Wed, 2009/10/28 - 10:14pm | Your editor

Today's note is just for the paid subscribers about the excellent GSK Q3 results. Net rose 30% to £1.33 bn year over year, mainly from swine-flu related sales and from what CEO Andrew Witty called “diversifying from while pills for western markets”. It's an ill wind indeed that blows nobody any good. Revenues were up 15% in sterling to £6.7 but only 3% in constant currencies. Flu will continue to boost profits in Q4. GSK raised its dividend to 16 pence from 15 pence.

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Thai That For Me

Tue, 2009/10/27 - 5:19pm | Your editor

Paul Renaud of writes from Phuket, Thailand: In economic transactions and stock markets, trust in the integrity of market players, brokers, and institutions is the key. The Thai exchanges should hear the wake-up call to provide what is needed to get more people to view stocks as a form of legitimate savings. Read more »

Mo and Me

Mon, 2009/10/26 - 1:21pm | Your editor

When I worked as a reporter in Paris, one of my colleagues and sources was a Palestinian, Mohammed (Mo) Tarbush, who acted as a spokesman for an Arab-American group at the same time as being a journalist. My favorite Mo outrageous statement was: “The Jews not only stole our land; they also stole our food.”

He was reacting to the French gastronomic success of prepared foods like humous bi tahini (a dip ground chickpeas or garbanzo beans in sesame sauce), falafel (fried chickpea balls), and sharawma (lamb slices off a vertical spit.) These supposed Israeli dishes lured French fast food eaters along with McDonald's hamburgers. But as Mo groused, they were “really Arab”. Read more »


Fri, 2009/10/23 - 4:24pm | Your editor

     Raj Rajaratnam, the accused Galleon hedge fund insider trader, was arrested just before he was due to fly to London. Bloomberg today tells what he was planning to do there. The Sri Lankan-born Tamil investment manager was planned to create a fund to invest in that country, now that the war between its Sinhalese and Tamil populations has ended.

     The war's end sounds like a good and serendipitous reason to invest in the Island of Serendipity, before it became Ceylon, and now Sri Lanka.
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Dark Pools

Thu, 2009/10/22 - 4:25pm | Your editor

     Outer space is full of dark energy which cannot be seen or measured, why it is called dark. But scientists now believe there isn't enough of it. Current cosmology theories base the rate at which the universe is expanding on surveying supernovas. But the theories call for there being 10 to the 140th power more dark energy than can be explained by what is now known about space (give or take a few thousand either way).


     This gives rise to theories of multiple universes with corkscrew entrances and different laws of physics that exceed the weirdness of even the weirdest science fiction writers.

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Tobin Tax

Wed, 2009/10/21 - 2:46pm | Your editor

     Brazil has imposed what may be the first Tobin Tax on foreign portfolio investment inflows. When you buy on the local bolsa, your costs now include a 2% disuasive tax intended to nip foreign currency inflows into Brazil.

     The reason is that Brazil's Real currency has risen 23% against the dollar this year. And the impact could be harmful to the export-oriented economy because it will make Brazilian products more expensive to buy. Moreover, Brazilian local products have to compete with imports made cheaper by a rising Real, which hurts the fledgling economy.

     But there is a winner and it is us. American Depositary Receipts traded in the US are not subject to the capital inflow tax. So if third country investors or funds want to own a Brazilian share, they can buy ADRs right here on Wall St. Read more »

Insider Neighbors

Tue, 2009/10/20 - 4:10pm | Your editor

Two of the accused insider traders in the Galleon affair live within a few hundred yards of this office, on Sutton Place. I do not think I ever saw Raj Rajaratnam, who is very large and a Sri Lankan Tamil, a paucity of which exists even my very global city. But I see ladies looking like Danielle Chiesi all the time and she may well have passed into my sights.

My Australo-informants at Macquarie in Hong Kong have revised their predictions for 2009 and 2010 GNP growth in the Pacific Rim. They call their report The New Reality.

Their most dramatic forecast is that China growth next year will hit 10.3% vs an earlier growth figure from the same analysts of only 8.9%. Hong Kong and Taiwan growth was also adjusted upward but very modestly. The drop in GNP in Singapore for 2009 was reduced to minus 1.5% from minus 2.5%. But what really intrigued me is the China forecasts. Read more »

Jacobeans and Jihadis

Mon, 2009/10/19 - 4:37pm | Your editor


     This weekend we saw a classic Jacobean tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi, at an off-Bway theater on Broadway, but in Chinatown. John Webster's drama features an evil Catholic Cardinal who kills his mistress spectacularly by having her kiss a poisoned page in his Bible. This sounds like pure Protestant propaganda. Among these Italians there is rampant immorality; there is a single mother of three and lots of sex outside marriage; there is a ruler who goes mad in part because of incestuous urgings toward his twin sister the Duchess. There are lots of murders.

     In the 19th century, when Victoria and optimism ruled, George Eliot's lover George Lewes called The Duchess “a perfect play for Mme. Tussaud's Wax Museum”. It is also the perfect play for Hallowe'en. But these days, it is not just fantasy. Read more »

Lewises without Salaries

Fri, 2009/10/16 - 2:11pm | Your editor

Two people named Lewis will not be taking any salary this year. One is Ken Lewis, the soon-to-resign chief honcho at money-losing Bank of America. The other is me. I have foregone a salary because I am funding the restart of this publication. Ken (no relation) has other issues.

Just as Ken Lewis might have stashed away some of his extraordinarily generous pay packets from prior years, I am also getting compensation in a form other than a paycheck. Last month, we hit a big enough level of paid subscribers that I could take back the 5-figure sum I used to re-capitalize my company earlier this year. Read more »

Chutzpah and Rachmones

Thu, 2009/10/15 - 2:13pm | Your editor

     Today we begin with a lesson in Hebrew and Yiddish. You will learn two words, rachmones, meaning pity, and chutzpah, meaning arrogance. The words are the same in both Hebrew and Yiddish.

     After playwright Wendy Wasserstein died young of leukemia, her dealmaker brother Bruce adopted her young daughter. Yesterday the Lazard Freres banker also died prematurely, at 61, of heart disease. Despite her incredible intellectual genes, the little Wasserstein girl is a rachmones. She has to learn to say Kaddish (mourning prayers praising God) in memory of her mother and adopted father. Read more »