Friday, January 29, 2016

Japan Enters Twilight Zone: Negative Interest Rates

I guess the most recent hot news in the financial world is the that the BOJ has set their benchmark interest rate to -0.1%. Yup, NEGATIVE 0.1%.

Pay people to not let you hold your money and lend it out for a profit? THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. NOT.

Less than a year ago I talked about how Europe has booked themselves permanent long-term stays in Crazy Town. They used Shopback on an Agoda promotional booking, so they got themselves a good rate for a long ass stay over there. Anyone knows when they are scheduled to come back to Reality?

(Eubel: Negative interest rates? What's that? Can eat one or not?)

Most models (I'm talking about mathematical ones, not the ones in bikinis... but then again, I guess this applies to them too) don't know how to deal with negative interest rates. To be frank, most people just can't even. I can see how it makes sense to never wonder about negative interest rates, since tending towards zero you will go exponential. It's basically the y = 1/x graph. In that sense, rates can NEVER go negative. But they already are negative. So WTF?  David Merkel wrote a great post about tackling this idea.

The way that it is currently being analyzed now is that these numbers, positive or negative, are just arbitrary and only important relative to one another. This means that moving from 5% to 3% is considered the same as moving from 1% to -1%.

Is this how we should think about it? Honestly, I don't know.

What I find cute is that bond investors aren't rushing into the much obviously higher yielding assets of precious metals. Yes, they yield 0%, but hey, there's still more than -0.1%, right? But that isn't a good example because metals do have storage costs, but it is an interesting notion to think about, especially since everyone is supposedly "reaching for yield".

My take is that the smart people are reaching for safety now, while everyone is still following the yield-train off the cliff.

Readers who have read my previous posts about Japan should know my stance pretty clear: Japan is batshit crazy. I'm not talking about the general population. If you like weird anime porn, whatever floats your boat man. I'm talking about the crazy people running it. To me, they are a massive Ponzi scheme and I have a very bleak outlook regarding their future. Something was said in the BBC article which I strongly agree with, which is that "(Japanese) businesses don't need money - they need investment opportunities. And that can only be achieved by structural reforms, not by monetary policy".

Slow clap, because I think he's spot on. 

So while the rest of the world is allegedly freaking out about the inflation monsters, central bankers have decided to bring out the bazookas to chase them out. Clearly, what the world needs in a slowing global economy is inflation! Stagflation is always the best, isn't it?

Honestly, I'm not sure which sort of armeggedon I would prefer - hyperinflation or outright deflation. Both seem very appealing to me.

And people still say I'm the crazy one.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Singapore Savings Bond: Jan 2015 Review, Mar 2016 Preview

Hey everybody, here's my monthly post on the SSB closing and the forecast for next month. I'm trying to streamline my posts to make them more condensed and info-packed in a regular structure, so it's both easier for readers to quickly digest the article and for me to pump them out on a regular basis.

I made a similar post last month, and I think I will stick with this format.

First up is update of the subscription of the previous issue. As previously mentioned, the SSB will probably have $300 million available to be issued every month of 2016. While it is a HUGE drop from the $1,200 million that they were offering in 2015, the SSB take up rate has been... pathetic, so it makes sense to cut down on the total offer to boost up the fill rate. It looks a look less sad now.

For the January 2015 SSB, a just as pathetic take up rate of just over $40 million was done. That's almost 15% of the issue, but you gotta understand that the total issue has shrank by 75%. Demand for SSBs look low to actually even decreasing in the future.

The month, the MAS has played nicely and given us the tightest variance of the actual SSB compared to interest rates of the benchmarks, even tighter than November

Anyway, moving onto the next SSB, we use the same old-fashioned method of looking up the data from MAS and constructing the table below. As a refresher, the current month's rates are used as a proxy for the issue in 2 months time (For example: Jan 2016 rates are used for the Mar 2016 issue). Also, if you are in the first 3/4 of the current month, you application this month is for the bond that is too be issued on the 1st of next month (For example: Jan 2016 applicants will receive the Feb 2016 issue). I hope this clears up some of the confusion people have regarding the names of the issues.

With 15 out of 20 data points available for this estimate, I think that this is quite reasonably accurate. I would hazard a guess of 1.08 / 1.15 / 1.95 / 2.45 as the final yields.

