Saturday, October 22, 2011

Top 40 blue chips in Singapore

This table shows the top 40 blue chips traded in the Singapore Exchange. Of special interest are the drop in price from the recent high dividend yield and a stockbroker's forecast of the EPS (earning per share) and PER (price earning ratio for the next two years. These figures should be treated with caution. The stockbroker's recommendation has been removed. Before investing in any share, you should consult your stock broker.

Investing in a troubled world

Given the uncertainty in the global financial and economic environment, how should ordinary people invest their long term savings to earn an adequate income and to cope with the higher rate of inflation expected in the next few years?
This is the question asked by many people. I like to give my views.

Haircut on Greek Debt

Private investors will be asked to take a 60% haircut on their investments in Greek bonds. This is much higher than the 21% agreed in August. I expect that the final figure will probably be 40% to 50%.

The question is - why are the European banks holding so much Greek bonds? Surely, the jobs of banks should be to provide banking services and give loans to businesses. They should not be an investment fund, using their money (taken from the Central Bank or credit creation) to speculate on this type of investments or to fund foreign governments?

And why is Greece, a country, not able to meet its obligations? Surely, the Government has assets that can be sold - to repay the debts? If Greece is allowed to get away with 60% of its obligations - what about other countries? This will set a bad precedent. Many countries will continue to be bad risks. What about USA? We can expect an uncertain future and more volatility! And the structure of the financial world will be quite different.

The answer to these questions are - there is something seriously wrong with the financial structure of our global system. Our financial system is based on the illusion of market values and is fed by greed, speculation and corruption.

Pay of Government Leaders

This table shows the pay of Government leaders, compared to GDP

Invest in an indexed fund

When you invest for the long term, invest in an index fund (such as an ETF that is based on a market index) and stop trying to pick the stocks to beat the market. There are a few other good tips in this article.

Learn how to invest in an indexed fund. Attend the financial planning workshop organised by FISCA on 29 October.

Medicare in USA

The problem with Medicare in USA (i.e. the health care paid by the Government for retirees) is that it becomes very costly to give the best to the older people and the Government is bearing the cost. In Singapore, the Government wants the people to bear the cost - and they cannot afford it either. The solution? Educate people on what is necessary and what is wasteful and help them to find the right treatment at a cost that they can afford. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Small child who was street smart

A 2 year old girl, Yue Yue, was run over twice in Guangzhou, China. Many people passing by did not help her. Where were her parents?

I recall a horrifying experience some 20 years ago, also in Guangzhou. I stopped at a small town for dinner. After dinner, I was returning to the bus. I saw a small boy, also about 2 years old, on the opposite side trying to cross a busy road with many fast passing vehicles. There was no adults around to take care of the child. I was horrified that he could be hit by a passing vehicle, but there was nothing that I could do, as I was on the other side of a busy road.

After a while, the little boy saw a gap among the vehicles and run across the road safely to her parents who were nearby. I then realised that this boy, although very small, was street smart. He must have crossed the road many times safely. His parents knew that he could take care of himself.

This is so different from the over-protected children in Singapore!

New approach towards new media

The Government is likely to take a new approach and a more active approach towards the new media.

I have seen the bad side of the new media and how people can act irresponsibly when giving their comments (and untruths) and malicious attacks under anonymity. I like to see the new media being used in a more responsible manner and will welcome moves in that direction.

Subsidy for Japanese manufacturers

The Japanese government is introducing a subsidy to help its manufacturers to keep their production in Japan, in the face of a stronger currency. This shows that the system of free trade and open market is now under stress.

Communist Manifesto - 1848

I read some parts of the book by Karl Marx entitled the Communist Manifesto. He described the struggle between the proletariat (working class) and the bourgeois (capital owners). Today, 163 years later, it is a struggle between the 99% (ordinary people) and the 1% (elite). This can be seen in the "Occupy Wall Street" protest.

National Service Deferment

The Minister for Defence said that there was no preference treatment for National Service deferment. He explained in detail to Parliament how the process for deferment was carried out. However, the newspaper report did not carry the details. I hope that our MPs in Parliament would question the process, to ensure that the relevant questions have been asked and answered satisfactorily.

My preference is for National Service to be made fairer to male citizens, so that they do not need to sacrifice their time and opportunity. This can be done through reducing the duration of national service and/ or compensating them adequately for the time that they have to spend. The Singapore males have to compete with foreigners and females in the job market and should not be placed at a disadvantage.

List of contractors

The list of contractors have been updated to include plumbing, electrical and TV repair. There are now 13 categories of contractors. This list will be converted into a database for easy access at a later date. The contractors have been contacted to establish their responsiveness to calls or emails.

Top-up CPF by cash

The charge (by eNETS) to top up a CPF by internet banking is too high. For an amount of $1,000, the charge is $15. For a larger amount, the charge is NOT specified.

