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22 Dec 06:
Interesting reading on Asia Times: Shawn Crispin on 'Thailand's man in the hot seat', one of the more polite descriptions of the finance minister heard this week, and M.K. Bhadrakumar's 'The Great Game on a razor's edge'. And a belated link to Bill Fleckenstein on investment setbacks and near-death experiences: 'You can succeed despite your stumbles'.
18 Dec 06:
Must read on the US market & investment psychology: the disciplined and articulate John Hussman on ouija boards & valuations.
Frozen assets: tiger carcasses...
17 Dec 06:
Essential reading for the new generation of China bulls: reasons for resignation of the entire board of Changchun Da Xing Pharmaceutical Company. 'Is this the most accurate description of a company's affairs ever put out by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange?' asks Clive Rigby...
5 Dec 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 5% in November, closing at a new high of US$727.04; charts.
Anti-fiat antidote to US-centrism: 'Germany goes bankrupt too!'
22 Nov 06:
Read Steve Vines on Hong Kong corporate governance: 'Richard Li gets a lesson in Singapore', and Bill Fleckenstein on liquidity, illusion, mania, and gold: 'The upside-down logic of Wall Street'.
21 Nov 06:
An excellent article on derivatives and 'risk management', commending the traditional role of financial controller (only): Martin Hutchinson on 'the dangerous games managements play'.
9 Nov 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 2.0% in October, closing at US$691.84; charts.
26 Oct 06:
The October NAV will be finalised a week later than usual, since I like to approve it myself and will be uncontactable during a few days in the Thai jungle. Apologies.
12 Oct 06:
Good news for those who appreciate diversity of opinion: websites of interest to long-term Asian investors now include Asia Sentinel (with an economics/business section, which covers the departure from Morgan Stanley of Andy Xie) and a recently-robust Far Eastern Economic Review, as well as Asia Times.
6 Oct 06:
The 3Q report has been posted.
5 Oct 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund fell 0.5% in September, closing at US$678.42; charts.
2 Oct 06:
'Inland China's route to prosperity' discusses the new trade routes through Myanmar, Laos & Cambodia, which may redraw the economic map of Southeast Asia & Southern China.
26 Sep 06:
Anyone still under the illusion that democracy is a panacea should read two excellent articles in Asia Times: Chan Akya's 'Demo-crazy' on realities across Asia, and Shawn Crispin's initial analysis of the Thai coup, explaining the perceived need to remove a democratically elected government which was systematically dismantling checks and balances - an experience not unique to Thailand. For an update, however, read Crispin's latest comments on challenges facing the junta. Also recommended: Crispin on the depressing technical progress in Asian censorship.
Not directly relevant to our investments, but commodity gyrations & the deficiencies / manipulation of financial markets affect us all, so it may be worth noting Rob Kirby's comments: 'hedge funds and institutional money that "tracks the index" were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted [Goldman Sachs Commodity Index]. And if anyone hasn't noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse… just in time for November’s Mid Term Elections!'
Stephen Roach recommends discrimination: 'Hitting a BRIC wall?'.
12 Sep 06:
Two interesting articles from Morgan Stanley: Stephen Roach on the speed & other distinguishing characteristics of recent globalisation, and Andy Xie on the land/commodity/wage-push inflationary impulses in Asia, suggesting stagflation.
4 Sep 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund barely moved in August, closing at US$682.04: charts. Broad market gains this month were wiped out by plunging share prices at two of our holdings, following earnings disappointments compounded by poor investor relations. We shared the disappointment in both cases, but decided to make no change in either holding. Meanwhile, we've added one new name to the portfolio, in small size at this stage, and have been adding gently to other positions. Our cash balance is 13%.
15 Aug 06:
'Is just-in-time nearly out of time?' examines one key risk to the global economy. While I'd rather invest in Asia than in the hollowed-out old world, an unravelling of the system is hardly a cheery prospect for the exporting nations. This website by Kurt Cobb has many articles of interest; 'Why it's hard to debate a cornucopian' and the articles on faith-based economics are all too relevant to financial-market psychology.
2 Aug 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 2% in July to US$681.88; charts.
27 Jul 06:
'Radical monetary reform is the most important step we could take today on behalf of free enterprise, peace, and human liberty', says Lew Rockwell, in 'The Case for the Barbarous Relic'.
25 Jul 06:
Tim Iacono has provided a useful rundown of 'Arguments Against Investing in Gold'.
5 Jul 06:
The 2Q report has been posted.
4 Jul 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund fell a further 2.3% in June to US$668.65; charts.
6 Jun 06:
More on destructive trawling; on Deep Sea Life (and its destruction, before we even know what's there, with wonderful pictures); and a succinct Toronto Star editorial, 'Bulldozing the Bottom of the Sea'. The Deep Sea Life report observes that "on average, directed seamount-only fisheries collapse just four years after the largest catch (eight years for other deep water fisheries)". I wonder in which year fishery companies go for listing?
2 Jun 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund fell 3.3% in May to US$684.11; charts.
31 May 06:
I am intrigued by the lack of comment following initial headlines about the OFHEO report on Fannie Mae, given its pivotal position in the US financial system (and in the balance sheets of foreign central banks), the magnitude of the deficiencies, and the impression that the 'occasional rotten apples' in corporate America are sufficiently numerous that there should be more concern about the barrel. Management, directors, & auditors are all roundly criticised. Presumably regulators were also to blame, since intelligent outside analysts were concerned for so many years. The report is a surprisingly good read...