This looks like a rather weak issue overall. Since I have already subscribed for the Jan 2016 issue and got it, I will be giving the upcoming Mar 2016 issue a pass.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Every Singaporean Son and Daughter, A University Scholar?

The weekend is here, and the calm in the market gives time to think about other things.

I have quite a few Korean friends, and one of the issues that keep popping up over and over again is regarding the social stigma of not attending a university. In Korea, it's a really really big deal if you DON'T go to university.

In fact, I don't know a Korean person my age that isn't studying or already graduated from university. The quality of universities fall along a spectrum, from the SNU geniuses to unknown regional schools. Generally, unemployment among youths is bad enough that the government are shipping off Koreans to work overseas and sponsor their plane ticket out of the country. Obviously, having tons of restless unemployed young people is not an ideal situation to be in.

I posed a question to my friend: Does the Korean government actively try to get every Korean child to be a university graduate?

My friend replied that it isn't the government's doing. It's total societal pressure. It's such an ingrained mentality that enterprising people are getting the hint and private for-profit universities and "mugging" academies are popping up like nobody's business. The Korean education business is big bucks. Mega bucks in fact.

What's interesting for me is that I can see this clear trend developing in Singapore as well. In 20 or maybe even in 10 years time, we are going to be in the same situation as Korea, which is everyone a university graduate (by using the vague definitions we are working with now), massive youth unemployment and under-employment. We do have 2 aces up our sleeves compared to them which does improve our situation, and these are (1) the less retarded work culture and (2) English-educated population that can be more easily absorbed overseas to work there. However, if universities started handing out degrees like entitlements (which some parents have called for) rather than based on merit, we will have a different set of problems to face. Already the whispers of "genius superhuman foreign scholars" are turning into louder murmurings. What? Their DNA is better than ours? They just study way fucking harder than most of our lazy asses, that's all.

Anyway, back to Korea. The pressure is so strong to get a good job after university that if they are unable to secure a "graduate's job", they return back to school to pursue their master's, and then try again once they are done. Guess what happens if they fail to secure a prestigious job again? You guessed it. Back to school to take their doctorate.

I know a Korean girl who is planning to pursue an economics doctorate but has close to no clue about what is happening in the economy today. All she knows is the textbook model analysis of historical case studies. Useful doctorate? You be the judge.

"I don't know. You ask me, I ask who?"

In America, kids graduates high school and are sent packing to university. Getting a student loan is easy as pie. They are basically giving it out free because student debt never goes away, even in bankruptcy. They've got you, and they've got you good.

It's a running joke that you can have a great discussion on social science topics with any Starbucks baristas, because they have all graduated with an Arts degree from some college or university in America. The reason why its a running joke and it's funny is... because it's true.

In America, not only are the school fees becoming absolutely crazy in some schools, but the rosy prospects of becoming a degree holder is no longer valid because education quality is low and "graduate jobs" are not well paying. Now, a high school graduate who doesn't take on massive amounts of debt and gets to work straight out of graduation would probably end up better off than the average college student who digs themselves into debt and slowly crawl their way out, monthly installment by monthly installment. (I read an article about it and it even had an infographic, but I can't find it again.)

The debt is so insurmountable that the number of Americans going AWOL with their debt is increasing. No surprise. College kids used to run out of the state when they racked up phone bills in the past. Why not run out of the country if you racked up a huge loan?

I always hear the complaint that studying in the local universities in Singapore is expensive. Yet I never hear any good debates about the difference in quality. Costs in other countries are most of the time grossly underestimated, but even taking that low ball estimate and adjusting for quality, it becomes blatantly obvious where value lies. I've studied overseas and I've many friends that studied overseas. I can tell you for a fact, European universities are pretty low standard. (When I say low standard, I mean I studied half as much as I would locally, yet I ended up in the top decile. I'm not saying I'm a genius. Just ask other Singaporeans that have studied overseas. The only real threats are.... the local Asians. Oh the irony.) Excluding the Ivy League schools, the American schools are all pretty weak too. I've an engineer friend who is a consistent C student and he managed A's for every subject in the semester he studied in the top public university there. No points for knowing which school that is. Guess what grades he got once he came back? (C. He got C's all over again)

Singapore isn't quite as far down the rabbit hole as Korea, where parents literally sell off their souls to pay for their children's tuition fees to graduate from some unknown university with poor to mediocre job opportunities from it. At least our tuition fees don't suffocate you (but let's not be coy - it isn't cheap), loans are accessible and Social Sciences graduates don't end up working at Starbucks for minimum wage, mainly because there isn't a minimum wage (I jest). Our schools at least count for something.

