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Monday, January 30, 2012

My views on Pessimistic Prognosticator's views - Bloomberg 2012




These are strictly my views on the Pessimistic Prognosticators page published on Bloomberg.



Meredith Whitney
After correctly predicting Citigroup (C) would cut its dividend in 2008, Meredith Whitney, now chief executive officer of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, told CBS's '60 Minutes' that municipalities would hit bond investors in 2011 with defaults totaling "hundreds of billions of dollars." Individual investors fled muni bond funds. Yet munis had a relatively good 2011, with defaults totaling $2.6 billion, according to Municipal Market Advisors. Whitney told Bloomberg Radio on Jan. 5 that she's still pessimistic: "Things are playing out in ways that I expected. I think that 2012 is worse than 2011, and 2013 could be worse than 2012."

The exact opposite will be applicable. 2012 will be better than 2011, 2013 will be better than 2012.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The author of the best-selling 2007 book "The Black Swan," Nassim Nicholas Taleb said last June that the U.S.'s debt situation was worse than that of Greece. "The difference between Europe and the U.S. is the consciousness of the problem," Taleb said in September. He warned the world's predicament is more dire than in 2008. "And, we will pay a higher price," he said in October. "We haven't done anything constructive in three and a half years. Nobody wants to do anything drastic now." Asked about these statements, Taleb wrote in an Jan. 12 email: "These are not predictions but statements of riskiness."

No comments. I might be in agreement with this dude.

John Hussman
Encouraging data about the U.S. economy in December and early January failed to impress John Hussman, president of Hussman Econometrics Advisors. He insisted in a Jan. 9 commentary that the full set of economic evidence still implies "a nearly immediate global economic downturn." The "marginal" improvement in data does bring the probability of recession to "less than 100 percent," he said, "but it remains the most probable outcome at present."

So he is at least 99.99% sure of a recession. I am 99% sure that he will be wron as of now in the first half of 2012.

Jim Chanos
Short-seller Jim Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates, gained fame when he predicted Enron's collapse in 2001. In late 2011, he was betting on an even bigger failure -- that of the financial industry of the world's second-largest economy. "The Chinese banking system is built on quicksand and that's the one thing a lot of people don't realize," Chanos told Bloomberg Television in late November. "The banking system in China is extremely fragile," he said, because of non-performing loans made in the late 1990s and early 2000s. On Jan. 13, a Bloomberg story cited a China Banking Regulatory Commission statement asking large banks to make "sound" business plans for 2012, and noting challenges to "a steady development" of China's economy.

He might be right.But it will take a decade for problems from China to materialize.

Peter Schiff
Chief executive officer of Euro Pacific Capital, a radio host and an unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, Peter Schiff has long criticized the Federal Reserve for "printing" currency and favored gold and foreign currencies over the U.S. dollar. The dollar's recent advance is a "lucky streak" that could end in a bad way, he wrote in a Jan. 10 commentary. "When reality rears its ugly head, and the spell breaks, the reverses can be vicious," he said. "It happened with dotcom stocks. It happened with real estate, and I believe it will happen with the dollar and Treasuries."

May be but not to an extreme.

Mark Spitznagel
In the next few years, Mark Spitznagel estimates the S&P 500 index will drop 20 percent, with a 20 percent chance of a correction larger than 40 percent. Spitznagel runs Universa Investments, a doomsday "black swan" hedge fund designed to profit from such declines. (Black swans are hard-to-predict events that have major impacts.) "We are living in a world central bank oligarchy, with Bernanke as ringleader, and it has created an economic tinder box," he said in a Jan. 12 email. "Too much malinvestment has been kept alive, and history shows an inevitable wipeout, which started in 2000."

What is next few years? Is it next 1 year or 9 years? However, I quite like his investing style of blowing up everyday.

