Monday, November 30, 2015

BullionStar's New Bullion Savings Programme

I just found out about BullionStar's new "Bullion Savings Programme"! They haven't even announced it yet and I think they are still debugging the website about it, but it's so exciting that I just have to share this new information! I was just browsing on their website when I stumbled upon it!

BullionStar has been having a unique product called the VaultGram where they sell you fractional ownership of a physical bullion that they have in storage. The only kicker is that this product is purely for buy/sell only, which means you can never get delivery of the physical good... until now!

Now, for example, if you manage to buy up to 100g of Gold, you can convert it to a 100g PAMP cast bar anytime and take delivery of it. The same goes for Silver, you can "cash out" for a 15kg Heraeus bar once you hit 15,000g!

If you think about it, this is bloody amazing. You can buy 100g of VaultGrams for $4,904.30, and that can be fully converted to a 100g PAMP cast bar which can be bought for $4,902.48 for a single piece! Essentially, it's the same thing.

However, to prevent people from having direct allocated ownership of a bar (which has admin costs related to converting and record-keeping), it is more favourable to liquidate VaultGrams compared to the 100g bar itself. In fact, selling 100g of VaultGrams will yield you with $4,802.80 compared to $4,753.45 of the 100g cast bar. This is a difference of just under $50, or about 1%.

The same goes for 15kg of Silver. The buy price is almost identical, but the sell price for the VaultGrams is $9,840 compared to $9,567.21 of the 15kg bar. This is a difference of $272.79, or about 2.8%.

I still absolutely LOVE this product of BullionStar though. When I first signed up as an affiliate and started purchasing with them a long time ago, one of the things which I did bring up to the people at BullionStar is the option for their VaultGram product to be converted to a physical product. Some bigger and more global PM companies do this, like BitGold, which can be converted at just 10g with a fee. I am really happy that they have decided to roll this out! I think that they are perhaps trying to follow the BitGold model and push for more VaultGram ownership so they can roll out other products, such a precious metals payments and maybe even a "debit card". Very interesting possible developments if the VaultGram does take off!

If you think about it, it does make sense since for them to allow conversion to a physical product. For example, if you already have 20,000g of VaultGram silver, they would technically be backing it up it at least one 15kg Heraeus bar.

When BullionStar finally officially announces this programme, I need to look at it better and see the full details. It looks like like they are going to rename VaultGrams with BSP Grams instead. Now I am wondering when would they will fully update the website and if the converted 100g /15kg bar can be immediately picked up.

With the convertibility feature, low capital outlay, easy 24/7 online purchasing, easy interbank giro settlement, low low premium over spot, it is going to be quite hard for me to see any other form of investing in Gold or Silver as an attractive alternative, except for if you are looking to hold onto smaller denominations.

As of right now, I have enough VaultGrams with BullionStar to cash out a 100g cast gold bar and a 15kg silver bar. I don't think I will demand physical though, but it really is nice to know that I can now convert my grams into a bar and go and pick it up. It seems like I have been seriously stacking my precious metals, haha!

Full disclosure: If you enter BullionStar through my site, and you buy anything, I get a small commission.

Whether you buy at BullionStar directly or enter from my site, the price you pay does not change. The only difference is whether I get a cut for referring customers or not.

My personal precious metals investments are stored with BullionStar and I pay the same fees as any other regular customer.

Precious Metals Update 2015

A couple things to talk about today:
  • Gold's Correction Analogues
  • Price of Gold in SGD
  • Brand and Size Stacking Preference for the Future
  • New Competitor: DK Bullion

Tiho from ASSOL has updated his gold analogue chart showing the previous bear markets in gold.

As you can see, the general trend before this current bear market used to be that the longer the bear market goes on, the shallower the drawdown from it's peak.

However, this current bear market has shown us that history is not exempt to exceptions and this bear market is currently the officially 2nd longest bear market in history, going longer than the 1996-1999 bear market and also going deeper as well.

Will this trend continue? Personally, I doubt it given the massive massive negative sentiment on gold for the past few years. It seems like most of the weak hands have been shaken out.

If you look at gold right now in SGD term, we're just around the support of $1480-1500. Is this a buying opportunity? Only the future knows!

The end of the year is coming and I am eagerly waiting for the 2016 mintage of precious metals that should be coming into stock soon. Good news is that the crazy premiums that I talked about a while ago have since died down and we're are heading back to normal. The Canadian Maple which usually trades at a premium of 17% to spot in a tube is now selling at 21%, but it used to be selling at a huge 27% premium over spot.

My favourite silver bar to stack, the RCM 10 oz are back in stock, but they seem to be a really popular retail product, so their premiums are very elevated for a 10 oz bar.

As it is right now, I buy 1 tube of Silver Maples and Eagles and a single Canadian Maple every year. For opportunistic purchases, I would probably start with the Perth Mint 100g for gold and the Nadir 1kg bar. The RCM 10 oz no longer seems viable now that its premium has gone up.

As usual, I will be buying my stash through BullionStar, but I have to highlight that I have recently found another dealer called DK Bullion. While BullionStar seems to have pretty good pricing for gold product in small quantities, DK Bullion has a better bulk rate. However, when it comes to Silver, DK Bullion seems to have a very good rate for tube coins and also silver kilobars. They do also have a very interesting promotion, which is free local delivery for kilobars and above. Of course, I must admit that BullionStar is a great precious metals dealer, especially if you look at it's full-featured and well maintained website and shopping portal. DK Bullion looks like it could use a lot more improvements to its website, as well as FAQ and information section.

To be honest though, a $20 difference (or about 3%) for a Nadir kilobar seems like a lot to me, so I think maybe later in December or early next year I might give DK Bullion a try. I still invest in precious metals through BullionStar and their VaultGram product though, so it's not like I'll be running away from BullionStar anytime soon.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Are REITs Attractive Now? Nov 2015

I just read the 25 Nov report by Credit Suisse. Good job Nicholas Teh and Daniel Lim, I like your research, steady la.

This is my favourite chart which is their opening chart. The data agrees very well with my logic:

Retail should yield the lowest since retail options are rather limited in their location choices.
Offices should be next up, since having an office is a rather essential business function.
Industrials are slightly riskier since there are alternatives, such as relocating across the border. Companies might also shutter their industrial operations and focus on asset-light services. They would still need an office, but perhaps not an industrial location.
Hospitality should be the riskiest since each "customer" stays for such a short duration and visibility is so low. They should have the highest vacancy rates among these 4 REIT sub-sectors.

Other than Suntec, Maple Logitistcs, Maple Industrial and Ascott, the rest all look pretty tasty in terms of their current yield comparing to their historical yields.

The yield of CMT, MCT, FCT and SPH are all looking really pretty to me in my opinion.

