Saturday, October 29, 2011

FISCA Financial Planning Workshop on 29 October

The workshop on 29 October was well attended with over 30 people, mostly young people. The participants told me that the talk made them more aware about the good and bad financial products and was very useful to them. I asked them go get their friends and parents to attend the next talk, which will be held monthly. It is important that they make the right financial decision and avoid giving away a lot of money on bad products.

Several participants said that they came especially to hear my talk! They must have got the recommendations from their friends!

More details of future workshops can be found at Register early!

Speculators are increasing the prices of hard disks

Quote: "Speculators are gouging the market significantly and in some cases making enormous profits out of the people of Thailand's misery," Buckley told Reuters. He declined to say which distributors.

My comments: It is bad to allow speculators to make profit by taking advantage of the misery of other people. This applies not only to hard disk prices, but to oil, food and most other essential products. The speculation should be stopped. The world system, under the control of financial speculators and the greedy banks and based on the "free market", has to be changed - to make a fairer world for the ordinary people.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Security at the airport

The security procedures at Changi airport is excessive and is causing a lot of inconvenience. Here is my experience.

1. On arrival at the airport terminal, I have to screen my bags. Why is this necessary when the bags are also screened at the check-in counter and at the boarding room?  I suspect that this is to prevent a bomb going off before check-in. Is this so important?

2. Before entering the departure hall, I have to show my ticket and passport to the policeman.

3. After going through the automated gates and have my finger printed, there are still people to look at my passport. I recall that this procedure was implemented when someone passed the immigration desk though with a wrong passport. Do we need to over-react to this mistake by introducing another set of check?

4. Before entering the boarding room, I have to go through a detailed screening. The laptop and mobile phones and other metallic objects have to be removed  In spite of removing so many items, it is likely that the metal detector will beep and subject me to a physical check.

5. I still have to show my passport to the staff who scan my ticket.

Altogether, I have to show my passport three times and have my bags scanned twice. I suspect that more requirements will be introduced to combat other security concerns. The question is - are these measures overdone?

In the name of security

In the name of security, we do many unnecessary things and cause a lot of hassle to the ordinary people. This makes life stressful.

Look at the excessive security in the airport. I do not mind the necessary security, but the excessive security does not make sense. I shall talk about some of these excessive measures.

Look at the need to register your particulars before you enter a building. It is a regular affair. Why do they need to spend the time to record people entering into a building? How many records are being kept? Are they of any use? In fact, I am worried that the records could be abused - as it is intrusion on privacy. Is privacy and the rights of the individuals important in Singapore also?

With all the excessive security in some places, why is SMRT not paying sufficient attention to prevent outsiders from entering into their depots? Surely, this is more important than checking all the visitors to a building?

We need to speak up on measures that intrude into our lives, and do not serve a useful purpose.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Investor's guide to investing in gold

A friend sent me this guide to investing in gold. Reading through this document, one can see that there are many ways of investing in various types of gold products, but the investor should be careful about selecting the trusted parties, as there is a real risk that some of these products are fraudulent. I know of a product which offers a buyback guarantee, but the investor did not know that he is paying for the gold at 50% higher than its real market value!

A safe way is to invest in gold bullion, but it is a big hassle to store the gold. It may be safer to invest in the Gold ETF (e.g. the ETF managed by SPDR) or to invest in gold futures through a regulated exchange.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


TIANJIN, China — Towering over the Bohai Sea shoreline on this city’s outskirts, the Beijiang Power and Desalination Plant is a 26-billion-renminbi technical marvel: an ultrahigh-temperature, coal-fired generator with state-of-the-art pollution controls, mated to advanced Israeli equipment that uses its leftover heat to distill seawater into fresh water.

There is but one wrinkle in the $4 billion plant: The desalted water costs twice as much to produce as it sells for. Nevertheless, the owner of the complex, a government-run conglomerate called S.D.I.C., is moving to quadruple the plant’s desalinating capacity, making it China’s largest.

Top 1% are getting richer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- From 1979 to 2007, average household income for the nation's top 1% nearly tripled, while middle-class incomes grew by less than 40%, according to a new report from a research arm of Congress.
While those at the top have seen their incomes soar over the past three decades, middle-class and lower incomes have stagnated, the report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found.

A successful shopping mall in Jakarta

Taman Angrek is a successful shopping maill in Jakarta. It has a large atrium and an indoor skating rink.

How income inequality harms society

Singapore fares quick badly on several indicators.

For decades, Richard Wilkinson has studied the social effects of income inequality and how social forces affect health. In The Spirit Level, a book coauthored with Kate Pickett, he lays out reams of statistical evidence that, among developed countries, societies that are more equal – with a smaller income gap between rich and poor -- are happier and healthier than societies with greater disparities in the distribution of wealth.

While poverty has long been recognized as an indicator for such social ills as crime, obesity, teen pregnancy, Wilkinson and Pickett have demonstrated that societal well-being bears no relation to per capita income. They’ve also found that the symptoms of inequality trouble all levels of society. Across the board, mental health, levels of violence and addiction, even life expectancy are affected by the psycho-social stress caused by income gaps and status anxiety.

In the UK, The Spirit Level won support from politicians both left and right. Wilkinson, who is Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, also cofoundedThe Equality Trust, a nonprofit that aims to reduce income inequality by educating and engaging the public while supporting political commitment to address the problem.
He says: "While I'd always assumed that an equal society must score better on social cohesion, I never expected to find such clear differences between existing market economies."

White House studies student loan relief plan

The White House is introducing a student loan relief plan. This will add to the deficit and shows how bad the debt situation has become. Many sectors, including the government, home buyers and students are not able to pay off their debts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Difficult to revive the housing market

This article explains the difficulty faced by the Obama Administration in reviving the housing market in America. If a country allows its property market to build into a big bubble, it will be difficulty to reverse the situation. This is a lesson for Singapore to avoid.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Survey - forex training course

If you have attended a forex training course and wish to give your feedback or ask for a refund, please take part in this survey

Global Financial Regulator

The Vatican has called for the establishment of a global financial regulator and a tax on financial transactions. It also recognises the excesses, corporate greed and other wrong doing that has been committed in recent years.

How to make the PAP work in your favour

Dear Mr. Tan,

In 1993, the retirement age for Singapore workers was raised from 55 to 60, and then in 1999, it was raised again from 60 to 62. Amazingly, during these 18 years (1993-2011), a local university has stubbornly stuck to a retirement age of 55 for their academic staff. Only recently and as a sigh of relief to their staff, the university has finally raised the retirement age from 55 to 62.

Can you imagine what it is like to be forced to retire at 55? During the past 18 years, is it possible that PAP were not aware what this university was doing? With regard to the recent change at the university, could it be to do with the 2011 GE results? So, what could not be changed in 18 years, has now been changed which coincide with six opposition MP in the Parliament. Can you imagine what could happen with more opposition MP?

So, do you know how to make PAP work in your favour?

Retired at 55

Electronic Health Records - advantages

There are advantages for consumers in storing their medical records online. There are some concerns about privacy, but these concerns can be overcome when consumers understand how the system works. The best way to to give it a try and experience the benefits.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Top up CPF savings

Here are 3 reasons to top up CPF savings and some tips on choosing between the retirement account and CPF Life. To enjoy the tax savings, the top up has to be done before the end of the year.

Singaporeans are reluctant to protest

Signaporeans are reluctant to protest. They generally do not care, if some bad things happen to other people. When it happens to them, they find that the other Singaporeans do not care.

Singaporeans should read and understand the meaning behind this story, "First they came for the Socialists" ....

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