To avoid this excessive charge, I decided to pay by cheque ($0.25 for postage). But I have to write a lot of detail at the bank of the cheque including an unweildly transaction number. See below.

This is not the only thing that I have to write. I still have to write the cheque and make sure that the amount in words and letters are correct, the date is correct, the payee is correct. I also have to make sure that the address of CPF is correctly written on the envelope.  This is a sad part of life in Singapore - so much hassle and over-charging.

Top-up CPF account

CPF took an advertisement to advice members to top-up their CPF account (for themselves and their family members). I responded and tried to do it at their website. My experience is shown in this report, which I sent to the Ministry of Manpower. My findings:

1. The CPF online process has bugs.
2. The administration charge is too high.

I hope that our Government will wake up and sort out the shortcomings and over-charging!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Large bonus to bankers

Goldman Sachs pays large bonuses to its employees, in spite of making a loss for its shareholders. The amount of bonus is described as "ridiculous".

Too many investment choices

This article explains about the difficulty faced by consumers in investing their money, when they have too many choices.

My recommendation is for most consumers, who are not financially experienced, to invest in an indexed fund, such as the Straits Times Index Exchange Traded Fund. If you are financially experienced, you can make your own choice, i.e. DIY (do it yourself).

Sharing of medical records

There is law in USA regarding the rights of patients for access to their medical records and the duty of the health care providers to protect privacy of these records. We need similar laws in Singapore.   

Electronic Health Records

Medical costs have been escalating for the past few decades. As people get older, they have to spend more on health care. The experts have identified ways to improve the efficiency of health care and to cut down on wastage. They have suggested that electronic medical records of each person, that is available to their doctors can cut down on repeated tests.

President Obama actively proposed the creation of a central system to keep the health records. Google launched its innovative Google Health system to meet this need. But Google has decided to scrap this system, due to insufficient interest to use it. It seems that electronic medical record will not take off, at least for the immediate future.

What is the problem? If escalating health care cost has to be contained, why did these initiatives fail? Why are people reluctant to use electronic health records - which can help to improve efficiency and bring down cost?

Which of these factors are most important?

1) Doctors want to keep control of the records, so that the patients will keep going back to them
2) The Government failed to pass the law to give political support to these measures
3) Patients are reluctant to have their health records kept electronically
4) Consumers are weak in enforcing their rights and interest.

Please share  your views here.

Financial Planning Test

Take this test and find out how much you really know:

You can register for the financial planning workshop to be held soon:

Problem with big audit firms

There are problems with big audit firms - not only in America but also with the China firms. This could lead to another source of issue between America and China. But the problem of auditing in a world of greed and accounting fraud is more widespread.

Solar energy industry

America is counting on solar energy industry to create jobs. Already, they are facing strong competition from China. This may lead to trade disputes.

Self help group for Singaporeans to find jobs

Dear Mr Tan,
We are a group of Native Singaporeans self help group.

We aim to help jobless Native Singaporeans to look for employers who support Native hirings as many are fed up competing jobs with younger, faster and cheaper new immigrants.

We understand you have an opening for the above which we can help you to advertise on our FB page to attract our interested members.

Please Add Friend and take a look at our FB info, wall and pages. Appreciate you can spread the word around.!/profile.php?id=100002910723487!/pages/True-Blue-Job-Business-Opportunities/298500870176141

Drop in standard of living

This article describes what has happened in America. It reflects the situation for many people in Singapore as well. When there is a widening gap in income, the high cost of living must squeeze those on stagnant wages.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Contractors for various services

Here are contractors for various types of services. They have a website and respond quite promptly to telephone calls or e-mails. We are not able to judge their prices or quality of service.  You have to make your own judgement when you call them.

Ban on naked CDS

The European Union has decided to impose a ban on naked CDS - i.e. betting on the default of a sovereign government where there is no existing risk to be covered. They have decided that this type of betting is harmful to their economy. It is a recognition that these financial products are designed mainly for betting, and cause harm rather than good.

Temasek Convertible Bond - Standard Chartered Bank

Temasek Holdings offers a 3 year zero-coupon bond that can be exchanged into shares of Standard Chartered Bank at a premium of 27%. Is this a good investment? Here is my view.

Here is another person's view.

Employment rate of Singaporeans

Quote from Lucky Tan: For many years, the PAP govt has tried to paint a rosy picture to Singaporeans on employment when the real situation on the ground has deteriorated badly especially among older Singaporeans.
Thoughts of a contented Singaporean who has lived in Singapore for 40 years.

