Saturday, September 20, 2008

*** Time to laugh -- a small break from news and analysis to bring you the joy of SNL mocking Sarah Palin

It is rare for me to make posts which are not topical to the focus of this site/blog. However, I laughed so hard when I saw this clip from Saturday Night Life I thought I would share the laughs with readers. For your viewing pleasure and five minutes of spot on imitation of Sarah Palin by the great Tina Faye click below.

Friday, September 19, 2008

News Line: China's Sovereign Wealth Fund considers increasing investment in Morgan Stanley to 49%

The Financial Times - The Great Wall Street of China

It has underwritten American consumers’ spending frenzy and picked up part of the tab for American mortgages. Is Beijing now going to assume ownership of a slug of Wall Street too?

Morgan Stanley, bounced into rescue talks by reeling share and debt prices, is in talks with China’s sovereign wealth fund. China Investment Corp may lift its 9.9 per cent stake in the US investment bank, made last December, to 49 per cent. Fair enough. If CIC believed Morgan Stanley was worth buying when the share price was above $50, it could, all else being equal, be almost twice as attractive at around $30. But China should be wary of playing buyer of last resort to hobbled US firms...

Click here to access the full story from the Financial Times website.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

News Line: Asian Financials -- China's Shanghai Benchmark soars 9.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 6.5%, Japan's Nikki up 3.5%

HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian stock markets soared Friday after a punishing week as news of a possible U.S. government plan to rescue banks from toxic mortgage debt brought hope of a letup in the world's worst financial crisis in decades.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 7 percent at the open and was up 6.5 percent at the midday break at 18,779.03. Japan's Nikkei 225 average was up 3.8 percent at 11,920.86.

In China, the Shanghai benchmark surged a stunning 9.5 percent after the government eliminated a tax on share purchases and said it was buying shares in state-owned banks. Stock measures in Taiwan, South Korea and Australia were also sharply higher.

Click here to access the full article by Jeremiah Marquez, AP Business Writer @

News Line: Asia's financial markets in focus

1) China cancels stamp tax on stock purchases to support equity markets reports Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- China decided on Thursday to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase, effective on Friday, in a move to boost the equities market after domestic stocks fell for third consecutive day since Tuesday.

With the authorization of the State Council, China's Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation said they decided to cancel the share trading stamp tax on stock purchase while the stamp tax on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent.

The cancellation came hours after Chinese stocks tumbled 1.72 percent on Thursday, amid the current global financial turmoil.

It was the first time since 1991 authorities had levied an unilateral stamp tax on stocks trading and the second time this year they had adjusted the stock trading stamp tax.

On April 24, it cut the tax from 0.3 percent to 0.1 percent amid falling share prices.

Click here
to access the full article from Xinhua

2) Futures prove a perfect fit for a booming economy (China) reports Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 18 -- With a widening product variety and deepening liquidity pools, the mainland's futures market is playing an increasingly important role in serving the national economy.

Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange (ZCE), the first experimental futures market approved by the State Council, was established on Oct 12, 1990. The ZCE, which started with forward contract trading, launched its first futures contracts on five agricultural products - wheat, corn, soybean, green bean and sesame on May 28, 1993.

It still specializes in agricultural and chemical product futures, including hard white wheat, strong gluten wheat, sugar, cotton, rapeseed oil and PTA, a petroleum-based chemical product.

Three years after the establishment of ZCE, Dalian Commodity Exchange announced it would trade in futures contracts underlined by a variety of agricultural produce, mainly grown in Northeast China. So far, futures contracts on soybean, soybean oil, corn, palm oil, soymeal and LLDPE, a petroleum-based product, are traded on the Dalian bourse.

In 1999, Shanghai Futures Exchange was established and China's futures trading was expanded to metal and energy products. Now it deals in six futures products - copper, aluminum, zinc, gold, fuel oil and natural rubber.

Shanghai Futures Tower (Photo: China Daily)

The demand for commodity futures as hedging tools has been on the rise as the Chinese economy continues to advance at a brisk pace. The country is now one of the largest producers and consumers of a wide range of commodities, including oil, steel, copper, corn, wheat and soybean. To diversify their product ranges, the nation's three commodity futures exchanges are doing research to introduce new contracts.

