Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Investing Opportunities 2015

For 2015,your New Year's resolution should be to invest,says Winnie Sun of Sun Group Wealth Partners.If you're looking for value and opportunity,I really like the story of investing in Europe.The most important thing is time horizon.If your time horizon is long,there's no reason to be afraid of investing in Europe.*
David Seaberg of Cowan&Co. says that energy is setting up to be a massive trade.I think you saw a massive de-risking.I'm absolutely set up.A lot of managers came in and sold positions out.The higher quality names,I'd be buying them across the board here.
Europe could be a big opportunity.I think small caps are going to continue to move forward.*
Michael Farr of Farr,Miller&Washington says to place bets carefully in the stock market.JP Morgan Chase is trading at 10 times earnings,with a 2.5% dividend.I think they're doing fine now,and banks are poised to do well when the Fed raises rates.
I like Chevron.It might not be at the bottom yet,but it pays a 3.8% dividend.
Google has a solid balance sheet,with double digit earnings growth.They've moved away from a dependence on search.They've continued to evolve into a multi-media company and have settled down in Asia.*
iShares Europe Etf(IEV),Chevron(CVX),Exxon Mobil(XOM),JP Morgan Chase(JPM),Google(GOOG)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Smiles Amidst Tension:Christmas in Bethlehem 2014

A county fair atmosphere prevailed in Bethlehem in the West Bank,as thousands of individuals took in the sights and sounds of Christmas,marking the birth of Jesus Christ where it really occurred more than 2,000 years ago.You could buy candied apples,listen to choirs sing traditional Christmas carols,or even hear a rock band perform new Christmas music.A peaceful mood prevailed in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity,although the memory of war in the nearby Gaza strip over the summer-between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas organisation-was fresh on people's minds,keeping tourist numbers to less than half of what they were last year.About 4500 foreign tourists came to Bethlehem this year,and they are the bedrock of the local economy.*
All through December,Bethlehem and other West Bank towns and villages and their churches of various types,ranging from Lutheran to Melkite Eastern Catholic and Greek Orthodox,held tree lighting ceremonies with fireworks,scout parades and carols,as well as Christmas concerts.The churches themselves were also decorated with Christmas lights.*
There are very few Christians left in the Gaza strip-just one Greek Orthodox church.
They were allowed to cross over Israeli territory this year and into the West Bank town of Bethlehem and attend the celebrations there.In general,it has been a tranquil Christmas season for the Palestinian people with no shortage of smiles,troubled as they are by living under occupation.They say they want peace with justice,a recognition of their legitimate rights and a state of their own.

olivia newton john silent night-Australian

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Federal Reserve Modifies Guidance,Not Policy

Although the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee held steady its low interest rate monetary policy on Wednesday,it has altered its guidance because it doesn't want to be bogged down in the past.The FOMC reaffirmed that the 0-0.25 interest rate range remains appropriate,Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a news conference after the FOMC meeting drew to a close-the last such meeting of the year.The FOMC judges it can be patient in beginning to normalise monetary policy,Ms.Yellen continued;adding,however,that some modification to our guidance is appropriate at this time.The majority of the FOMC believes interest rates will be raised in 2015.*
Progress continues to maximum employment.Job growth has been strong recently.The Committee continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the economy to continue to support employment growth.Inflation continues to run beneath the Committee's 2% objective.The Committee expects inflation to gradually move back to its objective.For the US,the oil price drop is a net positive.*
History shows central bank independence promotes better economic performance.We are accountable to Congress in explaining what we do,but I would be very concerned about any change to the policy of no audits of monetary policy.*
We certainly did review global economic developments,including developments in the Russian economy.The drop in oil prices is posing a series of difficult conditions for the Russian economy.I expect the spillover to the US would be small,Ms.Yellen noted,citing the small percentage of Russian holdings in US portfolios and the small amount of trade between the two countries.*
The S&P 500 rose 40.15,or 2,4%,in response to the Fed's decision.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Upgraded and Under the Radar Firms

Katie Stockton of BTIG Research likes Google.The stock has underperformed.It is oversold.There's a pretty good risk-return profile from the technical standpoint.*
Stifel Nicolaus has raised eBay to a buy,with a 65.00 price target.They believe eBay is the real deal in ecommerce.*
Bernstein Research has raised United Technologies to a buy.They like the new CEO,Chief Financial Officer Gregory Hayes.*
Goldman Sachs has given Chipotle a 790.00 price target.It is cheap in proportion to its cash flow.*
Morgan Stanley has raised LaSalle Hotel to overweight.They raised its price target to 45.00 from 35.00.*
Don Wordell,CFA,Managing Director at RidgeWorth Investments,likes Mattel.The yield is very attractive compared to any of the bonds.Also,it's undervalued.
We like Tyco for the fundamental catalysts.They have a tremendous pipeline of deals in the near future.
A company called Tidewater has supply vessels running equipment and crews to offshore oil rigs.They have all new equipment,and utilisation and day rates are going to hold up better than most.They also pay a 3.5% dividend.I'm very,very comfortable that offshore drilling will remain strong,and this company is very,very attractive at these levels,Mr.Wordell concluded.*
Google(GOOG),United Technologies(UTX),Chipotle Mexican Grill(CMG),Mattel(MAT),eBay(EBAY),Tyco International Plc(TYC),Tidewater Inc(TDW),LaSalle Hotel(LHO)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pope and Turkish President Exchange Views

Pope Francis I and Turkish President Recep Erdogan met in Ankara last Friday on the occasion of the Pope's official visit to Turkey and pilgrimage to Constantinople/Istanbul for St.Andrew's Day and talks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians.Mr.Erdogan expressed concern about rising Islamophobia in the world.There are places where Islam and the followers of Islam are associated with terrorism and violence.Millions of Muslims feel oppressed by these associations with Boko Haram,al Qaida or ISIL which is talked about all over the world.*
Mr.Erdogan condemned state terrorism in Syria,which has led to a refugee crisis,and mentioned Turkey's problem with its Kurdish minority.All these challenges confront all human beings.As there is Islamophobia in the West,there is also violence and hatred in the Muslim world.All of these problems threaten our humanity.He called therefore for tolerance and healthy coexistence.Turkey is a bridge between East and West and an example of such coexistence.We seek to create a more livable world where cities can be more open and diverse,the President said,citing Turkey's role in humanitarian aid and the G20 group of nations.He hoped the Pope's visit would have a positive effect on the Islamic world,adding that we are happy to live together and asking God that the Pope's visit will be beneficial for all of us.*
For his part,Pope Francis noted that this event is precious to all Christians,as Turkey was the birthplace of St.Paul and the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary for many years,as well as the site of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church.He praised the vitality of Turkey's present,the hard work and generosity of its people.Today what is needed is a dialogue centered on what we hold in common,a lasting peace rooted in the respect of the dignity of all persons.It is essential that all Christians enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties.The Middle East and the rest of the world await this maturing of friendship.
How much longer must the Middle East suffer through this lack of peace?In Syria and Iraq in particular,terrorist violence shows no signs of abating,especially to Christians and Yazidis.It is always licit to stop an unjust aggressor,but the problem cannot be solved by a military response.May the most high bless and protect Turkey and enable her to be a strong and effective peacemaker,Pope Francis concluded.*
In an atmosphere of brotherly affection,His Holiness Pope Francis I went on to Constantinople Saturday for a prayer service with His All-Holiness Bartholomew I,Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.The two archpastors expressed their determination to bring about the reconciliation between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East,even to the point of restoring intercommunion between the ancient churches,which parted ways in the eleventh century.The Church of Rome would not require submission,Pope Francis said.The only precondition for restoring intercommunion would be a simple agreement on faith.*
After attending the Divine Liturgy on Sunday,the feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called,at the patriarchal Cathedral of St.George,which was celebrated by Patriarch Bartholomew,with the participation of Pope Francis who said the Lord's Prayer in Latin,the two spiritual leaders signed a statement reiterating their intention to continue on the path of reconciliation and together blessed the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Phanar,the patriarchal enclave of Constantinople/Istanbul.The two men exchanged the kiss of peace several times during the Pope's visit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Czech Air Force Saab JAS-39 Gripen - Iceland Air Policing-NATO Mission