The value of local universities cannot be denied. Unless you have spawned a genius child who got accepted into one of those mega exceptional universities, nobody, I repeat, nobody chooses to send their child overseas when they could have studied locally. Many go overseas because they were outcompeted for the course that they wanted (hello doctors and lawyers), but they do eventually get into respectable universities overseas and end up as professionals in those countries.

Now, I'm sure someone is going to bring up the topic of degree mills (Brilliantly excellent post by LIFT, MUST READ!!!). Seriously though. Do you think local employers are fooled? Maybe MNCs with anti-discrimination practices, but locally nobody is fooled. There is a spectrum of good universities, mediocre ones and just plain WTF-thats-not-a-real-unversity-GTFO. If you think that people with a university degree from the Seriously Unfake Authentic King's University (SUAKU) are viewed in the same standing as someone from Harvard, you're the one that needs your head checked, not the "stupid recruiters".

Anyway, things get a bit more trick from here on because the next topics are harder to tackle and seem booby-trapped.

The toughest question that I can think of is: Will you push your child to aim for a university education using all means available to you? If your child fails to secure a local spot, will you be okay with it? If you had the money and you could afford it, would you send your child to pursue a private university education?

Some kids even demand a parent's sponsored, overseas, all-expenses paid private university education as if it is their birth right. Will you dig yourself into a financial hell hole and postpone your retirement by 10 years because your kid is an ungrateful idiot? Of course framing it into this perspective makes the answer quite obvious to me, but I'm taking an extreme example.

I'm afraid that the answer to these questions will determine if Singaporeans in the future are all doctors and lawyers with plenty of foreign "un"talent as our base (which if you think about it, makes us the minority), or if society can accept that being a nurse or a paralegal are perfectly fine and respectable jobs as well.

After some very tiring thinking, I suppose my thoughts are gravitating towards "Sustainability". There is no point pretending that my kid is a genius if he/she isn't. I can "QE" him/her into higher education, but all that QE doesn't mean that he/she will get a good job, and it definitely has no correlation to having a good life. Sure, I can temporarily boost my kid's performance by throwing money in the air and getting private tutors and sending him to the best schools that money can buy, but really now, does that mean that my kid is a genius? That he/she can be a surgeon and cut people open? As a famous person once said, stupid is as stupid does.

On a very black and white, totally objective scale, it would seem that obviously university graduates earn more money, so obviously their lives are implicitly better with all those extra wads of cash. However, I do not agree. I am definitely far away from being and thinking like a parent (though I do hope that one day I might be one), but I don't think my job as a parent is so narrowly defined by society to be: Make sure he/she graduates from university and finds a good job.

I think my job is to equip my kid with the necessary skills to survive in the real world, utilizing whatever abilities that they possess. Once that basic is covered, it's about how to enjoy life.

It just seems to be that in Singapore and many other Asian countries that excelling in academics is the primary and sole objective. All other abilities seem to be irrelevant. I hate to break it to you, but not everyone in Asia wants to be, should be, or will be good at being a doctor, lawyer or banker.

It's much too simplistic to believe that a university degree is equal to a good job which equals to a good pay which equals to a good life. So the billions of the people in the world that aren't graduates are living sad, pathetic, unmeaningful and unhappy lives? I think not.

So back to my previous questions: Will you push your child to aim for a university education using all means available to you? If your child fails to secure a local spot, will you be okay with it? If you had the money and you could afford it, would you send your child to pursue a private university education? And Why? Or Why not?

This topic might be a can of worms, but I don't care. I am truly curious to know what other people think about this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Random Rant Jan 2016

"Unless you are short stocks, 2016 is starting off to a rocky start" - Overheard on CNBC

Well, good thing I'm short stocks then!

We are off to a wild year this 2016.

Many people think that we're in a minor correction and this is just a speed bump before we continue our ascent to even higher highs.

I mean, the US economy is recovering right?