Click here to access the full article from Xinhua

3) China to adopt news methods to value suspended stocks amid market slump reports Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- China's fund management companies will adopt new methods such as incorporating industry index to value suspended stocks from Tuesday, China's securities regulators said on Monday.

The move was aimed to prevent abnormal high prices of suspended stocks which resumed trading amid a market slump.

Click here to access the full article from Xinhua

4) Three Chinese commercial banks hold Lehman-related bonds reports Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 18 -- At least three large Chinese commercial banks have disclosed their exposure to the worsening U.S. financial crisis through bonds issued by investment bank Lehman Brothers, which has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

China Merchants Bank Wednesday said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it holds 70 million U.S. dollars of Lehman Brothers bonds, of which 60 million dollars is senior debt and the rest subordinated debt.

The bank also said it has not made special provisions for the book losses on those bonds and will evaluate their potential risks and disclose further details at a later date.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country's largest State-controlled commercial bank by assets, holds 152 million dollars in bonds issued by, or linked to, Lehman Brothers.

At press time, ICBC had not issued a statement to the Shanghai bourse to specify its exposure to Lehman Brothers.

Bank of China (BOC) was also affected by the failure of Lehman Brothers. BOC holds 75.62 million dollars in bonds issued by the ailing U.S. investment bank. It also loaned 53.2 million dollar to Lehman Brothers and its subsidiaries. BOC was reportedly listed as an unsecured creditor in documents filed by Lehman Brothers at the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York.

Click here to access the full article from Xinhua

5) State investment arm to short up three Chinese lenders' shares with stock-buying plan reports Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Central Huijin Investment Co.,Ltd., an investment arm of the Chinese government, said Thursday it would buy the shares of three major Chinese lenders on the secondary market to shore up their share prices amid stock market slumps.

The company said it would buy the shares of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank and operations had started on Thursday.

Central Huijin was set up in 2002 with a mission to reform state-owned banks burdened with a high ratio of non-performing loans.

Courtesy of Xinhua

News Line: South-South Cooperation -- Asia-Latin America Business Boom

1) Latin Business Chronicle: Asia-Latin Trade Boom - by Joachim Bamrud

With the U.S. economy continuing to show weak results, Latin America is increasingly betting on Asia. Latin American exporters have found eager markets in countries like China, Japan and India, while Asian companies, in turn, are boosting their exports to Latin America.

"The growth of Asia will drive the business with Latin America," says R. Viswanathan, India's ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and widely considered India's leading expert on Latin America. “Both governments and business have started looking at the potential for complementary cooperation between the two regions....

"Trade will grow despite short-term commodity price fluctuations because demand in Asia remains high for Latin America’s resources," says Michael Diaz, managing partner at U.S.-based law firm Diaz Reus, which serves many clients involved in Asian-Latin American business....

*** You must be a full member of the Latin Business Chronicle to access the full article.
Click here for the free expert

2) Gazprom, Total to invest $45 billion in new exploration in Bolivia reports Business News Americas Russian oil company Gazprom and French oil major Total (NYSE: TOT) have signed an MOU with Bolivia's state hydrocarbons company YPFB to invest US$4.5bn in a new natural gas project in Bolivia, a YPFB spokesperson told BNamericas, confirming local press reports.

The three companies will develop the project in the southeast of Bolivia, where Total is already producing natural gas from six wells, the spokesperson said.

Production from the project could reach 26Mm3/d.

Click here to access the full article from Business News Americas

3) Garcia and Lulu discuss increasing bi-lateral trade and investment between Peru and Brazil reports Andina News

Sao Paulo, Sep. 18 (ANDINA).- President Alan García held Thursday evening a meeting with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to discuss about bilateral relations and the possibility to attract more investments to Peru....

President Alan Garcia and his Brazilian counterpart
Luiz Inacio da Silva in San Paulo. Photo Sepres

García said Thursday morning that during the meeting he will propose to his Brazilian counterpart “a reinforced bilateral agreement”, a kind of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will include speeding up a tariff exemption process....

Click here
to access the full story in english from Andina News

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Live from Singapore!

I would like to inform all readers of this site/blog that I'm currently writing from the beautiful city-state of Singapore, the first stop on a trip through Asia I recently embarked upon.