TV Shopping:Big and Getting Bigger

QVC,founded in 1986,is a televised shopping network and part of Liberty Interactive Corporation that reaches 300 million homes worldwide.It is also available on mobile,being the third largest mobile ecommerce retailer,behind Amazon and Alibaba.Liberty Interactive Corporation,consisting of televised shopping networks,as well as lifestyle and travel services websites,is in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Global and reaches consumers in the US and China,with France to follow this summer.*
We don't need to be as big as Alibaba,said CEO Greg Maffei.We're in 86 million TV homes in China.It's a new industry there.We have a great app on WeChat.Definitely the live broadcast is at the center of it.*
I think it's going to be a good holiday season.The gas price dividend has given a bit of a tailwind to our business,Mr.Maffei noted.The company trades as a separate stock from Liberty Global's.*
Liberty Interactive Corp(QVCA),Liberty Global plc class A(LBTYA)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What To Watch For in the Market

I think the economy is certainly improving,said Jack Ablin,Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of BMO Capital Markets.That being said,we do have European problems that could affect the market.I am watching credit spreads;they are starting to widen.We have to see how that plays out on the credit side.*
I think Bill Gross leaving the money management firm PIMCO may have moved the market.The fact is,banks' trading desks have been whittled back.I do think there was an outflow of bonds into the marketplace,Mr.Ablin added.*
Energy stocks to watch if the Keystone Pipeline wins approval:
Trans Canada(TRP)
Canada Natural Resources(CNQ)
Quarta Services(PWR)*
We're watching a lot of measures,said Jonathan Krinsky,Chief Market Technician at MKM Partners.There's been a sustained pressure on the energy sector.There's a little more upside,maybe one or two percentage points,in the S&P;then we're getting into some real resistance.
It's an outlier market.There's been about seven times in the last 50 years where we've seen a streak this long.It's difficult to extract too much from this data.We haven't seen many streaks like that.It's more interesting than not,and we should keep watching,Mr.Krinsky advised.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inside Goldman Sachs,November 2014

At a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Banking and Financial Services Conference,Goldman Sachs Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Harvey Schwartz laid out what drives the company's returns.I understand the appeal of a simple firm-wide return target,Mr.Schwartz said.Having one isn't,nor has it ever been the driver of our returns.Our operating principles and philosophy have been essentially to generating superior returns.Underpinning our principles and philosophy is a belief that we should manage our resources dynamically,and therefore,circumstances and return profiles should naturally fluctuate across the cycle.Most importantly,it's not a target per se that drives our firm-wide returns,but rather our capital allocation process.*
Goldman Sachs has named 78 new partners,bringing the total number to 467,or 1.6% of full-time staff.The breakdown by specialty includes:
investment banking,23;
Federated(finance,compliance,risk management and other back and middle office functions),12;
and investment management,11.*
Goldman has added Time Warner Inc. to its conviction buy list on undervaluation,raising the price target to 90.00 per share.*
Goldman Sachs(GS),Time Warner Inc.(TWX)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Commentary:The Future of Commercial Spaceflight

Last week's devastating blows to commercial spaceflight raise the question of just how viable these enterprises really are,and whether too much confidence has been placed in them.Perhaps it is too early the history of space exploration to rely on commercial vendors to provide cargo flights to the International Space Station,let alone astronaut or civilian transport.It must be realised,however,that many of the engineers at these companies came from NASA itself and are fully qualified to do such work.It is just that we forget how complex and dangerous space exploration is after a good run of successful missions.*
These disruptive accidents are bound to occur,delaying the programs involved until full investigations are completed and reforms carried out.Look at our personal experiences with technology as comparatively primitive as pcs or mobile phones.Even such simple appliances have their aggravating failures.Space technology is much more complicated than these everyday devices.As in the past with the Apollo and space shuttle accidents,the Ariane rocket problems or Russian mishaps,the Orbital Sciences and Virgin Atlantic space programs will eventually regain their footing.Their leadership and staffs,bolstered by previous achievement,are committed to commercial space enough to do this,although the fallen personnel will never be forgotten.*
Orbital Sciences(ORB)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Libyan Fund Scores in Legal Wrangle With Goldman Sachs

London-The Libyan Investment Authority has compelled Goldman Sachs to reimburse it for legal costs it incurred when the financial services titan tried in August to have the LIA's one billion dollar lawsuit against it resolved at a summary trial,instead of at a full hearing.The presiding judge found after a two-day hearing that Goldman should never have submitted the application for summary judgement.In consequence,Goldman must now fork over at least 200,000 pounds to the LIA for its expenses-and possibly as much as 680,000 pounds.
The full hearing on the case will likely begin in 2016.*
The LIA,a sovereign wealth fund,alleges that Goldman Sachs took them for a complete ride.It exploited the LIA and its ignorant staff by encouraging them to make nine very risky investments of over one billion dollars that ultimately failed.Goldman bribed the staff with luxury gifts such as a junket to Morocco with heavy drinking and girls,as well as expensive nights out on the town in London.
Goldman responds that it simply offered small gifts to cement a strategic partnership with key LIA staff,who were actually quite experienced international bankers.In fact,the transactions in question were relatively straightforward and easy to understand,and the investments would have succeeded in more favourable market conditions,Goldman Sachs pointed out.*
Goldman Sachs(GS)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prominent Economist Pens New Financial Crisis Book

Discussing his new book "The Shifts and the Shocks:What We've Learned-And Still Have To Learn-From The Financial Crisis,"former World Bank senior economist and current Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf said one of the lessons learned is how much can be hidden away in the strange crevices.Today there is more capital in the system than in 2008;there is a very chastened mood;some deleveraging of economies has occurred;the mood is a little bit of recurring optimism.That doesn't mean it can't become more fragile again.
The staggering complexity of the financial system made it difficult to foresee the crisis of '08-such as the shadow banking system,particularly in housing finance.Loans were packaged by intermediaries into very complex securities parceled out into tranches of risk.Huge new pools of investors bought these securities.These were replacements for the old,simple banking system.The whole thing started to be a house of cards.*
The regulators should have seen there was no single,overarching US regulator.The Fed thought there were no huge risks:these were grownups who could understand the risks they were creating,the Fed thought;but the capital structure encouraged people to hide the risks.*
The US economy now is roughly a sixth smaller,so getting inflation above the target is going to be particularly hard.It's very important to avoid deflation,so you have to keep rates low until the economy really recovers.Nobody wants to lend anymore.Banks only want to lend to people who won't spend it.There's no point in that.The fiscal position has tightened dramatically.The demand side of the US economy remains incredibly weak,meaning the world's economy is also.
The monetary policy might tighten a bit,but I think short term rates will not tighten to what we consider normal for a very long time.Ultimately we are headed for another financial crisis;the system isn't reformed enough.Here in the US,it won't be in this decade;I would be concerned about succeeding decades.The risks are there that,as soon as recovery starts,people will start borrowing again,and the structures for that are there,author Martin Wolf observed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boeing's Commercial Space Business