As a lot of people know, I'm a nut when it comes to REIT NAV (or PB). I really like this chart because my generic table of sub-sector premiums can't take into account other subtle, yet important factors, such as historical performance, brand value, investors' preference etc.

Looking at book value, we can see that most of these REITs are trading at "attractive" book values. Based on this graph, Ascott doesn't look that bad yet, while CDL HReit, FCT and Ascendas are looking good. I use "attractive" instead of attractive because I know that this is very subjective and not a lot of people agree with me that book value is as important as my personal emphasis on it. That's all right, I'm not out to convince people to follow me or my thinking.

Personally, I think CDL and SPH would be my top picks, followed by CapitaMall and Mapletree Commerial and then Keppel and CapitaComm.

I've talked about it before and I truly believe that interest rates have absolutely nothing to do with the long-term returns of REITs as an asset class:

One thing I like to personally add is regarding the "white elephant in the room" that was mentioned like every 15 minutes. Interest rates have very little effect on REITs in the long term. Interest rates affect bonds, and not REITs. Any short term weakness caused by rising rates is an opportunity to load up on them suckers. The correlation of REITs to bonds is almost perfectly zero. Interest rates do not affect each asset class in the same ways. - GMGH, 24 May 2015

In the long-run, I think that the valuations that we are seeing in REITs now are rather attractive. However in the short-run, there's nothing stopping REITs from going even lower, which I suspect is the fear that most investors have, especially with "interest rate hikes just around the corner".

If everybody is right all the time about everything, we would all just be millionaires, right?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Becoming Anonymous and Staying Safe on the Internet

When I first start blogging back in 2013, I actually had my name and some tidbits of information about me in several posts on this blog. Of course it didn't matter at all. I was practically the only person reading my own entries for months.

When I finally become more popular, I realized that perhaps I don't want the whole world to know who I am, so I went back in time to do my own version of 1984's negationism and removed (hopefully) all traces to real self. Perhaps the only vestige of my former self is that blogger lists my personal email address as a blog owner. Other than that, I think I have successfully created an entirely separate entity from myself.

Of course some of my close and trusted friends know who I am and occasionally read my blog, though none of them are regular readers. I actually ever saw a post of mine being shared by a friend on Facebook. He didn't know I was the author! I liked the article. Thumbs up for self-love!

Anyway, with my recent revelation of the security flaws of Dropbox and moving to Sync instead, I have accidentally opened up a can of worms. While I do like to believe that I practice basic internet safety and privacy when I am online, I realized that there are actually a lot more things that I could be doing.

The guys from SMRT (Feedback) actually wrote a beginner's guide about Online Anonymity and it is actually very very very good.

What is even better is their argument for online anonymity. Other than obvious safety and security reasons to hide your identity online, there are other good reasons to be anonymous online. I think the best is of course being able to put out your thoughts and not have to deal with ad hominem attacks.

Being anonymous removes most of what ass-hat callers can use. They cannot dig out any juicy info from your Twitter or Facebook and use that against you. Which even if they did, wouldn't help their argument. One of the reasons why I have still allowed anonymous commenting even though it has at times gone a bit out of hand is that pretty much most of the comments that I receive on my blog are constructive and has value, rather than just plain verbal diarrhea.

Another reason is that I know that many people would not comment at all if there was no option to comment anonymously. In Singapore politics, we call that the "silent majority", haha. By allowing anonymous participation, I can interact with people from more diverse groups. People are also not afraid to chip in and tell me that I made a mistake here or there. I appreciate that. I will go and fix my post. You and me, we are both in the pursuit of good knowledge. This isn't a blog about how big my dick is and for me to wave it around. Do I look like I have an inferiority complex?

Of course I cannot also dismiss the flip side of being anonymous. I'm snarky, sarcastic and I swear a lot, I inset subtle dirty jokes here and there and I can pretty much act like an ass hat if I wanted to. This is quite accurate to who I am around those I am comfortable with, but it definitely isn't the shiny and politically correct corporate image that most of us like to project publicly. Do I purposely post some stuff to provoke people? Not usually as the main point of the post, but as a bonus point? Hell yeah! Then again, I really do actively try not to be such a dick all the time. Gotta ownself check ownself. WP say one.

Anyway, back to the part about being anonymous. I have plans to do a write-up in the future about basic and intermediate things that you need to do for safe internet usage (especially with regards to bank accounts, mobile banking, identity theft, etc).

However, if also possible, I'll like to expand more about simple ways to have a more private web experience. I am by no means very computer literate at all, so hopefully my knowledge and explanation would be useful to anyone who is curious to know more.

As per the article's recommendation, I have done the following:
  • 1. Encrypt my DNS (very easy, takes 2 minutes)
  • 2. Installed and tested Tunnelbear (FREE, simple and easy-to-use VPN with 500MB bandwidth a month)
  • 3. Zhng-ed my Firefox with HTTPS Everywhere, Ghostery and Self-destructing cookies
  • 4. Set up Startpage as my default search engine and encrypted Google search as my alternative
  • 5. Registered an email with Tutanota (bloody high-security email)

I skipped on the MAC address, I think Tor is an overkill in most situations, I don't need secure messaging (yet), I don't need a heavy duty file eraser because I have a desktop, not a laptop and I don't use a password manager because that is too inconvenient for me. I have a master "stupid" password which I use for all my useless registrations. However, my email itself that most accounts are registered to is protected with 2FA.

Basically, all these extra security steps that I've taken has almost no impact to my online experience. When I search, it does come out slightly slower. When I choose to establish a VPN connection, it does take a minute to firm up, but hey I can access a whole lot more content now (*wink wink*). My new email address is also crazily awesome, but my password isn't easy to remember because it's entirely gibberish. I use mnemonics to remember it though. I have it stashed it somewhere less secure, but even then to access it still requires 2 passwords, 2FA and a riddle to solve. In a different language. Now, do you really think that you're that paranoid anymore?

Honestly, the recent steps that I've taken doesn't feel like I have sacrificed much at all, but I can greatly see how my online web security and privacy and skyrocketed like crazy. Sure, it's all pretty basic stuff, but the point isn't to build an impenetrable fortress. The point is just to be leaps and bounds more secure than 90% of other internet users, thus making myself a relatively unattractive target. I don't need to run faster than the lion. I just need to run faster than you. Boom.

On my side, I will be working towards creating a complete start-to-end guide to basic tech security. I will also be trying to snag a cheap Tunnelbear annual plan this Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I have a lot of things that I want to write about these days, but I don't really have the time or focus to do so. Hopefully I do get around to doing these things.

In the meantime, I really do strongly encourage you to read more and try to improve your own personal online safety, be it your ibanking login details or even something as simple as making sure that you only leak out personal information to places that you want to.

