Can Institutional Investors Cherry-Pick Hot IPOs?

Can Institutional Investors Cherry-Pick Hot IPOs?

Ufuk Gucbilmez University of Edinburgh – Business School

March 20, 2013

Using a unique set of bookbuilding data, we provide comprehensive tests of Rock’s (1986) theory of IPO underpricing. In particular, we examine whether uninformed and informed investors coexist in the IPO market. We find that alongside uninformed institutional investors who regularly participate in the IPO market, there exist informed ones who can avoid cold issues and cherry-pick the hot ones to appropriate higher average initial returns. Finally, the results tie together competing explanations of positive IPO initial returns based on the winner’s curse and the investor sentiment.

Frank Sherman’s Horizon Coach Lines is one of the largest privately owned of its kind in North America. “You have to know how to handle 5,000 people an hour”; “We are changing the culture of Horizon from the ground up”; “We kept it asset-light”

Value Added: His bus business moves big crowds for big profits

By Thomas Heath, Monday, April 1, 6:05 AM


Frank Sherman runs his sprawling, Sandy Spring-based special-events bus business — with its 1,250 coaches and shuttles — with military precision.

He has to when dealing with the hordes who need to board his buses at events such as technology exhibitions, Republican conventions and Major League Baseball All-Star games.

If the buses aren’t present and the line doesn’t move, people lose faith. A docile crowd can turn unruly, ruining his reputation in an afternoon.

“You have to know how to handle 5,000 people an hour,” said the 52-year-old businessman, who has been riding the bus business since he was a kid, helping his father’s tour service whisk customers to weekend trips in New York and New England. Read more of this post

In China, anger grows over abuse of street vendors; “They are no different than bandits”, the fruit vendor whose detention along with her 2-year-old daughter this month sparked much outrage

In China, anger grows over abuse of street vendors

By William Wan, Monday, April 1, 3:38 AM


BEIJING — In a country infamous for heavy-handed officials, the government employees who harass and sometimes beat and extort money from street vendors are among the most despised.

Their official name is “chengguan,” which means city management, but the word has become slang for someone who uses excessive force to solve life’s problems.

In recent weeks, anger against the officials has reached a fever pitch as several cases of apparent abuse have been widely reported in Chinese microblogs, sparking a flood of online comments.

In a video posted online last week, witnesses say chengguan officers beat up a blind man, shown sitting in a pool of water, then took his cane, his begging cup and the change inside.

In another recent case, photos posted online show a swarm of officers roughing up and handcuffing a fruit vendor as her 2-year-old daughter cries inconsolably in the background. Read more of this post

The U.S. economy is in a bubble inflated by “phony money” from the Federal Reserve and will burst within a few years, warned David Stockman, who was budget director for President Ronald Reagan

Stockman Warns of Crash Of Fed-Fueled Bubble Economy

The U.S. economy is in a bubble inflated by “phony money” from the Federal Reserve and will burst within a few years, warned David Stockman, who was budget director for President Ronald Reagan.

In an essay published yesterday in the New York Times (NYT), Stockman wrote that the Fed’s quantitative easing policies in the aftermath of the credit crisis have flooded stock markets with cash even while the “Main Street economy” remains weak. The combination, he wrote, is “unsustainable.”

“When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008,” wrote Stockman, a former senior managing director at Blackstone Group LP (BX) and a former Republican congressman from Michigan. “Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.”

Stockman, 66, is the author of “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America,” which will be published April 2. Read more of this post

Softbank-Backed Startup SmarTots Builds Facebook for Kids

Softbank-Backed Startup SmarTots Builds Facebook for Kids

A former Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) engineer is building a private social network in China where children share art projects online with parents or grandparents. Japan’s phone and Internet giant Softbank Corp. (9984) is betting he’ll succeed.

SmarTots, Jesper Lodahl’s Beijing-based startup, began offering mobile education applications for kids from two to seven through Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s China iTunes store in June. Designed as a game center for app developers, this month it’s adding functions to allow parents to “like” or comment on projects in a layout similar to Facebook Inc. (FB)’s site, Lodahl said.

Softbank, which provided funding, and Lodahl expect growth in smartphones and tablets to drive demand for educational services. Parents’ desire to set children apart from peers is likely to drive strong demand for any service in China that can offer an edge, said Duncan Clark, Beijing-based chairman of BDA China, which advises technology companies.