Boeing's commercial space business got a reaffirmation Tuesday when NASA announced it had chosen Boeing's Crew Space Transportation-100 and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to begin flying US astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.bOEING GOT A 4.2 billion dollar contract;while SpaceX got a 2.6 billion dollar contract.Boeing has been part of every American human space flight program,and we're honored that NASA has chosen us to continue that legacy,said John Elbon,Vice President and General Manager of Space Exploration.The CST-100 offers NASA the most cost-effective,safe,innovative and proven successor to the Space Shuttle.*
Boeing hopes to take commercial passengers and other governments to space eventually as well,working with Bigelow Aerospace and Space Adventures.*
In July,Boeing completed the critical design review and Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review for the CST-100.It is the only competitor to pass a CDR as well as all Commercial Crew Integrated Capability development phase milestones on time and on budget.Boeing is building a factory in Florida for the capsules.It is working on an initial run of three spacecraft.John Mulholland,Commercial Space Exploration Program Manager noted the upcoming certification tests on pad abort.Well over 100 parts have been delivered to Boeing,which is utilising the old shuttle hangar OPM-3 for the assembly,integration and testing of the CST-100.*
The CST-100 has a seven person maximum capacity.It is a manned spacecraft that was built from scratch,which hadn't been done in decades.Unlike the shuttle program,Boeing will be delivering a service as well as hardware.CST-100 is a complete transportation system,including the Spacecraft;Launch Vehicle;Ground Operations;Mission Operations;and Recovery.*
The interior of the CST-100 features tablet displays and multicolour LED lighting,which is already used in Boeing commercial airplanes.The capsule can be manufactured without welding,for greater structural integrity.The Atlas V rocket has been selected for initial flight tests and verification of the spacecraft.*
Boeing partner Bigelow Aerospace is developing an inflatable commercial space station,while partner Space Adventures has already brokered space flights aboard the ISS.*

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Microsoft Wants Minecraft

Microsoft is seeking to buy electronic game maker Mojang for two billion dollars.Mojang,based in Stockholm,Sweden,makes the wildly popular Minecraft game.It is described as being a sandbox game,in which players create their own projects with the available material-in this case,virtual building blocks.*
Acquiring this online Lego-type diversion would snag a popular game they can couple with their Xbox gaming console franchise.It is a play for younger consumers and lends the firm the cool factor.The indie game studio Mojang has come up with an addictive product in Minecraft,and many others would like to list it among their assets.*
Minecraft is currently the second most popular console game and part of a more lucrative entertainment business than cinema or books.With no rules to follow,Minecraft is an adventure that is up to the players.They can build whatever they like 24/7.It is available in a PC/Mac version that has sold well over 16 million units so far;on Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3 as well.It may also be purchased in the Pocket Edition for iOS and Android devices.*

Official Minecon trailer-long

MineCon Prerelease

Official Minecraft Trailer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Risk Management:What Companies Must Know

Companies must understand threats before going into a market,said Chris Torrens,director of global risk analysis at Control Risks.It's just about mitigating against that risk.There's a clear security risk in many markets.The longer term risks may be less obvious to begin with.There's corruption and social risk of the need to work with local communities or face security risk.*
The challenge arises when you have unforseen events such as the crash of MH-17 in Ukraine or an ash cloud.We tend to be drawn to those areas where conflict occurs or is likely to occur.As a company,we focus on political,operational and security risk.Many companies are just used to the bad headlines.Different risks cause different problems for different companies.*
The risk environment feels at this moment to be around a 7.5 or an 8,but many of these are recurring,ongoing crises.Ukraine is a major worry,but it's about being prepared,Mr.Torrens explained.*
One example of a current European risk is the possibility that,if natural gas is shut off from Ukraine,Germany will run out of it in February.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Investors Need Today

What you need is stable earners with big cash flow,advised Ashok Shah,investment director at London&Capital.Later,as QE approaches,you can take another look.*
I think the Russia/Ukraine situation is going to drag on for months to come.Until there is a definite economic impact,I think the market will look right through it.*
The bond market is saying the economic outlook,especially in Europe,is poor.We're already seeing Italy going back into recession in the second quarter.The underlying problem is deflationary pressures.That's going to restrain any recovery in the economic growth rate.I think we have to be used to very high levels of unemployment for long periods of time,until there is proper restructuring.I think the brain drain from the UK and Europe is going to continue for a long period of time,Mr.Shah predicted.*
The way we're going to quantify Russia and Iraq is,if you cut drilling in Iraq and Russia,you're going to cut drilling numbers for the oil service industry,CNBC host Jim Cramer noted.*
China is just not liking us at all with its antitrust policy.Look at Applied Materials.It's down 10-20% because of China.China's cracked down on Cisco.China's playing with us,dumping their steel.Who's spending in China? Amazon.Look out,PRC,Amazon's coming,Cramer warned.*

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How To Position Yourself in Today's Environment

Every time there is a bad headline,there is a sudden collapse and then a quiet rebound,points out Nicola Marinelli,portfolio manager at Sturgeon Capital.The underlying trend is still quite strong,and I think it will continue the rest of the year.*
In 2015,Europe as a whole will disappoint in employment and growth.Geopolitical risk is a bit underpriced now.The Fed balance sheet has the potential to cause a technical crisis.If we think rates are going to go up,we are going to see a wave of redemptions in a market that is less structured to be liquid than years ago.*
Take profit on your positions that are liquid,and position yourself for next year in this better liquidity environment,Mr.Marinelli advised.*
To me,it looks very,very ominous,said military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton,US Air Force Retired,former director of training at the National Security Agency.Russia is feeling itself like a cornered cat,trying to keep up the high level of public support within Russia.Putin knows that sanctions will potentially mitigate this support.
I think a Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine is likely within the next two months.It might be a subtle invasion,but he will move in quickly,and move in by surprise,Colonel Leighton predicted.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Russia and the Impact on Markets

BP has done a good job of getting cash flow out of their asset base,said Matthew Beeseley of Henderson Global Investors.We hold some of it.The company is throwing off lots of cash,but there are risks in their partnership with Russian energy titan Rosneft.*
For now,the markets have thrown off Russia/Ukraine and Syria.We're certainly concerned about the low levels of volatility across the markets.It's not normal,and at some point,one would expect the markets to normalise.The optimism has really been found in the US and the emerging markets.The glass has been half empty in Europe and Japan.*
We're exposed to a company called Epam Systems Inc,a computer outsourcing firm.It has one third of its workers in Ukraine.We want a high level of conviction about our holdings.Across parts of Russia,it's hard to invest because of the lack of a high level of conviction.*
Current sanctions on Russia are on future debt and equity.Sanctions on present debt and equity would have a major impact.*
Investors are being paid to be complacent,and when the Fed raises rates in six months to a year,geopolitical risk will begin to be factored in,Mr.Beeseley cautioned.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Risk and the Markets Today

There's a wall of worry out there,said former Ronald Reagan advisor and CNBC contributor John Rutledge-the Middle East,Russia/Ukraine and the South China Sea-but the Fed has added three trillion dollars,which is leaking into the economy through the banks.That's why prices are gonna continue to go up,I think.
For me,the two big bets to make are private equity firms and real estate.I think the small stocks are a bet to make-small caps over large caps;the US over Europe;avoid Japan.
I think the rates are headed up from here,although the fear buying is pushing them down right now.*
The Saudi stock market is planning on taking a risk and opening more to foreigners in the first half of 2015.The Saudis want to increase foreign investment;diversify away from oil;and be represented in the MSCI and other large indexes.Companies such as Kingdom Holding and Alrajhi Bank will be available to foreign investors,but only if they are institutional traders with at least five billion under management and have been in business at least five years,a draft document says.Saudi Arabia has a half trillion dollar market,the last of the large closed markets.*
This MH-17 shootdown has become a huge human drama,said Senator Dianne Feinstein,D-California,Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.I think the nexus between Russia and the separatists has been established.I think the world has to rise up and say we've had enough of this.You cannot let this kind of thing happen.
The fact of the matter is,to me,this kind of missile that travels at 2-3 times the speed of sound-there have to be some penalties for this kind of a shootdown.This kind of weapon has been given to separatists that are in many respects thugs.Russia-US relations are now at Cold War levels,Senator Feinstein told CNN's Candy Crowley.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lessons Learned:Mickelson at Royal Liverpool

