Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oh Rats!

I was tickled pink when this link turned up on my twitter feed (excerpt):

Investment rats

...One project is Michael Marcovici’s Rat Trader. The book describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats “outperformed some of the world’s leading human fund managers.” The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result, according to the text. Marcovici’s plan, he writes, is to breed enough of them to set up a hedge fund...

No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Because believe it or not, here’s what I came across a day later:

The website is here, and the training methods are detailed here. Check out the record of Mr Kleinworth Morgan Jr 5. Brings a whole new meaning to the term “alternative investment”.

I might just recommend this to our investment committee. They could even take me seriously, if they don’t die of laughter first.

The Colour Of Inequality: Available Now

I reviewed the book a week ago. It’s now in stock in MPH, and can be ordered online.

You can check out the blog here and the Facebook page here.

Dr Muhammed is also on Twitter @inequality_MYS

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GLICs And Capital Outflows

I’ve heard this from more than a few people (excerpt):

Mahathir expresses concerns on fund outflow

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his concern over local funds, including the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) on their property investment overseas as it promoted fund outflow from the country. "At a certain extend it is desirable to invest abroad, but we should always have to balance between inflow against outflow of funds," he said…

…He pointed out that too much of fund outflow from the country would not be good for the economy, especially overseas property assets that were acquired.

"Instead of supporting local industry, they (funds) have gone abroad," he said….

Friday, September 19, 2014

BNM Watch: OPR On Hold

It was a coin toss and tails it is (excerpt):

Monetary Policy Statement

At the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today, Bank Negara Malaysia decided to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 3.25 percent….

…For Malaysia, economic activity has been supported by the continued growth in domestic demand and exports…While private investment activity is projected to remain robust, private consumption is expected to moderate…The prospects are for the Malaysian economy to remain on a steady growth path.

Inflation is expected to remain relatively stable for the remainder of the year. Going into next year, inflation is projected to edge higher and is expected to be above its long-term average due to domestic cost factors….

The current stance of monetary policy remains supportive of growth…Further adjustment to the degree of monetary accommodation may be taken depending on how new information will affect the assessment on the balance of risks….

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BNM Watch: MPC Preview

First off, I have NO idea what BNM is going to do today. I have decided opinions on what they SHOULD do, but there’s a striking divergence of opinion in the market about this.

So here’s the situation – the MPC decided in July that with growth looking robust, it’s time to normalise interest rates and head off the risk of “financial imbalances”, which could mean anything from excessive borrowing by firms and households, or an imbalance in net foreign asset holdings, or pretty much anything really. I didn’t agree with the decision then, and I still don’t.

August 2014 Consumer Prices

Prices in August took another blip upwards (log annual and monthly changes; 2000=100):


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Colour Of Inequality

[Full disclosure: Dr Muhammed is a good friend of mine, so the following commentary should be taken as unbalanced and totally biased. You have been warned]

There’s a new book coming out this weekend on income and wealth inequality in Malaysia, at MPH:


Monday, September 15, 2014

Wages and Productivity

DS Wahid on the share of wages in GDP (excerpt):

Govt planning to push wages-GDP ratio to 40%

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is planning to increase the ratio of wages to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 33.6% last year to 40% in the long term.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s De­p­artment Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said this would be done gradually.

“This is because any wage increase must be supported by increase in productivity,” he said after attending a media appreciation ceremony with the Statistics Department yesterday…

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Explaining Household Income

DS Wahid’s announcement over the preliminary results of the 2014 Household Income Survey (HIS) has created a minor furore (excerpt):

RM5,900 average household income? Lies, damned lies, and statistics, says MP

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 ― The federal minister's claim that Malaysian households make an average of RM5,900 monthly is a farce that does not represent the actual earning capacity of most Malaysians, an opposition lawmaker said today.

DAP's Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said the figure is a result of creative use of statistics in the 2014 Household income Survey (HIS) preliminary report to paint a “dishonest” picture of increased prosperity among the people….

…On Sunday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar was quoted by national news wire Bernama as saying that the average household income in the country has risen to over RM5,900 a month, a significant increase from the RM5,000 monthly average recorded in the 2012 HIS.

Sim stressed that the figure does not make sense when the government itself admitted that 80 per cent of Malaysian households had benefitted from the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) cash aid programme, whose recipients must earn less than RM3,000 a month.

He added that government statistics also showed that 82.5 per cent of Malaysians below the age of 30 earn less than RM3,000 a month as at September last year….

…Sim stressed that the median household income in Malaysia ― which stood at RM3,626 in the 2012 HIS ― gives a clearer idea of how much Malaysian households actually earn as it differentiates between low and high income earners….

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Ticking Time Bomb

I was at EPF’s International Seminar yesterday, and one of the presenters showcased this video: