Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Big Dead-Cat Bounce

Disastrous as that would be, if the alternative is chosen and Washington’s printing presses beget hyperinflation, that would probably be worse. In a serious deflation, those who have saved for a rainy day can make it through okay. In hyperinflation, which unconstrained further spending could easily bring on, everyone loses.

‘Greatest bubble’ in the making

The mainland is in the midst of “the greatest bubble in history”, a former general counsel of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) says.

ADB chief warns of asset bubbles in China

It is one of the risks threatening Asia’s V-shaped recovery

China Drawing High-Tech Research From U.S.

For years, many of China’s best and brightest left for the United States, where high-tech industry was more cutting-edge. But Mark R. Pinto is moving in the opposite direction.

DBS ties up with PayPal to spur online payments

Online payments facilitator, PayPal yesterday announced plans to ramp up Singapore operations with more hires and a tie-up with DBS Bank which would make it easier and more secure for the latter’s customers to shop online.

Management of Sino-Environment’s China units seek 20% stake

In the latest twist at Sino-Environment, the key management of its subsidiaries in China have pledged their support to help restart business operations.

Stanley Ho has ‘extensive links’ to triads, says US report

New Jersey casino regulators said overnight on Wednesday that they have evidence Stanley Ho, the Asian casino magnate, has extensive ties to organised crime in mainland.

Let the yuan rise, World Bank tells China

The World Bank yesterday urged China to let its currency rise to contain inflation and stop the economy from overheating, predicting that growth will gallop ahead at 9.5 per cent this year. ‘Strengthening the exchange rate can help reduce inflationary pressures and rebalance the economy,’ the World Bank said in its latest quarterly update on the world’s third-largest economy.

Rise in yuan would be disastrous, say exporters

A rise in the yuan would be a disaster for labour-intensive mainland exporters, a semi-official trade group said on Thursday, as frictions grow with the US and other western powers over Beijing’s stable currency policy.

China official warns of risk from yuan rise

A Cabinet official said a further rise in China’s currency risks driving exporters out of business, a newspaper reported Friday, as Beijing stepped up a war of words with Washington over its exchange rate controls.

History shows that yuan appreciation won’t help

If you don’t believe that, just look at the example of Japan in the 1980s, when a rapidly appreciating currency simply fuelled the excesses of the bubble economy and led ultimately to the crash of the early 1990s and Japan’s subsequent lost decade.

Rio Tinto, Chinalco, strike major deal for Guinea iron ore

Mining giant Rio Tinto and China’s Chinalco Friday signed a 1.35 billion US dollar deal to develop a huge African iron ore field, renewing close ties after a major deal collapsed last year.

SOEs told to quit property market

Scores of state-owned enterprises have been ordered to get out of the property market and concentrate on their core businesses.

China monetary tightening won’t crimp metals - SocGen

Monetary tightening in China, the world’s largest metals user, will have little impact on consumption and the country will continue to drive metals demand for years, David Wilson of Societe Generale said on Friday.

Key property developers to gain from SOE order

Mainland’s move to ask some state firms whose core business is not property to exit the sector will likely benefit major developers by helping consolidate the industry, analysts said on Friday.

Net produces new generation of China activists

Lin Xiuying believes her daughter bled to death after being gang-raped two years ago by a group of thugs that had ties to the police in their southern Chinese town.

Most S-chips being frozen out by analysts

Analysts are giving most Chinese firms listed in Singapore the cold shoulder amid a series of scandals and mediocre profit results that have brought the once-high fliers down to earth.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

How a school designed for 1500 pupils ends up with 5315

“Live in famous house, study in prestige school” is the real estate advert that attracted Li Lin to buy an apartment in this “famous” Zhongbo Community 4 years ago. After the spring festival, he planned to transfer his son to the promised prestige school but almost got rejected because the school is severely overcrowded.


Sexual repression of the stay at home women in China’s rural areas

Not long ago, Dr. Zhang Hongyan encountered an embarrassing moment at the hospital emergency room: a woman dressed in rags was sent to the hospital with her lower body attached to her pet dog’s genital.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Romanian probe ‘must be thorough’

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday he expects Romania to ‘seriously consider’ the evidence from a recently concluded coroner’s inquiry into a fatal road accident that allegedly involved former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu.

State enterprises moving in on global real estate

China’s government-backed enterprises have widened their investment targets from finance to real estate assets around the world, and their shopping sprees are picking up pace as their financial muscle increases and overseas property prices drop, analysts say.