I know that I can win the Open Championship;I know that I've done it,and that takes all of the pressure off me,said defending champion Phil Mickelson,44,at a press conference on Monday at Royal Liverpool Golf Club,England.While carrying the claret jug trophy around with me for a year,it was fun to see the faces of the people take a picture of the jug or take a sip out of it.*
As for this season,I'm just not discouraged or frustrated.I know I haven't played well,but the parts feel a lot better than the whole right now.I'm driving the ball with more confidence.I just haven't had the putter.It's not the frustration you would think,given the record that I've had.I actually feel better than I have in years.
Last week,my short irons started to come back.I believe that the next five years are gonna be some of the best of my years.
With regard to major wins,I know there's a finite amount of time.I'd like to create some more if possible,a relaxed Phil Mickelson told the media gathered before him.
The highly prestigious Open Championship begins Thursday morning.*
If fans should ask Mickelson for an autograph right after a round,he politely explains that he must sign his card first.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Health of Markets:The View From Barclays

The US equity market is the market that we probably worry about most,said Jim McCormick,Barclays' Global Head of Asset Allocation.Valuations are starting to get stretched.Inflation is starting to be a problem.The truth is,inflation in the U.S. is picking up and is a trend likely to be sustained.If we are going to get a correction,the US equities are the most likely place.*
The message we have on emerging markets is,the macro picture is improving.Risk premia are higher than thery were a year ago.The asset calss we prefer is equities.We like Asia ex-Japan,Poland,India.The Indian budget is going to be very important.We're positive on India across the board.*
We've been increasingly bullish on commodities this year.Oil is attractive on all levels.If you look at the bottoms up on oil,it's been looking up for a long time,Mr.McCormick observed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Markit Ltd Makes NASDAQ Debut

Markit Ltd made its debut on the NASDAQ stock exchange on 19 June.Markit is a Bloomberg-like company,said CNBC host Jim Cramer.It's a very important company.General Atlantic,which owns a 7.5% stake in Markit,is not a seller on the deal-which means buy the stock.General Atlantic deals work.Markit is a very profitable company.CEO and co-founder Lance Uggla is brilliant and he's hitting it out of the park,Jim Cramer enthused.*
Founded in 2003,Markit provides financial information products to bankers,investment advisors and other financial professionals.The products include indices,pricing and reference data,customised technology platforms and processing solutions.They are aimed at enhancing transparency,reducing risk and improving operational efficiency.The London-based company employs 3,000 people in 10 countries.*
Markit stakeholder General Atlantic is a global growth equity firm,providing capital and strategic support for growth companies.It invested in Markit in 2010.*
Markit Ltd(MRKT)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rupert Murdoch's Landmark Penthouse

Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch,83,has purchased the top four floors of One Madison Avenue,including the triplex penthouse and unit below,for 57.25 million dollars,a transaction described by seller Related Companies Inc as being a milestone achievement for One Madison and the downtown market.It is the most expensive downtown apartment in New York history.
The triplex plus the unit below total more than 10,000 square feet.The nearly 7,000 square foot penthouse features five bedrooms,five-and-a-half baths,a wraparound 596 square foot terrace,spiral staircase and internal elevator.It has brilliant views of the New York City skyline,the Hudson and East Rivers and One World Trade Center through its floor to ceiling glass.*
The building's amenities for the divorced billionaire include a lap pool,spa and fitness center.Murdoch's old Fifth Avenue penthouse went to former wife Wendi Deng in the divorce settlement.*
Murdoch is founder of News Corporation,21st Century Fox,Fox News Channel,FOX-British Sky Broadcasting and STAR India.*
News Corporation(NWS)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

East Asia:Facing the Missile Threat

The Atlantic Council recently brought together a number of thought leaders at its fourth annual Global Missile Defense Conference in Washington on 28 May.
We face a big threat and a small threat in East Asia,said David Gompert,RAND Corporation Adjunct Senior Fellow and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence from 2009-10.North Korea is the small threat.I don't think North Korea will be suicidal with nuclear weapons,but would use them as their best option.Their reflex is to strike out when under severe pressure,so we cannot have confidence in adequate deterrence.
South Korea,Japan and the US are threatened by expansion of the short and medium range missile threat.This calls for a trilateral approach:an adequate,integrated trilateral missile defence.The US should hammer home there is little room for error in the adequacy of missile defence.
Both the US and South Korea agreed to the four d's:detect,disrupt,degrade and destroy.Japanese Prime Minister Abe appreciates the threat from North Korean missiles.That's why they're going from four to eight Aegis destroyers;the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle;upgrading of F-15s;procuring point defence for the 20-30 km range.*
China is the big problem.They believe in a minimal defence.China gets upset about any upgrade of defence in its area.
We do need a bigger rethink of information to enable us to make decisions before a crisis occurs.To defend our forces in the Pacific against China's short and medium range missiles is mind-boggling.China has too many upgrades that they haven't yet pursued.I worry less about the ICBMs than the expansion of the short and medium range arsenals.We need greater trilateral contingency planning.We need to help overcome political hurdles.
Taiwan needs to acquire an anti-access area denial strategy to deal with mines and submarines.*
North Korea has lots of artillery and rockets.Ballistic missiles could reach well into South Korea,but the aspect of Weapons of Mass Destruction is the greater concern.*
China's conventional ballistic and cruise missiles are the core of its power projection,added Randall Schriver,former Deputy Secretary of State for East Asia.*
We really don't know how useful and effective the new rail gun and laser technologies will be,so we can't rely on them to counter the threat,Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security pointed out.*
The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan think tank that defines its mission as promoting constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic Community in meeting global challenges.It has ten regional centres.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hilton Comfortable In Its Space

We think we're in a very valuable part of the cycle,said Christopher Nassetta,CEO of Hilton Hotels Worldwide.We've got 11 brands-soon to be 12.With the 40+ HHonors partners that we've got,we think we've got everything that we need.*
We actually feel quite comfortable with our tax structure.We're quite pleased with what's in place.We would not look at relocating at this point.*
HHonors is a loyalty program for guests at Hilton's over 3900 hotels and resorts across 10 distinct brands in more than 91 countries.Rewards include free nights and exclusive benefits such as faster check-in and room upgrades,all the way up to reward experiences that range from golfing in Phoenix to touring the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
As well,you can exchange points and miles with over 60 participating airlines,rail and mileage rewards programs worldwide.*
Hilton brands include Hilton,Waldorf Astoria,Embassy Suites,DoubleTree,Conrad,Garden Inn,Hampton,Homewood Suites,Home2 Suites,Hilton Great Vacations.*
Hilton Worldwide shares rose 0.26% in Wednesday trading,closing at 22.77.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc(HLT)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Navy Disses CNN Report on Airliner Search

The US Navy dismissed a CNN report Thursday that the Navy had concluded the pings detected in the Indian Ocean were not from the black box recorders of missing flight MH-370.A Navy spokesman said that comments the Navy's civilian deputy director of ocean engineering,Michael Dean,made to CNN,to the effect that authorities now almost universally believe the pings did not come from the flight's black boxes,but possibly from the ship or within the electronics of the Bluefin-21 submersible,were speculative and premature.
We continue to work with our partners to more thoroughly understand the data acquired by the Towed Pinger Locator.As such,we would defer to the Australians,as the lead in the search effort,to make additional information known at the appropriate time,the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
It wasn't clear whom Mr.Dean was speaking for,but CNN proceeded to hold a discussion on the remarks with its panel of experts.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau,the agency in charge of the search,had said in a statement earlier Thursday that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections thought to be pings from the plane's black boxes can now be considered complete,and in its professional judgement,the area can now be discounted.*
It is common for searches to reach dead ends such as the failure of Bluefin-21 to locate the plane's black boxes in the area the pings were heard in,then pick up again with a new strategy.The next chapter of this long search will be hiring a contractor to continue the Indian Ocean hunt for the missing airliner in a few months' time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What to Buy:JC Penney;Amazon;Throwback Tech

