Wisdom of the Masses Q & A Oct. 9 2010


Wisdom of the Masses: Q & A & Comments.

shop-local-photo

Photo from ShopLocal.com who use wisdom of the crowds and says: Another name for Wisdom of the Crowds would be crowdsourcing. Basically, ShopLocal “listens” to every visitor on every site all day long, and a result ShopLocal has a really great understanding of what users find interesting (or not) and thus can truly say what is popular.

This Q & A sessions looks at:

#1: Singapore Real Estate and diversification.

#2: Ecuador political comments.

#3: Is gold a good buy?

#4: Can Ecuador shamans break the smoking habit?

#5: Questions about commodity trading programs?

#6: Can I raise money for US real estate abroad?

A reader asked this Singapore question after our message Global Investment Income where I wrote:

“One of the high yielding shares shares I like philosophically is the Suntec REIT in Singapore.

“Real estate makes a lot of sense to me now. Real estate prices have been crashing and creating some great values.  Asian real estate makes a lot of sense and Singapore is one of the most trustworthy places to invest in Asia.

“Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (SUN SP) is one of two Singapore-traded REITs controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. Li used to be a neighbor long ago when I lived in Hong Kong and is very shrewd, needless to say.

singapore-casino

New Singapore Casino.

“Singapore has allowed two casinos to open.  I am sad to see this as Singapore used to have strict attitudes about gambling and casinos.  Lee Kuan Yew once said there would never be a casino in Singapore but these are two lavish locations opened in 2010, that will attract tourists and gamblers. Suntec’s main property is next door.

“With just two casinos Singapore has already become a rival to Las Vegas.

“Suntec REIT’s has office and retail property next to the new casinos.  Suntecs office portfolio has 97.6% occupancy while the retail portfolio has 98.7% occupancy.

“Asia has great potential and the Singapore dollar has excellent underpinnings.

“Phillip Securities Research meanwhile is holding its forecasts and projections and maintains the Hold recommendation with fair value of $1.34. “We think management has done a good job in maintaining occupancy for the retail portfolio and improving the occupancy for the office portfolio. Note that office portfolio occupancy improved from 94.8% in 2Q09. Although reversionary rents probably softened in the wake of this, nonetheless leases were secured and mitigated the risk of tenants migration.”

“The good thing about REITs is their stable dividends,” this time when bank deposits have very low interest.  Individual investors pay zero tax on the distributions, regardless of their nationality.

“Singapore-listed REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to unitholders, which makes them more attractive to those seeking dividends.

“Suntec REIT ticker symbol of (SUN.Singapore), owns premium retail and office properties in Singapore next to new casinos. The company has paid uninterrupted dividends every quarter since it went public in 2007.

The reader asked: Do you mean you might go now to Singapore, where the country is quite different? Do you mean Ecuador might not be the same after this turmoil?

My Reply: This is a suggestion of  an investment in a share that provides diversification into Asia and the opportunity for income.  This has nothing to do with living, moving or even visiting Singapore. I have no plans for this.  I worked in Singapore for years many decades ago and have no interest except for passive investments.  The turmoil in Ecuador seemed to last one day, affected very few people and may in numerous ways been good for Ecuador.

#2:  Here are comments from more readers in Ecuador.

One wrote: You might like to remind readers that there are many more ambulances on the road compared to 10-12 years ago and that the police are paid better than ever before and that more of them are in paid employment which means more taxes are paid so more people for the infrastructure of Ecuador can be paid which will benefit everyone in the long run.  Also the fact that also many Ecuadorians are still don’t trust the police because there are still a few corrupt police that insist on bribes before the take any action and so these people don’t know which police to trust and end up not trusting any of them. We have had first hand experience with people we have met in this instance. Also you might like to remind our readers that many Ecuadorians think that the former president Lucio Guiterrez was behind this trouble and that he is known for this type of action. Bitter because he was proved to be corrupt perhaps? Anyway Correa might be a hothead but as a father and husband would most likely not put his or his family’s lives in danger for political gain.

Reader Comment about WSJ article on Ecuador:

Hi Gary,  Thanks for the update on Correa and the Wall Street Journal article. However I would remind you. The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Very sadly it has become nothing but a right wing rag. I suspect there is more then a little right wing bias in this article.

My reply: The article seemed to present a view I heard from many others in Ecuador. I think the right wing is anti Correa who is mostly criticized as being left wing.

Another said: Why would any liberty lover, free enterprise person move to Ecuador?  It is even more socialistic then the USA.

My reply: One could argue for a long time about which country is more socialistic…. but who cares which wing is causing the country to fly. The important point is how effective is the government in its interface with any particular portion of the public.  Expat residents seem to be almost totally left alone.

Take income tax as an example. I was talking with an Ecuador attorney we send many of our Ecuador readers to for visa and tax advice.  He has not yet had a client who has had to pay Ecuador income tax.   He stated “it would be hard for an expat to pay Ecuador tax even if he wanted to unless someone in Ecuador is paying him a salary in Ecuador or  he or she is invoicing Ecuadorians for Ecuador services.  Living tax free anywhere does not seem socialistic to me.