Stephen Roach
The non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach, expects U.S. consumer spending to remain weak "for years to come," hurting global economic growth. "With balance-sheet repair only in its early stages and the personal saving rate (at 3.5 percent) still decidedly subpar, the zombie-like behavior of American consumers should persist," Roach said in a Jan. 12 email. He's not as gloomy on China. "All this China crisis talk is really overblown," he told CNBC in late December. He's more worried about India's economy, he said, noting that it's the only economy in Asia with "a big budget deficit, which limits their ability to use monetary or fiscal policy."

Maybe true. But the Indian Economy is not seen in full size yet. However, I see a major problem of Tax collection in India where a vast majority live in poverty. The private practioners and business guys evade taxes. A proper governance on this front is enough to solve India's problems as of now.

Jeremy Grantham
Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist of GMO, warned in 2009 that the world, and particularly the U.S., was in for "seven lean years" as it recovered from debt, declines in asset values and "gross financial incompetence." In December, Grantham wrote that "Sadly, I feel increasingly vindicated" by this forecast. Also, he says, economic growth in the U.S. and developed world "have permanently slowed." Other factors that will hurt the economy include "depleting resources," global warming and, in the U.S., failing infrastructure, an ineffective educational system and income inequality.

7 lean years is a stupid forecast. How can you be certain of 7?

David Rosenberg
On Aug. 5, David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates, warned on Bloomberg Radio of a 99 percent chance of recession in the U.S. He backed away from this on Jan. 9 on Bloomberg Television, but said this year will be more challenging for the U.S. than the last. The economy "is still fragile and this recovery is quite spotty," he said, warning of "headwinds" from overseas including a European recession and a possible slowdown in China. "I see barely more than 1 percent growth in 2012," he added in a Jan. 12 email, "so yet another year of economic deceleration."

Then short 99 contracts of S&P 500 and long 1 contract of S&P 500 is the best strategy for you. Else, I would suggest you to consult NNT and buy some deep out of the money put options. They need not be long dated I suppose Mr. Rosenberg.

Michael Panzner
Michael Panzner wrote the book "Financial Armageddon" in 2007 and an equally gloomy tome in 2009: "When Giants Fall: An Economic Roadmap for the End of the American Era." On his blog, Panzner describes "an economy teetering on the edge of disaster," and criticizes those betting on recovery. "It appears somebody put too much Kool-Aid in the optimists' eggnog," he wrote Dec. 28. In a Jan. 11 email, he said: "The fundamental outlook is even worse now than it was a few weeks ago, given (the lack of positive) developments in Europe and growing evidence that the economies of major countries around the world are deteriorating fast."

Well then Mr. Billionaire to be by shorting all the equities, I wish you good luck for 2012.

John Mauldin
John Mauldin, president of Millennium Wave Advisors, says Europe will "fall apart" in 2012. After Europe and then Japan struggle with their fiscal problems, "the U.S. is going to have to deal with our own issues," he told Bloomberg Television on Dec. 20. "We've got a cancer. That cancer is debt," he added. "The longer we take to solve this problem, the more difficult it's going to be." It will take four to five years for the developed world to get out of its debt mess, he said.

Maybe. But Germany just won't absorb the Greek losses. They will do all they can to protect their losses and the Euro. This could be even at the cost of a hyperinflation in Greece and other debt ridden countries.

Peter Thiel
A cofounder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel is worried technological progress has stalled, a running theme of his speeches and interviews in 2011. Without more rapid advances, "people will have a lower quality of life, where people won't be able to retire, where governments are pushed toward more and more austerity," he told Bloomberg Businessweek in February. "That will lead to a more constrained, pessimistic future." Thiel has funded a variety of unconventional research projects because he says run-of-the-mill technology doesn't impress him. He told the New Yorker in November he doesn't consider the iPhone a "technological breakthrough."

It is best for Mr. Thiel to keep his smart pants in the Tech business. Iphone is the best example of a technological breakthrough in recent times. There are many of coure Mr. Thiel. He just plans to make some bucks in the Facebook IPO.