CNBC host Jim Cramer has been handing out JC Penney gift cards to his coworkers.You can get a lot of really high quality merchandise at JC Penney-a shirt and tie combo,Cramer says.The stores look great.Give me JC Penney.Memorial Day,JC Penney's gonna be crowded.*
I like throwback tech.I like Cisco and I like Apple.I just think Apple is an inexpensive stock.*
The trade is,when the economy is slowing,you buy the consumer packaged goods,because they're not gonna miss the quarter;but people have to be very careful with that kind of trading,because the market's heading down right now.I find that things aren't as great as I'd like,but that's not the material of a recession.The 18-35s are still living at home with their parents at a record level,and that's something people forget about.*
Amazon has invested 20 million in China's food delivery site YUMMY77.They're learning from the hard lessons they learned in the past about competing in China with Amazon China,adds analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray.They're struggling in China.This seems to be striking the right balance.Let Amazon in Seattle do what they do best:focus on Western Europe and the US.I think its a phenomenal stock to own with a five year perspective.*
Microsoft can get things right,Cramer continued;there's no law written that Microsoft must get things wrong.Microsoft makes Xbox,the most popular gaming system.*
Google is the top global brand,according to a new study.They have pulled away from everyone.My charitable trust owns it,though it's been a tough stock to own the past couple of months.*
As for McDonald's,people want to buy things that are down with a good yield.The Europeans are fleeing their bond market and coming here.What's going on is global,the author and master investor Jim Cramer pointed out.
JC Penney(JCP),Amazon(AMZN),Microsoft(MSFT),Google(GOOG),Cisco(CSCO)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Investing 2014:Problems and Prospects

My charitable trust has been buying IBM stock,said CNBC host Jim Cramer.I believe in their cloud business,even though the very big problem I have with IBM is that cloud has very low margins-that's why people go to the cloud.IBM is going from a high margin to a low margin business.*
Pfizer is trying to buy Astra Zeneca,although I have spent some time with cancer specialists who say Astra Zeneca's pipeline is a "me too" pipeline for cancer.We've been in a big M&A drought and these deals take out capacity.These deals will get done.*
The market won't be affected by Ukraine as long as Russia stays low key,but it's not like the turmoil has gone away.If Russia does something big,you're gonna see this market blip down.I'd like to see a pullback in this market.I don't like a parabolic move;I like a stairstep move.*
The soda business is a losing story.I think diet soda is gonna be the great unraveling before your eyes,predicted the expert investor Jim Cramer.*
Groupon says over 50% of all global transactions now occur on mobile.People spend and engage more on mobile.The company reported a better than expected loss in earnings and a beat on revenues.Tom Forte of Telsey Advisory Group has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of 17.00.You have to look at Facebook and Groupon as unique opportunities within a space,Mr.Forte said.*
Competitor moves do not affect our success,according to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.Our audience and revenue are growing.We're a media company.We sell ads.We have 40-50% of audience share now.
The housing market is slowing somewhat.We predict it appreciating about 3% this year.It was quite hot at about 6%,but now it's warm.*
Groupon(GRPN),Zillow(Z),Pfizer(PFE),Facebook(FB),Astra Zeneca(AZN),International Business Machines(IBM)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Voices and Visions:India First;Odessa Dossier

India's prime ministerial frontrunner,Narendra Modi of the BJP Party,is raising eyebrows as a member of the RSS movement,or India First.The group is a key supporter of his.It is feared that the goal of the nationalist India First is to make India more strongly Hindu and repress other faiths.
India First has daily branch gatherings,which are being characterised by critics as militaristic.The group's leaders,however,are insisting that Hindu culture actually means respect for all.
There is said to be a feeling rippling through India that the majority Hindus have had to compromise too much for the minorities,and Mr.Modi and his movement would naturally be tapping into that sentiment.*
The US Senate has gotten a closed White House briefing on the Ukraine crisis.Russia,they were told,now has its sights set on the Black Sea port of Odessa in Southwest Ukraine,the annexation of which would give it control of both of the country's main seaports now it has seized Crimea.Odessa is also a link to Russian-occupied Transnistria in neighbouring Moldova.
Efforts by the Ukrainian army to retake buildings from pro-Russian militants in Eastern Ukraine have largely been ineffectual,casting a pall on the 25 May national elections planned by the transitional government in Kiev.Firefights with the militants have resulted in several deaths over the past week.The clashes have spread from Slavyansk in the east to Odessa in the west.Ethnically diverse,Odessa was a major outpost of Tsarist Russia and is majority Russian speaking.
So far,military sources say they have seen no evidence of a Russian troop withdrawal from the border with Eastern Ukraine,despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that such a move was underway.He has made similar statements before that were followed by no significant changes in troop disposition.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blackstone's Deals;GeoResonance Claim Checked

The absolute levels of securities are on the higher side,said Stephen Schwarzman,CEO of The Blackstone Group,but there are deals to be had and we are quite active.We never buy anything unless we can improve them significantly.There are more than two trillion dollars in cash available,so you're gonna see deals.*
Long term,China's a really interesting place.I'm not in the non-believer school.Per capita income is very low there.Their middle class has grown immensely,but it's not as big as it needs to be.You have to transition from an export economy to a consumption economy.*
We've been very active buying both companies and real estate.Overall,this has been a very active time for us.We've bought and sold a lot of companies as well.Our companies are outperforming the S&P in a pretty significant way,Mr.Schwarzman observed.*
US pending home sales were up 3.4% in March.It's a good solid gain,a beat,but we need to see it continue throughout the Spring,said CNBC real estate correspondent Diana Olick.*
Bangladesh is sending two navy frigates to check out a claim by Australian firm GeoResonance that it may have found the wreckage from lost flight MH-370 in the Bay of Bengal.The Australian search committee has dismissed the claim because it doesn't fit with the satellite data provided by British firm Inmarsat,nor the pings detected by a search vessel in the southern Indian Ocean.
GeoResonance says its technology was created to search for nuclear,biological and chemical weapons under the ocean or in bunkers underground.They claim it is reliable and has successfully located submersed structures,ships,munitions and aircraft.In some instances,objects that were buried under layers of silt could not be identified by other means.The technology records electromagnetic fields by airborne multispectral imaging,but GeoResonance will not divulge exactly how the proprietary method works.
About 190 kilometers/118 miles off the coast of Bangladesh,they found traces of aluminium,titanium,copper and other trace elements that hadn't been there before the airliner disappeared on 8 March.These elements are suggestive of a commercial airliner such as MH-370,a Boeing 777.The company is not declaring this finding is MH-370;however,it should be investigated,their press release stated.*
The Blackstone Group LP(BX)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Voices and Visions:Russian Power Politics in Eastern Europe

A former US ambassador to NATO,Kurt Volker,has been analysing the Ukraine crisis.In a March 12 editorial for,Mr.Volker wrote the following:"Putin is smart enough to create a veneer of legality(a referendum),a story-line designed to blur morality(fascists in Kiev,defending Russian citizens),and a threat of retaliation against European economies to deter would-be defenders of Ukraine.But the fact remains that this is a raw exercise of power to seize territory of a type not seen in Europe since World War II-except,of course,for Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008."*
Mr.Volcker also appeared on CNN Wednesday,noting that,in 2008,the Russians were continually poking and probing in order to provoke a response so they could invade Georgia militarily.I think what NATO is doing about Ukraine is on the right track in reassuring the allies.The second thing is the ability to make Russia think twice.Russia is very well-positioned to use military force.What is incumbent upon NATO is to provide training,tactics and equipment to Ukraine,and make Russia wonder what kind of reaction they might get from Europe if they invade Eastern Ukraine.
If we did not take the steps we're taking now in sending troops to Poland and the Baltic states,Putin might think invading a NATO member is an option.He'll only stop when he feels pushback.Russia is gonna be probing constantly,Mr.Volker warned.*
In his March 12 editorial in,the former ambassador to NATO concluded by saying:"But a contributing factor to the situation in Ukraine today was a relatively complacent attitude in Europe and the US.By failing to continue to press forward with the development of a Europe whole,free and at peace,we helped create a vacuum filled by the worst elements of Ukrainian politics,and now by Russia."
Kurt Volker is currently executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.*
Congressman Mike Rogers(R-Michigan),Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,feels about Vladimir Putin that we're not dealing with somebody who has the same rational thought process that he had two years ago.*
Tom Donilon, a former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama,said Mr.Putin saw a piece of his sphere of influence threatened.They'd rather see a destabilised Ukraine than a stable Ukraine aligned with the West.I believe we'll get to more severe sanctions because I don't believe the Russians will back down,Mr.Donilon predicted.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ukraine and the West:Decision and Danger