Thai Prime Minister rejects protesters’ call for new elections

Thailand’s prime minister, backed by a formidable military force, rejected an ultimatum to dissolve Parliament on Monday as tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters vowed to splatter the seat of government with their own blood if their demands weren’t met.

Thai Prime Minister rejects rally’s election ultimatum

Thailand’s prime minister on Monday rejected an ultimatum by tens of thousands of protesters who had besieged the army barracks where he was holed up to demand immediate elections.

The curious case of Jardine & the STI

Throughout all of last week, sharp rises in Jardine Matheson (JM), Jardine Strategic (JS) and Jardine Cycle & Carriage (JC&C) to new all-time highs helped push the Straits Times Index significantly higher on five successive days.

US embassy staffer flees South Korea amid fraud probe

A US embassy staffer in South Korea has fled the country amid an investigation into claims that he swindled a local widow out of 220 million won (194,000 dollars), police said Monday.

Wen vows to tackle income gap

Coupled with inflation, it may spark social unrest and weaken state power

Monday, 15 March 2010

Heed Keynes’ advice about tightening

John Maynard Keynes wrote during the Great Depression that only ‘fools and madmen’ will tell you ‘the path of escape is to be found in strict economy’. Several countries have now started ‘strict economy’, or fiscal tightening, after the biggest financial crisis since World War II.

Record prices eyed for West Coast condo

The Vision units to be priced mostly at $1,000-$1,200 psf during preview

Officials see thorny path to law on declaring assets

Conditions are not ripe to require officials to publicly declare their assets, a top legislating official said yesterday on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress.

Silence loud on police raids over PCCW’s failed privatisation

Strangely, there is no word on the swoop on the homes and offices of Richard Li and others connected with attempt to take company private

The threat posed to Beijing by bad debts

Former president Jiang Zemin, according to diplomatic lore, once boasted about his knowledge of finance by reciting “assets equal liabilities plus equity” to his bemused US counterpart Bill Clinton. The joke, it seems, is that this basic accounting formula should be common knowledge and so it’s absurd to show off with it. But, as people fret about China’s financial position today, it may be good to remind them of this formula to see the big picture.

Why is Uncle Sam’s credit rating higher than China’s?

Moody’s Investor Services warned last month that the triple A credit rating of the highly geared US economy should not be taken for granted.

Yuan may not follow China trade bounce

China’s better than expected trade results, released yesterday, prompted speculation that a revaluation of the currency may come soon but analysts have warned that this may not be the case.

Import surge shrinks China’s trade surplus

China’s trade surplus shrank to the lowest level in a year last month as a surge in imports signalled the nation may start to outshine the United States as a destination for the world’s goods.

Ex-diplomat’s account does not tally with evidence

Car not stolen outside Romanian embassy, as claimed by him

Class action suits may cost Toyota US$3b

Toyota owners claiming that massive safety recalls are causing the value of their vehicles to plummet have filed at least 89 class action lawsuits that could cost the Japanese auto giant US$3 billion or more, according to an Associated Press review of cases, legal precedent and interviews with experts.

Even professionals can’t afford new flats in China

The luxury apartment buildings Yang Xuhua passes on her way to work are a daily reminder of her own frustrated efforts to buy a home. Prices for even modest apartments in Shanghai have soared, putting home purchases out of reach for white-collar workers and professionals.

China Tightens Land Purchase Rules, Bans Villas

China is requiring a down payment for land purchases equal to 50 percent of a plot’s price and prohibited the supply of land for villas as the government sought to increase affordable housing.

Bubble talk drowns out the champagne music

The bubbly enthusiasm that many analysts express about the Chinese economy reminds me of the old-time US variety show host Lawrence Welk, who banished worries each week with soothing sounds from his “Champagne Music Makers”.

Arbitrage potential in Swissco takeover

Every now and then, market imperfections throw up arbitrage potential from corporate activity. One such opportunity may just be emerging in the ongoing takeover of offshore services specialist Swissco International by Catalyst-listed C2O Holdings.

A China bust? No way; better worry about West

Doing things its own way has helped China to be where it now stands economically

Obama is using old-fashioned ‘containment’

A top Chinese diplomatic adviser has accused the Obama administration of reviving a cold war tactic in its recent dealings towards China.

Thousands of protesters gather in Bangkok, seek polls

Tens of thousands of protesters converged in Bangkok on Sunday to give Thailand’s military-backed government an ultimatum: either call elections or face more pro-democracy demonstrations over the coming week.

Thai anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok

Tens of thousands of red-shirted supporters of deposed Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra were rallying amid tight security in Bangkok Sunday to demand the government’s resignation.