Gary Shilling
A. Gary Shilling, president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., warns of a "severe" recession in Europe in 2012, potentially worse than the U.S.'s 2008-2009 slowdown. Without a common fiscal policy in Europe, "it makes it much more difficult to react to weak economic times," he says, speaking in a Jan. 12 interview. Also, U.S. consumers will pull back on spending this year, he says. They spent more freely until December, "but they didn't have the income advances to support it." In China, he predicts a "hard landing" in 2012, with growth falling from "double digits" to 5 or 6 percent.

Maybe Gary, you are right.

Bill Gross
"The financial markets and global economies are at great risk," warns Gross in his Jan. 2012 investment outlook letter. Gross and others at Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, had been predicting a relatively orderly period of slow growth and gradual debt reduction in the developed world. After a disappointing 2011 performance for the fund he manages -- the largest bond fund in the world -- Gross now forecasts a far more unpredictable future, with equal probability of either "deflation" or "re-flation."

The financial markets are risky. Billy boy has various outlooks and this is just one of them.

Bloomberg link :
http://www.bloomberg.com/money-gallery/2012-01-14/apocalypse-how-dire-2012-forecasts.html

Universa Investments L.P

Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it.

Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

This is what describes the investment appraoch of Universa which is a Popperian hedge fund. It was started by Mark Spitznagel who worked alongside Nassim Taleb in his hedge fund Empirica Capital. Nassim serves as a scientific advisor at Universa. The investment philosophy in basic form is same as other Nassim's strategies of tail protection. Universa invests in options with the aim of providing assymetric positive returns in black-swan events. However, the strategies employed at Universa bleed out small amounts of money every day. This type of investing was pioneered by Nassim Taleb. This is increasingly being copied by various firms. Deutsche Bank has ELVIS. Nevertheless, Universa has proved to be a boon to Sovereign Wealth funds which intend to hedge their tail risks.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Can metal detectors detect gold?

Metal detectors are devices that aid in detecting metals which may be hidden or not readily visible. A simple metal detector consists of an oscillator which produces an Alternating current and passes through a coil that produces a magnetic field. Any metal which significantly conducts .They have been of great use in places where security is of great importance. Metal detectors first came into existence in early 1960s. The metal detectors in the earliest days were extensively used in the mining industry. They were also of great use in detection of land mines. Today, metal detectors are widely used in most of the security areas to detect weapons like Guns, Knives etc. They are also useful in Archaeology to detect any old metallic substances which may be available at archaeological sites.


An obvious question which comes to question with respect to metal detectors is "can metal detectors detect gold?".Metal detectors can generally detect gold. This is because Gold is also a metal and a good conductor of electricity. Since the technology of metal detectors, depends on the electrical conduction, most metal detectors will be able to detect gold. However, the different metal detectors can be sensitive to different amount of gold. A general metal detector may not detect a small gold coin or jewelry. Special metal detectors are available which have the capability even to detect tiny amounts of gold. These are usually used in treasure hunting and hunting of coins in ancient archaeological sites which have been approved for excavations. Some metal detectors can also be used under water. These are of great use while trying to find some valuable gold in ship wrecks etc.


Special metal detectors with higher sensitivity to metallic content are preferred while trying to detect gold with the aid of metal detector. This is because an even minute quantity of gold is valuable. These detectors are usually known as Gold prospecting metal detectors. The general purpose models of metal detectors may just not be suitable for detecting gold. Most of the ancient coins were minted in precious metals such as Gold and silver. Hence a good gold detector will be of help while trying to find gold. The second aspect of a metal detector is the depth till which it can search the metal. The usual models available for general purposes are equipped only to detect for about a foot of depth. These might not suffice gold detecting. Hence superior metal detectors which can detect for a greater depth can be used while trying to find gold with the aid of detector. It is recommended to visit sites of historical importance such as ancient temples, religious places, treasury, etc while trying to find gold. It is best to visit low profile places which are of some historical significance. Metal detectors which respond only to gold are difficult to obtain. However, detectors with LCD displays which indicate probable metallic contents can be obtained in some places.


