Wednesday 29 January 2014

Where is the stock market heading?

The following forms part of the series on The Edge 1,000th issue special report on The State of the nation.

Is the stock market overvalued?
What will drive up the market?
Where will corporate earnings be heading?


When will interest rates rise?

Please refer to yesterday's blog. This forms part of the series on The Edge 1,000th issue special report on The State of the nation.

On one hand, the US Federal Reserves is tapering its quantitative easing (QE), resulting in reduced liquidity.  On the other hand, they are holding short term interest rates low. This has resulted in the steepening of the yield curve.

What will happen? When will US short term rates go up?  And what will happen to the interest rates and exchange rates of the Emerging Countries, including Malaysia, as a result of this? 

Tuesday 28 January 2014

The Edge's Special Report on The State of the nation

The coming week will be The Edge 1,000th issue. It will be available from Thursday, 30 January 2014.  In it will be a special report on The State of the nation, including the economic and stockmarket outlook for 2014.

We will highlight a number of interesting observations in this blog, which will be answered in the special report of The Edge.


Why is US growth not translating to higher exports  for Emerging Countries, as it did in the past? What are the implications?

Friday 24 January 2014

A sure-‘W1N’ way to reduce the deficit?

There is so much talk about the need to cut the budget deficit.  As subsidies are rolled back, the public is now paying a heavy price and is aghast at the rising cost of living.  

We are already seeing price hikes in basic necessities, electricity and toll, among others.  On Thursday, we were told that most of us will soon be not eligible to buy RON95 petrol.  It is subsidised fuel reserved for the "poor", we were told.  How that will be implemented and how "poor" is defined, is unclear.

But you can bet that if they decide to reserve RON95 petrol only for national cars at the petrol pumps, that will be a "sure-WIN" for Proton.  Speaking of WIN and cars, there is an almost sure-WIN way of closing in the budget deficit fast, without unnecessarily burdening the public.  The public will gladly pay for this effort, and it will be largely funded by the upper classes and elites.  

I am talking about the creation and selling of special car numbers. This week, the Sultan of Johor paid RM748,000 to secure the car number plate "W1N" which looks like "win".  

Malaysians have a great affinity for cars, and even greater affinity for car numbers.  For many businessmen and tycoons, the car number is as important as the car marque.  In a land where Mercedes and BMWs are common, it gives the owner added status and identity. 

To be fair, the sum paid by the Sultan of Johor as much higher than usual. But then again, it is the only one with a "win" permutation.  The subsequent numbers, W2N to W10N netted a total of RM653,687, or an average of RM72,632.  If we average out W1N to W10N, the average per number would be RM140,169.

If a W1N number is worth as much as ten times that of a non-W1N, then perhaps we should start considering creating more W1N permutations?

Imagine if we create more opportunities for the public to own the winning number.  We could start by adding more numbers behind W1N, starting from W1N 1 to W1N 9999.  That gives you 9,999 permutations of the W1N series. If each number can be sold for, say, an average of RM50,000, we are looking at a potential revenue of RM500million !

Stretching our imagination a bit further, what if we add more permutations to the W1N series, by also adding alphabets before that? Okay, that would cross state boundaries, but if we could add MAT, NOR, BIN, AL1, ABU, HAJ, ARU, AR1, TAN, LIM, ANG, ONG, AKU and so on.  To precede W1N, the possibilities are endless. 

A number like "TAN W1N 1" or "LIM W1N 1" will surely be coveted by rich tycoons with the surnames Tan and Lim, of which there are plenty.  Similarly, for the combinations that appeal to ethnic Malay and Indian names. 

For the more neutral, "AKU W1N 1", "1 W1N 1" or "MY W1N 1" sound perfect ! The young at heart would love to have MACHA W1N 1, but, oops, there are too many alphabets there.

Imagine again, if we could create just 20 of such permutations, each to join W1N and followed by the 9,999 permutations for the numbers that follow. We are looking at a total of 199,980 possible permutations! And if each number can garner say an average of RM30,000, we are looking at potential revenue of RM6 billion!

If one is worried about potential oversupply of numbers, it can be easily absorbed as this would represent less than one-third of new cars sold yearly.  And one will gladly pay for a number that bears his or her name, and can be kept for future cars and future generations.

This is of course, a tongue-in-cheek proposal. I am not sure if the authorities will take it seriously, although there is a huge market, and it will be a "Sure-W1N" formula.

But the main reason I am writing on this is to show that there are actually many ways for the government to cut the budget deficit.  It can be achieved by not just focusing on cutting subsidies, raising taxes or burdening the public.  

The government should be more creative. It must think out of the box to find new ideas to raise revenue or cut unnecessary wastages. 

Oh, and of course, please don't privatise these ideas !