus package is announced today, it does not mean less support from the government to boost the economy.

MGM Mirage says it may default on debt

Delay in annual report as it assesses financial position and liquidity needs

Dairy’s Pride Sours in Additive Controversy

Once touted as a health boost, a milk additive called OMP is now the focus of debates over food safety and China’s largest dairy.

A Decade to Lose by Andy Xie

If governments don’t understand and simply try to bring back the “good times” of an asset-based economy, it could result in a decade of stagnation.

When Optimism and Reality Collide

Upbeat forecasts about a worsening economy overlook what China really needs for a turnaround: structural adjustment.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

One in five U.S. mortgage borrowers are underwater

One in five U.S. homeowners with mortgages owe more to their lenders than their properties are worth, and the rate will increase as housing values drop in states that have so far avoided the worst of the crisis, a new study shows.

Communist party elders criticize China’s stimulus plan

As China’s government doles out $586 billion to stimulate its ailing economy, critics inside and outside the Communist Party have pressed for details about the secretive spending plan and demanded the right to follow the money.

Smoke Clears, Doubts Linger at CCTV Fire

Investigators are studying financial deals while trying to pin blame for a blaze that scorched a Beijing skyscraper last month.

Adultery site not the end of marriage is controversial, but couples cheated before the Web

Trade finance shrivels, pushing downturn deeper

Financing for international commerce is drying up fast, contributing to the first fall in global trade in decades and making it even harder to pull the world economy out of its downturn.

For U.S. debt collectors, the dead are a healthy bet

The banks need another bailout and countless homeowners cannot handle their mortgage payments, but one group is paying its bills: the dead.

Tight belts in America squeeze Asia

All eyes inevitably turn to China, with its huge population, high savings rate, low debt and fantastic headroom for growth. An independent economist, Andy Xie, estimates that current income of $3,300 per capita could triple within two decades through a combination of growth and currency appreciation. But two decades is a long time, and in the meantime we have to survive the next two years.

CIC eyes opportunities in energy, commodities

China Investment Corp sees investment opportunities in energy and commodities sectors as prices have fallen steeply, a senior official with the country’s US$200 billion sovereign wealth fund, said on Wednesday.

Make overseas sales of national treasures illegal, says arts chief

Beijing should legislate to prohibit the sale of national relics in foreign countries, a National People’s Congress member from Hong Kong has suggested.

8pc growth will be tough task, minister admits

Two ministers in charge of economic affairs voiced caution on the economy yesterday, with one saying that the goal of maintaining an 8 per cent growth rate this year would be difficult and hinting that the central government would need further stimulus measures.

Saving money? Participants still getting ‘nice’ hotels and food

Much-touted cost-cutting efforts at this year’s session of the CPPCC were barely apparent to members at the meeting.

Beijing backs away from relics bidder

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has sought to distance itself from the apparent sabotage of the auction of two bronze animal heads in Paris last week, saying “it was totally the action of an individual”.

Taipei court orders 2-month extension to Chen’s detention

Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, tainted by allegations of graft, will remain in detention until at least May 26.

To hold on or to give in to panic-selling?

Mr. Cramer had it right in October, even if all he did was tell people something they already should have known: The stock market is no place for money you will need in the next five years.

China stocks surge 6.1 pct on data, policy pledge

China’s main stock index surged over 6 percent on Wednesday, posting its biggest gain since November, after the government said it would expand its fiscal spending plan and data supported hopes for an early economic recovery.

Contest over idea of an East Asia region

Should East Asian duality be addressed by designing regionalism or allowing it to evolve?

Many audit committee members lack qualifications

Too few audit committee members for listed companies have formal qualifications or experience, says the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS). It fears this may affect Singapore’s goal to become a global financial centre.

SGX defends move to ease fund-raising for firms

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has defended its controversial move to give listed firms more leeway in raising funds without tripping them with hurdles such as getting shareholders’ fresh approval.

Beijing urged to revamp rating, credit guarantees

China needs new rules to strengthen its control of the country’s rating and credit guarantee systems, says a top Chinese banker, describing the current situation as ‘disorderly and messy’.

SGX lays down marker on profit guarantees

New rules also seek more clarity on use of funds raised; Life sciences firms to get easier IPO ride

Revised SGX rules fortify governance

It’d be fair to say that brokers, underwriters and placement agents are generally reluctant to disclose too much when it comes to details of their business, preferring the ‘less is best’ approach to corporate governance.

China May Announce New Stimulus Measures Tomorrow

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao may announce new stimulus measures tomorrow, adding to a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) spending plan as the government tries to revive growth in the world’s third-biggest economy.

Palm oil may fall 15% in 3-6 mths: Goldman

The slide is likely to halt rally in plantation stocks

S&P cuts CapitaLand’s long-term outlook

Unsolicited rating is misleading without our input: developer

Dry bulk sailing in choppy waters

Vincent Wee talks to industry players to find out the challenges facing this sector during this global downturn

The perils of public ownership

As the state extends its creeping control over the banking system, the age old problems of public ownership are back with a vengeance in the shape of muddled objectives, conflicts of interest and naked populism.

The end of irrational exuberance

In October 1996 the S&P 500 rose above 700 for the first time and by December of that year had gained 21 per cent. That prompted Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman at the time, to talk of irrational exuberance unduly escalating asset values.

Oil producers running out of storage space

Many oil tankers are little more than floating storage facilities now.

Have We Gotten This Bad?

Even the cat is 4 legs up the lorry!

More shorter-term calls from brokers emerging

Recommendations are for periods of a day to 3 months

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Call for panel to hold public hearing

A group of criminal lawyers want proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code to be subject to closer and deeper public scrutiny as it is a matter which may concern a lot of people.

Hot issue: Early access to a lawyer

Code should state explicitly accused’s right, lawyers say in feedback on draft

Give judges more leeway in criminal cases, say counsel

Judges should have more say when it comes to handling criminal cases and be allowed to vary sentences in appropriate cases, lawyers here have said in their feedback to the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code.

Singapore office rents fall sharpest in Asia

Landlords here more defensive, tenant retention given priority: CBRE report

Citi Rescue Gives Prince, Singapore Sweeter Terms: David Reilly

It’s good to be a Saudi prince. And it’s good to be an investment company backed by the government of Singapore, or a former Citigroup chief executive. For that you get favoured treatment from Citigroup Inc.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Jitters over cash position of S-chips

Probe at Fibrechem has analysts examining other China plays here

Morgan Stanley’s Chinese land scandal

Since the height of China’s property boom, Morgan Stanley’s huge real estate deals here have been the envy of the industry. Then, scandal hit.

Chinese bidder says he will not pay for looted bronzes

The mysterious bidder for two prized Chinese sculptures surfaced Monday, saying it was his patriotic duty to refuse to pay the $40 million winning bid.

The Politics of Overseas Investment

The reaction to the first wave of Chinese outbound investment in 2009 has been decidedly mixed. It is in China’s interests to figure out why this is.

Chinese Manufactures on the Brink of Failure

China needs to foster domestic demand in order to save failing Chinese manufacturers.

Wall Street’s allure may be gone for good

Massive losses, bailouts, big bonuses have done untold damage to bankers’ image

NEL auditors, 3 directors ousted at fiery EGM

KPMG was removed as external auditors to NEL Group yesterday at an extraordinary general meeting marked by heated exchanges between the parties.

Commission overseeing food safety to be set up

The State Council will set up a new, centralised commission to supervise the country’s much-criticised food industry after a string of embarrassing scandals that have left hundreds of thousands of people sick and tarnished China’s international image.

China lures skilled workers back home

Beijing is counting on ‘sea turtles’ to help retool the country’s economy and boost growth

Chen’s legal team queries credibility of prosecution evidence

Lawyers for former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian yesterday spent hours questioning the credibility of testimony used by prosecutors in the graft charges against the ex-leader.

Celebrities liable for endorsing unsafe foods

Celebrities will share liability if the food products they endorse prove to be unsafe, under a law to be submitted to Beijing’s parliament, state media reported on Thursday.

Latest Con Job from USA – Paul Krugman

This would offer investors a one-way bet: if the assets rise in price, investors win; if they fall substantially, investors walk away and leave the government holding the bag. Again, heads they win, tails we lose.

Chinese bidder says will not pay for relics bought at Paris auction

Cai said that his bid was a patriotic act

Dealing With The Emotion by Ajahn Brahm

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Merlion hit by lightning

Singapore’s iconic Merlion statue, a popular tourist attraction, was damaged by lightning on Saturday afternoon during a thunderstorm, according to reports.

In ancient China, natural disasters are usually an omen of a change in the “mandate of heaven.” A devastating earthquake flattened the Chinese city of Tangshan in 1976 just a month before Mao Zedong’s demise.

Is heaven signaling that time is up for someone who has been in power for more than half a century?

China firms turn to home market

‘Chinese consumers don’t care about quality. They look only at the price,’ said Mr. Guo, who took over the ceramics business from his in-laws in 1994.

Darker shadows hover over S-chips

FibreChem fiasco seems to have led companies to be more careful in their statements, especially numbers

GIC cuts loss in one fell swop

Conversion of its Citigroup preferred shares into common stock will pare paper loss from US$5.5 billion to US$1.67 billion

Banks’ profits plunge as bad-loan provisions soar

Things may get worse as net interest margins get squeezed and credit deterioration sets in

Yunnan detainee beaten to death

Authorities in Yunnan province yesterday reversed their finding on the suspicious death of a young detainee, who is now believed to have been beaten to death by prison bullies.

Christie’s could play role in return of heads

Auction house believed to be in talks with buyer

Aircraft maker seeks to recruit foreign executives

For the first time, an aviation company closely tied to the military will be looking to hire overseas talent for management roles.

Taskforces set up to keep lid on protests

Tighter watch on sources of unrest

Officials ordered to cut costs or keep them unchanged

The ruling Communist Party and the State Council jointly issued a notice yesterday requiring all party organs and government bodies to cut unnecessary and wasteful spending in what has been officially labelled as the “most difficult year”.

Coal price deadlock put in Beijing’s hands

Miners and power firms fail to find middle ground

Li, Caijing plan online news service

Richard Li Tzar-kai, chairman of PCCW, plans to set up an online financial news provider with Caijing magazine on the mainland to target investors in the world’s fastest-growing major economy, sources say.

I’ve had enough of you, Edison Chen, says sex-photos victim

Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi yesterday broke her silence on last year’s internet sex-photos scandal - using a TV interview to launch a blistering attack on the star at the centre of it, Edison Chen Koon-hei.

Jackie Chan rejects two sites offered

Star proposes putting historic houses under Tsing Ma Bridge

Yangtze Delta rail network moves step closer as work starts on Shanghai-Hangzhou section

A high-speed rail network linking cities in the Yangtze Delta took a step closer to completion this week when Shanghai started work on a line to Hangzhou.