Oil at $29 is a "subsidy to the consumer" is it not? Also doesn't it reduce business transportation costs? The whole theme when Oil was dropping from over $100 to $50 was that lower oil is good for the economy. Since then, we have somehow flip flopped to lower oil is bad for the economy. Come on guys, make up your fucking mind. Is lower oil good or bad for the economy?!?!

Since a year ago, I've been in the camp that Oil will continue to grind lower and there can't be any resolution in the early part of 2015. Whether I was right for whatever reasons, it's hard to say because no one knows what in the real cause. Maybe we'll never know.

In all seriousness, oil under $30 is pretty much a sure sign that we are already in a shit storm. Will it cause a credit crunch by the oil industry defaulting and domino-ing over to other industries? When one is short, one can only hope so.

However, on the bright side, this drawdown in oil has been impressive to say the least. Perhaps in the future people will be calling this the "The Great Oil Recession" or something along that lines. Looking at the drawdowns we are sitting on now, I'm more and more and more and more excited and tempted to dump more allocation into oil-related plays. My allocation to Keppel and Sembcorp would be uncomfortable to most people, I would reckon.

Recently, I had a fantastic play in my CFD account. I managed to short the US indices, namely the S&P500 from 2076 all the way to 2000 flat. That's a pretty brutal 76 points of profit there, leveraged up by 20 times with whatever base margin amount I was playing with. I did pussy out and cashed out with most of my profits, and I have been very very very sore about missing the next 100 point decline. I've been pushing shorts every few months for years now, and when the best shorting opportunity had come around, I pussied out? I was very disappointed with myself.

Most people that know my style can guess I'm more of a "mean-reversion" type of guy. That means I rarely take up positions that have already made big moves in one direction because I always think and feel that a snap-back is coming, rather than the momentum will continue driving it in one direction. However, I feel that this is quite special circumstances and I decided, against the judgement of my regular logic, to enable "crash mode override" and I'm pressing my shorts again.

I'm back in the market shorting the S&P500 through CFDs and my average price is 1896. I think that we're going for a heavy spike lower if we breach the ~1870 mark. How low can we go if we do have a waterfall decline? I think 1700 might be a good level for a breather if we are heading lower.

Since I think we are heading lower, that also doesn't look too bright and sunny for the local stock market. Basically these days, if the US markets closer lower, so will the Singapore market. We had an interesting up day today, but the current lackluster performance in the US markets might rock the boat when Singapore opens. Personally, I think the the Singapore stock market is more than fairly valued at this time, in fact I think it is even slightly undervalued. I have been slowly picking up local stocks in the recent weeks, but I stress the keyword slowly. There's nothing to say that cheap can't get any cheaper.

Talking about the economy, everywhere I hear that things are looking bad. I've heard of 2 retrenchment exercise at friend's workplaces since the start of 2016. I've heard many of my graduated juniors are having a lot of trouble finding a job. Strangely enough, many many of them have turned to selling insurance and being financial advisers. Like seriously. Like fucking a lot. It's mindblowing how many people I know are doing it, especially when I feel like 90% of them haven't a clue of what they are peddling. Scratch that. 100%. I've yet to meet a financial adviser (in real life) that actually knows what they are doing and why. But anyway, this isn't a post about me dissing financial advisers. My point is that the job market is so bad that lots of people are turning to the insurance industry to absorb them in, especially when they have zero background, zero experience and zero passion. Yes, you cute 23 year old girl who graduated with a degree that has absolutely nothing to do with finance or insurance, let me sign this $1 million policy with you. /sarc

In the big picture of things, because I've been saving up for a house downpayment and getting my itchy hands away from playing with this money, I'm actually a lot more interested and concerned with the housing market than the stock market. I'm going to be putting in A LOT more money in my house compared to whatever I'll put into the stock market even if it crashes 50% tomorrow. I need housing to crash so I can finally move out and get my own place!

Finally, in case it wasn't clear enough yet, yes, I'm an asshole hoping for all hell to break lose.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CDW Revisited

Almost one year ago I sold off my position in CDW for a very handsome 46% profit.

When I had bought CDW back in May of 2013 (don't think about the stock price), it was trading at a PE of 4.4 and it also had a nice 28% discount to it's NAV.