New PR limits may hit Indian flat sellers

Pool of buyers could shrink despite higher quotas for Indians, say property agents

Door narrows for foreign workers in Singapore

Construction workers from Bangladesh, hotel staff from the Philippines, waitresses from China, shipyard welders from Myanmar, technology professionals from India -- Singapore has them all.

Door narrows for foreign workers in Singapore

Construction workers from Bangladesh, hotel staff from the Philippines, waitresses from China, shipyard welders from Myanmar, technology professionals from India -- Singapore has them all.

HSBC says warning signs of coming general correction are unmistakable

Global financial markets are yet to bottom and investors should hold cash, investment-grade debt or defensive stocks to ride out a coming “general correction”, according to HSBC Holdings.

Cross-strait fast-rail link on agenda

Not content with criss-crossing the mainland and much of Asia with high-speed rail lines, Beijing plans an even more eye-popping route - under the sea to Taiwan.

Shanghai’s new-look airport ahead of World Expo

Shanghai this week will unveil a brand-new airport terminal -- the latest mega-infrastructure project to be completed as the Chinese city prepares to welcome tens of millions of visitors to Expo 2010.

Sex-scandal official held over graft

A Guangxi tobacco official was arrested yesterday on corruption charges, days after his diary describing sex with women and bribe-taking was leaked online and caused a national outcry.

Open letter demands governor step down

At least 210 journalists and intellectuals have signed an open letter calling for the impeachment and resignation of Hubei governor Li Hongzhong, who hit the headlines last week for snatching a recorder from a journalist on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress.

Premier: China’s yuan to remain ‘basically stable’

China’s premier rejected foreign pressure over its exchange rate controls and said Sunday the Chinese currency will be kept “basically stable.”

Chinese Leader Firmly Defends Currency and Trade Policies

Premier Wen Jiabao sharply defended China’s currency and trade policies on Sunday against what he called foreign “finger-pointing,” charging instead that the developed world seeks to force unfair changes in those policies “just for the purposes of increasing their own exports.”

China’s Wen gives no ground on calls for yuan rise

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday that external calls for yuan appreciation were unhelpful and even a form of trade protectionism, vowing that Beijing would stick to its own course for currency reform.

China: World might face ‘double dip’ recession

China’s premier says the world might face a “double dip” recession due to continued high unemployment and risks in financial systems.

China faces tough year, Wen rejects yuan pressure

China faces a difficult year as it works to maintain economic growth and spur development, but it will not be bullied into changing its exchange rate policy, Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday.

China alleges diplomatic snub at Copenhagen summit

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he was snubbed at last year’s Copenhagen climate change conference and fired back Sunday at critics who accuse China of arrogance.

Better auditing behind arrest of TVB five

New management and tighter internal auditing were the key changes at broadcaster TVB which lead to the arrest of the station’s flamboyant general manager and prominent host on corruption charges, insiders say.

Australia defends mandatory Internet filter

Australia Sunday defended its plan to block some Internet content, such as that featuring child sex abuse or advocating terrorism, after a media rights watchdog warned it may hurt free speech.

A long way to go to clean up deep-rooted corruption

Meetings of the nation’s parliament are ritual affairs. But because China is a one-party state, the annual sessions of the legislative and political consultative bodies also amount to a political-party conference. As such, they give the ambitious a rare opportunity to make an impression among the elite and rank and file. The duller the proceedings, the better for attention-seekers.

No red carpet for S-chips in Taiwan

Bourse rule barring firms with over 30% Chinese shareholders is a hurdle

How a US giant covered up US$50b debt

It is the Wall Street equivalent of a coroner’s report - a 2,200-page document that lays out, in new and startling detail, how Lehman Brothers used accounting sleight of hand to conceal the bad investments that led to its undoing.

Findings on Lehman Take Even Experts by Surprise

For the year that it took the court-appointed examiner to complete his report on the demise of Lehman Brothers, officials from Wall Street to Washington were anticipating it as the definitive account of the largest bankruptcy in American history.

COE supply: Jams ahead?

Cut could result in what it is aimed at preventing - wild fluctuations

As Its Arms Makers Falter, Russia Buys Abroad

Once-legendary Russian weapons are suffering embarrassing quality-control problems. Algeria, for example, recently returned a shipment of MIG jets because of defects.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A turn for the worse

Beijing’s foreign-policy hubris and the need to appease nationalists may explain the cooling of Sino-US relations

Will foreign students close the ‘Asia gap’?

Australia, a country shaped by migration, is again being challenged to define itself by a new wave of migration from its giant Asian neighbours. How Australia deals with the new and different influx from China and India will also affect its political and strategic relations.