Another wrote: It was nice to see my note in support of the President posted today, but I would like to state that anything written by Mary Anastasia O’Grady (opinion file of the Wall Street Journal) is a distortion of the truth.  Again and again she has written in oposition of President Correa and anyone who is not to the extreme right or to her way of thinking.  O´Grady persists in using politically charged language to amplify her misguided views and lack of understanding of events.

As a registered Republican I am anything but leftest, but there are times in which an adjustment must be made in order to correct the wrongs of generations of “Patrons” and Colonialism.  The meeting of all the delegates of South American, as well as calls from Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, last Friday voiced support of this Government and of President Correa and clearly described this action of the 30th of September as an attempted coup . I think the attached photo of President Correa and Hillary Clinton demonstrate that relations with the West and Ecuador have warmed up.  I was going to send you a copy of the the projects that the government have designated to be funded, but as a PDF file it was too heavy to send.  At present companies from the United States and around the world are investing or looking to invest in some of these projects.

As a loyal American Veteran living in Ecuador, I too wish to live secure and in peace, but to do so one must have justice and provide the opportunity for the wealthest and the poorest members of society to succeed.  In order for this beautiful country or any country to develop they must address 3 things.  Infrastructure, Education and Health.  As I see it, this is the goals of this government of “Correa”.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my views.

And another:

Too bad you didn’t get more than two person’s opinions (attorney’s, one patient’s) on what happened last weekend. There are reporters that have dug deep and found a bit different story on this. (Amy Goodman, for instance)

My girlfriend actually works in the police hospital where Correa was brought to, and also will refute a few details that you take for fact. The hospital is THE main police hospital and was controlled by the police, Correa was basically stuck at the hospital while police prevented him from leaving; it took overpowering military to extract him safely. It might warrant a closer look at what the Ecuadorean Congress actually passed in the law changes – it was a much better deal that the right-wing propaganda story that was blown out of proportion and led to the police uprising. The propaganda is so far reaching that even my girlfriend was starting to believe it.

My reply: I guess the reader did not read the other 20+ comments from readers in Ecuador.

Another reader asked about headlines at an Invest in Gold website:

Gary do you think this guy is accurate?  The headlines say:

“Gold and Silver Are Sounding The Alarm Description:The currency crisis is almost here.”

My reply: Gold is insurance. I had gold before it rose and still have the same amount as I do not speculate in gold.  Long term studies of gold and other commodities show they are the best investment during times of high inflation.  This suggests that the high gold price has been created by:

A: Low return on other investments.

B: Pent up demand as gold was depressed for about 20 years.

C: Speculation and early anticipation of inflation.

The argument for near term inflation is far from won.  The western industrialized could see an extended period of deflation.  This suggests that gold is a highly speculative investment at this time with great risk of a drop in price.

Currency crisis?  What crisis. the falling US dollar has brought great profits this year for all the readers who have read the numerous message at our site this year recommending to borrow dollars and invest in other higher paying currencies.

A reader wrote:

I wonder if you are contemplating a “stop-smoking” trips using shamanic techniques….and magic

if those shamans can heal  from the dependencies of Nicotine……it’s big.

I think it will have a wider appeal and given the new environment and fresh air -it can be a success, I will  be your first client. Bless

My reply.  The Ecuador shamanic tours are about nothing. See more about this at Shaman tours.

Many shamans help overcome addictions but normally they’ll look beyond the symptom and go for the cure. They would not work on stopping smoking.  They would look at why one smokes. This takes time to observe the lifestyle and would not be conducive to a tour.  However I recommend you join a tour and do not discount spontaneous remission.  I stopped smoking overnight 27 years ago after being a three pack a day guy since age 16.  I was not even trying to quit and cannot tell you why I did expect I had a change of pace. Perhaps a shamanic tour would be the change of pace for you though it is not specifically about kicking the cigs.

A reader asked about a commodity trading program:

I just evaluated a new Forex trading software that one of my associates has financed and that he had developed. I have traded in the past in the Forex market at a time when the “expert advisers” (that is the name of those software that trade for you automatically in the forex market) did not exist and I know how difficult it is to make money in that field. I have been evaluating this software for some time, have seen some of the track record and have decided to open an account.   I do not know if it is just pure luck but I invested just 9500 Euros on Sept. 14 and I am up 14% so far ; it did trade 17 times and had 14 wins and 3 losses.  My associate, who has tested the software earlier, has a longer track record, that matches this type of return.

I have to admit that I am very puzzled……it seems to good to be true…..but the chart does not lie; yes I admit also that in the past few weeks we had a lot of currency movements which of course help.

This program uses stop losses.  It does not ride the winners; it takes profit when the target is met. Once it has taken profit and conditions are still there, it will re-enter the trade for the next step.