We live in a world where everything is driven by technology. If anybody in your family can guess a permutation of your email password and get it 60% correct, it's not "cute" that you're so predictable. You most definitely need a better password. Go face the wall and sit your ass down for 15 minutes and don't get up til you come with a good password. You lose your email account, you lose your entire online identity, where every single "Forgot Password" reset emails get sent to. Within hours, a focused hacker can lock you out of your own life. I heard stolen identities like that go for a couple thousand dollars. Prevention is much better than cure, trust me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ugly to you, Beautiful to me

As many know, I have a mental issue that makes me want to buy stocks that are going down... say what?

Yes, it's true. It's been hard coping with this. I don't tell this to many friends and family about this because I know they will counsel me. I only have the safety of being anonymous on the internet that I can have the courage to say this.

The stock market is Singapore is being bad, and I like bad. Give me bad.

Here are a list of several stocks with butt ugly charts that I am considering dipping my toes into. In no specific order of ugliness:

ARA Asset Management
Asian Pay TV
Cache Log Trust
CapitaCom Trust
CapitaMall Trust
CDL HTrust
CSE Global
Far East HTrust
Food Empire
GK Goh
Keppel REIT
KingsmEn Creative
Sabana REIT
Sim Lian
Wee Hur

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

HDB "Bumper Crop" has arrived

Wa, I finally sat down to read the news of the 12,411 HDB flats up for sale in this "bumper crop" launch! Impressive haul!

I see already, I feel damn sian. Why can't singles buy a private property younger? 35, really? Pffft. Female readers who are looking for a suitable potential husband, please drop me a mail and we can discuss marriage, haha.

Who says HDBs aren't affordable? A first-time young couple eligible for all the grants can EASILY get a 3-room flat without blowing a hole in their pocket. 10% downpayment in a non-mature estate is only $10,000. Making too much money, can't get all the grants? $17k downpayment! With the average Singaporean couple blowing through tens of thousands for their extravagant wedding, this is nothing. As someone famous might say, this is peanuts. A 3 room flat can accommodate a kid, or even 2 if you stick them in the same room. You can probably manage to stick 3 in a room if you are a horrible parent that doesn't know what is contraception and family planning.

For a HDB BTO, you can get a 3-rm for $150psf or a 5-rm for $300psf. This makes sense because the grant is flat, so you definitely get a lower psf price for a small unit.

If you go about looking at resale flats in a non-mature estate, you'd be set back about $370-500psf depending on factors like unit size, location and of course, age.

If you look for a nice resale flat in a mature estate, you're looking at minimum $500-700psf, which brings the high-end of mature estates almost on-par with the newer Executive Condos, which pretty much sell within the $700-800 psf range.

The older ECs sell in the $600-750psf range because of their shorter tenures, with the notable exception of Bishan Loft, which has pretty much become a private property now since the 10-year mark has passed and it markets at $1150psf. This is also because Bishan Loft is pretty much the only non-ulu EC in Singapore. That is why even post-privatization, most of the older ECs are still selling... like an EC.

(Yes, Bishan Loft is Q. Congrats, you know where Bishan is.)

So basically here are the rough ranges of what residences are going for these days.

Now, before y'all jump out of your seats and say, "FH $800 sure or not?",  you need to know what location I'm talking about. Surprise surprise, it's Geylang! However, just to reassure you, I have visited a development in that area.... the entire development was just filled with expat rentors, mostly younger professionals without families. I was told that pretty much 80% of the development is being rented out. I can attest to that because.... the carpark was entirely empty!

Many of the developments in Geylang are being marketed as investment units because of the low quantum and psf, and also because of the prevalence of the somewhat nonchalant expat community that don't care about living at Geylang who generate rental demand. The developments here "benefit" from this Geylang-proximity discount. Many of these properties are similar to those along Sophia Hill. Short, small cozy developments on freehold land. Yet those on Sophia Hill get the city premium ($1400 ~ 2000 psf), while Geylang gets a discount.

Honestly though, with HDBs being priced under $600psf, I find it crazy how some condominium developments are selling for such high psf. Sure, it is no longer as high as it was just recently at the 2013 year end peak, but by golly, it still is high. With real, net rental yields hovering around 2-3%, I don't see how this makes any sense at all. Isn't it a wonder why the high-end property market is basically in an outright bear market? They can barely be rented for 3% gross, who knows what is their final returns.

I see that recent LH condos are being sold at $1400-1600 psf, yet there are resale FH condos on the market for less than $1200 ready to move in. If I get a private resale flat for $800psf, I have more than enough to buy a car and travel from whichever ulu place I happen to end up living at. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that Singaporeans shun buying second-hand goods. Discount off first-hand goods are enough to entice them. This is making me even more stubborn headed about prospecting and finding the ideal private resale flat. It seems like getting a decently priced home from the developers is not likely. I guess the only way is to help suckers who bought property at nosebleed prices to relieve them of their burden. Of course, for much less than what they paid for.

As long as HDBs remain priced like this, I don't see how the property market can take off. As it is, a couple earning median income can buy a 3-rm BTO flat with 1 year's of their combined annual wages. If that isn't ridiculously cheap, I don't know what is.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Love You If You Are Ugly

It was just only in the beginning of the year where every move happening to Oil and proxy companies here were all the rage. Did I miss out a memo that this is no longer interesting to anybody? Or perhaps the news that oil is back under $40 is no longer relevant to anybody?

As far as I know, without looking at charts or anything and just talking to people I know, the O&G industry is already doing bad, with my "insiders" expecting it to get worse. Of course, one important point to note is that the stock market is forward looking, meaning that it gives higher weightage to the current situation and extrapolates from there. Which means, the "badness" could already be priced in.

Nostramoney predicted in March that if 3 key factors aligned like stars in the sky, we would be heading for a bottom in Oil in the future. However, since then the main culprit for a lack of a clear bottom is actual one of the most crucial ones - a top in the USD. That just hasn't happened yet. The USD-Oil relationship is a lot stronger than what most people think.

1984 is the only useful historically similar comparison to the USD (based on charts, not fundamental backdrops). The massive strengthening in 1984 would have already lost it's steam and lost almost all of its gains by now if this was then. As spectacular a rise that it was, it was also a spectacular drop.

The USD has managed to chop around for the past few months at this relatively elevated upper range and I personally do not believe that we break away from all previous historical comparisons (like rolling 1 year performance) and create a "new normal". In fact, I believe that if the USD continues to go higher (which apparently, almost every single economist / bank analyst in the world believes *cough career risk cough*), it would in fact give it a lot more room to fall. And back we go to our USD-Oil relationship. If the USD falls, Oil would rise.

