Friday, March 30, 2012

活化大澳漁村 鹽田有望重生 研究初定選址 待下屆政府拍板


(明報製圖)
【明報專訊】政府於2007年研究活化大澳漁村,建議增建入口廣場、海濱長廊和復修鹽田等共17項措施,以促進社區經濟發展。復修鹽田是其中一項重點工程,政府委託學者研究已接近尾聲,初步結果認為技術可行,選址位於大澳以北一幅面積約半公頃的荒廢鹽田,以當時最流行的「水流法」製鹽。最快兩個月後向政府提交報告,由於政府即將換班,計劃能否實施由下屆政府決定。

土木工程拓展署回覆本報查詢時指出,實行復修鹽田計劃,將視乎能否物色合適和勝任的營辦機構,令有關設施能夠持續營運,但未有交代具體時間表。


大澳鹽田宿舍佈置甚為簡陋,反映昔日鹽田工人的生活甚為枯燥。(馬耀森攝)

研究復修大澳鹽田的科大華南研究中心主任廖迪生表示,鹽田曾是本港一大產業,過去陸路交通並不發達,大澳是珠江口有利運輸的沿海地點。1960年代後,本港從泰國及內地輸入廉價鹽,大澳鹽田業逐漸被取代。復修鹽田可重現昔日經濟面貌,推廣文化旅遊。

他說,大澳主要以「沙漏法」及「水流法」製鹽,當中水流法即指蒸發海水製鹽,工序簡單,人手較少,因此建議採用水流法復修鹽田,以減低營運成本。

保留原有地基 隨時恢復生產


科大研究初步篩選出,大澳以北一幅約半公頃的鹽田進行復修(圖中沒有紅樹土地),受影響紅樹減至最少。(馬耀森攝)

為減少對環境影響,他建議選址於大澳以北一幅半公頃的荒廢鹽田,土地底部完整保留了由碎石及黏土組成的地基,隨時可恢復生產。該土地大部分面積沒有紅樹,只需移除邊緣的紅樹再在附近補種,就可彌補生態損失。

選址周圍現時生長了大片紅樹林,政府最初提出復修鹽田的構思惹來環團反對,擔心破壞生態。另外亦有該區居民反對,擔心鹽田蓄海水製鹽,一旦遇上暴雨,會加劇水浸。廖迪生認為,只要將鹽田邊界圍起,將製鹽時產生的鹹度較高海水及生活污水,輸送到離海岸較遠的位置排放,應可解決問題。此舉會令營運費用增加,可能要政府補貼,否則難以回本。

廖迪生說,鹽業是昔日大澳的重要經濟命脈,在舊址復修鹽田,「目的並非賣鹽,而是要教育市民及遊客,認識大澳的過去。」他認為政府不應視復修鹽田為旅遊項目,交由財團經營,建議由當地人負責營運,加強本地色彩及與旅客互動。

事實上,城規會去年9月頒布的大澳邊緣發展審批地區草圖,已預留約1.2公頃土地劃為「未決定用途」,指定用作鹽田示範辦場,以待有關鹽田的研究完成,訂定適當土地用途。

明報記者 馬耀森

茹素者憂破戒 顧客見紅色變 星巴克飲品被揭蟲屍調色


(星島日報報道)星巴克(Starbucks)咖啡連鎖店的草莓飲料,近日被揭用壓碎的胭脂蟲屍體調色。消息曝光後,立刻引起強烈反應。星巴克強調,蟲子調色劑屬天然色素,比起人工色素而言,更有利消費者健康,而且也獲得美國食品和藥物管理局(FDA)安全認證。然而,許多消費者對「吞下蟲子」依然表示無法接受,甚至考慮拒絕所有紅色飲料和食品。

該消息公諸於世,源於一位素食主義店員,他工作期間發現星巴克的星冰樂(Frapuccino)中,含有胭脂蟲(cochineal)為原料的 色劑,認為這導致許多素食者在不知情情況,喝下帶有葷腥的飲料,因此把消息公布在素食主義網站上,美加媒體即紛紛報道該事件。星巴克公司承認,確實有在草莓飲品中使用胭脂蟲紅萃取液(cochineal extract),即是把胭脂蟲碾碎後造成的調色劑。

星巴克堅稱安全合法

公司指出,使用該天然生物原料,可以有效減少使用人工色素,更有利消費者健康。不過,星冰樂確實不屬於素食飲料。一些消費者表示,寧可吃下不健康的人工色素,也不願意吞下蟲子。在洛杉磯,星巴克忠實顧客琳達表示,星冰樂是她在夏季最喜愛喝的飲料之一,當天看到網絡新聞,簡直不敢相信,同時感到噁心。她回憶說,過去在喝該飲料時,有時會吃到一些類似草莓碎片的物體,現在想想,難道這就是尚未被碾碎的蟲子翅膀或其他身體部分?她發誓從今以後絕對不再喝星冰樂,甚至於其他的紅色飲料都會一律說「不」。

洛杉磯各地的星巴克分店,日前依然門庭若市,似乎並沒受消息影響。當天有少數消費者提出相關疑問,不過有些人還是義無反顧地購買該飲料。FDA指出,胭脂蟲調色劑對人體沒有健康威脅,是安全食用產品。

Hot Money Waiting For Big Market Movement

Equity stock market wavers at the top of recent rally. Long term investors stop liquidating the portfolio after market retreat. There is rush of buying in the beginning of pullback but participation is limited. There is not enough selling to drag down market. Market manipulators are not confident to short sell the market without herd of panic sellers. Institutional and individual investors are waiting for more bargain despite mountain of cash on hand. Although trading volume stays low, more market participants are interested to execute trades when opportunities come.

Since the beginning of year, the economic environment exhibits improvement over time. Investors are gaining confidence in economic growth. As a result of swelling personal wealth, people are looking for wealth assets and equity stock market is benefited from rising demand for wealth investment.

The speculative trading portfolio suffers further depreciation as the underlying stocks dive lower in opposite to the rising market. It is a difficult situation for decision. It appears that market is working against the porfolio. There is a painful experience during the financial meltdown period. The portfolio was long in most stocks and short in one stock for hedging. As market fell, the long stocks also fell but the shorted stock shot up more than triple in valuation. It was liquidated near the peak. Currently this stock is only one third of the shorted price, in other words, about one tenth of the liquidation price. If the stock position was held, it would be currently 60% profit rather than 200% loss.

Hot money continues to circulate in the capital market. Market participants should be prepared for turbulence or otherwise ignore short term profit and loss but focused on long term appreciation.



Why Obama Is Wrong and Romney and Ryan Are Right About Taxing the Rich: Glenn Hubbard
"What both Rep. Ryan's and Gov. Romney's plans have in common is the notion of tax reform: broaden base and lower the rates, both corporate and individual," says Glenn Hubbard, Dean of Columbia Business School and
an economic adviser to Romney.

Like nearly all Republicans, Hubbard is adamantly opposed to President Obama budget, which calls for raising the top marginal tax rate to 39.6% from 35% today.

Based on the Simpson-Bowles plan, Reps. Steve LaTourette (R., Ohio) and Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.) proposed a plan to lower marginal tax rates but also eliminate or dramatically limit tax breaks, which typically benefit the wealthiest Americans most.


PIMCO’s Bill Gross: QE3, Inflation, Muted Growth on the Way
Another round (or two) of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, muted growth and an end to the 30-year bull run in government bonds.

Gross says long-term interest rates have been rising in recent weeks for two principal reasons. "Yes, inflation is rearing its head. We're seeing that in oil prices and other commodities, and we're seeing it in the numbers," he said. The consumer price index has risen 2.9% in the past 12 months.