Metal detectors are of great use when trying to find valuables. With soaring prices of base metals, the metal detectors are of great value not only for finding gold, but also for other metals such as silver, copper etc. A gold detector which is sensitive to minute quantities and greater depth will be just great for finding gold. It is also recommended to buy a metal detector which is not bulky, to ensure that it can be carried to different places.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Liquid BeeS : IS it worth a thought?

Liquid BeeS is an Indian Exchange Traded Fund. It is the world's first Money market ETF. This aims to provide returns by investing in Money market instrument such as Call Money, Short term govt securities, Repos etc.

The following link provides a good picture of Liquid BeeS
http://www.nseindia.com/content/products/prod_liquidbees.htm

Like many other ETFs which carry the name BeeS, the Liquid BeeS fund is managed by Goldman Sachs. The Liquid BeeS aims to provide a return better than a savings bank account. The tax is deducted at source. The prices at which Liquid BeeS trade are 1000, 1000.01 and 999.99. Usually a small investor will be able to buy or sell at 1000.

Daily dividends are declared to maintain the price at 1000. These dividends can be viewed from the link below:
http://www.benchmarkfunds.com/Products/LiquidBeES/CorporateAction.aspx

Many brokers have waived of any transaction costs associated with purchase or sale of Liquid BeeS. However personally, I felt cheated when ICICIDIRECT charged me a transaction cost of Rs.84 for my meager Rs.10,000 investment.

The custodians don't charge the DP anything for the trading of this unique ETF. So, ICICIDIRECT is just ripping you wherever possible.

Hence go ahead with LiquidBees on your idle cash only if your DP doesn't levy any transaction cost on this.

Red wine gift ideas

Red wine can be an ideal gift for your loved ones. It represents eloquence and grace.Red wine can be a gift for all occasions. However, it must be noted that Red wine is available in various types. The range of red wine varies in terms of price, flavor, origin, taste etc. A reasonably priced red wine bottle can be a good gift for a friend. However, this might not be a very reasonable gift for a prospective client. Hence red wine suitable for different people and occasions must be selected diligently.

Red wine could be a great gift for a wine lover. A wine hamper full of wine bottles is a great welcome gift for many occasions. A tourist resort could gift a greatly packaged wine hamper of reasonable price to the incoming tourists. However, this should be done only after learning the guest’s preferences. A wine hamper is usually an assorted collection of different brands of wine of varying tastes.
Red wine also is known to have many health benefits. It can be a great gift for people who have developed the Mediterranean habit of having a glass of wine with every meal. This is usually a health conscious person, who has learnt about the health benefits of red wine. For such purposes, red wine with lesser concentration of alcohol is best suited. A wine basket with healthy red wine bottles is the best gift for such people.

A lesser known fact about wine is to think of it as an investment vehicle. If you are an elderly person with a good amount of savings, a bottle of fine wine as an investment vehicle might be an excellent gift for your 35 year old son. The most common wine held for investment is the Bordeaux wine. When selecting a red wine for investment, it is best to consider a variety of factors such as climate, soil, weather etc of the grapes used to make the wine. The skills of the winemaker are also extremely important. It is also seen that not all wines appreciate in value and taste with time. Hence it is best to take help of wine advisory firms or wine experts before selecting a red wine for investment gifts.

A high quality red wine can be a great gift for a wine connoisseur. If you would like to gift red wine to a friend who likes to taste different variety of high quality wine, it is best to select a high quality or fine wine. This can be a great gift since wine is an expensive habit to deal with. A red wine case can be an ideal gift in this case. It is best to gift some well known brands.

Red wine can also be a great souvenir. Since the taste of wine greatly depends on the climate, wine from different countries taste differently. A true wine lover might like to have a foreign wine which is less accessible. Some examples of great foreign wines are the Lebanese wines and the Indian wines. These wines are also available at reasonable prices. Hence red wine can be a great souvenir for your loved ones, back home.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Indian Online Shopping Sites compared

This small piece aims to help the first time online shopper in India. This is a breif comparision of online shopping portals in India.