This morning (Thursday, Sept 18th) I woke up to some interesting headlines on my blackberry, and by interesting I mean frightening... It isn't everyday US stock markets plunge by over 4.5%. I'll share the headlines of two well respected and widely read newspapers.

I'll share the headlines of two well respected and widely read newspapers here in Singapore—the Straights Times and the Business Times.

The Straights Times -- SAVING PRIVATE AMERICA. COST SO FAR? --- US $ 905 billion

1. AIG --- $85 billion
2. Financing Lehman Brothers via JP Morgan -- $87 billion
3. Fannie and Freddie Mac --- $ 200 billion
4. Financing JP Morgans buyout of Bear Sterns -- $29 billion
5. Outstanding loans to banks --- $200 billion
6. Federal Housing Administration --- $300 billion
7. Grants to local communities --- $4 billion


Pretty scary if you ask me... On the bright side, when you walk the streets of Singapore things don't appear that bad (at least on the surface).

I am by no means a expert on this little city-state so please by all means, I encourage readers to let me know if my observations of this city and my subsequent analysis are a bit skewed by my ignorance.

Singapore intrigues me to no end. It is no mystery why this city has grown into the trading center it has. Strategically situated at the Southern tip of Malaysia at the Straights of Malacca it serves as a middle point of exchange for incredible volume of goods bound for all part of the world.

I have never in my life seen so many unloading cranes for cargo shipments. i am not sure on the exact figures and it may simply be that Singapore's small size makes its shipping capacity appear larger than it actually is, but New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Long Beach and Baltimore (a few of the biggest ports in the US) do not even remotely compare.

The city-state appears to have run out of land and in efforts to continue growing and producing a prosperous life for its people, the government has embarked on a major construction project to build up the near by island of Sentosa. Check out one of the pics I found running a Google image search on the island.

Sentosa island will soon emerge as a new and vibrant part of Singapore, increasing Singapore's total living space, economy and offering new opportunities for the residents of this city-state.

Amazing no?...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Analysis: Peruvian economy grows 10.3% during the 1st half of 2008

The Peruvian Central Bank raised its benchmark interest rate on Thursday (September 11th) by 25 basis points to 6.5%.

On the surface international investors are increasingly starting to view Peru as a safe region for commodity plays and “alternative investment strategies.”

- Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings upgraded Peru's foreign debt to one level below investment grade. (click here for article)

- In May Peru entered talks with the Paris Club to re-nogciate its foreign debt and for the first time, Peru's international reserves are expected to exede foreign debt. (click here for article)

- Peru has achieved relative political and economically stability, successfully passing power from one democratically elected president (Toledo) to another (Garcia) and producing healthy economic growth the past few years.

- Generous macro-economic incentives have helped to attract FDI from abroad, particularly in Peru's mining and energy sectors.

- According to this article from MercoPress, which quotes the INEI: Peru's National Institute of Statistics (click here to visit) the Peruvian economy grew at a rate of 10.3% in the first half of 2008, making it the fastest growing economy in the region.

Lets think about this for a second...

Until the recent retreat/collapse/correction in commodity markets, for the majority of 2008, commodity prices have been sky-rocketing, setting records as arguably one of the strongest bull markets the commodity sector has ever experiences.

Peru, a major producer and exporter of copper, zinc, and other metals has naturally benefited a great deal from soaring commodity prices. However, now that commodity prices have come back down to reality it will become increasingly more difficult for Peru to produce such great numbers. The bright side is commodity prices may rise once again once global growth and confidence pick up, but with the recent developments in the US financial markets it is looking as if the global economy has a long way to go until recovering from the recent credit and banking crisis.

Investors should always research the bad and the good. Some factors which come to mind are as follows:

- The recent replacing of Finance Minister Luis Carranza with Luis Valdivierso, who aside from a more impressive resume having worked for the IMF... is really not much different that Mr. Carranza. It's a pity the main reason Carranza even stepped down was for “family reasons.” Stating, as the Minister of Finance he was over-worked, had little family time and could not adequately support his family.

- Protests and strikes from local communities and unions will remain a obstacle for many companies operating in the remote regions of Peru.

- The population and satisfaction of the Peruvian people with their current president Alan Garcia, and other Peruvian politicians whom are not of the radical left such former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, have whitnessed their approval ratings shrink a great deal in the past 1-2 years... Meanwhile Humala has managed to remain in the spot light, maintain his friendship with Hugo Chavez and will probably will run for President once again in Peru's next election. Expect great changes if he wins.

News Line: Peru

1) Peru, Singapore to become hubs of Asia Pacific Regions, says Giampietri

Lima, Sep. 11 (ANDINA).- Peru and Singapore, considered an important economy in Asia, are about to become the most important hubs in the Asia Pacific Region, which will allow foreign investments access to this region and vice versa, noted the President of the Extraordinary High Level Commission APEC 2008 (CEAN) Luis Giampietri, who said both countries are in a privileged geographical position and have a perfect port and airport infrastructure to facilitate businesses.....

Luis Giampietri - Vice President of the Republic of Peru

Click here to access the full article from Andina

2) ChinaTel Group to bis for wireless 2.5gHz spectrum licenses in Peru

Lima, Sep. 14 (ANDINA).-
ChinaTel Group, a business entity seeking to acquire and operate WiMAX networks in key markets throughout the world, plans to participate in an upcoming auction to bid for wireless 2.5GHz spectrum licensing for Peru...
Click here to access the full article from Andina.

3) Canadian and Australian investors explore business opportunities in Amazonas, Peru
Amazonas, Sep. 14 (ANDINA).- A group of business people from Canada and Australia has visited the Peruvian department of Amazonas to explore various investment opportunities and tour the several local tourist attractions....

Canadian ambassador Geneviéve des Riviéres and the Australian consul were pleased by the warm welcome they have received from local residents and businesses.

The delegation flew over the Pongo de Manseriche, located in the Condorcanqui province, to observe the potential of this watershed as well as appreciated the magnificent Gocta Waterfall, the third highest in the world.

They also visited on Sunday the Kuélap Fortress, which is the most extensive monument of the Peruvian ancestral past.....

Click here to access the full article from Andina

4) Analysts predict British Direct Investment in Peru likely to surpass 2007 record of $2.9 billion

Lima, Sep. 14 (ANDINA).- British direct investment in Peru would increase this year, surpassing 2007's record $2.9 billion, the third largest foreign investment in the country last year, said the British Ambassador to Peru, Catherine Nettleton.......

"In December last year, the major foreign investors in Peru were Spain with 3.7 billion dollars (23.25 pct), the United States with 2.9 billion (18.54 pct) and the United Kingdom with 2,9 million (18.14 pct)", she detailed......

Among British companies operating in Peru are HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Royal of Scotland, SAB Miller, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Monterrico Metals, BHP Billiton, Xtrata, Minera IRL and Menzies Aviation.

Other companies are Orient Express, Emissions Trading, Icecap, Ecosecurities, Unilever, British American Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Willis Insurance, PWS, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, WPP, Cadbury Schweppes, CSM Logistics, Gold Oil, Pan Andean Resources and Shell......

Click here to access the full article from Andina

5) Korea interested to explore possible investments in development related projects

Bagua Grande, Sep. 14 (ANDINA).- The director of Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) in Peru, Woo Chae-Suk will visit this Tuesday the northern city of Bagua Grande in the Utcubamba province (Amazonas) to assess and explore a variety of business opportunities in the area.

"Koica volunteer program coordinator, Kweon Ok Hee, will accompany Chae Suk on his visit in which they will get to know the economic, social, educational, agricultural, health and environmental situation of local residents," Amazonas municipal representative Edwin Hidalgo Ocampo announced today.

Click here to access the full article from Andina

News Line: US financials enter a dark era (Reuters Video)

Lehman files for Bankruptcy -- Courtesy of Reuters

(Reuters) Employees from U.S investment bank Lehman Brothers are seen leaving the office with boxes and Lehman signs.

London financial workers wake up to the news that major American investment bank Lehman Brothers has filed for bankruptcy protection, while another U.S. firm Merrill Lynch agreed to be taken over by Bank of America, as the deepening financial crisis hit even larger victims.

Lehman employees in London are seen coming into their Canary Wharf offices, many unaware of what the move means for them.

The video also shows hundreds of employees of the New York office of Lehman leaving their global headquarters building with their personal belongings.

Reports Reuters