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that there will be more planes in the air;more ships in the water;and more readiness on the land in response to Russia's recent moves in the Ukrainian crisis.Just how dangerous is the current situation in Eastern Europe?I think it's pretty explosive,said General Richard Myers,US Air Force retired,former Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff.Russia is doing several things that are dangerous:1.The overflight of the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea by a Russian fighter aircraft;2.Massing so many troops on the border with Ukraiine;3.Taking over at least 10 towns in Eastern Ukraine.World War I started as an incident that got out of hand.This is very dangerous stuff that Russia is playing with.
If shots are fired and people are killed,this could escalate.I'm sure there are lots of options being presented to President Obama,such as providing weapons to Ukraine or providing weapons to them along with US advisors.They'll go thorugh them in the Situation Room.I don't think there are good military options.As for Russia attacking a NATO country,you would think not and you would hope not,but I don't know.*
Major General Mark Kimmitt,US Army retired,who was Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs under President George W. Bush,said Russia's moves are part of the great chess game.You can almost hear the echoes of Czechoslovakia 75 years ago.
These are Russian provocateurs in Eastern Ukraine.The term "Ukraine" means "border."President Putin wants to restore that buffer zone with NATO.There's no reason that a reasonable deployment of US and European troops in Ukraine woudn't stop Putin with a show of strength,General Kimmitt believes.*
Overnight Wednesday,Ukrainian soldiers reportedly fired shots in the air when armed pro-Russian forces attempted to storm a military base in Eastern Ukraine.
Update:During this incident,three Russian militants were reportedly killed and 19 wounded.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ukraine Unrest;MH-370 Search;The Masters

Pro-Russian demonstrators have 48 hours to reach a negotiated settlement and vacate two government buildings they seized in Eastern Ukraine,or be forcefully removed,the Ukrainian government says.Unrest has erupted in the eastern cities of Luhansk,Donetsk and Kharkiv,which are near the border with Russia.Secretary of State John Kerry says it is being instigated by paid Russian agents.*
At the same time,the NATO alliance commander,US Air Force General Philip Breedlove,has been tasked with developing new options for reinforcing the alliance's military presence in the region and reporting back to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.NATO is gravely concerned about the persistence of some 40,000 Russian troops along the Russian border with Ukraine,which Russia insists are only on military exercises.*
Fourteen planes and thirteen ships are out searching for the lost flight MH-370 today,Thursday.The search area has been whittled down to a site smaller than the state of West Virginia.The plane's wreckage is believed to be deeper under the ocean than the Titanic.The searchers will not deploy the Blue Fin autonomous underwater vehicle with its sonar as long as there is a prospect of hearing more pings from the aircraft's black boxes,in order to further reduce the search area for the slow-moving AUV.*
It's very difficult to reach the top,but it is also difficult to stay there.
-Arnold Palmer,Hall of Fame golfer
An international field of the world's best golfers will hit the tough course at Augusta National in Georgia today for the opening round of The Masters tournament,one of the world's most prestigious and traditional sporting events.Adam Scott of Australia is the defending champion.World Number One golfer Tiger Woods is sidelined by a back injury.*

Monday, April 7, 2014

Annetta - adaptable and flexible (+playlist) Standard Chartered Bank

Monday Newsline:Asian Shares Lower;Indian Election;MH-370 Progress

Asian markets were mostly lower Monday on the disappointing US jobs report Friday,which fell short of analysts' growth projections.The Nikkei cratered 1.69%,while the HSI fell 0.74 and the ASX slipped 0.17.US stock futures were also lower.The Shanghai Composite defied the trend,rising 0.74%.
Wheat prices are up on widespread dryness in breadbasket areas from Ukraine to the United States.*
The world's largest democracy has begun its elections today as India goes to the polls.The nationalist BJP party is the frontrunner over the incumbent Congress Party.The BJP is led by Narendra Modi,Chief Minister of Gujarat state.Some label him as a fascist guilty of human rights violations,and he was denied entry to the US in 2005.He is popular in corporate circles as Gujarat state has done well.*
The search for flight MH-370 entered a new,more promising phase Monday as searchers zeroed in on the Australian Defence Ministry vessel Ocean Shield's detection of two extended audio events near the bottom of the Indian Ocean.The great depth of the pinging episodes consistent with the plane's flight recorders,one of which lasted for two hours twenty minutes and the other for thirteen minutes at some 4500 meters/2.8 miles,suggest why this search has been the most challenging in aviation history.
The pings were picked up by the US Navy's pinger locator device that the Ocean Shield was towing at depth over the new area off Western Australia's northern coast.The searchers need a third pinging event so they can triangulate the location and send the Blue Fin 21 submersible down to take still photos of the possible wreckage.It's a process that could require days to complete,retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston,the search coordinator,told reporters in a Perth press conference.He said we are very close to where we need to be.Clearly this is a most promising lead.In the search so far,it is probably the best information that we have had.*
In sport,Australian golfer Matt Jones won the Shell Houston Open,securing a place for himself in The Masters tournament this weekend in Augusta,Georgia.It was Jones' first PGA victory.American Matt Kuchar came in second,and Sergio Garcia of Spain took third.
Meanwhile,American Lexi Thommpson made the traditional leap into Poppy's Pond at Mission Hills Golf Club in Rancho Mirage,California as the winner of the Kraft Nabisco Open,the year's first major on the LPGA circuit.It was the fourth LPGA win for Thompson,19,who is known for her long drives.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Voices and Visions:MH-370 and the International Community

We've explored less than 5% of our oceans-less than 1% of the bottoms,said explorer Fabien Cousteau,the grandson of Jacques Cousteau.It could take years to find the airliner.We just don't have the technology.The reality is,there's just so much down there that we don't understand,Mr.Cousteau observed.*
It's a very difficult search-the most difficult in human history,said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Perth Wednesday.We in Australia are throwing everything we have at it.We owe it to the families,to our good friends the Malaysians,to the troubled citizens of the wider world.I say to the families:be patient.
We cannot be certain of ultimate success,but we can be certain that we will spare no effort.It is an extraordinary international effort that has taken place here.This is an antidote to pessimism.This is one time when we are all working together,Mr.Abbott pointed out.*
A new refined area of search has given us new hope,added Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.Australia has proven an invaluable friend.The disappearance of MH-370 has tested our collective resolve.I can promise the families that we will not give up,Mr.Razat said during his visit to the search operations centre in Perth.*
At this point,many safety officials are looking at this and they're bewildered;they don't know what to do,because we don't know what happened,said journalist Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal.The investigation is fragmented,without direction.The two strands of this investigation were never properly merged.The wrong search area was due to bad coordination.
You really get a sense that from the very beginning there have been tremendous problems in coordination.The Malaysians just haven't been able to get appropriate oversight and coordination.In the future,experts say,it will be a much more coordinated and international probe from the very beginning,Mr.Pasztor noted.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Obama in Europe;HMAS Success