1. Ebay India

Ebay India is strictly forbidden for newbies. A new buyer is advised to check the feedback of the sellers and then decide to buy. In case of collectibles/coins, there is a high risk of getting fake products.

But an experienced buyer can make use of promotions and spot good value for the money he spends. The range of products on Ebay is innumerable.

2. Flipkart

Flipkart is one of the best Indian sites for online shopping. Good discount on products compared to the prices in retail stores. Excellent customer service is one of the positives of Flipkart. It also has a superior technology in place.

The disadvantages include very little coupons and discounts above the listed price. The range of products is limited compared to some of the other websites.

3. Infibeam

Infibeam is an excellent Indian site for online shopping. A wide range of products are available. There are also occasional promotional campaigns in the form of coupon codes. Overall a very good place to shop.

4. Indiaplaza

A good website to redeem credit card points. The prices on Indiaplaza are quite low compared to other online sites. Some coupons can be utilized to get additional discounts as well.

Disadvantages include some minor problems and delays associated with procurement. There is an occasional problem associated with the website.

There are many more websites such as 99labels, Tradus, Yebhi etc which are well known. One of the bad website is Greendust with bad customer support and extreme delays in shipments.

Friday, January 20, 2012

SETH GODIN: If You're An Average Worker, You're Going Straight To The Bottom

The way we do business is changing fast and in order to keep up, your entire mentality about work has to change just as quickly.

Unfortunately, most people aren't adapting fast enough to this change in the workplace, says marketing guru Seth Godin in an interview with the Canadian talk show "George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight" (via Pragmatic Capitalism).

According to the founder of Squidoo.com and author or 13 books, the current "recession is a forever recession" because it's the end of the industrial age, which also means the end of the average worker.

"For 80 years, you got a job, you did what you were told and you retired," says the former vice president of direct marketing at Yahoo! People are raised on this idea that if they pay their taxes and do what they're told, there's some kind of safety net, or pension plan that's waiting for them. But the days when people were able to get above average pay for average work are over.
If you're the average person out there doing average work, there's going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. Now that the industrial economy is over, you should forget about doing things just because it's assigned to you, or "never mind the race to the top, you'll be racing to the bottom." However, if you're different somehow and have made yourself unique, people will find you and pay you more, Godin says.

Instead of waiting around for someone to tell you that you matter, take your career into your own hands. In other words, don't wait for someone else to pick you and pick yourself! If you have a book, you don't need a publisher to approve you, you can publish it yourself. It's no longer about waiting for some big corporation to choose you. We've arrived at an age where you choose yourself.

Courtesy: Vivian Giang

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pounds to USD

“Pounds to USD” is a popular currency pair which is traded in the foreign exchange markets. “Pounds to USD” is commonly referred to as GBP/USD in the foreign exchange market. The currency pair is commonly known as Cable among currency traders. As on close of 28-Dec-2011, the GBP/USD was at 1.5643. Over the last one year, the Pounds to USD rates have gone up by a small amount. During 2011, the exchange rate reached a high of approximately 1.6578 in May. Since then it has corrected considerably. The Pounds to USD was trading above a value of 2 in late 2007. The last 90 day range of the currency pair has been between 1.54 and 1.57.

The immediate support is between 1.54 and 1.55. The long term support is at approximately 1.44. The immediate resistance is at about 1.60 to 1.61. If the level of 1.61 is breached, the pounds to USD could go all the way up to 1.63-1.64 which is the next major resistance after 1.60. The long term resistance points for Pounds to USD are at about 1.67 to 1.68, 1.84 and 1.99.

The BOE (Bank of England) has been working quietly to bring down the value of pounds. The value above 1.60 seems to be a high point. The currency pair is expected to trade in the range of 1.54- 1.56 for quite some time ahead. The Pounds to USD could breach a value of 1.56 over the next couple of months and head towards 1.60 as per the technical charts. This is the situation assuming some economic recovery and lower volatility.