Revealed at last: the true purpose of the World Expo

Suddenly, the true purpose of expos becomes a lot clearer. Judging from their track record, they are nothing more than a device used by corrupt but self-aggrandising officials to siphon vast amounts of money out of the public purse and into their own pockets and those of their business cronies.

IPO is just the start of the journey

Companies need to take certain considerations into account before embarking on the listing process

Graft-buster calls for officials’ kin to disclose assets

Ex-audit chief targets ‘grey income’

Foreign investment in south China to fall

Foreign investment in south China is expected to fall 4.9 per cent this year, with firms facing the challenge of labour shortages and rising wages, according to a survey by the region’s American business chamber.

Chinese zoo blamed for death of 11 Siberian tigers

Eleven rare Siberian tigers have died at a wildlife park in a startling case that activists say hints at unsavoury practices among some zoos and animal farms in China: They are over breeding endangered animals in the hopes of making illicit profit on their carcasses.

Chinese official plan revamp for college exams

China plans to revamp its university admissions system, allowing students to take subject-specific tests and introducing other measures besides the exam to ease the stress millions of students undergo as they compete for a coveted few spots in colleges.

China Warns Google Again After C.E.O.’s Remarks

One of China’s top Internet regulators warned bluntly on Friday that any move by Google to stop censoring its Chinese search engine would be “irresponsible” and would draw a response from the Beijing government.

China ousts US as Bordeaux’s top client outside Europe

China’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for wine has ousted America as Bordeaux’s number one client outside Europe, latest figures showed Friday.

Beijing defends ‘indigenous’ procurement rules

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman on Tuesday defended rules that foreign companies claim lock them out of the multibillion dollar market for selling computers and office equipment to government departments.

Better-paid workers key to mainland’s progress

There are few constants in business, but the law of supply and demand is one of them. With business picking up and labour short, migrant workers in Guangdong province are increasingly choosy about what jobs they take - and not surprisingly so.

Out of touch

China’s central bankers cannot just ignore the political side of their massive US debt holdings

Beijing land ban on Richard Li firm

Richard Li Tzar-kai’s property arm has been banned from buying or selling land in Beijing as part of government efforts to crack down on perceived land speculation.

China to bid on US high-speed rail projects

China plans to bid for contracts to build U.S. high-speed train lines and is stepping up exports of rail technology to Europe and Latin America, a government official said Saturday.

Google “99.9 pct” sure to shut China search engine

Talks with China over censorship have reached an apparent impasse and Google, the world’s largest search engine, is now “99.9 percent” certain to shut its Chinese search engine, the Financial Times said on Saturday.

Guangdong’s diamond factories polish their act

The mainland is the world’s second-largest processor of small diamonds, after India, and is keen to establish an industry that encompasses not just manufacturing but trading, designing and retailing. This won’t happen until there is more interest by mainlanders in owning diamonds.

Hundreds sent to boot camps in soccer drive

Hundreds of mainland soccer officials, referees and coaches were sent to “anti-corruption rectification education camps” in Beijing and Guangdong yesterday as the authorities seek to clean up the sport.

Rescue tipped for banks overexposed to local government losses

China may be forced to rescue banks that made loans for local government projects under the unprecedented stimulus programme revealed in 2008, according to Citigroup and an academic from Northwestern University.

Pay-TV operators lose ‘exclusive content’ card

Cut-throat bidding wars may be a thing of the past as govt tells operators to share content with each other; M1 may enter pay-TV market but content providers could lose out

SingTel or StarHub, just one box needed

One set-top box - that is all you need to watch cable TV programmes from either StarHub or SingTel.

Streamline stockpiles to get rid of ‘scrap’ gear, PLA commander says

A PLA deputy to the National People’s Congress has called for a major shake-up of the way that the military sources and maintains equipment stockpiles, to prevent stores being filled with outdated gear that is “only good for scrap”.

China’s new generation picky about factory jobs

But another key reason is the changing labour force: More than half of China’s working-age population is made up of labourers such as Chen, young people born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Protesters surge into Bangkok wanting new election

Thousands of red-shirted protesters surging into the Thai capital from impoverished rural areas Saturday gave the government an ultimatum to “return power to the people” or face mass marches in key locations.

Marc Faber: Don't Expect Another Crash ... Bernanke Won't Allow it

"I would rather be lightening up on positions in the next couple of weeks than heavily buying in here," says Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report.

Faber and Mish: We're Doomed and Washington Can't Do Anything About It

"It's beyond repair -- it's too late," to avert fiscal disaster, Faber declares.

Mish agrees: "The day of reckoning has arrived. The question is how long it takes to play out."