“People will pay a lot for their kid’s educations,” said Clark, who doesn’t work with SmarTots. “There is a lot of spending power around educational betterment.” Read more of this post

Indonesia’s Yudhoyono Party Stumbles as Corruption Charges Undermine Support

Yudhoyono Party Stumbles as Corruption Charges Undermine Support

Indonesia’s ruling Democrat Party chose the country’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as chairman ahead of national elections next year amid jockeying among possible replacements that could stall spending on roads and ports. Yudhoyono was elected March 30 at an extraordinary congress in Bali to succeed Anas Urbaningrum, who resigned after becoming at least the third senior party official linked to corruption allegations in less than two years. Read more of this post

Keeping debt a dirty secret from investors

Keeping debt a dirty secret from investors

PUBLISHED: 28 MAR 2013 00:33:00 | UPDATED: 29 MAR 2013 00:31:10

CHRISTOPHER JOYE, The Australian Financial Review


Ask yourself this question: is the amount of debt a company assumes, the rate of interest it pays, the events of default, the repayment date and all non-standard conditions (or “covenants”) vital to working out the value of that company’s equity? Any half-witted analyst or investor will emphatically answer “yes”.

Yet when I ask Damian Reichel, a partner at law firm Johnson, Winter & Slattery whether it is standard practice for companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange to disclose all the terms and conditions of their debt arrangements, he responds: “No, it’s not standard at all. It is, however, normal to disclose the amount of debt outstanding in the company’s accounts and maturity dates so that people know when facilities expire.”

This is a problem that weighs heavily on the minds of sophisticated investors, analysts and even some regulators. While market convention is to disclose little information about a company’s leverage, it is vital to determining its equity value, even if lay retail investors tend to ignore it.

If a company’s capital structure is comprised of debt and equity, it is impossible to price one in isolation from the other. Debt directly subordinates equity in two ways: first, it has a prior-ranking entitlement to the company’s earnings for interest repayments; second, debt ranks ahead of equity if the business is wound up.

The introduction of debt into a capital structure exposes shareholders to new risks. And individuals and companies default on their obligations all the time. When they do, the lender has the right to force asset sales at prices often far below fair value, which inflicts losses on those standing last in the queue – shareholders. Read more of this post

James Altucher: The Only Good Idea is an Unoriginal Idea; “The Last Supper was totally unoriginal. Leonardo was a plagiarist”

The Only Good Idea is an Unoriginal Idea

Posted by James Altucher on March 31st, 2013 at 12:50 pm


Here’s a painting from the 13th century: Ugh. BORING!

Giampietrino-Last-Supper-ca-1520 Read more of this post

What Are Foundations For?

What Are Foundations For?

Rob Reich

This article leads off our debate on philanthropy, with responses from Stanley Katz, Diane Ravitch, Larry Kramer, and others.

Graham Smith

Judge Richard Posner, one of the foremost American jurists outside the Supreme Court, once observed, “A perpetual charitable foundation . . . is a completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody. It competes neither in capital markets nor in product markets . . . and, unlike a hereditary monarch whom such a foundation otherwise resembles, it is subject to no political controls either.” Why, he wondered, don’t we think of these foundations as “total scandals”? If foundations are total scandals, then we have a massive problem on our hands. We are now living through the second golden age of American philanthropy. What Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were to the early twentieth century, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are to the early twenty-first century. Read more of this post

High-Tech Means of Production Belies the Nostalgic Image of Maple Syrup; Gathering sap to boil into maple syrup, long a tradition in places like Vermont, has become a more high-tech process, with miles of plastic tubing and powerful vacuums that draw the sap out of the trees using reverse osmosis machines

March 30, 2013

High-Tech Means of Production Belies the Nostalgic Image of Maple Syrup



Gathering sap to boil into maple syrup, long a tradition in places like Vermont, has become a more high-tech process, with miles of plastic tubing and powerful vacuums that draw the sap out of the trees.

EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. — The rich, sweet tang of sap being boiled into maple syrup greeted tourists at Burr Morse’s sugar shack here this month — along with Mr. Morse, every inch the rural maple farmer in worn baseball cap and syrup-stained jacket, stirring the steaming evaporator with an old-fashioned dipper.