Bond holders tend to fear strong growth because it has the potential to ignite inflation and boost interest rates, thus reducing their returns. Gross says that while the economy has improved, it shows no signs of overheating. He believes the U.S. economy is growing at about a 2% annual rate in the first quarter "and probably beyond."


Large Hedge Funds Fared Well in 2011
Hedge funds have endured a rough year. Tumultuous markets. Tighter regulations. An insider trading crackdown.

But despite the lackluster environment, the top managers still took home $14.4 billion in 2011.

Even when returns suffer, the largest hedge funds can collect big paychecks, thanks to the fees they charge pensions, endowments and wealthy individuals to manage money.

The average hedge fund lost 5 percent in 2011, according to Hedge Fund Research Composite Index, which tracks nearly 2,000 portfolios. That compares with a 2 percent gain for S&P 500.


Sun Hung Kai dives as billionaire Kwok brothers arrested
More than $5 billion was wiped off the market value of Sun Hung Kai Properties on Friday, after the billionaire owners of Asia's largest real estate developer were arrested on suspicion of corruption.

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested Raymond and Thomas Kwok in the agency's biggest investigation since it was set up in 1974 to root out what was seen as widespread corruption in the government and police.

The arrests on Thursday come just days after Hong Kong elected Beijing-loyalist Leung Chun-ying as its next leader, pledging land for cheaper public housing, and as soaring property prices, the most expensive in the world, have stirred public discontent. Home prices almost doubled in the five years to end-2011, according to real estate broker Knight Frank.

"This is not good for the image of Hong Kong, which used to have a high reputation for integrity," said Joseph Wong, a former senior government official and colleague of Hui. "The impression is that government policies tend to favor the rich tycoons, particularly rich property developers. These sort of cases will only add to the suspicions."

The Kwoks are worth $18.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, the second-biggest family fortune in Hong Kong after Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, founder of rival developer Cheung Kong (Holdings).

Shares in Sun Hung Kai slumped more than 15 percent to 15-week lows when they resumed trading on Friday. The company owns some of the former British colony's largest properties, including its tallest building, the International Commerce Centre that houses Morgan Stanley and the Ritz Carlton.

"This is justice. They're among the biggest, richest men in Hong Kong. The power of the property sector is too strong, but the business-government connection is the same around the world," Terry So, an elderly chauffeur, told Reuters near the Sun Hung Kai Centre.

The South China Morning Post reported that the ICAC was looking into suspected debts of more than HK$100 million ($12.9 million) linked to Hui, and a related, unsecured loan of HK$50 million.

Hui was Chief Secretary under Hong Kong's leader Donald Tsang in 2005-07, a post that would entitle him to government housing. But he chose to stay in his 4,000 square foot Leighton Hill apartment - a pink and tan marble residential tower that overlooks the Happy Valley racecourse and was developed by Sun Hung Kai.

The unfolding scandal has gripped Hong Kong, the world's most densely populated city which was returned to Chinese rule by the British in 1997.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

給他5分鐘 男子記3百個數字


(法新社紐約24日電)登山家戴利斯(Nelson Dellis)今天連續第2年在美國記憶錦標賽(USA Memory Championship)奪冠,是個令人「記憶深刻」 的一天。 戴利斯表現令人印象深刻,甚至還在隨機數字項目 中打破自己紀錄,在5分鐘內成功記下驚人的303個數字 。 27歲來自佛羅里達州,熱愛登山的戴利斯今天在紐 約人潮聚集的錦標賽中,打敗在該賽事中被稱為腦力運 動員的其他7位決賽選手。 參賽者們紛紛以超強健腦力展現高難度記憶技巧, 包括記住99張臉與名字、1首50行詩,以及依序記住1副 洗過的撲克牌。 美國記憶錦標賽已有15年歷史,創辦人多廷諾( Tony Dottino)表示,他的目標是要證明腦袋也可以像 身體其他部位一樣,接受訓練和改善。多廷諾曾是國際 商業機器公司(IBM)高層主管。 他說:「腦部運動的確有助大腦增長。」「如此一來,腦細胞就會持續增加。」(譯者:中央社徐嘉偉)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rising Stock Dividends Raises Investor Confidence

Equity stock market is consolidating at a level not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Most market participants are under-invested in the strong rally since beginning of 2012. Therefore while long term investors are offloading some holdings to take profit and to raise cash level, traders and active investors are anxious to buy on the dip in order to catch up in this rally.

Current market sentiment is unfavorable to the selling strategy of market manipulators. They are sitting on the gain of commodities position. Currently, asset values have reached a level that long term investors have appreciable gain.

The speculative trading portfolio performance is disappointing. The stock positions are struggling at bottom and show no obvious sign of support. On the other hand, the hedging position in the portfolio is losing value as the market remains strong as expected. The situation reflects the weakness of the trading skills in a competitive and manipulated environment where conventional thinking and event outcome may not match.

The outlook for short term market performance remains strong despite uncertainties ahead. Market participants are more concerned to catch up in the rally rather than fear of panic selling due to under-investing.

However, market manipulators have not yet changed the selling strategy. Therefore market participants should be cautious. Market movement appears similar to last year when it climbed to year high before consolidation and then sudden panic selling.



Stocks' correction coming? Not that again
Investors are beginning to wonder if this "Energizer Bunny" of a rally can just keep going without taking a break or a fall.

Every Friday for the past couple of months, the question has hung in the back of investors' minds: Is the stock market's rally strong enough to continue without a correction?

"We are seeing this unbelievable rally in the market and yet the market is unbelievably complacent. We haven't been this bullish for a long time," said Randy Frederick, director of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, based in Austin, Texas.


Analysts Turn Bullish 6-Months Late: What Does it Say About the Rally?
And just as the S&P 500 hits its highest point since May 2008, now within 10% of its record close of 1,565 from October 2007, the thundering herd of belated bulls is finally showing up to the bash.

"We've had a monster rally since last year and analysts have been negative the whole time," says Paul Hickey, co-founder, Bespoke Investment Group in the attached video clip.
It may be fashionable to show up a little late for a party, but for Wall Street analysts the tendency to be tardy seems more like the rule, not the exception. And just as the S&P 500 hits its highest point since May 2008, now within 10% of its record close of 1,565 from October 2007, the thundering herd of belated bulls is finally showing up to the bash.

"We've had a monster rally since last year and analysts have been negative the whole time," says Paul Hickey, co-founder, Bespoke Investment Group in the attached video clip.

But guess what his research just discovered?

"Over the last four weeks, the revisions ratio (of upgrades to downgrades) just turned positive for the first time since early August," Hickey says.

In short, what that means is that six months and 30% later, stocks are just now looking good. While this is not the first time analysts have been on the exact opposite side of a trend, Hickey points out that, in and of itself, it does not mean the bull run is about to end. Quite the contrary.

The transition from fear to greed (or vice versa) is never perfect, nor should it be expected, but this round of conversion has been particularly sluggish, even at the start of the New Year when analysts are historically optimistic.

"When you start off the year, usually analysts are positive on equities and bullish on their outlooks, so you see some upgrades in the stocks they cover," he says. "This year, every single day until late February there were more downgrades of individual stocks than upgrades of individual stocks."

Some other observations include that on a valuation basis, this market may be overbought, but is still not overly expensive, as Hickey says "a strong rally but that doesn't change the fact that valuations are still below historical averages."


Goldman Sachs: Best Time in a Generation to Buy Stocks, Sell Bonds
As much as most of us could effortlessly list a dozen reasons why the next 10 years will be as hard on stock investors as the previous decade, what matters today is that Goldman Sachs is making a big call to the contrary.

"It's a curious time to do it," Macke says in the attached video. "They're either very, very late or prescient as all get out."


Do not panic: The rally in risk assets is for real
If you're waiting for the next meltdown in U.S. stocks or in commodities, you may want to get over it.