I sold CDW less than a year later because it's stock price had gone up and valuations become more expensive compared to what I thought the company was worth. PE had shot up to 9.4 and it was then at a 3% premium to it's NAV. Although I felt the company definitely could have more potential if you wanted to stay for the maximum reward, I felt that most of the gains in this stock has already been made by it's expansion in earnings multiple. I felt uneasy that the stock seemed to be skyrocketing for no reasons at all. I was actually pretty stressed about losing my unrealized gains that I had made. I decided to exit the stock and leave calling the top to other professionals.

After I sold it at $0.185, it proceeded to spite me by going to $0.20 before briefly simmering down and shooting up to $0.24 and peaking out there! From my cost price of $0.131, I would've stood to make about 80% if I had managed to stay in for the ride and release at the top. But of course, is it so easy to sell at the top? I don't think so.

Since then, the stock has been on a steady decline until where we are again today, almost 2 years later. In fact, although the share price is a fraction more than what I paid in the past, valuations are better. PE is now at 4.1 and the discount to NAV has increased to 33%.

Although that does seem quite tempting for me to dive back into the stock, I need to remind myself that if a shit storm is coming (which I strongly believe there will be one), would this stock be spared the bloodbath? I doubt so, especially since they are China-related due to their operations there.

Anyway the morale of the story is that regardless of winning or losing, you should be comfortable with your position and, of course, your sizing in the market. If you are losing sleep because of a certain position, that means your exposure is too much for your risk tolerance. The solution is simple. Increase your risk tolerance or reduce your exposure. Not only is it better for your portfolio by you constantly not tweaking it, it is also better for your quality of life.

Monday, January 18, 2016

[XMM STI ETF Investing] Next Purchase Triggered

Excuse me for not updating this particular portfolio for quite a long time. I've been so busy the end of last year with work, and then after that travelling and having a life. I'm glad to report that it's chugging along just fine. Even though I did not make specific posts for it, I have been updating my end of month account values on the sticky page, and as you can see, the portfolio is very surely but slowly growing month by month.

Anyway, the last time I talked about my STI ETF playbook was in September when it hit the 20% trigger and I bought my next few lots.

Since the STI ETF dipped below my pre-planned trigger of $2.66, I went into the market and bought 6 lots at $2.65, bringing my total number of lots to a respectable 13 lots, which is worth about $3400. My average price is roughly $2.80.

Don't get me wrong, the STI ETF is NOT the holy grail of all investing decisions and your path to financial salvation. As great as the STI ETF is (which is better than a lot of other "vehicles" being peddled), it is not without its own shortcomings.

It is being even more and more apparent to me that plenty of people haven't the foggiest clue that ETFs exist, what they are, how they can be used and what are the risks that they assume by buying them.

The most simplistic caveman answer I've heard is "It's diversified hor? So safer and better lor!"

Oh gawd. Just shoot me already.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on ETFs, you can head over to my previous article and start from there. An ETF does not "diversify" away all your risks.

The earlier you figure out that there is no one magical investment, the better off you are going to be dealing with the endless stream of hot steaming bullshit that runneth out of the financial world.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Keppel REIT Divests Property ABOVE Book Value

This is the recent news about Keppel REIT, where they have divested an Australian property for 27% above the recorded book value.

This is 40% higher than their purchase price done in end 2010, which means they made handsome capital gains of 40% in a short span of 5+ years. That translates to capital gains of 6% per year, and adding in the rental income, it should be quite a handsome investment for the REIT.

Sure, this property is a tiny $160 mil AUD, which is small compared to the portfolio book valuation of $4,400 mil SGD. However, it does give me a lot more confidence of their property valuation that is on their books. Imagine, what if the whole REIT itself was "worth" 27% more than its book value?

Based on the last quarters data, their NAV is $1.37 (of course, the new quarter data is coming out soon and I would reckon would be revised lower). Yet, the stock price is trading at a huge discount to NAV at $0.90. This is a discount to book value of 34%! Keppel REIT is trading at 66% of its book value.!

If Keppel REIT was to trade at a 27% premium of its book value, that would imply an almost 90% gain in it's stock price!

Of course, that is rather unlikely. Not that its property isn't worth a premium to its book value or not, but rather I doubt anyone would be coming in to buy out their portfolio.