“People want to have a nostalgia trip,” said Mr. Morse, 65, a seventh-generation maple syrup farmer and the patriarch of Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. “They want to see something natural, like taking sap from a tree.”

Forty years ago, Mr. Morse would snowshoe into the forest with his father to collect sap from galvanized buckets and load them onto a tractor. The farm has not changed much since then, but the winters have. So has the maple syrup ritual itself.

Scientists say the tapping season — the narrow window of freezing nights and daytime temperatures over 40 degrees needed to convert starch to sugar and get sap flowing — is on average five days shorter than it was 50 years ago. But technology developed over the past decade and improved in recent years offers maple farmers like Mr. Morse a way to offset the effects of climate change with high-tech tactics that are far from natural.

Today, five miles of pressurized blue tubing spider webs down the hillside at Morse Farm, pulling sap from thousands of trees and spitting it into tubs like an immense, inverse IV machine. Modern vacuum pumps are powerful enough to suck the air out of a stainless steel dairy tank and implode it, and they help producers pull in twice as much sap as before.

“You can make it run when nature wouldn’t have it run,” Mr. Morse said. His greatest secret weapon is a reverse-osmosis machine that concentrates the sap by pulling it through sensitive membranes, greatly increasing the sugar content before it even hits the boiler. The $8,000 instrument with buttons and dials looks like it belongs in a Jetsons-era laboratory more than in a Vermont sugarhouse. But it saves more fuel and money than every other innovation combined. With it Mr. Morse can process sap into syrup in 30 minutes, something that used to take two hours. Read more of this post

How to Be a Successful Luxury Brand; If You’ve Got a Story, Tell It



The spread of luxury is the story of the early 21st century. Take this fact: Louis Vuitton, which started life as a trunk-making business in Paris in 1854, will soon open a swanky new store in Kazakhstan. This follows the opening of a massive new store in Shanghai, right at the heart of what was once a hardline Communist state. Luxury goods are the quintessentially modern products, charting the spread of wealth and aspiration to the most unlikely places. Campden looks at five things that luxury brands have to do if they are to flourish in this strange new world.

Human beings love stories, so brands that have good tales are wise to use them as much as possible. “Naturally, it is easier to sell your story if it starts with depuis 1833” says Anastasia Kourovskai of Millward Brown, a brand research agency. “Such brands as Chanel, Dior and Yves St Laurent have real stories behind the brand,” she says. Other newer ones, however, have created their brand stories.

Look at Tiffany’s, whose name is forever linked to Audrey Hepburn’s classic chic through the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Or Ralph Lauren, founded by a chap named Ralph Lifshitz from The Bronx, the son of immigrants from Belarus, but which has brilliantly used advertising and store design to link the brand with the WASPish pursuit of polo.

Mark Henderson, chairman of Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes (founded in 1771) agrees that the stories matter. “I think that is why tradition and family heritage are such an important part of the brand,” he says. Read more of this post

Time is ripe for smartwatches; 2013 may be the year for the smartwatch because “the components have gotten small enough and cheap enough” and a large number of consumers now have smartphones that can connect to a wearable device

Time is ripe for smartwatches, analysts say

2013-03-31 07:44:30 GMT2013-03-31 15:44:30(Beijing Time)

Amid much speculation on the future of the “smartwatch,” the consensus is growing: the time is right.

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced about plans for smartwatches from tech giants Apple, Samsung and Google, with launches possible later this year.

“I think we have reached a tipping point,” said Avi Greengart, analyst on consumer devices at the research firm Current Analysis.

Greengart said 2013 may be the year for the smartwatch because “the components have gotten small enough and cheap enough” and a large number of consumers now have smartphones that can connect to a wearable device.

The idea of the connected watch has been around for at least a decade: Microsoft had one in 2003. And some devices are already on the market including from Sony, the crowdfunded maker Pebble and Italian-based firm i’m. Read more of this post

Insight: China’s losing battle against state-backed polluters

Insight: China’s losing battle against state-backed polluters

1:41am EDT

By David Stanway

SHANGHANG COUNTY, China (Reuters) – When Zijin Mining Group threatened to move its headquarters some 270 kms from its home county of Shanghang to Xiamen on China’s southeast coast, a local Communist Party boss rushed to confront the company’s chairman Chen Jinghe.