(Which, coincidentally would also be pretty perfect for all my other commodity investments, ie Gold and Silver)

If we turn to the charts and look at both the Corps - Keppel and Semb - you can see that they are both hovering around the 40% drawdown mark. I talked about my interest in them in July this year, and viola, what do you know, my recent average price of my holdings of them is roughly at that price, which is about 30% off its highs.

Crude oil is back under $40 again. The current low is about $37.80 in end August, which is pretty... low in my opinion. Of course my opinion means jack shit, cos umm yeah, I'm 25. My frame of reference is like $100 oil, so obviously this is relatively lower. Anchoring is a dangerous bias, I know I know. But what can I do about it?

If oil holds its August lows AND the USD finally starts facing reality and comes off, to me that's a sign that the bottom is already in and all-systems are a go. I would be adding in new capital to beef up my Keppel and SembCorp positions. That also means that I totally called the bottom in my 7th Aug post and I should be conferred the "Guru" title.

Actually, this really doesn't mean anything because if Oil breaks its lows, the USD head higher and the stock prices drop, I would STILL increase my positions. And I would not be a Guru because that is something I don't give 2 shits about.

Dammit, there's something wrong with my brain. Oh well, I guess the point of this post is that if things look like shit, I want to buy it.

My investment in Russia has actually turned positive and I'm considering adding more to Russia, along with Brazil once things get even worse there. I've recently added more to my precious metals positions too. Seriously, what's wrong with me?

Singapore Savings Bond: Jan 2016 Pre-Preview

This post is similar to the post I did last month regarding the Nov 2015 issue. I am going to make a rough estimate for the issue before the closing application date, and although I might be missing the valuable last pieces of data, I would argue that we would be getting results that shouldn't be too far off it's mark.

Based on the actual Nov issue, my estimate was pretty on point, save the intervention to prevent a yield cruve inversion. How will the Dec issue turn out?

This month we should not be seeing a yield curve inversion and subsequent intervention to "tame" it like we did last month. All the yields across the curve are being well-behaved and doesn't need daddy to come discipline it.

The whole yield curve has moved up from last month, with about 10bps on the front end and 20bps on the tail end.

It's hard to "rank" issues, but I would say that this is slightly more favourable than the initial October issue. While the tail end yields are ever so slightly lower, the front end is almost 30bps higher. For people who are keeping money in the SSB as an interim cash deposit and not planning to hold it for the full 10 years, this upcoming issue would be better.

Again, what this means is that the following month's SSB would be pretty good as a short term "fixed deposit" and it becomes much worse as a long term alternative low-risk asset.

With only 14 out of 20 of the data points used in my calculations, there is still quite a bit of missing data. Totally making a wild guess and assuming that yields tighten for the rest of the month, I would hazard a guess that we see something around 1.20 / 1.25 / 1.95 / 2.50 for the final issue.

Anyway, long story short, if you can wait a month, a person would probably be better off applying next month for the January's issue rather than this month for the December issue.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

SKILLSFUTURE Directory Launch!

Mmmm, news by CNA, the SkillsFuture course directory website is up!

So, what is SkillsFuture about? Here are some screenies to help you along so I don't bastardize anything by opening up my mouth.

I am personally excited about using my SkillsFuture credit next year! I have written about some cool things that you can use the credits for, but I guess with the directory up, I will browse around a bit more and see if anything else is interesting.

Ideally, in the truest sense of what you SHOULD be using using your SkillsFuture Credit (SFC) for, it would be anything that is currently related to your current job. It should either improve on areas where you have trouble with, any areas you have been avoiding, or equip you with the skills to progress to the next level. For most people aged 25 and over, we already have some relevant working experience in our job and industry, so that would be the best way to capitalize on the SFC to improve employability, relevance, salary and prospects for promotion. Immediately what comes to mind are specific courses, like tackling Office programmes or WSQ for leadership skills.

Alternatively, the next way to use the SFC as a way to pick up and experiment with freelance-esque skills which you might be interested in, but never had the opportunity to try. For example, you could pick up language skills and be a freelance translator. You could even just do translation jobs without learning your house! There are courses for a lot of freelance type jobs - some are just to equip you with the basics, while some even teach you and then certify you with an industry-recognized certification. Like photography? Take some classes and be a freelance photographer! Sure, you might not get wedding gigs, but you could do family portraits and simpler jobs. Heck, you can even go do passport photos if you want, haha! And those are the more on-hands skills. There are plenty of computer-based and web-based skills that can be learnt, from basic things like web design all the way to niche things like photoshop and editing. This is a good way to explore an interest and turn it into a secondary source of income.

Another way I can think of using the SFC is to build an alternative career path for yourself. Instead of dabbling in skills related to your current job, or freelance skills, you would instead pick up skills that would be useful as an alternative full-time career. I think the WSQ framework have come up with quite a lot of good pathway for a lot of different possible careers paths. Perhaps your company is on the rocks, or you don't enjoy the sort of work you have been doing so far. You can make a decent career switch if you prepare yourself for it, rather than roughing it out from the bottom at an entry position. You might have the skills to skip ahead already, and definitely so if you are certified!

Lastly, which I personally wouldn't recommend unless you are very confident about your job and skills, would be to use take personal development courses. The reason why I think that these courses are the lowest priority is that they are (1) mostly general knowledge, (2) easily learnt over the internet or books for free or (3) useless in increasing employability. I don't think the point of the SFC is so that you can learn how to appreciate drinking tea, do laundry, bake bread and use social media. However, I suppose if you do have credits, you are comfortable with your job and its security, you can go and do whatever you want with it.

However, if you are learning just for interest, I would strongly recommend looking for Coursera online courses which are part of a University's specialization. Not only will you get university-level depth of knowledge and a very strong structured format, you would also get a nice certificate and the courses are very cheap. It is possible to complete an entire multi-part specialization for less than $500, which essentially means it is free! Again, that's if you're just learning for self-interest. I strongly doubt the knowledge learnt from Coursera would be recognized by employers. Unless you are a sole-proprietor or in a leadership position, it would be hard to use and implement the knowledge learnt from such courses to your daily work. But still, enriching, no doubt.

Personally, I think I might be going for a course to learn a freelance skill next year and then goof around by having a possible weekend job. I will be saving up my credits for a few years because I do have a professional course with a recognized certificate in mind, and I want to take it without having to fork out all that money!

Or I could just screw it and become a total masterchef and get a WSQ Diploma in Culinary Arts and spend my days cooking awesome cheap food at home!

Spotted any interesting courses? Have a plan to use your SkillsFuture Credit? Let me know! I'm interested to hear!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out. How to Be. S.U.R.E.?

Unless you are a unicorn that can turn everything that you eat into magical rainbow ice-cream, I think it is important to know that in most cases, what you put in is what you get.

Why is this important? Well, your analysis of data can only be as good as the integrity of the source data.

Let's say you are analyzing a company's financial statements. You pull out all the relevant numbers. You generate all your flows and discounts and ratios and what-nots. Viola, a perfect data analysis! But oh wait. The year was wrong? And the currency rate too? Not very useful to make a decision now then...

While a lot of people are great at coming up with their own conclusion after looking at data, I think people are not good at analyzing the usefulness of the data. Here are 2 examples.

Recently, there was news that Putin is so #badass because of a kickass quote that he said. I thought the quote was awesome too, but tracing back all the sources, I only found that it led back to the RT anchor and she didn't have any sources to that. It smelt fishy from the start, and it was fishy in the end. Turns out that Putin didn't actually say it. It's okay though, he still is legit #badass.

I also wrote a post about IREIT and analyzed it largely with NAV. In the comments, Kyith rightly pointed out that NAV is only useful if it is accurate and if we can trust it. There is a possibility that they have valued their properties higher than they are actually worth, giving the illusion of being a "value buy" with "margin of safety" since they are trading at a discount to their book value. I think that this is a fantastic point to bring up.

I've done accounting and I can tell you that pretty much any number can be fudged, especially if you know the mind of an auditor and know where to lay the bait and set up fake "oops you caught me traps". Let them be happy that they caught you for minor mistakes and it'll throw them off scent from finding the major ones. So while book value could be inaccurate, pretty much everything else can be inaccurate as well.

(Smartlocal are your eyes playing tricks on you?)

So, if that's the case, then how do you go about figuring out what you can trust, and what you can't?

The NLB has a campaign asking people to be S.U.R.E., and while it isn't very scientifically comprehensive, I think that it can be applied a lot to everyday fact-checking.

Source - Is its origins trustworthy?
Understand - Are you clear about what you have seen?
Research - Dig deeper. What else do you know beyond the initial source?
Evaluate - Find the counter-argument, then exercise fair judgement.

Honestly, I wish things were that simple in life, but many things can get a lot more complex and paths we follow in search for the truth might be dead-ends.

How can we know that the auditors aren't being bribed and misrepresenting data? Or aren't stupid and incapable of their jobs? We can never really know. The best we can do is to look at the data being presented to us and to know what can be realistically accepted, and what else should be conservatively discounted.

Don't just do this when you read financial statements. Do it when you hear juicy gossip. Do it when you pick which sources of news you read (traditional sources, MSM, online, twitter). Do it when you browse through your social media newsfeed. Especially so when you read "popular opinions" from websites like ThoughtCatalog (where the authors are mostly mid-20s hipsters doling out life advice.... really now? oh wait, that sounds like me, SHIT).

If you know how to exercise this "Are you fucking kidding me?" muscle, you will find that your skills on seeing through the haze of bullshit increases.

Once you can discern between "interesting opinions" and "actual facts", you'll find that your ability to slice through bullshit and look at the core of situations to be much better. And hopefully that will be useful and relevant in your life.

Last thing guys. This is the godamn internet. Please don't believe everything you read here, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Free, Safe and Secure "Online" Thumbdrives!

No free thumdrives per se, GOTCHA.

However, I do have some information and recommendation about cloud storage that everyday users like you and me could benefit from.

I think most of us would be familiar with Dropbox and what it can be used for. It has helped me tons in my life, especially during my days as a university student.

However, I recently stumbled upon an article that was discussing Dropbox's security weakness. The quick fix is that you can piggyback on encrypters to your Dropbox and enhance your security, but who has the time for that? Just continue using Dropbox in your daily life, but don't sync sensitive data on it. (for example, an Excel sheet with all your passwords)

I won't be talking about OneNote and Google Drive because the problem with them is that they are so... integrated with our daily life. Having sensitive information on these guys might not be the smartest thing to do, since someone can simply use your device while you are away and access all your information. We are logged in all the time, so there isn't a distinct separation between these services and our lives. If you want security and privacy, you have to give up something, and in this case it is the convenience and ease of access.

And therefore I present these 2 alternatives, which you will love because they are FREE!

First up is Mega, which gives you a whooping 50GB free cloud storage! It's clean, simple, fast and easy to use. While Mega might not be as versatile, it does pretty much most of what Dropbox does, minus some of the more obscure features that 90% of people don't use. I really like Mega as a quick, easy and secure way to partially share links and the decryption key separately, increasing the security massively! I have it currently linked to my phone camera, so I don't need to constantly worry about running out on space on my phone because I'm taking too many photos of my food! I also like how they have a Recycle Bin accessible through the website. When you're moving around files, it's quite easy to accidentally delete a file. Mega's security is better than Dropbox (with the exception of 2FA) and it comes with a freaking crazy 50GB storage free! What's not to like?

Next up is Sync. Sync is basically Dropbox, but with mean security. Sync trumps Mega in every single aspect that I can compare. Sync has 2 notable trumps over Mega. Firstly, you can set your own password up when sharing links, instead of having to deal with an encryption key to unlock files. Typing in "troll" is much easier than "!saf98j3msaWDcasdf412". Secondly, you can not only bring back rubbish bin files, but also pick out different versions! The only thing that Sync loses out on? It has "only" 5GB of storage, which pales in comparison to Mega, but is still way more than the 2GB of Dropbox.

I currently use both of these 2 cloud storage alternatives.

I use Google Drive when I want to make and share Office type documents and collaborate with others.
I use Dropbox as my virtual garbage dump of files and to share non-sensitive files.
I use Mega to auto-sync my handphone photos and to store media and big files.
I use Sync to securely store personal and private files and data.

Basically, I have replaced Dropbox (only 2GB) with a combination of Mega (for big, non-private files) and Sync (basically everything else).

I really like that Sync has a very simple 2FA security feature so that you CANNOT easily access your non-synced files which are stored on the cloud. Obviously, if they are highly sensitive files, you don't want multiple copies that can be accessed from multiple locations. You only want to have 1 copy on your cloud, and in your vault. Sync makes it very easy to implement this because the 2FA will either go through your email (easy and simple) or Google Authenticator (offline and very safe). If someone want to get into your cloud files on Sync, it is not easy because they need 2 things:

1) Your desktop / laptop access password or your Sync username AND password
2) Your handphone AND your handphone password

I feel that Sync with 2FA is the perfect balance of high security and also convenient and easy global access.

I know most people do not take web security seriously, but I think that living in this world that in increasingly embracing tech, people should takes this more seriously, especially when it comes to safely guarding and protecting our personal information and private data.