The thing I like about Keppel REIT is that 70% of their leases are not due for renewal until 2018, and I personally think that there will be a shit storm is the coming year or 2 which would adversely affect the economy. Have leases expiry only from 2018 is a good thing in my opinion.

I did see TI's recent post bringing up the REIT managers fee and I'm quite shocked about the 24% fee as of revenue. Anyway, I need to investigate into this further, but at least to me for now, Keppel REIT is an asset play.

I've mentioned before that Keppel REIT is one of my top picks if it came down to REITs. I care very little about "interest rates" when it comes to thinking about REITs. Yes, in the short-term they are affected by these little shifts. In the long term, I would be pretty amazed if you can show me a correlation. REITs and bonds (which are inversely related to interest rates) have an almost perfectly zero relationship.

Personally, I HATE buying REITs at a premium over valuation. One of my main takeaways from the REIT bible is that you should never ever ever buy a REIT at a premium over valuation unless you can strongly justify it. Basically, it is almost always "safer" to buy a REIT below valuation than above. Book value isn't the only metric in the word, but I would like to stress and emphasize my preference for using this metric when it comes to REITs. With P/NAV as my anchoring metric, followed by other things that I look it, this framework has served me rather well with my REIT investments, steering me clear from the obviously retardedly overvalued REITs. (IREIT at 17% premium over NAV? Hello? Common sense to brain, do you read me, over?)

Although I only have a paltry 200 shares in Keppel REIT directly, I do own Keppel Corp, which owns 45% of Keppel REIT. I am thinking about increasing my position in Keppel REIT.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Crude Under $30!

Yup, crude oil is now trading under $30! (and dropping)

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that if the oil futures remain at this price tomorrow, the O&G names are going to open red on the SGX as well.

I'm talking about you Keppel and Sembcorp.

My average price for Keppel Corp is $6.426 and I have 1000 shares. (25%)
My average price for SembCorp is $3.445 and I have 800 shares. (10%)

As of right now, I have a combined 35% allocation in these 2 stocks.

If oil continues to be horrible, who knows? Maybe I can enter into Keppel under $5 and SembCorp under $2.50?

Basically, if you don't buy stocks when they are depressed and cheap, when do you buy stocks? When news is awesome and they are trading at all-time highs? Sorry, but that's just not my style guys.

I buy when things are cheap, and I sell when they get expensive. I might not be right all the time, but I think my strategy works much better than compared to doing it the other way around.

Good luck people. Especially to all those over-leveraged and chicken-hearted.

Huat ah! Give me a red, red, sad and depressing CNY!

Everyone sell sell sell!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Crude Under $30?

Brent and WTI are about 5% down and it looks like they might actually dip before $30!

I don't know about you guys, but I don't believe that we are going to maintain at $30 oil in the future. Sure, low can always get lower, but put in perspective, wow, we have come pretty low this time around!

I don't want to get involved directly into the commodities, so my play on O&G would Keppel and Sembcorp. With allocations to them reaching hefty levels, I'm considering to placing bets into other stocks in related industries which usually ends up involves shipping and marine companies.

Anyway, Keppel and Semb should open up a bloody bloody red tomorrow. Who knows if I slack a bit at work and manage to sneak in an order?

The more Keppel and Semb drops, the more I'd be picking up the pieces from all the panicking people.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oh The Smell Of Fresh Blood

Last night I saw the oil and gas blood bath happening during the US trading hours.

WTI Oil is at $32.50 and Brent is at $33.40 now.... wtf?

Why and how oil goes lower is no matter to me. As stated before, I have a mental problem that makes me gravitate towards absolutely ugly ugly stuff.

Because of that, I dropped $1.8k today to shore up my collection of Kep Corp and Semb Corp.

As it stands now, these 2 counters have taken over my portfolio and make up 19.4% and 11% respectively. However, if you really look at it, I still have tons of other positions that make up 70% of my portfolio. I can still afford to chase the bottom for these 2 fellas without concentrating my portfolio too much.

Of course, that is also contingent on me adding in more capital and buying other stocks as well.

The STI is down 20% already. I have a few friends in the POSB Invest Saver plan which I recommended them a while ago panicking. I teared a little when one of the brave soldiers said, "Times like this, you shouldn't be asking if you should liquidate. You should be asking if you should double down!".