“If you want to move, you’ll have to move the Zijin Mountain to Xiamen as well,” the official told Chen, referring to a vast local mine that has helped transform the firm into China’s top gold producer and second-biggest copper miner. The exchange, recited with some pride by local residents, reflects the anxieties felt by regional governments as they consider the prospect of losing their biggest cash-cows. It also highlights the challenges facing Beijing as it tries to take on entrenched local bureaucracies and the powerful state-owned polluters they sponsor and protect, with the central government desperate to address decades of chronic environmental damage and force growth-addicted provinces to raise standards. Read more of this post

Angang Steel gets bourse warning following losses; China’s largest shipping conglomerate COSCO suspended after loss of 9.56b yuan; Three years of deficits could see the shipping firm removed from market

Angang gets bourse warning following losses

Updated: 2013-03-29 11:22

By Wang Ying in Shanghai ( China Daily) Read more of this post

Facilitating Successful Failures; Approximately 80,000 businesses fail each year in the United States

Facilitating Successful Failures

Michelle M. Harner University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Jamie Marincic Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Florida Law Review, Vol. 65, 2013
U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-14 

Approximately 80,000 businesses fail each year in the United States. This article presents an original empirical study of over 400 business restructuring professionals focused on a critical, arguably contributing factor to these failures – the conduct of boards of directors and management. Anecdotal evidence suggests that management of distressed companies often bury their heads in the sand until it is too late to remedy the companies’ problems, a phenomenon commonly called “ostrich syndrome.” The data confirm this behavior, show a prevalent use of loss framing, and suggest trends consistent with prospect theory. The article draws on these data and behavioral economics to examine the genesis and contours of this problem. It then discusses potential changes to applicable law and introduces a new “meet and confer” process for encouraging timely restructuring negotiations. The meet and confer process is designed to promote meaningful changes in management conduct and to facilitate more “successful failures.” Policymakers should adopt regulations fostering that mentality, rather than rewarding fear or ignorance in the face of failure.

Guangdong Publicly Says It Has “huge” Hidden Debts in Pension Fund; About half of China’s 31 provinces are unable to pay their retiree costs and rely instead on financial transfer from the central government

Guangdong Publicly Says It Has “huge” Hidden Debts in Pension Fund

03-29 15:15 Caijing

It says debts were cumulated for one critical reason: a large number of retirees who were entitled to a pension without contributions when China first launches its pension system.

The government of Guangdong has expressed concerns about its pension liabilities, saying the provincial government’s pension fund is running up “huge” hidden debts, opening a peephole into the patchy pension system in the world’s second-biggest economy. The government will seek to solve the many problems in the pension fund by raising financial subsidies and exploring ways to invest the money, government officials said in an official report on Thursday. About half of China’s 31 provinces are unable to pay their retiree costs and rely instead on financial transfer from the central government. Pension shortfalls could reach 18.3 trillion yuan in 2013, and 68.2 trillion by 2033, according to a recent report by economists at Deutsche Bank and the Bank of China. What makes things even worse is that China is facing a timebomb of aging population, with a sharp rise in those over age 65, the proportion of which stands at 8.2 percent now, and is expected to rise to 30 percent by 2064. The government report of Guangdong, a southern province topping total GDP rankings in among all provinces, did not reveal the amount of its deficit and reasons making the debts non-explicit. It says debts were cumulated for one critical reason: a large number of retirees who were entitled to a pension without contributions when China first launches its pension system. Without financial transfer from governments, the retirees are actually supported by young Chinese employees, it said. Pension revenue was close 250 billion yuan in Guangdong in 2012, compared with an expenditure of just below 150 billion. China’s pension system was designed as a combination of an inclusive welfare system supported by state subsidies and individual mandatory savings by both employees and employers whose contributions vary in regions. Budget expenditures in social network totaled 98.24 billion yuan in Guangdong in 2011, the report shows, tripling those in 2006. Its portion to general budget also hiked to 14.64 percent in 2011 from 12.53 percent five years ago. The government entrusted the country’s national security fund to “invest and manage” its pension fundin early 2012, as an alternative to state fiscal support to “retain and grow” value, the first and the single case in the country as local governments are loath to hand over their cash. Government officials did not disclose income of the investment in the report, but pledged the government will ensure the money is safe in following up management.

‘Medieval style’ in modern exams; Take, for example, the Cantonese word for accounting. It sounds like wui kai in everyday Cantonese. But, in the exam, it should be pronounced as kui kai

‘Medieval style’ in modern exams

Mary Ma

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The shift from the conventional secondary education to the new “3-3-4” system is supposed to keep our education system up to date. Understandably, there were bound to be hiccups in the transition, such as the confusion over liberal studies. Though liberal studies is designated as a compulsory subject alongside Chinese language, English and mathematics, a complaint that is most frequently heard is that it is a “subject at large” without a clear scope.

But that shortcoming is being overcome.

However, when it comes to Chinese, some so-called “mistakes” are laughable. Read more of this post

If a Fund Turns on a Dime, Watch Your Dollars; The demise of the Willow Fund offers two lessons in investment risk

March 30, 2013

If a Fund Turns on a Dime, Watch Your Dollars


LAST October, shareholders in the Willow Fund, a closed-end investment fund sponsored and sold by UBS, received some disturbing news: the fund, which had assets of almost $500 million in 2006, was being liquidated.

With a portfolio that specialized in distressed debt instruments, the Willow Fund had suffered losses of almost 80 percent in the first three quarters of 2012 after its longtime manager switched gears: he had abandoned the corporate debt markets he was familiar with and piled into some colossally bad derivatives trades. The investors, some of whom hadn’t realized they were holding a portfolio filled with risky bets against the debt of European nations, were stunned.

What happened to the Willow Fund is a cautionary tale for any investor who entrusts his or her money to an investment fund. Its demise highlights the dangers when a portfolio manager makes a big change in investment strategy. It also raises questions about how assiduously this fund’s independent directors watched over the manager as he ramped up his portfolio’s risk levels. Both are problems that investors cannot be complacent about. Read more of this post

Papers Worldwide Embrace Web Subscriptions

March 31, 2013

Papers Worldwide Embrace Web Subscriptions


SERRAVAL, France — Newspapers, once reluctant to try to charge readers for access to their Web sites, have begun doing so in droves.

Across many of the developed economies of America, Europe and Asia, so-called pay walls are proliferating as publishers struggle to make up for dwindling revenue on their print products. Online advertising, once seen as the great hope for the future, has begun leveling off, which is accelerating the push for new Internet business models.

“Why now?” said Douglas McCabe, an analyst at Enders Analysis in London. “The outlook for digital advertising for all but the very largest sites looks increasingly challenging. Therefore, it is critical that news services experiment with subscription models.” Read more of this post

New Disney Characters Make It Big in TV’s Preschool Playground; Nick Jr. ratings have plummeted more than 50 percent since Disney introduced Disney Junior

March 31, 2013

New Disney Characters Make It Big in TV’s Preschool Playground



LOS ANGELES — Sorry, Dora. You’ve been dethroned.

Nick Jr. has long been cable television’s No. 1 channel dedicated solely to preschool children. The service, owned by Viacom, had a smash hit in “Dora the Explorer,” which made its debut in 2000. Competition was also light: the Walt Disney Company, preoccupied with hunting for preteenagers, operated no 24-hour preschool channel.

But in the year since Disney introduced Disney Junior, a channel aimed at the tiniest of viewers, Nick Jr. ratings have plummeted more than 50 percent, according to Nielsen. On Tuesday Nielsen data for Disney Junior will be revealed for the first time; the new channel is expected to beat its rival, even though Nick Jr. is available in 75 million homes, 25 percent more than Disney Junior.

Disney now has the top three preschool cable programs, led by what appears to be a monster-size new hit, “Sofia the First,” a cartoon that stars a pint-size princess and her zany animal friends. Read more of this post

E-commerce companies that make everything from bedding to eyeglasses are trying to build premium brands at discount prices by cutting out middlemen and going directly to manufacturers

March 31, 2013

E-Commerce Companies Bypass the Middlemen


When the founders of a start-up that sells eyeglasses online, Warby Parker, began investigating why designer glasses cost several hundred dollars, they discovered that everyone in the process was taking a cut: designers, manufacturers, brands, wholesalers and retailers.