After several false dawns following the global financial crisis, more investors are starting to believe the current rally in stocks, commodities and emerging markets could be a long-lasting one.

The S&P 500 closed above 1,400 points last week for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Investors piled into U.S. equity funds, with the biggest weekly inflows since mid-September.

Since its recent bottom in early October, the S&P index has jumped 30 percent. But for the first time since 2007, investors are not using the gains as an opportunity to take profits and run away. Instead, the rally has been slow and steady, and investors see the sustained improvement in the U.S. economy as a sign that demand has returned and that risky assets can support higher valuations.

"The prospects for future returns in equities relative to bonds are as good as they have been in a generation," Goldman Sachs in a note Wednesday said.

Dean Junkans, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Private Bank, said individual investors have started wading back into higher-risk, higher-yield assets, including high-yield and emerging market funds.

"For the last five years, few people wanted to talk about a long-term plan," said Junkans, who oversees $1.3 trillion in assets. Instead, investors had preferred the safety of low-yielding Treasury bills and money market funds.

"Now I'd say they are dipping their toes back into the market," he said, citing demand for high-dividend-yield stocks, high-yield corporate debt, and emerging market fixed income.

"Markets love a grizzly story," said Simon Smollett, senior currency options strategist at Credit Agricole in London. "But there is no grizzly story. The bears have left the room."


NYC’s Luxury Housing Market Booms, While American Dream Fades for Most
The housing market in New York City has largely avoided the problems afflicting other cities and towns across the country: foreclosures, falling home prices, stalled construction.

Even Wall Street layoffs and smaller bonuses are unlikely to make a dent in Manhattan real estate, one of the most expensive in the country. Jonathan Miller, the CEO of real estate appraiser Miller Samuel, says high-end properties are selling quickly and often at record prices.

High-end Manhattan real estate may be breaking new records, but the national housing market continues to stumble.

"It is not a proxy for how the rest of the market is doing," he says. "What's going on in the very high-end of the market is so disconnected from reality."


Surprise Increase in Rates Is Credited to Signs of Recovery
Investors will be closely watching for another rise in interest rates when trading resumes on Monday, after the bond market’s sharpest move in nearly six months caught some traders by surprise last week.

Despite the sudden swing higher, most Wall Street strategists are playing down the danger of a surge in interest rates, which have been historically low because of demand for bonds from both the Federal Reserve and private investors wary of all but the safest assets.

The sell-off last week was caused by increasing signs that the economy might finally be gaining steam, lifting the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds to 2.31 percent on Friday, from 2.04 percent a week earlier. That was the biggest move in bond yields, which move inversely to bond prices, since October, when rates briefly topped 2.4 percent.

Strategists, money managers and other experts said last week’s move in rates was spurred by the Federal Reserve’s statement about improving economic trends, as well as the largely upbeat results also announced on Tuesday from the stress tests performed by the Fed on 19 large banks. Regulators will now permit a host of banks to raise dividends and buy back stock, another sign of the financial sector’s recovery since the financial crisis.

“The message is that maybe things aren’t as bad as people thought,” said Carl Kaufman, a portfolio manager in San Francisco with Osterweis Capital, which has $5 billion under management. “You can’t have it both ways with healthy banks, a stronger economy, and still have a zero interest rate policy.”

In fact, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 2.4 percent last week and now stands at its highest level since May 2008, before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the financial crisis.

He added that if rates were to keep moving higher, the Fed would most likely step in with another round of “quantitative easing,” buying up bonds to force rates lower. In particular, the Fed wants mortgage rates to remain low in an effort to help the housing market heal. Mortgage rates have increased slightly in recent days, but remain below 4 percent.

“If you got back to 4.4 percent or 4.5 percent, the Fed would get nervous,” Mr. Jersey said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

風也蕭蕭 21/3/2012 (YouTube)

主持人: 蕭若元、靳民知、Jessie、一樹、Cody

風也蕭蕭 21/3/2012 Part 1
香港的厄運:論三二0拜決 / 肥佬黎如夢初醒 / 沈旭輝「絕命書」/ 孔子三分鐘


風也蕭蕭 21/3/2012 Part 2
香港的厄運:梁振英的部署 / 成王敗寇:蕭生的少有大志


聲音檔案
風也蕭蕭 21/3/2012 Part 1
香港的厄運:論三二0拜決 / 肥佬黎如夢初醒 / 沈旭輝「絕命書」/ 孔子三分鐘

video

風也蕭蕭 21/3/2012 Part 2
香港的厄運:梁振英的部署 / 成王敗寇:蕭生的少有大志

video

Monday, March 19, 2012

Haunted real estate attracts Hong Kong's rational investors





Would you live with a ghost to save on rent? Many buyers in Hong Kong's mega-pricey housing market do extensive background checks to avoid moving into a new home that may be under the influence of a vengeful spirit. There's even a term, "hongza," for the haunted listings, which sell for much less than apartments in which horrible deaths and spine-chilling accidents have not occurred. This systemic discounting has created a new breed of investors who ain't afraid of no ghosts and are actively looking for something strange in elite neighborhoods, tracking tragedies in the papers in an effort to make the first bid on the newest haunted house.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

何為專利

【星島日報】專利(Patent)是法律賦予新發明的一項獨佔權,即專利擁有人可禁止其他人對其專利發明進行商業性製造、使用、銷售或經銷。一個專利發明必須具備新穎性、創造性及適用於以工業型式被大量生產的特質。

專利的保護權是地域性。香港是不會自動向已於世界其他地方或中國提出之專利申請提供保護。簡括而言,如專利發明人欲於香港保護他的發明,他必須向香港知識產權署轄下的專利註冊處提交專利申請。

在香港批予的專利分為兩種:(1)標準專利(Standard Patent)及(2)短期專利(Short Term Patent)。標準專利的有效期最長可達二十年而短期專利的有效期則最長可達八年。

申請人必須注意標準專利是不能直接在香港申請的。申請人必須首先向中國、歐洲或英國專利局申請專利註冊及以之為申請基礎,才可以在香港請求記錄、註冊和授權該標準專利。相反,短期專利可直接在香港申請及不需以任何註冊專利為申請基礎,但申請短期專利時必須遞交一份由指定專利局發出的檢索報告。

一般而言,申請標準專利的時間較長及申請費用較為昂貴(編寫說明書的費用需港幣數萬至數十萬不等)。另一方面,短期專利則針對一些商業價值較小及壽命較短的發明,因此申請短期專利的時間相對較短及費用較為便宜。

宋靜妍
律師

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

中微子不快過光速

【星島日報】歐洲核子研究組織(CERN)公布最新研究結果顯示,中微子的運行速度和光速相若,並不快過光速,而科學界至今仍未在宇宙間發現任何物質快過光速。換言之,去年底進行的第一次實驗指中微子快過光速、甚至聲稱足以推翻著名科學家愛因斯坦相對論的說法,是錯誤的。

去年9月進行的第一次實驗,科學家從瑞士日內瓦的科研中心,把中微子束透過地道射向意大利中部的大薩索山實驗室,並量度其速度。歐洲核子研究組織隨即高調地宣布實驗結果,聲稱量度到中微子的速度比光速快600億分之一秒,消息震動全球。

不過,當時已經有部分科學家提出質疑,指該項實驗有許多瑕疵。

An otherworldly upside-down home

By Camilla McLaughlin, Yahoo! Real Estate


Malaysia's first upside-down house brings a childhood fantasy to life.

When you were a child, did you spend time wondering what it would be like to walk on the ceiling? If so, you are probably among the millions who, even as adults, continue to be enchanted by the idea of an upside-down house.

Worldwide, there are a number of upside-down houses. Some offer almost an amusement park experience, but many exist simply to turn the everyday world on end.

