Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm in Asia! learning stuff!

granted there are lots of cost saving ways to travel in south east asia.

the downside? you have to travel for at least 24 hours and fly literally to the other side of the planet.

as well, depending on where you go, no one will understand english.

I'm in the philippines because it still is an undeveloped tourist destination: it's even cheaper than thailand or vietnam and many of the beaches and resorts are pristine.

the best part: everyone one here loves Americans (they don't distinguish between white people from north america) and everyone (even those with little or no education) can understand rudimentary english.

It's very easy to get around and no one will over-hustle you: they simply aren't used to a tourism industry like thailand or vietnam (depending on which city and region you choose).

So what am i doing here? well, i mentioned previously that i spend a lot of time looking for alternative investments since i left the world of traditional asset mixing. Just so happens that i have a personal connection with a fellow who is highly connectd with the asian development bank, head quartered in manila.

did i ask for a specific deal, strategy or investment opportunity? NO.
what i did is called networking. I took the effort and time to find this person and to simply have a conversation. In essence, it was a global cold call.

We talked at length about my personal background and i had the opportunity to seek his opinion on much of the global turmoil taking place. His views on what counts as stable, what counts as volatile and what counts as a bargain are all well informed and based in the real world of securing credit (from a multitude of central banks and global financial institutions) for medium to large size firms involved in import/export trade throughout all of asia.

What did i learn that i can relate to you?
a few basic opinions, with the caveat that my new friend admits even the most informed cannot predict the future.

but he did point out the long, protracted nature of the current recession.
he pointed out that there is still a great deal of bad debt that has not worked its way through the global financial system (credit card debt is now just starting to become a serious problem for global financial institutions).
when asked, he pointed out that automatically, the rest of the world has been moving away from the american dollar as the international currency.
a basket of international currencies used by large, global financial institutions for transactions, referred to commonly as "special drawing rights" (SDRs) are now gradually becoming the defacto world currency.
He also noted that among international central bankers, there already exists a consensus that the world will eventually eliminate free-floating currencies and create a single world currency.
THis is a very difficult thing to accomplish and will not be realized for years, perhaps decades (if ever- no guarantees on the future)

But he was very clear, the old currencies: the pound, the american dollar, even the euro are in for a very, very bleak future. If you hold investments in these currencies, if you attempt to trade with these currencies, you will be very stressed for a long, long time. you may even lose a great deal of money.

what does it mean for the canadian bondage freak?

a declining US dollar will destroy the majority of canadian exporters. this will completely overwhelm any short-term recovery efforts and likely drive up unemployment, drive down exports and delay any significant growth in the economy.

the consequence is lower earnings across the board. your mutual funds are not coming back. you will be lucky if they remain at their current levels.

your fixed-income? keep it 7 years max. and widely diversified

why? every central bank in the world is printing money. those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. we're in for inflation (not a guarantee, but an educated guess). if you're strictly buy and hold, you have to avoid the long-term (even if it means taking a lower total yield). if you stick with a bond mutual fund or buy something 10-year, 20-year or god forbid 30-year, you could stand to underperform the market dramatically.

don't buy stocks, unless they are a totally dominant company that is having a down period, and don't overly invest in stocks.
keep buying bonds, but remember, inflation will be higher than people might expect and you need to be able to purchase new issues at higher interest rates, because interest rates will rise. the federal governments have done as much as they can to hold rates down for the time being, but if this really is the big bad unravelling of the empire of debt the West has built, it's going to be a long, slow, painful road to recovery

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