Booking an air ticket

I went to the Sri Lanka Airline website to book my air ticket to Colombo. I found this website to be well designed and easy to use  - much better than Jetstar or Singapore Airlines. I got a good price. I asked my travel agent if they are able to match this price - but they cannot. I went to but could not find a comparable price (but the price was a good benchmark). It seemed that the best price can be obtained by booking directly with the airline.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Real estate agents

There were 1,200 complaints against real estate agents for the first 9 months, or 5 each working day. The total fees paid for the transactions was $1.25 billion last year, or an average of $37,800 per registered agent (based on 33,000 registered agents, including those that are only partially active).

Improve your vocabulary with Word Power

This app allows you to improve your vocabulary. It runs on the iPhone and iPad. You can unscramble the letters to form the correct word that match the definition. It is suitable for children and adults. It has different levels of difficulty based on the number of letters in the word.

Consumers deserve to be treated fairly

This article explains what the regulators in USA are doing to ensure that consumers are protected fairly in the bills that they receive from their telephone companies. I believe that the regulator in Singapore (IDA) has already implemented similar measures - but I am not sure if they have done to the same extent as in the USA.

Bright Jigsaw

This video shows Vera and her friends trying out the Bright Jigsaw, a new app that will appear soon in iPhone and iPad. You can choose several images and break down the images into a number of small pieces from 3X3 to 8X8. It is challenging and fun and suitable for children and adults.

New Yorkers support the Occupy Wall Street Protests

They like tougher regulations on the banks and support the right of the protesters to demonstrate, so long as they obey the law. See this report

Young workers stuck in temporary jobs

This article describes a problem faced by young people in many countries. They are paid a low salary, in spite of spending a lot of money to get a good education.

This situation is caused by the failure of government around the world to set and enforce standards on worker's remuneration and their inability to provide a conducive environment for businesses to operate viably. Some businesses find it hard to survive, and cannot pay their workers well. Some businesses are highly profitable, but still exploit their workers. The government fail to do their job and prefer to leave matters to be sorted out by the market.

Allocating vehicle COEs through a ballot

I have written this paper to set out the case of using the ballot to allocate the available COEs to meet the demand. It takes the views of many people who have written in my blog and Facebook.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why bid for the car COE?

Dear Mr. Tan
I spoke to numerous people, but did not get an answer that is acceptable. I have been struggling to understand the rationale for the COE bidding exercise. Surely, a balloting for the COE could achieve the same objective of limiting the no. of COE. That is, if the government fix the COE price at a reasonable amount (which could be adjusted periodically), and use balloting for the no. of COE, the same quota would be achieved as well. 

Why is there a need for Bidding, which for whatever reason result in the sky rocketing of the price. In other words, the control of the car population do not have to result in the people paying exhorbitant prices for a cars. Unless the government is all out to make money, which I thought that is not the intent.

my personal preference is to have a balloting exercise, instead of bidding for the COE. But our Government believes that bidding (and money) is the best way to allocate scarce resources. I do not agree with their approach, but they are the Government!

If we go on the balloting exercise, there is still a problem. Many people will ballot for the COE and resell the car to the highest buyer. So, the Government decided that the best way to prevent this "black market" is to go bidding in the first place, and let the market decide on who gets the COE.

Visit to Sri Lanka

I plan to visit Sri Lanka next month. I searched Youtube for a video of Sri Lanka and found this excellent video. This is the marvel of Youtube and the internet.

Learn mobile development

If you have a diploma in I.T. and wish to have the chance to learn development on Android or Apple (IOS) without paying a fee, send an e-mail with your resume to  You will be given the facility to learn the platform at our office, projects that you can do, and a mentor to guide you. You need to spend at least two months on the learning, but you have flexibility to spend half of this time at your home.

Spreading work and reducing unemployment

I read a report that in USA, some workers are putting in  70 hours a week. They work hard, so that they can keep their jobs. But, when those with jobs work long hours, there will be less jobs for the unemployed to take up. This is the problem about the free market system.

Countries with caps on working hours (beyond which the employer has to pay premium overtime rate) allows the available work to be spread to more workers. They also have controls over their immigration. A good example is Australia.

How do small business survive in a competitive world, when they have to pay adequate wages to their workers? They pay less for their premises (and avoid the inflated property prices in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong). They also compete in areas where they have competitive advantage, such as the resource and agriculture sector in Australia. By giving adequate wages and employment to their workers, they have an economy that is more sustainable.

My friend, who developed property in Australia previously, told me the restrictions on property development in Australia. 50% of new developments can be sold to foreigners, but these foreigners have to sell their property only to Australians. This helps to control the inflation of property prices due to the influx of foreign funds.

Other countries, such as Singapore, compete by depressing wages.  This is why the situation in Singapore is rather bad.

Occupy Wall Street Protests Goes Global

The protests against corporate greed and failure of government goes global. See

Except in Singapore. The people are frightened by the strict laws against protest.

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