Russia stands alone,President Barack Obama said in Brussels on Wednesday.It was alone in the UN.If anyone in Russia thought they could drive a wedge between the EU and the United States,they were mistaken.Russia's actions aren't just about one country;they're about the kind of world we want.
We have gone through some very rocky waters;through these difficult times,we've been able to strengthen the relationship.On the sanctions,so far what we've seen is excellent coordination between the United States and Europe.What we're now doing is coordinating deeper sanctions should Russia move further into Ukraine.We're taking the impact of sanctions on Europe into account.Giving Europe more gas is not gonna happen overnight.Our energy ministers are committed to doing that.That is their assignment coming out of the G7 meeting.
Our publics have legitimate questions about the trade deals.Because of the trade relationship,we've created millions of jobs on both sides,and growth and prosperity have flourished.Its important to us as leaders to see that others beside the elite few benefit from trade deals,and I think we can shape them in such a way to ensure that.*
Captain Allison Norris of the Royal Australian Navy said HMAS Success was prepared to pick up debris from the Indian Ocean,should it prove to be from the lost flight MH-370.Radar would not be able to detect objects that close to the ship,so lookouts with binoculars and night vision devices are being posted.It's very cold-we rotate the lookouts every hour.Any debris we find would have to be returned to shore,the captain noted.*
Australia is in charge of the search operation,giving assignments to the mutinational units.The search was called off again Thursday on account of bad weather.Six military and five civilian aircraft were scheduled to search,along with Australian and Chinese ships.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Columnist Assesses Ukraine Crisis

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen made several remarks at a panel discussion Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington,DC on the topic of The Russian Intervention in Ukraine.It was moderated by former CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer and also included former US national security advisors Zbigniew Brezinski and Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft.
I'm not sure Vladimir Putin is a man who listens to concessions,Mr.Cohen said.Unless you respond to his strength with your own,you end up losing.We cannot take a veto from Moscow on whether free countries can join the EU.
Putin had the perception he could get away with this.There was a sense of a United States where the apposite word was "retrenchment."I think it's a matter of great concern when the US steps back from a red line at the last minute,as in the Syria chemical weapons matter.There is a sense of disunity and weakness that gave Putin a kind of green light.
President Putin is trying to recreate some sort of Russian imperium.While it's true there are "three Ukraines,"in the sense of Crimea,Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine,one Ukraine was recognised by Putin in 1994.This intervention is a game changer,a sea change.I think the situation is combustible,both within Ukraine and in the Baltic states.It was a 19 year-old kid that precipitated World War I.I think this is a far,far more dangerous situation than many people imagine.
I think what Putin has presented the West is,looking again at the transatlantic alliance;at defence budgets;at the notion that our attention should be elsewhere.President Obama is about to go to Europe.I think it's absolutely critical that this trip be well-prepared and a strong,united,vigourous statement about what has occurred be made,New York Times columnist Roger Cohen told the CSIS audience.*
President Obama will travel to a G7 developed nations summit in the Hague,Netherlands next week,but Vice President Joe Biden met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in Vilnius Wednesday.He reiterated America's commitment to the security of the Baltic states and warned Russia of further consequences if it contiued on its "dark path."*
EU ministers are meeting in Brussels today,Thursday,to discuss further sactions on Russia.They may put higher ranking government officials and industry bigwigs on the sacnctions list.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Commentary:Ukraine Loses Out To Ratings

CNN had been doing an excellent job covering the Ukraine crisis until the Malaysian airliner crash became a page turner and eyeball stealer.An editorial judgement was made,not on the objective significance of a story,but on what American viewers are likely to watch.For the last few days,there has been little if any video from Ukraine on the network.Most of CNN's airtime has been consumed by the airliner story-plus a gas explosion in New York City on Wednesday.
These two stories are more riveting to most Americans than Russia's invasion and annexation of part of Ukraine.While the Ukraine story is likely to be more significant historically,CNN broke the continuity of its reportage on the story.It will probably pick it up again on Sunday when the unconstitutional and unmonitored vote on Crimea becoming a part of Russia will be held,but the break in coverage will make it more difficult for already globally detached Americans to comprehend the story,emotionally and intellectually.
Wolf Blitzer could have devoted a few minutes of his "The Situation Room" broadcast to video of the struggle for Ukraine's sovereignty and the rule of law,but it was entirely consumed by the heartrending lost airliner and the endless and useless speculation about its disappearance.His show was substantially about entertainment,not the hard and historic facts being played out on the ground in Ukraine.If CNN breaks the mold sometimes,it fails other times when eyeballs and ratings are on the line.
Ukraine was thrown under the editorial bus,not because it doesn't matter as much or more than the downed airliner,but because it is not as compelling viewing for most Americans.It's understandable from a TV business point of view,but it ultimately fails to fully inform the public.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Ukraine Crisis and the Hotel Business

We're going from 20 to 50 hotels in Russia,said Sebastian Bazin,CEO of Accor SA,at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin.I'm gonna be very candid with you.I'm gonna let the politicians decide what to do with this.It's too soon to halt projects.I just cannot make the decision on over the last 72 hours.I'm going myself to assess the situation.*
We've been for 35 years in China.It is a vital and a great country for our core.It really is.We have over 3500 hotels and 450,000 rooms.The Chinese ledger's been evolving immensely for the last five years,so just pay attention.We are the Euro market leader.There is immense value for the real estate at our core.*
I'm going for a 5-10 year journey here.We're gonna be opening 750 hotels over the next three years.Europe is the market where we're expanding the least.Let's maintain and increase the leadership.Five years from today,it will be maybe 55-60% of our portfolio.*
We've just signed for a 200 room hotel in Tbilisi,Georgia,said Angela Brav,Group CEO for Europe,Intercontinental Hotels Group.A Holiday Inn Express has also been signed for in Sheremetyevo Airport in Russia.We have a key market strategy:UK,Germany,Russia.We want to have 100 hotels in Russia by 2020.We have 19 right now in Russia and the CIS.
It's a very serious situation for us.The single most important thing for us is,we are continuing to monitor the situation.We'll make those decisions when necessary.Right now we're continuing our strategy of growth.We saw the fourth quarter really moving in the right direction.GDP is going up and unemployment is in the right place-in the right place almost in all segments,business and leisure.
Our single most important focus for us is that people book directly with our hotels.I think technology can only help us.We have clearly delineated brands.We opened six of our nine brands in London in the past nine months.*
Accor SA(AC:EN Paris),Interncontinental Hotels Group(IHG)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ukraine:Crisis and Context

President Vladimir Putin put Russian troops on high alert to stage war games in the Western Military District,near Ukraine,on Wednesday at 1400 hours,Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.Russia was also taking measures to guarantee the safety of facilities,infrastructure and arsenals of its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea,where Russia leases a naval base from Ukraine.
Ethnic Russians staged a protest in Crimea,saying Crimea was Russian and calling for independence from Ukraine.Most of the Crimean penninsula's population is ethnic Russian.Eastern Ukraine is also heavily ethnic Russian and looks to Moscow for support,while Western Ukraine is the center of Ukrainian nationalism and leans to Western Europe and the United States.*
In the Ukrainian capital Kiev,the Western protest movement's Euromaidan Council appointed several interim officials.Former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk was named interim prime minister;career diplomat Andriy Deschytsya,foreign minister;and former economic minister and deputy central bank head Oleksandr Shlapak,finance minister.
The new ministers must engage in talks with the IMF to secure the country's finances,as Russia will probably cancel its 15 billion dollar support package extended to Moscow ally Victor Yanukovych,now believed to be in hiding in Crimea-perhaps in the Russian naval base.The EU and US have also expressed a willingness to financially aid the fledgling government in Kiev.*
The Russian military alert announced Wednesday raised a red flag in Western circles in light of Putin's actions of 2008,when he invaded the Republic of Georgia to defend ethnic Russians in two breakaway regions there,and recognised their independence after a brief war.Any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a grave mistake,US Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canada Repeats Bobsled Gold;Ligety Lands Giant Slalom

Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyes became the first females to repeat a bobsled gold at the Winter Olympics,beating Americans Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams by a 10 second margin Wednesday at the Sochi Games.Fellow Americans Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans took the bronze.
Lauryn Williams became the fifth person to medal at both the Summer and Winter Olympics with their silver.She had previously won silver in the 100 meter sprint at Athens 2004 and gold for the 400 meter relay at London 2012.She and Meyers led through the first three bobsled heats,but Meyers' driving mistakes cost them the gold as Canada-1 surged past them in the final heat.*
In alpine skiing,Ted Ligety became the first American to win two golds in alpine with his sweeping arcs down through the soft snow of the Caucasus Mountains.Two Frenchmen,Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault,took the silver and bronze medals,respectively.
I was able to lay it on the line and ski the way I know I can ski,Ligety said.He admitted he would be a dark horse for Saturday's slalom race,the final alpine event of the Sochi Games,which end on Sunday.*
The US moved into first place in the medals count with 23,while Russia and the Netherlands are tied for second with 22,and Canada is in third with 18.Germany has the most gold medals(8).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics:Russia's Return;America's Mixed Results

When the Soviet Union broke up,Russia's great Olympics tradition was in jeopardy.It seemed in disarray as the mighty state apparatus for selecting,training,and supporting athletes disapppeared,or at least shrank.With the Sochi Winter Olympics,however,there is definitely a sense of new life in Russian sport.
Figure skating is certainly righting itself in Russia,as evidenced by its return to dominance in the pairs competition.Volosozhar and Trankov vaulted into gold medal position with their long program performance Wednesday.They wept openly after their nearly flawless and very difficult program,perhaps moved by the realisation that they had just brought their sport back from the brink it faced when Russia was shut out of figure skating medals at Vancouver 2010.Fellow Russians Stolbova and Klimov took the silver,and Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy the bronze.*
For the US,it has so far been a mix of success and disappointment,with star athletes Bode Miller,Shaun White and Shani Davis failing to reach the podium as of yet,let alone win a medal.On the other hand,the unknown Kaitlyn Farrington,24,won the snowboard halfpipe gold seemingly out of nowhere,and Erin Hamlin's bronze was the first US medal in history in the sport of luge.The US and Russia are tied for third in total medals at nine each.
Defending gold medalist Torah Bright ensured Australia will take home at least one medal when she won the silver in the snowboard halfpipe event,while American Kelly Clark,30,the Methuselah of snowboarding,took her second career Olympics bronze an astonishing 12 years after she won the gold in the event at Salt Lake City 2002.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News Notes:Turkey's Rate Hike;Yahoo's Report

Turkey's central bank more than doubled interest rates January 29 in an effort to support the nation's currency,the lira.When you see the Turkish rate hike,you're gonna see their economy in decline,predicted CNBC market analyst Jim Cramer on the "Squawk On The Street" program.I think we could see a 2-6% downside based on the emerging markets.This is the way it is,and you just have to ride it through.It doesn't work.You end up with hyperinflation.When you're going down,it's a source of panic and worry.
We have to go through the handwringing.It's like an HBO drama.I wish I hadn't seen it happen over and over before.You're gonna see people come in and say Turkey is terrible,and they will sell.Twenty-two years ago we went through this cycle in Turkey.We weren't as connected as we are now.We didn't have shows like this to talk about Turkey.
This could be a 2-6% decline in the S&P.It's the arc of freaking out.*
Tech titan Yahoo reported a drop in revenue for the fourth consecutive quarter,with a drop in display ad prices.As well,Yahoo was affected when Alibaba growth slowed.
These are tech companies,not content companies.CEO Marissa Meyer's up against really big,great companies like Google and Facebook-two of the great arsenals of democracy.You can't go up against Facebook and Google without spending a fortune, master investor Jim Cramer pointed out.
On the plus side,Yahoo received 340,000 applications for employment,and 40% of its hires were engineers.There was big growth in its Tumblr site.There were also signs of improving display ad revenues,and Yahoo did beat its earnings estimate,while matching its revenue estimate.*
Jim Cramer's new book,"Get Rich Carefully,"is on sale now.*

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Open Question:Figuring Bitcoin Out

Can virtual currencies improve our payment systems and can guardrails be put into place to prevent in the dark activity such as money laundering?asks Benjamin Lawsky,Superintendent of Financial Services for New York state,about Bitcoin.Bitcoin is peer to peer.An algorithm and key allows you to make transactions without revealing your personal information,Mr.Lawsky explained.
Bitcoin has real potential if we can get to that system where technology is allowed to flourish while we can prevent it being used for money laundering,Mr.Lawsky said.*
Bitcoin Exchange BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem was arrested Sunday at JFK International Airport by federal authorities.In a complaint filed with the Southern District of New York,he has been charged by the Justice Department with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.The complaint alleges he and Robert Faiella,who was arrested in Florida,sold more than 1 million dollars of Bitcoins to buyers and sellers of drugs on former underground online drug site Silk Road.Three months ago,Silk Road was shut down by police and its alleged founder Ross Ulbricht was arrested.
Shrem was also charged with failing to file suspicious activity reports with respect to transactions he allegedly helped Faiella facilitate through BitInstant.Apart from being head of BitInstant,Shrem is co-owner of the New York bar EVR,which takes Bitcoin payments,and is co-chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation that promotes the virtual currency.*
Benjamin M. Lawsky is an attorney and the first head of New York state's new Department of Financial Services,which,as Governor Andrew Cuomo's Chief of Staff,he helped create.As Superintendent,he supervises all insurance companies;all state-chartered depository institutions;and most US-based branches and agencies of foreign banking institutions.The department also regulates all the state's mortgage brokers,mortgage bankers and check cashers;as well as money transmitters,budget planners and so on.In total,the new department supervises 4400 entities with assets of some 6.2 trillion dollars.The department merged the former Banking and Insurance Departments into a modern,unified financial regulator.
Mr.Lawsky is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Columbia College.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Global Trends in Business January 2014

The HSBC Preliminary China Manufacturing PMI has declined to a six-month low of 49.6 in January,down from 50.5 in December.A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the sector.The nationwide survey of purchasing managers by HSBC Holdings PLC precedes the final reading by a month and covers 85-90% of survey respondents.
HSBC economist Qu Hongbin attributed the drop to a falloff in domestic consumption.Almost all subgroups in the survey fell,from new orders,to new export orders and employment.As inflation is not a problem,the policy focus should be on supporting growth,Mr.Qu advised.*
At the same time,ECB President Mario Draghi expressed guarded optimism about the prospects for Euro-zone economic recovery,speaking to the Swiss German language daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung.I am very careful about making projections that are overly optimistic,Mr.Draghi cautioned,but yes,the economy in the currency area is growing again,although it's not yet broadly based and the jobless rate above 12% is very high.The growth isn't just driven by exports anymore,but increasingly by domestic demand as well.On the other hand,the hard economic data are still inconsistent,the ECB leader noted.*
Multinational consumer products titan Unilever found its European business to be flat,with Southern Europe stabilising.China and Indonesia sales were growing,while South America saw double digit sales growth.North America showed lower sales volume,but the personal care business improved.
Underlying Q4 sales growth was 4.1%,and emerging markets sales growth was 8.4%.CEO Paul Polman cited consistent underlying sales growth and margin expansion,coupled with strong cash flow.*
Unilever NV(UN)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Scotiabank's Asia-Pacific Presence

Scotiabank has been in the Asia-Pacific for 50 years,according to Rod Reynolds,President of Asia-Pacific and Middle East for Scotiabank.We have been in China for 30 years and have three branches there.We are focused on organic growth, but have a 19% stake in the Bank of Xi'an,as well as a stake in China Everbright bank.We are really encouraged by reforms that will increase the opportunity for Chinese companies to grow.We are well-positioned in China.
The company also has a Bank of Beijing/Scotia Asset Management joint venture.*
The ASEAN countries are a particular focus for us:Singapore,Malaysia,Vietnam and Thailand.All of our 700 Thai branches are open despite the recent unrest.We have an active business continuity plan in place.We have a very diverse asset list in Thailand.The country's been remarkably resilient to such events.We are growing rapidly in Thailand,at a rate of 20% per annum.
Thai protestors have been blockading intersections in Bangkok,demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and an unelected council to oversee reforms.*
Scotiabank,the largest overseas bank in Canada,is now focused on integrating the acquisitions we made during the global financial crisis,but open to opportunities that may arise,Mr.Reynolds said.