Imagine walking down an ordinary street and coming upon an upended house balanced on a front gable. That’s the experience for visitors to Rumah Terbalik, Malaysia’s first upside-down house. From the outside, it looks exactly like its neighbors, traditional Sabah village residences. A wheelbarrow leans against a wall and a sedan is parked in the adjacent carport. All typical except they are upside down.


Finishing touches in the living room include a typewriter, coffee cup, soft drink,
even a cigarette in an ashtray.


Inside, a TV, microwave, tables, chairs and sofas dangle above visitors who navigate the home’s ceilings, steering around light fixtures and ceiling fans. Playing cards and comic books strewn along the floor, a cigarette in an ashtray, make it seem as though the family has just left the room. Even the washing machine and sewing machine hang overhead. Literally everything in the 1,500-square-foot, two-bedroom home is topsy turvy. But in this house it is the visitors who feel they are ones turned on end.


An upside-down car is an everyday occurrence in this topsy-turvy world.

In addition to bringing visitors to the region, Rumah Terbalick’s creator, Alexander Yee, says he wants to call attention to the long term impact of unbridled development, which has the potential to turn the world upside down. “The World Stands on its Head” is actually the name of Germany’s upside-down house, while the house in Poland, built during the Soviet era, was said to be a commentary on Communism and state of the world.

Maybe an upside-down house will prove to be the perfect antidote to an increasingly topsy-turvy world.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stock Rally Continues Against Wall Of Worry

Equity stock market bounces back to three year high after a mild pullback in the week before. Although a few market participants took the risk to purchase on pullback, the majority preferred to wait and see. With little selling, market rebounded on shortage of willing sellers.

Trading activity increases as market participants are trying to play catchup due to under-investing. Fear of market crash becomes less worry than fear of lagging behind in the rally with the pile of cash on hand making almost no return. Active market participants begin to give up the hope of a market crash for bargain buying. Market is hovering on three year high but market manipulators cannot initiate panic selling. Nevertheless, their commodities position can be dumped to create panic in the asset market.

Although institutional and individual investors will not dump stocks any more after the lesson in the previous panic sell-offs, there is still risk of market fall because long-term investors may trim the portfolio to take profit and to increase the cash level for repurchase opportunity. Since long-term investors pick up the shares at market bottom, there is no need to sell in panic. Market participants can wait for buying opportunity but should not hesitate too long as there is tremendous amount of capital on the sideline competing for bargain.

Despite market at near term high and approaching record high, the speculative trading portfolio is still at steep loss because the stocks are still struggling at near term low despite symptom of stabilizing at bottom. There is confidence in the near term performance of equity stock market and depressed stocks cannot be manipulated at undervalued level for extended period of time.

While market stays at high level, market participants are cautious and wait for sign of a strong economy. Domestic stock market have support on strong demand for wealth assets. Worldwide, there are uncertainties such as the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, growth slowdown and political instability in China, etc.

In the second half of last year, before market manipulators created series of panic selling due to US rating downgrade, it was mentioned in a post that there would not be double dip in the real economy but a dip in the equity stock market could be possible. Stock market is highly manipulative and can stay undervalued. Market participants should not be too pessimistic simply because too many households are piling up their wealth in cash. On the other hand, market manipulators are exploiting the herding behaviour of market participants on fear and greed. Hot capital will drive market in fast movement.



Stocks: Bull market enters fourth year
The bull market on Wall Street enters its fourth year this week and investors are wondering how much higher stocks can go.

"Recent activity data have brought further signs that global growth is recovering from its recent dip," said Simon Hayes, an economist at Barclays Capital, in a research report.

The bailout for Greece could remove a major source of uncertainty that has been hanging over the market this year, although analysts say the nation's debt problems are far from over.

"The euro area continues to face immense challenges, and the currency bloc is likely to be an ongoing source of financial market turbulence," said Hayes.


S&P 500 Is Set to Fall 15% Says Top Strategist
With the S&P 500 off to a roaring start this year and nervously sitting at a 4-year high, at least one Wall Street pro says it is time to revisit the defensive theme that dominated the market last year. And he's someone you should listen to.

Adam Parker, U.S. Equity Strategist at Morgan Stanley made the most accurate market call for 2011. He now says it's time to think about the 2nd half and 2013 because his crystal ball shows "risk aversion" will make a comeback.

While bull markets normally need a catalyst to end, few would argue that investors haven't become a bit complacent given a 30% run in less than half a year, which to me, makes a contrarian view like Parker's worth listening to.


Why Are Americans Avoiding Stocks? Ask a Shrink
The headlines say the financial crisis is behind us. The Dow is back to pre-financial crisis levels. Layoffs are the slowest since the financial crisis, and car sales the highest since the financial crisis.

So why are Americans still too scared to get back in the stock market?

Because all they hear is "financial crisis."

Every comparison to 2008, even a comparison that's supposedly good, stirs memories of 2008. For some people, it rekindles the fear of losing a job or a house. For others, years of retirement savings swallowed by a plunging stock market.

"In the old days, if there was a market rally, people would call and ask to put more money in. They felt they were missing the party," says Deborah DeMatteo, an independent wealth manager at 10-15 Associates in Goshen, N.Y.

This time, investors seem more than happy to miss the party.

"Now, people call and ask, 'When is it going back down?'" DeMatteo says. "There's a sense of doom."

So say the experts in the budding field of behavioral finance. Professional investors and money managers may be baffled that Americans are shaking off the good news. But people with a background in psychology are hardly surprised.

A broad measure of the stock market, the Standard & Poor's 500 index, is up more than 20 percent from last October. The index has more than doubled since March 9, 2009, the low point for stocks during the Great Recession.

But everyday investors refuse to jump in. They pulled $19 billion from funds that invest in U.S. stocks in December, according to the Investment Company Institute, and $2 billion more in January.

"In the old days, if there was a market rally, people would call and ask to put more money in. They felt they were missing the party," says Deborah DeMatteo, an independent wealth manager at 10-15 Associates in Goshen, N.Y.

This time, investors seem more than happy to miss the party.

"Now, people call and ask, 'When is it going back down?'" DeMatteo says. "There's a sense of doom."

What are they thinking? It's a question fit for a shrink.

Market psychology is still psychology, which is why Wall Street banks and investment firms pay people like Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist with a medical degree from the University of Texas, to help make sense of it.

A variety of emotions and thought processes are keeping Americans out of the stock market, Peterson and other experts say. The memory of 2008, when the Dow Jones industrial average swung wildly by hundreds of points a day, is probably No. 1.

The tumult of that year stamped itself in many people's brains. Like survivors of a devastating earthquake, they carry those events with them.

"A traumatic memory gets seared in the brain," Peterson says.

In this case, the wound is easily irritated. News that reminds people of the financial crisis — debt problems in Europe, a sudden swing in the market — sets off the same emotions of fear or anger. Getting your fear button pushed that often is exhausting, Peterson says.

People eventually tune out to save their sanity.

"Fear is still with us," says Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University in California and a leading expert in behavioral finance. "We live as if it's still 2008."

As a result, they respond to events as if it were September 2008 and Lehman Brothers were about to collapse all over again. In this case, Statman says it's not fear that's driving people but an error of reasoning.

Last summer, for instance, a fight over raising the federal government's debt limit led Standard & Poor's to strip the United States of its top-flight AAA rating. The markets went wild. For the month of August, the Dow swung an average of nearly 2 percent every day.

Another habit that Statman sees at play is the confirmation bias.

"If you have evidence that goes against your beliefs, you dismiss it," he says.

Statman says it seems some people are looking to confirm a "doom and gloom" view of the U.S. economy. Point out that the economy grew at a 3 percent rate in the last quarter of 2011 and they'll change the subject.

Their view, he says, is: "This country is going down the tubes."