But what if they left out most of those people? “I had been to the factories and knew what it costs to manufacture glasses and knew the cost didn’t warrant a $700 price tag,” said Neil Blumenthal, a founder of the company. Inspired by glasses they found in their grandparents’ attics, the founders sketched a few frames, hired the same Chinese factories that make designer glasses and started selling directly to consumers online. By doing so, they eliminated enough of the cost to charge customers just $95 a pair.

Warby Parker is part of a wave of e-commerce companies that are trying to build premium brands at discount prices by cutting out middlemen and going straight to manufacturers. They make everything from bedding (Crane and Canopy), to office supplies (Poppin), nail polish (Julep), tech accessories (Monoprice), men’s shoes (Beckett Simonon) and shaving supplies (Harry’s). The result is generally cheaper products for consumers and higher profit margins for the companies. Big retailers discovered long ago that controlling the supply chain benefited their bottom lines, which is why companies like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods sell many products under their own brands. At Macy’s and Kohl’s, such “private label” brands make up almost half of their sales. Read more of this post

Era of Fed Stimulus Wanes

March 31, 2013, 12:08 p.m. ET

Era of Fed Stimulus Wanes


Between U.S. stocks reaching highs and Treasury TWE.AU -0.35% yields holding near all-time lows, one of these two contrary markets will eventually have to give.

At the moment, the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy makes it so that there is enough to go around, bolstering risky and haven assets alike. But the more the U.S. economy improves, the closer investors get to a financial marketplace with less Fed support that can sap the strength from one of these markets.

Entering the second quarter with a fresh batch of key economic data on deck, investors will get evidence as to whether the U.S. recovery this year can defy the downturn suffered in each of the past two springs. Hand in hand with that will be whether and how the Fed reacts by adjusting its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program.

“We are getting closer to the end,” John Brynjolfsson, managing director of global macro hedge fund Armored Wolf LLC, said of the Fed’s stimulus efforts. “Discussion of tapering helps to make the exit less of a digital on-off decision, and should allow the Fed to more gradually wean the markets off its support.”

Mr. Brynjolfsson owns put options on the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index to hedge against a sharp drop in equities, while also positioning for a fall in Treasurys prices against German bund prices. Read more of this post

A U.S. investor won an unusual remedy in his fight against a Chinese company under an accounting cloud; Court Official Given Power to Seize Assets to Buy Back Burned Investor’s Shares

March 31, 2013, 8:44 p.m. ET

Novel Relief for China Woes

Court Official Given Power to Seize Assets to Buy Back Burned Investor’s Shares



A U.S. investor won an unusual remedy in his fight against a Chinese company under an accounting cloud: A judge gave a court-appointed official the power to seize company assets needed to buy back the investor’s shares for far more than their current price. The ruling in Delaware Chancery Court by Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster also offers a glimmer of hope to other investors who suffered steep losses on Chinese companies that listed their shares in the U.S., but have plummeted in value in the past two years. Such investors were pounded by billions of dollars in losses as short sellers targeted U.S.-listed Chinese companies, auditing firms backed away from previous work on financial statements and regulators questioned the accounting and disclosure practices of some companies.

The Delaware ruling came after ZST Digital Networks Inc. ZSTN +11.20% a network-equipment supplier, flouted an earlier court order to give the shareholder access to “certain books and records” of the company. Peter E. Deutsch, who runs a wine importer, began buying ZST shares in 2011 and eventually accumulated 3.9 million shares. But ZST ran into questions over its accounting in 2012, ultimately prompting Mr. Deutsch to sue.

Read more of this post

Superstitious investors jittery as bad omen actor Adan Cheng releases movie; Cheng has appeared in some 17 television series since 1992. The market fell while 11 of them were on air

Superstitious investors jittery as bad omen actor Cheng releases movie

Friday, 29 March, 2013, 8:06pm

Jeanny Yu

Bulls beware. Adam Cheng Siu-chow is coming to a cinema near you.

The Hong Kong actor, whose every new television drama is said to herald a stock market crash, is returning to the big screen with a new release on April 4. And stock investors are scared stiff.