And as double down as he did, I also decided to go into the STI ETF finally as a holding for myself. (as opposed to my lazy way of having local equity exposure for the small portfolio I run for my sister and mother)

Shortly after my O&G names got filled, I also got filled for 100 shares of ST Engineering at $2.88 and also 400 shares of the SPDR STI ETF at $2.81.

Actually, I see lots of individual names that are languishing as well, but truth be told, I haven't really been keeping myself as close to the market as I used to. Rather than jump onto those seemingly sinking ships, I have to go back to the planning room and check what's going on and if I should ramp up more capital allocation during this lovely, lovely, lovely sale.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nobody Cares About Gold

TTMYGH came out with this great video:

Sadly, it is true. Nobody cares about gold anymore.

However, that's okay.

I'm still planning to go for my usual 2016 haul:

1 X Gold Canadian Maples 1 oz
25 X Silver Canadian Maples 1 oz
20 X Silver American Eagles 1 oz

Good news is that the RCM 10 oz premiums have come back down to earth a bit. I feel a bit sorry for the desperate herd that rushed in at 20+% premiums.

For single RCM 10 oz bars, premiums are at 18.40%. This is still a far cry from the 12.6% that it used to be in the past. Perhaps this is because supply constraints are finally being reflected in the market?

Compare that to "the standard" Johnson Matthey 100 oz bars which go at 13.17%. This is 3% up from the premium it used to sell at. What is interesting to note is that the humble Nadir 1 kg bar is selling at almost the same premium.

Like I've said before, I might be giving BullionStar's competitor a try since they offer free delivery for silver kilobars, which I think sounds pretty sweet. I really might give them a go and pocket a Nadir kilobar just for shits and giggles.

I've been so busy lately, but I will definitely continue to opportunistically accumulate grams of precious metals during price spikes downward, with the eventual aim of "cashing out" in the future. Most likely though, I will only take delivery of the gold and sell away my silver when the "day" finally comes.

In the past few years, I've only met 2 friends who have been somewhat excited about gold. The first person's excitment fizzled after realizing how hard and expensive owning gold through the traditional "financial" methods of gold accounts, ETFs and etc. Which is pretty ironic since the most traditional way is holding it literally as a pet rock, and that is dead simple. The second friend is perpetually waiting for price to hit $0, and so has thus far bought exactly 0g of gold too.

No matter how hard I look, I can't find a single person excited about gold. In a way, I guess that's a good thing.

I continue to humbly stack my "unsurance policy" in relationship to my growing net worth, as well as increase my bets in the gold area through miners and both direct and indirect ownership of the precious metal.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 New Year FD Rates

Just visited some of the different bank websites to do my ibanking and noticed that some of the fixed deposits have been updated and they are looking for new customers.

Many of them are only valid for a short while, so if it perks you up, why not?

Based on the "standard" that people like to compare, which is a 12 month lock in and about $20-25k initial minimum, the best looking bank is Stan Chart which pulls away from CIMB by a hair of 0.05% more returns, but for $5k more minimum initial deposit.

For quickies, we once again see a fight between Stan Chart and CIMB. More minimum initial and a shorter tenure for the highest 1.65% rate, or drag it out by 1 more month but have the minimum required drop to only $25k.

For those people with $100k looking to park somewhere, CIMB comes up top in this regard, with some free abalone to boot.

Of course, if all of these have too high minimum deposit (which I am sure is too high for many), we can always just fall back and make use of the Singapore Savings Bond. The info for the next issue is out, and we're looking at a flat 1% for the first year, which is better than what the local banks offer for your cash, but with a fraction of the capital required at only $500.

Personally, I think the CIMB FastSaver with a simple 1% interest (it is a cash savings account, not even a fixed deposit!!!) for the first $50k is the way to go until you have about $5-10k to spare, then you can consider an SSB with that amount. Once you've hit the $20-25k golden threshold, you can start cherry picking your fixed deposits. Like I said before, CIMB is a pretty consistent attractive FD offerer, which is one of the reasons why I bank with them.

Personally, as far as cash is concerned for me, I am milking my OCBC 360 for all it is worth, while I have some cash in CIMB accounts and also some in the SSBs.

I know holding onto too much cash and not "investing" is a terribly bad idea for a long run, but for now, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Booking some Happy New Year profits!