How to Play March Market Madness
In the eight trading days since I last did a Purple Crayon episode stocks had their first 1% down day of 2012, followed almost immediately by the biggest one-day move of the year.

There's a lot of stuff happening.

It's important to understand just how bad a first quarter is for professional investors who are short or under-invested. The S&P 500 is up 11% so far in 2012. A fund manager lagging this rally has some explaining to do. A fund manager ending this quarter negative doesn't need to explain anything; he just needs to return the customers' money and slink out of town.

Desperate fund managers, improving fundamentals, and a beautifully well-defined uptrend is what we have. This is bullish, bullish bullish, if only until April 1st.


Top 3 Blunders of the Bull Market
Stocks have now entered the 4th year of a bull market that began on March 9, 2009. The benchmark indexes are up more than 100% since the bottom and it would be easy to pat ourselves on the backs and compile a list of great picks or classic hits. Unfortunately, that would also be useless, since most of our best learning is born of our mistakes.

Atop the list, not only in dollars, but arguably in terms of the breadth of impact, is the premature burial of the bond market - before it's proverbial heart had actually stopped beating. Sure we are closer to the bottom than the top when it comes to yields, which have been steadily falling for 30 years, but when the 10 year Treasury hit its first trough at 2.1% in mid 2008, calls that the bond bubble was over proved to be premature. And yet, once again in early 2010, the fixed-income morticians were choosing burial plots, including the biggest, baddest bond buyer on the planet - Bill Gross of PIMCO.

Of course now we all know how that worked out, and have learned that an historic black mark on the nation's credit report at the hand of Standard & Poor's does not a selling event make. In fact, the lead-up and loss of our AAA rating last August triggered a flight to - not from - Treasuries, exactly the opposite of what had been predicted.

Our 2nd "mega mistake" is also culled from the fixed income patch, but specifically, from the corner where municipal bonds normally thrive in relative anonymity. That all ended in late 2010 when the news magazine 60 Minutes grabbed a scoop from the business press and shared it with the masses.

Renowned analyst Meredith Whitney staked her reputation (earned from correctly calling the banking meltdown) on a prediction that there would be "a spate of municipal defaults" that would cost "100's of billions of dollars." It never happened.

And finally, the bronze medal for blunders goes to the commercial real estate market, which defied conventional wisdom and refused to become "the 2nd shoe to drop," as was often predicted. As the mortgage mess spread and further contaminated both the market and financing of residential real estate, it seemed only logical that the same dynamics would ultimately find their way in to the commercial side of the business too. Again, it never materialized.


New stock market highs by fall
The stock market could be trading at new all-time highs by the end of this summer.

Have a hard timing accepting that possibility?

Well, consider this: That rosy forecast comes from none other than Sam Eisenstadt, the former research director at Value Line, Inc. When I last reported on his stock market outlook, in mid December, he was projecting a 10% rise over the subsequent six months.


Breakout or Fakeout? The Case Against the Market Rally
It's the rally that just keeps on giving, defying all bears, and knocking down resistance levels with minimal hesitation. The S&P 500 broke above 1,400 for the first time since June 2008 to close at 1,402.6 on Thursday. The S&P is now up over 11% year-to-date, and about 12% below its all-time closing high of 1565 set in October 2007.

The only logical question plaguing every investor now is whether this rally continues.

Schoenberger has several more reasons he isn't buying the sustainability of this rally, starting with the labor market.

Schoenberger acknowledges the improving trend, but favors quality over quantity. He says our job growth is of "low income variety," meaning we're adding low paying, mostly service sector jobs that do not increase household wealth enough to make a meaningful mark on consumer spending —the lifeblood of the economy.

Another straw that will break the rally's back is the Federal Reserve.

"This was all a big ruse because we've been waiting for Ben Bernanke doing quantitative easing 3 (QE3)," says Schoenberger. "He came right out this week and said 'no I don't need to do that right now.


How Commodities Predict Market Movement
Copper is more than the main ingredient in wire and gold is more than what we wear on our fingers and around our necks. These commodities, along with others like oil and grains, are used by investors to gauge the health and short-term direction of the market, but how does it work? What do commodity prices tell us that we can use as traders?

Gold is the best-known commodity because it appeals to investors and non-investors alike. Consumers may not think of gold as an investible product, but the story of gold is actually complicated. Not only does it serve as a commodity, but also as a currency. In the latter part of 2011 and into 2012, it has taken on the behavior of a stock often mirroring the overall market.

Copper doesn't have the allure of gold since it's a base metal used largely for industrial purposes, but that doesn't change the fact that investors watch it closely for hints of the overall market sentiment. Because Copper is an industrial metal, investors use it as a way to gauge the health of the manufacturing and housing sectors of the world's economies.

If gold is the best-known commodity, oil isn't far behind. Oil, and the way it is priced and traded, become talking points around water coolers and on the news, particularly when the price of gas is rising; but savvy investors know that oil has a big effect on the stock market.

Although commodities may not move based strictly on supply and demand, investors use their price movements to gauge the overall sentiment of the market and make short-term decisions of where the market may go.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Canola Oil 菜籽油的迷思與真相 (轉載)

大約是十幾年前,市面上突然出現了一種新的烹飪油,英文叫做 Canola Oil。起 先只有在專賣 ”健康自然產品” 的店裡才能看到,但是因為政府及私人公司都廣為宣傳這種油的好處:純植物提煉、不飽和性脂肪、低膽固醇、比別的植物油還理想…云云。

既然連政府都這麼說,大概是不會錯了;於是乎關心自己和家人健康的朋友,都紛紛買回去做菜。它在北美洲的銷路直線上升,沒多久也引進了台灣。

但是,Canola 油到底是什麼東西做的呢?其他的油都可以從名字望文生義:如橄欖油,當然是橄欖的油;花生油是花生仁的油;椰子油是椰子果實的油…等等。筆者心生疑惑,查了極詳備的東華大辭典,竟然沒有這個字。

去年某日,筆者重聽雷博士在四、五年前演講的錄音帶,赫然得到了答案。正巧又有一位琉璃光的朋友,轉來一篇網上有關此油的文章,恰印證了雷博士所言。

筆者知道有不少朋友還在用這種油,當即轉發此文給一些能看英文的朋友。數天之後,有一位本地朋友很急切的告訴我說:”好可怕啊!我們家這幾年都用Canola油,那篇文章裡講的症狀我們一家四口全有!我已經馬上換掉了!”

英文 Canola 一字,是從”Canada Oil Low Acid”四個字的首字母組合而成,意為”低酸加拿大油”。

Canola 的前身是一種叫作蕓苔(Rape)的植物,原生地是歐洲,俗稱歐洲油菜,屬十字花科(Mustard Family)。

1970年代,加拿大的科學家把蕓苔作了基因改造,去掉裡面的糖(Glycosides,會干擾甲狀腺功能),並減少其中所含的芥子酸(Erucic Acid,有毒),改良出了第一代的”低芥子酸蕓苔子”(Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed,簡稱LEAR)。

但荷蘭有研究顯示,這種油會傷害心臟。這項基因改造工程持續未斷,所以也一直未有官方的長期追蹤研究報告,但是由於這個新品種油菜容易種,長得快,蟲害少(蟲子退避三舍),收成多,很快就變成了加拿大的主要經濟作物。

加拿大人說,這種基因改造的菜籽油有”二低一高”的優點∣芥子酸低、糖低、好的油酸(Oleic Acid)高,又是不飽和脂肪,真是太理想的”健康”油了,不但鼓勵自己人民吃,也不忘推銷到好鄰居美國去。

1979年,加拿大的食用油工業,決定為它改名為”Canola”,正式擺脫了”有毒蕓苔”的陰影,並凸顯加拿大之光。

加拿大人付了美國食品藥物管理局(FDA)五千萬美元,把 Canola 登記為合法,並認證為”安全”。於是美國農民也紛紛買種子回去種。這樣一種經過基因變造的主要食用作物,美加政府未要求先作人體試驗,就允許其在市場上大賣,吃進老百姓的肚子。當然,這也不是頭一椿了。