Because you have a vast and long experience in the financial field, I wanted to talk about that when we meet next week, but also wanted you to look over that before we meet and get your gut feeling; I have no money invested in the software itself; I am just using it for now to test it.

Your thoughts will be appreciated because you are the only person I know who has the knowledge and intuition to give me advice on that.

My reply: There are three lessons I have learned from 42 years of observing commodity and currency trading and why I avoid it totally.

#1: This is a zero sum game. There is always one winner and one loser.  This is Jyske trading room where  was after the seminar. I know the head of Jyske’s trading operation well… Ivan Hansen… a genius.  He has over 100 people…. traders, analysts and programmers and billions in capital trading 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They turn over 50 billion dollars a day.

gary-scott-photo

I am going to compete against that? See how I explain this in a video on Jyske TV.

jyske-trading-room

#2: The programs are always evolving.  Every program seems to have its day then the market adapts and it no longer works. I lost a lot of money when a very bright trader had a system that worked perfectly for several years. I and many of my readers jumped in.  We made some nice returns… nearly 100% in two years. Then we lost it all when it stopped working.

#3: Clients cannot handle the ups and downs. A small portion of one’s portfolio should indeed be in forex and or commodity trading, but its best pooled trading accounts where capital is sufficient to even out the bumps.  This reduces profit when right but also lowers losses when wrong.  I never write about this type of program for my readers because if it works well for awhile too many readers will abandon the broader good sense tenants of financial diversification. They do exactly the wrong then when the investment goes up and ditto when it goes down.

I have heard so many stories similar to this one so many times over so many years that I have come to recognize that I do not have the skills to understand them well enough to see their strengths and weaknesses.  This is why I do not trade or use such programs.  What I have seen is that the beginning of the story always begins in a similar upbeat way and the end every time has been a story of loss.

Final Question: Hi Gary.  I Look forward to reading some of your articles and papers.

I operate a distressed asset fund (real estate and whole loans) and have successfully completed many projects in the past 2 years.  I would like to raise additional capital to further add to the existing and prior success.

I am intrigued with the notion of borrowing capital from Japan and investing it in US foreclosures, REO’s and then fix/flip for yield and profit.

Am I being naive to think that this is feasible (borrowing capital from Japan and investing here in the US)?  Regards.

My reply: This is not naive… but also not easy.  I am putting together a course on how to raise funds abroad. One lesson shows how after the 1980s recession we helped a developer raise money abroad. I will announce the course soon.

Gary

Join Merri and me at our next course in Florida November 4 to 7,2010.  Here are details.

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If you have ever had a desire to learn Spanish this is the way to do it!  By the end of the first day I had more confidence and more practical ability than I had from any previous courses I had taken.  It was fun and relaxed and full of laughter.  You will leave this class excited to use what you have learned.  Rather than leaving overwhelmed with how much you have yet to learn and master, you are equipped with the knowledge and know how to go out and communicate as well as the excitement to do it!”

Gary noted:  “The whole approach is positive and conducive to learning at a level that benefits ALL participants.  It is not intimidating and does not set up a pass/fail atmosphere.  The presenters are terrific and the results unbelievable.  It was relaxed, informal, friendly and effective.”

Twila said:  “This class provided a very refreshing and relaxed way of learning.  The atmosphere felt very safe to say the words you were practicing.  I learned a lot in a way that will make it easy to apply.  Starting with conversation is way more fun.  How quickly you can learn!  It was a great group, great instructors and great stories.

The atmosphere in the classroom was so relaxed that learning Spanish felt like a breeze and not like a painful task.  The relaxation exercises are really conducive to language learning.  We learned A LOT in a short time and it was fun and the environment was non-threatening.”

Brigitte sent this:  “Buenos Dias, Suzanne. su clase de espanol es excelente! Muchas Gracias!  
I have already done what you suggested and went into the program listening to the music and going over the lessons.  I know: Repetition……reinforcement…..thinking in the new language….it’s all part of it.  I loved your course and will certainly recommend it to friends.  Who knows….I might feel the urge and have the opportunity to repeat it at your beautiful place in Puerto Aventuras…..Quien sabe? Hasta otro dia y saludos a su familia.”

Marie wrote:  “I would highly recommend this course.  The amount covered in 3 days is amazing!  All with no stress.  The correlation lessons and pronunciation practice has greatly reduced my anxiety to go out and use my Spanish.  I really enjoyed the whole process and thank you for the take away tools.”

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Gary

Here is the English translation of a few of the many Spanish words you now know and will never forget.  How long would it have taken you to memorize them?  How soon would you forget?

“Most words in English that end in ION are almost identical, just pronounced differently.  For example, action is accion, education-educacion, manipulation- manipulacion, etc.”

Some more of these words:  Combination, Attrition, Education, Vacation, Petition, Lotion, Motion, Construction, Abduction, Pronunciation, Concentration and a ton of others!

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(1) www.telegraph.co.uk Benefits-of-bilingualism.html


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