4 May 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose a short 5% in April, to a new high of US$707.40; charts.
29 Apr 06:
Uh-oh. 'Higher inflation, higher personal and corporate taxes, and a lower dollar point US and global investors away from US assets and toward more competitive economies less burdened by health and pension liabilities - those personified by higher savings rates and investment as a percentage of GDP. Need I say more than to sell US assets and buy Asian ones denominated in their local currencies'... I agree with the analysis, and the Apollo Asia Fund is positioned thus, but fear the consequences of further flight capital when such advice is given by the Bond King.
22 Apr 06:
Andy Xie wonderfully illustrates the emergence of stories to justify past price moves, and the role of self-fulfilling prophesies, in 'The stir-fried world'. In the same digest, read Stephen Roach's relief that China is too savvy to accept Washington's bad advice.
18 Apr 06:
Now that gold has doubled from Gordon's lows, and confidence in the dollar is dwindling, with the standing of most central bankers sure to follow (Germans may soon be wishing that the dissident Bundesbank retained a greater role) - the temptation to trade out of precious metals may be diminished by Rob Kirby's warning on overuse of technical analysis, citing tales of the Weimar hyperinflation. Given subsequent political history, Clif Droke's introduction of a Global Bombing Index may be timely. Must read: Marc Faber on the importance of multiple perspectives: 'An anatomy of bear markets'.
14 Apr 06:
The extraordinarily depressing heavy-handedness (in the South, and elsewhere) of the unlamented Thaksin administration owed much to the US, according to Shawn Crispin, who comments that when democratically elected leaders work at odds with real democracy, the US could learn from Thailand.
Overfishing and organised fish crime make Bloomberg financial news: 'Brazil's cod is hijack target'.
13 Apr 06:
"With three quarters of the world's fisheries in distress and nearing depletion", according to the UN, I can understand why the existing shareholders of Asian fishery and fish processing companies wish to go public, but cannot muster any enthusiasm for the investment case. "The global fishing fleet is currently 2.5x larger than the oceans can sustainably support... 52% of the world's fisheries are fully exploited, and 24% are overexploited, depleted, or recovering... as many as 90% of all the ocean's large fish have been fished out..." according to the WWF. 'Destructive trawling' has decimated ocean habitat twice as large as the European continent, according to Oceana, a scale greater than even I had imagined after a decade of depressing anecdotal evidence from fishermen, fellow divers, and my own eyes. The C14-15th Longquan shipwreck site off Malaysia was razed by intensive fishing, "the seabed around Britain is now being turned into featureless deserts of sand and mud", and many deep sea fish face extinction. Please don't eat shark's fin. Please be aware that mercury levels are also dangerously high in catfish and swordfish, tuna stocks are in crisis, there is now no legal caviar from wild fish, there may no longer be any such thing as a wild salmon, etc. Some investors are eating more fish and are positive on the fish business because they are now nervous about farmed meat and poultry: ponder whether this is sustainable, whether farmed fish is likely to be safer, and the ethics of financing fishery expansion. And for the investor, does it make sense to pay 10-20 times earnings when the oceans may be empty within the decade?
10 Apr 06:
For succinct clarity on US stocks, read John Hussman's weekly market comment: the last five weeks' worth will give an excellent overview. The latest observes that 'Rich valuations and rising yields are a dangerous combination'.
7 Apr 06:
The 1Q report has been posted.
4 Apr 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose a short 6% in March, to a new high of US$675.37; charts.
'Uneasy lies the crown in Myanmar': a depressing but useful update on ASEAN's least-investible country. For Thai news, a staple source is The Nation.
31 Mar 06:
Stephen Roach sees "no reason to doubt the wisdom or the execution of the coming rebalancing" in China: the US meanwhile is concentrating on protectionism and spin. A succinct summary of John Williams' analysis explains the smoke and mirrors and suggests that inflation may be 8%, unemployment 12%, and real GDP contracting.
The Fund is now generally closed, and new enquiries are unlikely to be fruitful. The summary of terms has been updated.
22 Mar 06:
"The fixation with growth is to blame for many of today's problems", says Andy Xie: 'China: addressing backlash against reform'. Serious debate seems overdue; I hope it spreads.
4 Mar 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 5% in February, to a new high of US$638.17; charts.
3 Feb 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 6% in January, to a new high of US$608.31; charts.
25 Jan 06: Andy Xie's 'Do Imbalances Matter?', notes extraordinary investor complacency on their sustainability & identifies possible triggers for change. One comment is that "recent evidence suggests that the expansion of China’s productive capacity has far outstripped US consumption growth. The capacity utilization level in China is declining rapidly. As deflationary pressure stalls investment growth, the former is likely to initially intensify, as investment demand has accounted for two thirds of demand growth on the margin since 2002."
Steven Lachance describes the efforts of Asian monetary authorities to escape their US$ problem as a move from Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) to Singularly Assured Destruction (SAD): 'US policymakers sleepwalking into currency crisis'.
9 Jan 06: Portfolio turnover in 2005 was a record low of 20%, which explains why we are not overwhelmed by brokers' calls - but the first few days of 2006 have seen an unusual burst of activity, so not too much should be read into the statistic.
7 Jan 06:
The 4Q report has been posted.
5 Jan 06:
NAV of the Apollo Asia Fund rose 2.8% in December, and a short 15% for the year, to a new high of US$572.53; charts.
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