Back on 4th November, I posted about this particular chart pattern that I saw, along with some reasoning behind my trade. I would argue that since then, things are actually looking worse for the long term picture!

I actually have been building up a short position since mid October on the US indices, but since then they have steadily rose until my post on 4th Nov. Cutely enough, that was the day that I decided to double down on my position and I pretty much maxed out the available margin in my CFD account.

Anyone that has played with CFDs will know what a precarious position that is.

Fortunately, the market almost immediately turned since 4th November and the S&P headed straight for the 2000 mark, which it firmly bounced off on 16th Nov. Not being wise enough and a bit too greedy, I let my profits disappear into losses and I again increased my positions on 19th and 23rd Nov.

The market dithered around and on 17th Dec I added even more short positions again. In fact, while I was overseas I got numerous calls from my CFD broker telling me that I'm in a negative position and a margin call might happen if the market continues going higher. It did rise to 2080 and that is rather scary, but it has since then puked all over the place.

We are now once again at the 2000 mark and my position is almost 4 times as much as when I started in mid October. Although if the 2000 mark breaks, we could very well see a huge waterfall decline in the indices, I've decided not to tempt fate any longer and have booked some profits at the infamous 2000 Maginot line.

Psychologically, it's nice to close some of my positions so that my exposure isn't so high. It is also nice to "drag up" my average cost by closing my most marginal winning positions.

I still have positions betting on the US indices going down and my average price on the S&P is a pretty healthy 2076. That means as long as I close out my open positions before 2076, I'll be break even. Right now I'm sitting in nice unrealized profits.

The trader in me suspects a dead cat bounce soon, which I will build up positions once more for the clean break of the 2000 level and the gateway to much more weakness in the future. I am more than willing to bet on the decline of the US markets. But for EM markets like Singapore and so, I am not so inclined. The tremendous difference in valuation is one of the key factors. The US is stupidly expensive. Singapore is actually cheap.

I still think the US markets are beyond ridiculous, with many meh companies trading at hugely rich valuations in the millions, if not billions. Amazon. Twitter. Netflix. Yelp. Camera on a stick. It seems like logic is no longer required when buying a company.

Oh well, whatever. The market goes up and down every single day. Call it technical analysis, fundamental analysis, voodoo or just plain dumb luck. Only the guys that can eventually walk away from the table are the real winners. No one cares how much you were "up". All that matters is what you walk out with.

Hello 2016!

Less than a month ago I took a furlough for 2 weeks and came back til the end of the year.

I've been away gallivanting in another country over the new year this past week, which is the reason why I haven't been around to make snide commentary on the ridiculous markets.

Next month I'll also be taking full advantage of the CNY period to run away from relatives and have my first solo trip of 2016.

I'll probably be giving an update on my recent holiday - or not (I'm feeling a bit lazy to do it), but in a quick summary, the past week has been pretty good for me. I managed to really get away from work and just get lost in another country. For people that take a short weekend getaway, I'm sure you know what I mean. A weekend is too short to forget about everything. But since I was away for a week, I really forgot everything and I think that is actually pretty perfect for me to start 2016 with a clean slate.

I'm now a lot more energized and excited about 2016, for the major things in my life, such as work and blogging, but especially for my other personal goals.

As usual, I have TONS of readings to go through since I've been away and out of touch of all financial news for the past week. Seems like a lot of people reflected about 2015 and made resolutions for 2016. I'm sure those would make good reads. I ought to join in the cool kids and make a similar post too.

I've realized that with all my goals for the year, blogging is going to drop slightly in my priority of things that I want to get done in my life. While I've been consistently trying to pump out an article a day over the past 2 odd years of blogging (this is post #1078!!!), I'm giving myself a much more relaxed goals of perhaps an article every 1-3 days, along with my staple of monthly and perhaps annual updates. I still do need and enjoy blogging in my life though. Like I said, writing is my form of meditation to keep my mind feeling light and easy. However, my blog posts are getting kinda messy recently. Perhaps one of these days when the tape is dry and holidays are aplenty (and I'm actually in Singapore), I can plan and set out a better structure for my blog posts. As far as I know, I think people usually drop by to see the progress of my monthly STI portfolio and also my commentary on the Singapore Savings Bonds.

Anyway, nothing interesting here. Just me ranting on random things as usual. Just one man's rant on personal finance.

To an interesting 2016!