In case of higher volatility and uncertainty in the markets, the currency pair can weaken. This could cause the pound to USD value to drop below 1.54. This would signal some major weakness in the pair and the value could fall all the way up to 1.44. This corresponds to an approximate fall of 1000 pips. There is also a chart pattern of head and shoulders being formed in the long term chart with the neck at approximately 1.5467. However, traders should take cue from that as it is still early to comment on the formation of this chart pattern.

How To Become A Better Forex Trader

Trading forex can be a good source of extra income. One has to be careful before jumping into the vast ocean of forex trading where the number of products available to trader is plenty. There are many steps which can be followed to become a better forex trader. The first thing is to limit trading to a maximum of three-four currency pairs. It is necessary to observe these currency pairs on charts regularly in different time frames. Having more than four currency pairs on charts can be confusing. It is also important to have some important technical indicators such as Moving average, Relative strength etc plotted for these currency pair charts. While trading forex, it is also important to adhere to the plans which are formulated before entering into the trade. It is important to maintain strict stop loss orders. It should be noted that in order to becoming a better forex trader, it is important to honor the stop loss orders. These serve as a risk management tool for the trader. They also bring in a lot of discipline while trading a fast market such as forex.

Learning technical analysis and price action is also a good step towards becoming a better forex trader. While trading forex, the charts have to be observed from time to time. It is important to understand the entry and exit signals, a technical indicator generates. Generally it is important to have a combination of 2-3 technical indicators before entering a trade. Some tools like Fibonacci are also widely used by forex traders. The technical indicators work on a probability basis and should be strictly used with stop losses. Learning technical analysis is only the first step. It is very important to be disciplined. Watching the markets continuously helps and enables one to spot good opportunities. It is also important to decide on a timeframe to trade. The charts of the currency pairs have to for the specific time frame. While observing a hourly chart, it also helps to have a look at the daily chart in order to spot the daily trend.

A trader can improve his knowledge of the macroeconomic factors while affect the forex markets. It is important to keep track of the daily economic data of important economies such as US, Europe and Japan. It is very important to be aware of activities in other markets such as Equities and fixed income on a broad level. It can be helpful to stay abreast of any developments in markets. The actions governments take can have considerable impact on forex markets. An eye on export import data also helps a serious forex trader.

Behaviorally, one can learn a lot of aspects to become a forex trader. Maintaining a cool head is very important in a serious pursuit of money such as forex trading. It is important not enter a trade on an emotion or gut feel. One should also avoid any impulsive trades such as revenge trading. Revenge trading is when a trader enters into an immediate position without thinking much after a heavy loss.

Risks due to Market Psychology

There are various risks which arise due to Market Psychology. The financial market attract lost of the brightest minds. Each day new techniques become a fad in the market. This is especially true for many technical indicators. Different technical indicators work differently in each market, This is due to the psychology of the traders operating in that market. Technical indicators usually study the market psychology in the form of charts. The market participants are known to show herd-behavior. It is well known that the emotions of Greed, Fear, Joy act on human beings and they act differently when subjected to these emotions. Hence, it can be understood that not everyone takes a rational decision based on available facts. Hence many times, the herd is usually wrong. This is a huge risk due to market psychology.

Most of the technical indicators give a buy signal when the trend for a stock is up for a long time. It is only due to the greed and the trend that a buyer will buy the stock. However, it may be quite different from the true market value of the stock based on fundamentals. Hence at times, buying a stock at a very high price may prove to be risky. The same is true otherwise. A distressed stock may not attract any investors and may not move up for a long time even though it is undervalued. Many technical indicators work on a self fulfilling prophecy basis. Hence many don't have a solid reasoning behind them. They might work well at times and attract many traders. Hence they seem to be working because everyone is using these techniques in their trading decisions. These are some of the risks arising due to market psychology. A field called behavioral finance studies the effect of behavior on the trading decisions people take.