加拿大曾用此油作動物實驗,結果是這樣子的:

老鼠的心、腎、腎上腺及甲狀腺中的脂肪,產生變性和退化;而飼料中不加 Canola 油之後,老鼠體內這些累積的脂肪殘渣就慢慢溶解,但是在那些主要器官上留下傷痕。

這是由於長鍊脂肪酸(C22∼C28)不能為生物體吸收,累積在體內形成瘀塞,不但引發心血管問題,並且會破壞神經髓鞘(Myelin)。神經沒有了這個保護層,就如同家中的電線外皮剝落,是很危險的事,而 Canola 油正是一種長鍊脂肪酸(C22)。

Canola 油會破壞神經系統,想來是不無道理,因為在二次大戰中所使用的神經毒氣芥子氣,就是以蕓苔為原料。在令數千軍民的皮膚及肺起泡以後,早已禁用了。

根據油脂專家所作的研究及觀察,食用 Canola 油的人出現了以下症狀:

1. 視力模糊╱失明
2. 聽力減退
3. 排尿不順╱困難
4. 呼吸急促╱氣短
5. 心臟病╱心律不整
6. 罹癌率增加
7. 便秘
8. 失眠
9. 小兒啼哭不止╱嬰兒出生體重不足
10. 無名的疲憊
11. 干擾破壞神經系統,其產生的症狀計有:
 a. 發抖、顫動、麻痺
 b. 走路、寫字等動作不能協調
c. 口齒不清
 d. 口水過多
e. 記憶及思考退化
 f. 難以適應環境╱過敏│如食 物、氣味、衣物、電器、氣候冷熱變化等
g. 神經崩潰
 h. 手腳末梢麻木刺痛
i. 多重硬化症

1986至1991年間,歐洲大量把蕓苔菜籽加在牲畜飼料裡面,結果動物的眼睛失明,而且會攻擊人。也就是在這段期間,發生了狂牛症(Mad Cow Disease)及羊癢病(Scrapie)。

而歐洲自1991年始全面禁用蕓苔菜籽後,羊癢病就不復見,牛羊豬眼瞎、攻擊人的情況也沒有了。這是巧合嗎?

儘管蕓苔已搖身一變而為 Canola,但是它其中的毒性仍未全消,它作為工業用潤滑油的滲透性也還在。

有人作過簡單的實驗:把 Canola 油沾一些在布料上,用洗衣粉、清潔劑洗了三次,不但洗不掉痕漬,油漬上仍舊有油臭味。滲透力這麼強的油,到了人體裡面,會產生什麼效應呢?不僅如此,Canola油會形成乳膠狀的物質,使紅血球凝結成團。

1997年,加拿大有一個很出名的研究,給實驗小豬的飼料裡摻了Canola,結果發現其體內的維他命E值降到極低,已近危險程度。至於另一組吃黃豆油飼料的小豬,其維他命E值並未下降。因此證明 Canola 油會破壞體內的維他命E。

次年這一研究小組又發表新的實驗結果,證實 Canola 油也會減少小豬體內的血小板數量,並且血小板的體積也變小了。

但是,你若去網上查有關 Canola 油的資料,仍會發現說它好的資料多。

美加的專家學者說,這些對人體的效應,在食用 Canola 油十年以後才會出現,所以不必太擔心。

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上述僅是 Canola 油本身獨具的特性;除此之外,它也不免經過了一般植物油的提煉過程,才能從菜籽變成一瓶清清如水的食用油。

這個過程大略是這樣子的:

首先用己烷 (Hexane) 溶劑及別的化學劑,將油從菜籽裡分離出來,再以華氏300度的高溫提煉,去掉蕓苔子油天生的怪味。任何油經過這種高溫都會變質,其中的 Omega–3 成分因此腐壞,而產生臭味。

下一步是把腐敗的 Omega–3 的臭味去掉,將其氫化以保持其穩定,不易”變壞”。到了這個程度,油中好的成分已破壞怠盡,只剩餘對一些人體有害的物質。

所以 Canola 油是氫化油,其中所含的反式脂肪(Trans–fat)可能高達百分之四十。有關氫化油及反式脂肪會對人體造成什麼影響,在陳俊旭博士所著的 ”吃錯了,當然會生病”一書中講解得非常清楚。

而今,Canola 油已無所不在,即使你不買來燒菜,它也已經在洋芋片中、在花生醬中、在餅乾中、在餐館食物中…。如果您想避免它,那麼在選購食品時,要先看一看成份標示。

有時候表上並未明列含有 Canola油 (或菜籽油),但是最後加了一句 ”…以及其他油。”那麼很可能就是 Canola 油了,因為它最便宜。

現代飲食確是危機四伏,有政府背書的也不能全信,所幸,我們還可以用自己的知識、直覺與智慧來判斷。

尚有好些健康的油可供選擇,如椰子油、橄欖油、葡萄籽油、紅花油(Safflower Oil)等等,但是都須冷壓榨取的才可以。

其中,又以椰子油是天然的飽和性植物脂肪,所含是中鍊脂肪酸,對人體最為適宜。至於飽和脂肪及不飽和脂肪究竟誰是誰非,這又是一個誤導和迷思,有智慧的讀者們多收集一些資料,多思維之後? 便不難明了其中答案。

在此且引申加拿大一位環保人士,托比.麥隆尼(Toby Maloney)的話作結尾:

要改變一般大眾信以為真的事,真是不太容易。Canola 油這整件事就是操控的結果∣操控種子、操控農作、操控食品加工、操控期貨市場。(按:還要加上”操控大眾傳播”)而因何得以如此矇蔽大眾呢?根源就在於大多數現代人已不再親自參與食物的生產了。這才是最 不健康的事。

Friday, March 9, 2012

No Panic Sell-off; Buying On Dip

Equity stock market oscillates in the week on news after weeks of calm and boring market. Market participants anticipate wild movement due to enormous sideline capital. Patient investors are waiting for market pullback and pick for bargains and then take profit when market resumes rally.

Market manipulators have been taking profit on commodities since last week and continue to sell with intention to initiate panic in the stock market. However, selling is confined to liquidation of existing holding in commodities but no short selling in equity stock. Nervous day traders followed the selling in stock market. On the other hand, patient day traders and other investors are not trimming their portfolio but instead wait for buying opportunity.

Although broad market index recovers nearly all the loss from peak, the speculative trading portfolio suffers significant loss due to under-performance of the stock holdings. The portfolio is small and only a few stocks are held. It is unfortunate that most of the stock holdings fell to recent low due to worsening individual quarterly result. This indicates the weakness in stock selection despite the confidence of a strong market. The ETF holding follows more closely on market performance.

Since the portfolio is intended for speculative trading on short term market movement, individual stock performance may differ significantly from broad market. As a result the portfolio will increase the weighting of ETF until stock picking skills are improved.

Market will exhibit wild swings and market participants will follow the herd. As household wealth grows, investors will gradually regain the confidence in equity stocks although it will take long time. But in the meantime, market manipulators will continue to rake in money from market, exploiting the herding behaviour and fear of panic investors.



Is the Market Rigged? Absolutely, Says Streettalk Advisors CEO
The U.S. Labor Department's monthly employment report is one of the most-anticipated market-moving data points watched by investors and traders on Wall Street.

But ahead of Friday's February jobs data, CNBC reports that the Labor Department and other government agencies are concerned some traders are illegally accessing data ahead of its official release while others are jamming agencies' websites to give only a handful of people access to information, slowing it down for everyone else.