So there you have it, 55GB of high security, free cloud storage which you can use as your "portable" thumbdrive. If you do plan on signing up for Sync, click on my referral link and we'll both get 1GB more of storage each! 

How much is 55GB of storage in a thumbdrive worth these days? About $15? There you go!

PS. Sync is pretty hard-up about safety and privacy. There is no way for you to trace my Sync ID or registered email by my referral link, and there is no way for me to know who exactly signed up through my referral link, what their Sync ID is or what their registered email is. I have no clue about anything, all I know is that when I get an extra GB, it means someone signed up, that's all. Oh gawd, I love the safety. It's like my own digital safe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dec Rate Hike? Nahhhh

This graph was from the end of 2014. We should already be on our 2nd hike by time. Guess what? Nope.

With interest rates at zero, it can ONLY go up, right?

Hmmm... I'm not too sure about that considering negative rates exists.

Jeff Gundlach has also come out and said that he believes that it is more likely that the Fed doesn't hike rates. He's a very very very smart one, one of the few people who calls it likes it is, regardless of consensus view or risking his reputation.

I believe that the rate-hike is almost entirely S&P-dependent. Unemployment? Inflation? GDP? Who cares?

If the stock market continues to be "weak", no-hike.
If we go back up to all-time-hope/highs, then I think a hike is back in the cards.

Anyway, I think 99% of people believe that the Fed is going to hike rates this December. I don't doubt that eventually they will try to hike rates, but I wouldn't bet money that they hike rates this December. Europe is thinking of doubling down, and probably so is Japan with this weak GDP print. Is the US really going to tighten? Meh, we'll see.

I just like being a stubborn contrarian. I hope I'm wrong though, I rather see the Fed raise rates and "turmoil" the whole market. That would be more fun for me. The market is getting terribly boring. I can see why everyone is blogging less these days. It's mindnumbing.

Any minute now they are going to hike rates. Just wait for it.

Don't even blink, you might miss it.

Any minute now...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fool me once, shame on you? Fool me again... I can't get fooled again! Fool me 4 times?

Abenomics is definitely going swimmingly well. With the recent quarter's GDP growth rate data out, Japan is successfully in it's 4th "technical" recession.

Yes, it's not a "recession recession", but a "technical recession".

Just like how this isn't "stupid stupid" per se, but just "technically stupid". Totally different. You can't even begin to compare the difference. Worlds apart.

Sometimes I play sarcastaball way too hard. (Southpark S16E8, you will not regret it)

As if the ridiculous and outright control of it's JGB market isn't enough, the BOJ has gone full retard and owns 52% of the entire Japanese ETF market

Everybody knows, you never go full retard.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

IREIT: Nope, Not Ready Yet

I'm looking at the IREIT financial results and I must say, I am confused. With the rights issue, all the numbers are messed up and half the results on the same page uses the forecast in the prospectus while the other half of the numbers are based on the post-rights numbers.

Revenues and income up 30%? AWW YISS!
DPU... down 20%? Wait... what?

That's why you get ridiculous looking slides like this:

Anyway, let's see how things are going in commonsense land.

NAV is 0.41 Euros, which at the 1.53 rate now brings the NAV is SGD to $0.6273. At the last price done of $0.675, premium over NAV is 7.6%.

Gearing used to be 34.8%, but it has now increased to 45.3%. Why did they list their leverage ratio as 43% and don't use total liabilities over total assets instead for their calculations, I don't know, but that's how I always define my leverage.

EPS was expected to come in at about 1c Euro, but that fell short by 10%. The currency effect is another 10% drag on DPU in SGD.

Other office commercial names are trading at steep discounts to NAV:
Capita Comm - 24% discount to NAV - 67% office
OUE C-REIT - 25% discount to NAV - 90.3% office
Keppel REIT - 32% discount to NAV - 97.6% office

Other foreign exposed REITs are also trading at huge discounts to NAV:
Saizen REIT - 30% discount to NAV (until recently)
Lippo Malls - 17% discount to NAV
Fraser H-Trust - 14% discount to NAV
Ascendas HT - 15% discount to NAV
Capita ChinaR - 15% discount to NAV
Ascott REIT - 13% discount to NAV
Fortune HKD - 37% discount to NAV
Maple GCC - 20% discount to NAV
Croesus RT - 13% discount to NAV

Religare HT - 7% premium to NAV
Ascendas IT - 35% premium to NAV

All REITs and Trusts with high foreign exposure are trading at discounts over 10% to NAV, with the notable exception of the 2 trusts in India - Religare and Ascendas.

Will discount/premium to NAV in a REIT sector or high foreign exposure translate into something similar in another REIT? I will let you think if this information is even slightly useful or totally irrelevant to IREIT. Perhaps it is not useful given that the 3 office REITs are largely in Singapore, while IREIT is in Germany. Then again, the "usual" premium of commercial office as researched by Green Street is -2%. Relevant? Maybe... You decide lor.

I remember talking about IREIT back in March when it was 86c, 18% premium over NAV and yielding 7.2%.

This REIT still has a few problems:
  • Small ($413m market cap)
  • Undiversified (5 buildings in 5 cities in 1 country)
  • FX Risk
  • Unexciting future prospects

Now we're at 67.5c, 7% premium over NAV and yielding 8.4%. So, can someone please tell me: Why is IREIT so special?

I know that I talk about NAV A LOT. And I know that it bugs some people A LOT since there are quite a few people that don't agree that NAV is important. I'm not saying that other aspects of trusts are not important, but in my opinion, NAV is pretty important. It has worked out pretty well for me so far, so that's just how I roll. NAV probably affects 40% of my decision-making when it comes to trusts.

Current price is 23% discount to IPO price. Probably not so much if you took part in the rights issue I'm guessing. But even then, I'm still not interested at these prices.

At the current exchange rate, slap on a 20% discount to NAV and call me when IREIT is trading at 50c. I guess I'm just a really greedy guy. I'm perfectly happy never owning this counter if it never goes to where I think it is valued at.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Say NO to Xenophobia

This has completely nothing to do with investing or finance, but I feel that this is something that has to be talked about. After my friend was comparing my blog stats to some "influencers", my friend said I was way more popular than a lot of them and why don't I make a living out of it. Anyway, putting the part about making a living out of blogging aside, I let that "influencer" comparison go to my head and I decided to get this message out. Think of it as my kind of public service announcement. No need for thanks MCCY.

This video is blowing up in Taiwan. A Caucasian guy who has been living in Taiwan for 10 years was on the metro with his Taiwanese girlfriend when a local Taiwanese decided to harass and verbally abuse them. The video is hard to watch because you feel like punching the screen.

After 3 weeks of being bounced around by the Taiwanese police, Christopher got so frustrated by their total and complete inefficiency, so he resorted to uploading the video on his YouTube channel to vent his frustrations.

From what I know, it's gone totally viral in Taiwan and the police have managed to hunt down the guy with this sudden outburst of "public encouragement". Yes, this is a massive "throw face" situation for Taiwan, so they had to do something quick. If an ang moh in Singapore uploaded something similar speaking in Singlish, you can bet your sweet ass that the next morning there would be a police press statement on it.

The reason why I'm sharing this video is for 2 reasons.

First, this man has unbelievably god-like powers of self-control to not fuck the guy up upside down and inside out. In a similar situation, I don't know if I would just blow up or walk away and let that asshole feel like he is the winner and go on to harass other people since he has more courage. With the benefit of being a 3rd party, not being there live and being able to calmly think about it, I think that what he did was the best way for someone being verbally abused to handle this situation.

Secondly, I'm sharing this video because I can totally see something like this happening in Singapore. Christopher makes an excellent point about the behaviour and thinking of these bullies - they like to pretend that they are the majority and argue with the logic that because they were here first, they are right. Now, after watching this video and also feeling both the frustration and anger of being in a such a situation, I don't think I would ever stand idle and watch such a thing to happen in Singapore if I am around. I would storm in, handphone recording, shout for everyone to stop pretending to ignore the situation, firmly denounce the aggressor's action, rally some support and then remove the bullied away. At least, that is what I hope I have the courage to do next time in the future.

Now, I know we've all seen and heard cases like this before, happening overseas or even locally (a la the fiesty "I'm So Special" Ang Moh). Whether it's racism, xenophobia or even just plain bullying, I think that this sort of behaviour should not be tolerated. If something like this happens, it should never be allowed to escalate to such a point where all Singaporeans would then have to bury their heads for such a massive disgrace of "throw face". I'm sure many people in Taiwan are feeling that way.

I know people (acquaintances, not friends) who make #sorrynotsorry racist jokes all the time. Personally, I feel very uncomfortable with those kind of jokes and I respond with a total deadpan and unimpressed look of "Huh, WTF? Was that a joke?". Then they also immediately feel the uncomfortableness that I was just experiencing. Although not on the same level of horrible-ness, it is my way of showing disgust and disapproval for such kind of remarks. These sort of changes don't happen at a snap of a finger or after an argument or debate. It's conditioning and it takes time.

I'm always proud to tell foreigners that Singapore in a multi-racial, multi-cultural place that is very safe to visit. Let's keep it that way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Car Pooling has reached our shores... finally!

I just saw this news from CNA!

I have to say... Wow, finally!

Sure, there have been other feeble attempts to get carpooling going in Singapore, but I think it's safe to say that they have all failed miserably because I can't even recall the names of any such service.

Personally as someone who enjoys not being a debt slave, transport alternatives other than the basic public transport vs taxis vs private cars continuum helps consumers like me find a better solution for our transportation needs.

Public transport is cheap, but it operates only through certain times and the time taken can vary massively and it is not always the most convenient choice.

Private cars are obscenely expensive, but they can be used at all times of the day for pretty much whatever you wants. The main cons are that you need to have a drivers licence and you actually have to "use your brain" while driving. Did I mention it's also really expensive?

Taxis have so far been the option that sits between these 2 extreme choices. For a price more expensive than public transport, but cheaper than a private car, you will be chauffeured to your destination and you can do whatever you want - be it take a nap or even do some work. The main con is the ability to summon a taxi when and where you need it, without having to pay a ridiculous price. Taxi alternatives have been making this easier on 2 fronts - availability and price.

Now (hopefully) carpooling can create a new alternative to our transport options. Personally, I can envision myself using carpooling. If I can find a compatible driver who can matches well with me for my travel time and location, I wouldn't mind to "book" a ride with the driver on a regular schedule. That means we basically share our calendar of our regular schedule and 90% of the time I would hitch a ride. On those days where either of us has a change in schedule, we can inform each other in advance and I can decide on an alternative way to get to my destination then.

The main challenge of this is getting both users and drivers to remain within the GrabHitch ecosystem, instead of bypassing the system and creating a private transaction instead. However, with the GPS locator and their payment system in place, perhaps all they need is a good UI and calendar for the main driver and his hitch hikers to share their schedule.

Since carpooling is not on-demand and is instead pre-planned, in my opinion, it is correctly priced to be less than a taxi. If not, why would anyone not call a taxi instead?

I know a lot of people don't believe that win-win situations actually exists, but I think this is a good example on a win-win situation. A car owner who goes out of his way maybe an extra-5-10 minutes during his daily routine can offset the high costs of owning a private car in Singapore. Passengers who carpool get to enjoy the comfort of a regular taxi, but at a cheaper price. Passenger safety (being attacked, or worse) is a very low cause of concern given that all the drivers will have to be registered and... well, this is Singapore. I don't think they want to ruin their lives. My personal concern would be more about the driver's track record. I would choose the driver with a clean safety record and does not have reckless driving habits.

I can definitely see how this can benefit a lot of Singaporeans. Now the only question would be how many people actually take part? It would be amazing if GrabHitch can build up a robust user base and help make carpooling a common experience. I can definitely see myself using this as my main method of work commute in the future.

Looking For Cheap Hawker Food?

Go to this website!

You can read up more from this ST news article, but basically the MTI surveyed food prices around Singapore and made a database of stalls that sell those respective foods at or below the 30th percentile price.

This means that these stalls are pretty much the cheapest ones in Singapore!

Of course, cheap doesn't mean good food. However, cheap also doesn't necessarily mean poor quality either!

Cafe hopping is so overrated. Why not have a hawker hunt instead? I guarantee, plus chop that it will be a lot cheaper!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SRS Contribution? Not so fast buddy....

The year end is coming and recently the local banks are in full force with all the SRS publicity to pull back in some customers.

But before you throw in $12,750 and expect at $2550 in savings, there might be some things to consider.

Well, the first thing is... should you even start contributing to your SRS account right now?

Since you only can withdraw up to $400,000 tax-free, ideally you would want to hit that cap right when you retire, so when your normal income disappears and your SRS withdrawals replace your income since it is taxed as income. Doing this of course minimizes the total tax that you will pay.

If that is the case, then working backwards from retirement age, that every year you will put the maximum amount, not even invest it and only use it simply for tax relief, when should you start?

$400,000 (limit) - $12,750 (this year) - $15,300 x N = 0
15300 N = 387250
N = 25.3

Since you can start your withdrawals from age 62 onwards, taking away that 25.3 years and you should only start contributing to your SRS account from age 36 onwards. Of course, this makes a few assumptions:
1) You will work until 63 (which you could work longer)
2) You won't even invest the money in fixed deposits (which you should at least probably do)
3) The SRS contribution limit doesn't raise (which it probably would)

These 3 assumptions makes it so that contributions starting at 40 would probably also almost fully utilize the tax relief benefit of the SRS account.

