China Data

Tue, 2010/01/12 - 8:57pm | Your editor

 

     Chinese data showed that it ended 2009 with record monthly imports of crude oil and soybeans and a strong appetite for iron ore and copper. Chinese exports soared 17.7% vs a forecast for a 4$ rise. China also zapped emerging markets with an announcement that it would raise reserve requirements for banks a half percent to 16% by Jan. 18. Fears that other developing countries would follow suit hit stock markets.

 

     With exquisite bad timing, IFM Investment Ltd, a residential real estate brokerage from Beijing, will come to market via an IPO this week as NYSE.CTC.

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Early Bird Note on Inflation

Sun, 2010/01/10 - 8:20pm | Your editor

    Your editor has a 10-year Treasury bond coming due this month, an inflation-indexed one on which I pay Federal but not state and local tax. It has not been a brilliant investment, because I would have earned more (and paid more tax) had I owned a straight T-bond.

 

    Now I must decide if I want to roll it over into another inflation-indexed bond. Given the current economy I swing to no. On the one hand, deficits in the US and lots of other countries mean that there is a risk of inflation taking off again, later if not immediately. But are these bonds, on which the inflation protection is taxed, the best way to handle the price rise risk?

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Predictability

Fri, 2010/01/08 - 3:27pm | Your editor

     The weatherman predicted 1 to 3 inches of snow today and the white stuff is falling as I write. The ability of forecasters to get short-term predictions right does not mean anything when you consider global warming, or stock markets. Our 21st

century attitude is that every risk has to be tallied and provided for. My grandchildren wear helmets when they ride their tricycles. Neither my generation nor my children’s did. In San Francisco, even dogs riding in the baskets of bicycles wear helmets, with little holes for their ears.

     That is why terrorism is so terrifying. It seems to come out of the blue. We have another stock recommendation in this sector today for paid subscribers. Read more »

Tax Crackdown

Thu, 2010/01/07 - 2:55pm | Your editor

     Under Internal Revenue Service pressure, the Big Three Israeli banks have told all US residents with Israel bank shareholding accounts to sell all securities held or close them. Israel’s banks will no longer allow US residents to have securities accounts, according to Globes Israel, a website. Israeli banks, following the advise of their lawyers, are instructing US residents with Israeli accounts to immediately sell the securities in them, or, alternatively, to close the accounts.

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7/7 Snow

Wed, 2010/01/06 - 3:42pm | Your editor

     Here is a note which I am printing with a question: can this go on?

     Senior NASDAQ OMX officials today announced that a record 33 Chinese companies, the most of any U.S. exchange, listed on the NASDAQ in 2009. A total of 124 Chinese companies now list on NASDAQ, including 102 from mainland China and 22 from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

     The decade of the teens has begun with snow, ice, and cold winds. Today the following message was received from M O’C: Read more »

Pressure to Predict Resisted

Tue, 2010/01/05 - 7:04pm | Your editor

     The main reason I am resisting the pressure to do forecasting for the year which has just begun is that I cannot predict what the Fed is going to do when. Unlike the economics fraternity who are setting up shadow “open market committees” in favor of tightening now or later, or more easing, I do not have a clear picture of what the economy is up to right now.

 

     So I am not going to tell the Federal Reserve what it should do. And given my agnosticism about my own country, you can hardly expect me to pontificate on what other central banks should do now.

 

     Yet from the supply of money spring trends in stocks and bonds, currencies, gold, real estate, jobs, pensions, growth, trade. You name it.

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Jacob Zuma and Me

Mon, 2010/01/04 - 3:53pm | Your editor

While the Aughts were a lost decade for US investors, with Wall Street down an average of 1.3% per year during the decade, almost any major foreign market outside Japan produced strongly positive investment returns, according to a tally by The New York Times (to Nov. 30).

 

Brazil, from which I have just returned, did best, up 20% per year in total return (including dividends). Recovering Russia coming from a low base, came in second, up 15.6%/yr, with India, up 14.1%, in third place. Ranked 4th was Mexico, up 13%/yr, again boosted by recovery from a crisis.

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Google My Guru

Thu, 2009/12/31 - 7:28am | Your editor

Segways, water taxis, vans, and feet haul the tourists into and out of Sint Maartin (Philipsburg) and Saint Martin (Marigot), our port Wednesday (along with three monster cruise ships), because the sea is too rough for our planned berth at St. Barts (where we would have had to use a tender.) Duty-free stores, many run by East Indians who speak neither French nor Dutch, await their dollars. I bought a suitcase to replace the one whose wheels came off from a Rajastan merchant who spoke only Hindi and English, and I bargained hard.

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Tuesday newsletter: Gens Sainte Lucie

Tue, 2009/12/29 - 6:02pm | Your editor

Today I am in the port of St. Lucia, Castries, along with passengers from 4 great ocean liners, including the QE2. There are at least three reasons I can think of which make St. Lucia special.

It is one of only two Caribbean islands with surviving Amerindian tribes, who live in a lowlands mini-rain forest as subsistence farmers. They speak English. Read more »

Delayed Sailing

Mon, 2009/12/28 - 7:23pm | Your editor

My ship dodged around Venezuela and took us to Trinidad on Monday, which we learned at the city's Anglican Cathedral is the day of the Slaughter of the Innocents. There were lots of little children being told by the bishop about the dangers of hunger for power, which King Herod apparently exhibited. I thought the sermon was more appropriate for older people, starting with Hugo Chavez across the waters. Or perhaps the Members of Parliament here in Port of Spain, the only ones allowed to park across the square from the neo-Gothic pile of Holy Trinity.

We have now set sail after a delay. Earlier the desperate purser announced that two passengers never made it back on board. Read more »