News of this brings us here at The Daily Ticker to ask again the age-old question: Are financial markets rigged against the individual investor?

"Absolutely," says Lance Roberts, CEO of Streettalk Advisors. "If you're trying to look at the economic data that is coming out and you're hitting refresh on your Internet browser you are so far behind Wall Street you'll never catch up."

Then there's insider trading by members of Congress. Even our very own elected officials are using inside government information to profit at the expense of everyone else. The public outcry to ban this behavior, which has been going on for years, finally came to light after a CBS "60 Minutes" report last fall. Since then, a bill to prevent congressional insider trading has moved quickly through both the House and Senate, but likely still does not go far enough to make any real difference.

"Understand that buying something and trying to hold it for three years or four years or five years and getting long-term capital appreciation might work for you, but it probably won't because everybody else on Wall Street is trading all around you," he says. For example, while fundamentals of a company may look good, there may be a breaking news event that tanks a stock. Take Netflix.

"Fundamentals still work and fundamentals determine what you buy, but you need to add a technical analysis to your [portfolio] management," he says. "Timing and trends are going to be much more important in the short-term. The goal here is that long-term we can make money, but we have to avoid those short-term declines."


Stock rally helps regain wealth lost in recession
A stock rally at the end of 2011 helped rebuild more of their lost wealth — a trend that carried into 2012. Households responded by borrowing more for the first time since the financial crisis began, even as home values fell further.

Corporations are also wealthier. They held a record $2.2 trillion in cash at the end of the year.

The improved economic outlook has made people more willing to borrow. Household debt increased at an annual rate of 0.25 percent, the first increase since mid-2008.

A survey of economists by The Associated Press last month found that Americans will save gradually less and borrow more, reversing a shift toward frugality that followed the financial crisis and start of the Great Recession.

Roughly half of U.S. households own stocks or stock mutual funds. Stock portfolios make up about 15 percent of Americans' wealth. That's less than housing but ahead of bank deposits, according to the Fed's report.

Most stock wealth is owned by the richest Americans, who also account for a disproportionate amount of consumer spending. Eighty percent of stocks belong to the richest 10 percent of Americans. And the richest 20 percent represent about 40 percent of consumer spending.

Stocks have nearly doubled in three years. Thanks largely to that surge, about 95 percent of people with company-sponsored retirement savings plans have more money in their accounts than they did at the peak of the market in October 2007, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington.

The Fed's quarterly report documents wealth, debt and savings for corporations, governments and households. It covers most of the financial transactions that take place in the United States.


Stocks double in 3 years, but it's a lonely party
For more than three years, ordinary investors disgusted with wild swings have pulled money out of stocks. They've missed a breathtaking bull market: The Dow Jones industrial average has almost doubled from its low point during the Great Recession on March 9, 2009.

In the meantime, corporate America has racked up double-digit profit gains. If investors valued stocks at normal historical levels based on profits, we would be celebrating Dow 15,000, not Dow 13,000.

But the profit explosion is over, and the Wall Street pros who trade stocks mostly for big institutions and the rich are getting antsy. They've been doing the buying. And if Main Street doesn't join them, the historic rally could slow or even end.

Everyday investors "are more aware of the risk of the market," says Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at Standard & Poor's. "They're nervous. They're scared."

One measure to watch is the flow of money in or out of U.S. stock mutual funds. From June through January, investors pulled $137 billion more from these funds than they put in, according to Strategic Insight, an industry consulting group.

The refusal by ordinary investors to buy stocks is even more surprising when you consider how little they're making from the alternatives. Their favorite assets of refuge— CDs, money market funds and U.S. government debt — don't even throw off enough interest income to compensate for inflation.

One school of thought holds that multiples of all kinds should be lower now because the U.S. has entered a period of slow economic growth and lower profits as governments and households pay off their enormous debts. Bill Gross, co-founder of the giant investment company Pimco, calls this a "new normal."

Even if you don't believe Gross is correct, perception could become reality. If enough people refuse to buy stocks because they don't think prices will rise much, they won't rise much.

Harvey Rowen, the chief investment officer for Starmont Asset Management, says he's seen this self-fulfilling attitude among his clients. He says the clients who are calling want him to move more of their holdings into cash, or maybe gold.

"Nobody calls up to say, "Buy equities," he says.


Market may be up, but the scars of 2008 are fresh
Cheryl and Jim Friedman, retirees in St. Louis, had two-thirds of their retirement money in the stock market in 2008. When the financial crisis struck that fall and stocks lurched up and down with nauseating speed, Cheryl, a former accountant, pulled the money out.

Fearing that the next crisis was always around the corner, they have kept most of the money out. It's parked in a money-market account earning a meager 0.1 percent per year. The Friedmans watched in agony as stock prices doubled over the past three years.

Some people gritted their teeth through the steep losses and poured more money into stocks while the market was still in free fall. That daring paid off in the returns of a lifetime.

"I felt that either the world's going to end or it's the smartest time ever to invest," recalls Harvey Bookman, 60, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who has made up his initial market losses many times over by buying when stock prices were low.

Since the March 2009 low, there have been only two months in which individual investors put more money into stock mutual funds than they took out, according to EPFR Global, which tracks funds.

The fuel for the market's ride higher since 2009 has come from big institutional investors instead.

"It doesn't feel like we've doubled over the last three years," says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. "The S&P's gains were masked by all the turbulence. That's probably why so many individual investors are sitting it out."

People who had the intestinal fortitude to sit tight during the crash have reaped three years of rewards. 401(k) account holdings have mostly recovered. And contributions at every paycheck during the market bottom bought shares of stock at bargain prices.

Financial experts say the experience of surviving 2008 may embolden investors the next time there's a market shock.

"When we have these downdrafts, they're a good reminder of volatility and a good opportunity to load up on stocks when they're cheap," says James Angel, associate professor of finance at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.

"You've got to stay the course," he says. "A lot of people panic when their stocks hit lows, but if they're good companies, they will come back."

That is not so easy for Cheryl Friedman, the St. Louis retiree. She sits in her office and watches market chatter on CNBC all day, waiting for the appropriate time to get back into the market. But the timing never seems right. Not when the crisis was fresh, and not now, when stocks are up more than 20 percent since early October.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Yelp! IPO Soars 60% Despite Mixed Reviews



Yelp!, the San Francisco based business rating website is the latest "hot" internet company to go public and they came on the scene with a bang today. Shares screamed 60% higher soon after the company opened for trading this morning, which puts it in line for the hottest IPO debut since LinkedIn popped 109% on its first day last May (For the record, LinkedIn Shares today are about 7% below where the stock closed on its 1st day). Officially, Yelp! sold 7.1 million shares at $15 which was above the targeted $12-$14 range and valued the money losing venture at just under a billion dollars.

But one day does not a lifetime make (especially as a pubic company on Wall Street), and by most accounts, the road ahead for this 8 year old business that has yet to turn a profit isn't going to get any easier.

"Please don't buy this stock" is Macke's opening salvo in the attached video, in which we hash out the hopes and headwinds surrounding this stock. While their 74% revenue growth last year and a continued push into foreign markets are impressive, the main concern about Yelp! going forward is its reliance on - and competitive threat from - Google.

The top-rank search site crystallized it's fight with Yelp! last fall when it acquired restaurant rating stalwart, Zagat. That could spell trouble for the new kid on the block as Yelp! currently gets about half its traffic from Google.

"You know what that looms like?" asks Macke, a huge boot coming down on a tiny dog that would go 'yelp' and then cease to exist.

Of course, any discussion about new internet and social media stocks would be incomplete without paying respect to Facebook, the true giant of the space that's enroute to its own IPO of historic proportions. By way of comparison, Facebook did $3.7 billion in sales last year off an 800-million person user base, while Yelp! did $83 million in revenue in 2011 and currently has about 66 million unique users per month.