Some young guns might ask: "Why should you postpone your contribution to the later years instead of just contributing early and just max it out?"

Personally, I have 2 arguments against doing that:
1) For young people, every extra dollar of disposable income has a lot more utility today compared to when you are in your 50s
2) For young people, their tax rate is probably the lowest that it would ever be and their annual tax burden increases every year. Do you want to get tax relief at a 2% rate or a 22% rate? (that's the highest marginal income tax rate proposed in the future)

Last year, I did a very in-depth look at the SRS scheme and my conclusion was that no-one under 30 should even think about contributing to their SRS, unless they have firm plans to retire early, they have no risk-tolerance to invest at all and they are in a high tax bracket. I don't imagine there being a lot of people that fit those criteria.

Since then and now, quite a few numbers have changed, so technically there isn't any need at all to do an SRS contribution until you at 36, unless you plan on retiring early. If you do, take your retirement age and knock off 26 years. Want to retire at 55? Then start contributing at the earliest, 29 years old. If you plan to invest, you can probably start contributing much later as well.

However, if you are somebody in your late 40s and you haven't made your first SRS contribution yet, it may be a very good time to consider if this scheme will be beneficial to you or not. 50% of my readers are under 35, I don't think you guys really need to panic too much, unless you are in a high tax bracket. Contributing to your SRS and making conservative investments with a very long-term view (20+ years) would highly likely yield positive results.

If you are going to make an SRS contribution, the bank you work with is important. Since my digging last year, my conclusion is that OCBC would probably be the best bank to have an SRS account with. No, this isn't paid marketing for them. I wish they snuck in $100 into my account though. Hey OCBC, if you need my account number, let me know, okay?

However, like I said, I'm not even 35 yet, my brain shouldn't give a shit about the SRS for many more years to come.

This post mainly goes out to the 20% of my readers who are above 45, all the best!

Monday, November 9, 2015

[STI Statistics] October 2015

Hi all, this is my monthly post analyzing the STI.

As of 30 October 2015

STI Closing Value: 2998.35
P/E Ratio: 12.34
P/B Ratio: 1.21
P/CF Ratio: 9.65
Dividend Yield: 3.19%

Monthly Data Series from 2008

Mean P/E: 12.27
P/E Standard Deviation: 3.05

Mean P/B: 1.45
P/B Standard Deviation: 0.212

% of time when the STI is cheaper based on P/E: 50.84%
% of time when the STI is cheaper based on P/B: 12.84%


Based on P/B, the STI is about 1SD below its mean. P/E and P/B have both rebounded higher from last month. I still do believe in hindsight that many global indicators topped in June 2014. The STI is clearly no longer expensive at this point of time. For those investing for the very long term (as you should be), now is a pretty decent time to be making monthly purchases of the STI, though it must be cautioned that it is still very possible to move much lower.

I am expecting and prepared for more downside to come, though there are many individual names that have attractive long-term valuations to me.

*Straits Times Index values from Yahoo Finance
** P/E and P/B Ratios from SPDR STI as a proxy

***Data Series 2008 - 2014 from Bloomberg
****Data Series 2014 onwards from SPDR STI as a proxy
*****Probability calculated with

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Animal Rights? What about... Human Rights? #doublestandards

Just to say this upfront, this has nothing to do with investing, but this is something more about a frame of mind and a thought process. People are probably not going to agree with my opinion, but then again, this is the Internet, and this is where I can babble (pretty much) whatever I want.

One of my biggest pet peeves are HUGE hypocrites. That is why the #menimist movement is freaking hilarious to me - it pokes fun at "feminists" who have missed the point. Feminists who get pissed off by the #menimist movement need to realize that they should be more appalled by the various people who falsely brand themselves as feminists and spew out crazy stuff, rather than a bunch of (admittedly, mostly) men pointing out double standards.

The number of guys who are "male feminists" - men who put down certain behaviour of men (which they often practice) in the prescence of female company only to gain their approval (regardless of their personal view) - is also startling.

I'm not saying that the world is fair and perfect, because it isn't. I'm also not saying that men and women equally benefit from society that we live. I'm just saying that I can't argue with people with double standards, because they agree with you on your entire argument except on the part about why they are wrong.

Recently, it has been highlighted the practice in Thailand of using working monkeys for coconut farming. Apparently, using monkeys as work animals is totally taboo in the western world because they are cute. Horses? Oxen? Camels? Donkeys? Fuck them! They aren't cute and they can't do tricks! /sarc

This is really a non-news event, but it still irritates me the SCALE of double standards.

Oh wait, has anyone mentioned how dogs are leased up all day too? And how many go to training schools too? Oh, they are domesticated animals so its okay? Hmm... how about pretty ponies and horsies locked up in stables instead of being allowed to live and run free in the wild? Oh, wait, what? It's inconvenient for your argument? Woops! Okay, hush hush!

As Mises writes, this relationship between coconut farmer and monkey worker is entirely culturally accepted in Thailand. The debate whether monkeys should be used in such a manner "is a Western dilemma, not a Thai one".

Monkeys gather coconuts up to 20 times faster than a skilled male. Not all coconut farmers are fit and able to do such sort of work. Coconut harvesting can also be dangerous because of snake, stinging ants and of course the 2 major ones - falling coconuts and falling off the tree.

So while the monkey sacrifices a lot since he does not live a life like his wild others (as with 99% of all other working animals), not only fit and able men can be coconut gatherers (more jobs), the men manages to massively increase their income (more money), along with eliminating much of the largest risks of the job (more safety). People also get more and cheaper coconuts.

Of course, this is an extremely moot comparison, because I've never once heard in my life anyone asking an Egyptian camel owner to strap that shit on his back and go walk around with it instead of making the camel do it.

Mises wraps up this monkey issue in the best conclusion possible, so here is David Adams' conclusion:

In a perfect world, Thai farmers would have machines and monkeys would have unspoiled wilderness. But, for the world we have — one in which habitat destruction wipes out entire populations — coconuts and farmers in need may be all that keeps the macaques in the trees and off the dinner tables.

This notion of what is "right" or "wrong" once again is due to the fact that some people in the Western world like to impose their values on the rest of the world. Like how it is a horror to eat dog meat. And why it is a crime to have technology that makes it cheaper for people to move around. The Western world has clearly lost it's authority on what is considered right or wrong. The other people to blame are ourselves as Asian societies for some reason still worshiping "Western superiority".

But hell, what do I know? I'm just a kid from some backwater Asian country that indulges into various barbaric activities such as eating cutesy little frogs and other delicious moving things.