Ultimately, this - and all stock stories - comes down to a matter of valuations and what investors are willing to pay today for expected growth tomorrow.

淪為笑柄 法男告Google


(法新社翁熱市1日電) 委任律師布約今天表示, Google旗下「Google街景」將1名法國男子在自家花園 小便照片放上網,使他淪為全村笑柄,並憤而提告。 委任律師布約(Jean-Noel Bouillaud)告訴法新 社:「這名男子察覺自己成為全村揶揄對象,才知有這 張照片。」他要求不要透露村名。 這張有些模糊的照片中,顯示有人在自家花園小解 。 布約說:「我的委託人住在大家都認識他的小村中 。」並強調,他的委託人是在自有地上,且拍攝時,花 園大門緊關。 他的委託人向翁熱市(Angers)法院提告,指 Google侵犯他的隱私和權利,未獲同意公布照片。 Google律師則表示,提出這指控「讓人難以置信」 。(譯者:中央社陳蓉)

Investors Remain Cautious But Maintain Equity Stock Exposure

Equity stock market rally encounters strong resistance as market participants are lack of confidence on upside movement. Investors do not have the desire to purchase stocks at current market value. However, market participants are not prepared to sell stocks at fire sale price. Institutional investors are re-allocating the portfolio to defensive and dividend stocks in order to brace for potential headwind. Individual investors are sitting on a thin portfolio with plenty of cash for any bargain. Market manipulators have been inactive in equity stock market since end of last year. There are activities in the commodities market and is now taking profit. Hedge funds are looking for opportunity in the bond market. Market participants are very cautious but are ready to jump in if market collapses. A mild pullback may not be attractive as investors still have the memory of panic sell-offs. Therefore market participants prefer to wait on the sideline. Trading volume remains low and is dominated by day traders.

Current market environment is somewhat similar to the same time last year. Market stays at high level while market participants are very cautious. Market manipulators are not creating panic sell-off in equity stock market but are starting to take profit in commodities market.

Investors are confused in this market environment. As there are huge amount of capital on the sideline, it will drive the herd of investors and cause turbulence in the market.

Although market only slightly retreats in the last week, the speculative trading portfolio is suffering significant loss due to under-performance of individual stocks. Based on prior experience, the majority of previously suppressed stocks sold with loss during the panic sell-offs last year are now a lot above the price of purchase. The stock price may not reflect the fair market value if under manipulation. Therefore the speculative trading portfolio will maintain current holding and wait to see if stocks would be suppressed for extended time.



Worry All You Want, But Stay Invested: Jim Paulsen
A year ago, amid growing fears of a European meltdown, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, was calm but bullish in the face of great skepticism. Today, with stocks trying to punch through to levels not seen since Lehman Brothers was still in business, this plain-spoken Minnesotan is once again eschewing the jitters of the masses and reiterating his case for owning stocks.

"We will still have some pullbacks and scary moments, but we're a long ways yet from the end of this cycle," Paulsen says.

From Paulsen's purview, with sweeping and tangible improvements in the economy, housing, employment, and a backlog of pent-up demand for cars and other big ticket purchases. Add in low household debt levels and high corporate cash stockpiles, and you have the makings of a Minnesota prairie fire within the market.

"I think there's more to come if you can avoid getting shaken out by the fearful periods that we'll still go through," Paulsen says. "If you can stay the course, I think you'll be happy."


The Best Way to Get Off the Sidelines and Into the Market
For many investors, the practice of dollar cost averaging is almost an unconscious one, such as the periodic contributions made to retirement plans, like a 401(k), which happen whether the market is rising or falling. However, when it comes to managing a lump sum, the choice to average it in or dump it in, is up for debate.

First, being in the right type of fund is as important as even being in the market. Second, as Stovall points out, indexes with higher dividend yields and lower volatility are much better suited for lump sum investing.

As far as how best to take money off the table, or to try to better time when to buy dips, Stovall offers up "the 7% solution" which plays off the mathematical anomaly that the average decline of dips, corrections and bear markets since World War II is 7%, 14% and 28% respectively.

"All are multiples of 7, so you could say at each 7% decline threshold, I will then add more money," he says.

As for the here and now, Stovall thinks it will take a few more attempts but, eventually, the Dow and S&P 500 will break through their current resistance levels and move on to new highs.


Forget Defensive Stocks, Stick With Financials and Cyclicals: Paulsen
For now, while Paulsen predicts the trough in unemployment is a long way off, one of his favorite recovery plays is in Financials. He's been hurt by the sector in the past, but is all in now and expecting growing consumer confidence to restore this group to previous glory.

"Clearly we have cleaned up the large cap Financial industry dramatically and created a good operational environment for them," he says, adding "confidence is probably more beneficial to the financial industry than any other sector of the economy."

At the same time, Paulsen thinks there are numerous reasons why investors may want to lighten up on one of the market's most popular investment strategies: Dividends.

"They (dividend stocks) are really closely tied to what the 10-year treasury yield does," Paulsen says, admitting that they've had a great decade, but a reversal is due.

"The thing that drove bond yields down, the best friend of the bond market, has been fear, and it has also been the best friend of dividend stocks," says Paulsen.


Bank Stocks 'Dirt Cheap' as Image Starts to Turn: Bove
The Rochdale Securities vice president of equity research has long held that big banks have been most hampered not by their balance sheets by rather by negative perceptions - from Washington, Wall Street, and individual investors.

"What we're looking at is the complete change in attitude towards this industry from what it's been over the past three years," he said in an interview. "What has killed this industry over the last three years has been the negative psychology. It's not negative any longer."

In a series of notes this week, Bove has sought to show that many of the banks' cash positions actually exceed their market capitalizations.


Sell in March and Go Away?
One year ago today, the S&P 500 was up 6% for the year, and 28% over the prior 6 months. Investors were happy, but nervous. Calls for a correction were widespread, and a little early. The top of the market didn't come until May 2nd in 2011, and it wouldn't be topped again for the next 9 months.

Compare that to this year, where we've now gained 8.6% on the S&P 500 year-to-date, and are up about 28% from the recent lows, but this time in only 5 months. While it's impossible to say where and when the top of 2012 will be, calls for a correction are rampant again, and investors small and large eagerly await a dip and chance to deploy cash.

As much as the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes refuse to buckle, there are other signs that fear is trying to make a comeback and put greed back in its place. Notably, a clear uptick in demand for Treasuries with the 10 year yield below 2% again, as well as the conspicuous under-performance of the Transports (^DJT), which are suddenly lagging at a time when they're supposed to be leading.

Caughey-Forrest, and countless other fund managers like her can't say for sure whether the looming pullback will come in March, but they're counting on one thing: "there's still money to be made in stocks."


Bernanke Speaks, Gold Swoons, Peter Schiff Scoffs: “They’re Doing QE3 Whether They State It Or Not”
"They're doing QE3 whether they state it or not," he declares. "If the Fed admits it's printing all this money, then the dollar is going to fall even faster [and] oil will rise even faster. The Fed wants to create inflation, it just doesn't want to be forthright about it."

It's hard to argue with Schiff on this point. While Bernanke expressed some concern about rising gas prices, he said the job market remains "far from normal" and reiterated the Fed's pledge to maintain a "highly accommodative stance for monetary policy."

"If Fed does raise interest rates, which it should, the very short-term consequences will be horrific for an economy addicted to cheap money," he says. "We're going to have to swallow some bitter-tasting medicine in the form of higher interest rates if you're going to clear out the mess [and] allow the economy to restructure in a way that can have meaningful economic growth. The Fed is preventing from all that from happening."

Schiff admits that "bitter medicine" will include weakness in his beloved precious metals, which have dramatically benefited from the Fed's easy money. "They just won't come down as much as stock prices," he says.