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many locals, especially retail investors, are very superstitious,” said Ben Kwong Man-bun, chief operating officer at KGI Asia. “If everyone buys into this negative association and starts selling in panic, a sharp fall is inevitable.”

The new movie, Saving General Yang, is based on the legendary generals of the famed Yang family during the early years of the Northern Song dynasty. Cheng plays the senior General Yang, who fought a battle to defend the Song’s borders from foreign invaders.

The 66-year-old Cheng’s tryst with infamy began in 1992, when TVB launched a drama series called The Greed of Man. Cheng played the role of Ting Hai, an actor who makes a killing by short-selling derivatives and stocks in a bear market. The Hang Seng Index fell up to 13 per cent while the show was on. His bad influence on the index has been dubbed the “Ting Hai effect” since, and has proven largely true over the past decade. Cheng has appeared in some 17 television series since 1992. The market fell while 11 of them were on air. In 1997, when another series, Legend of Yung Ching , was running, the index fell below 10,000 points. TVB also happened to launch a new Cheng series in 1998, when the Asian financial crisis erupted, and in 2000, when the technology bubble burst. Read more of this post

Beijing University is in possession of a bamboo-strip version of the Laozi / Daode Jing that they date to the Western Han

Transcription of Beida Laozi Manuscript On-Line

As many of you know, there are more and more excavated texts making their presence known in our field. Beijing University is in possession of a bamboo-strip version of the Laozi / Daode Jing that they date to the Western Han.

LaoTzu_Bamboo Read more of this post

Consultants’ fees slash workplace pensions

March 28, 2013 6:36 pm

Consultants’ fees slash workplace pensions

By Josephine Cumbo

Workplace pension savers could see up to 50 per cent of their retirement pots used to pay for pension advice given to an em-ployer, says a new report.

As millions of workers are automatically enrolled into workplace pensions, a probe by Which?, the consumer group, has exposed the size of “consultancy charges” that are being passed to pension savers without their knowledge. Read more of this post

Stocks, Commodities Break Up the Band; The Correlation Between the Two Markets Is at its Lowest Since October 2008

March 31, 2013, 9:14 p.m. ET

Stocks, Commodities Break Up the Band

The Correlation Between the Two Markets Is at its Lowest Since October 2008


Commodities have been shut out of the stock market’s recent party.

Even as the U.S. stock market notched record highs in recent weeks, prices of raw materials, often used as a barometer of the global economy, have languished.

MI-BV041_ABREAS_G_20130331163004MI-BV042_ABREAS_G_20130331163304 Read more of this post

eBay CEO: Same-day shipping will be everywhere; “I’ve had newspaper companies come to me and say, we have all these trucks. Can we help deliver?”

eBay CEO: Same-day shipping will be everywhere

By JP Mangalindan, Writer March 29, 2013: 1:19 PM ET

John Donahoe tells Fortune that eBay’s same-day shipping service could eventually serve everyone in the U.S.

FORTUNE — Same-day shipping is inevitable, according to eBay CEO John Donahoe.

While eBay’s (EBAY) same-day shipping program, eBay Now, may be available in just three U.S. cities — with another two coming this summer — Donahoe foresees a day when customers can get thousands of items from partners like Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), and Urban Outfitters everywhere within an hour, from Portland to Peoria. “We’re looking at the consumer benefits and the retailer benefits,” Donahoe tells Fortune. “How it gets connected is wide open.”

That means exploring other third-party shipping and transportation systems to exploit excess capacity. Just as say, Airbnb lists available homes and rooms and Uber leverages the downtime of black car and taxi drivers, eBay Now could utilize the excess capacity of shipping services like UPS (UPS). Indeed, the company has already had early talks with two well-known shipping and transportation companies about potential partnerships that would expand eBay Now’s coverage.

“I’ve had newspaper companies come to me and say, we have all these trucks. We deliver these newspapers, and these trucks don’t get used after 8 a.m. in the morning. So we have drivers, and we have empty trucks. Can we help deliver?” says Donahoe, who readily points out there are newspaper trucks in every city in America. Read more of this post

Himalaya, India’s Booming Ayurveda Herbal “Alternative Healthcare” Company; Sales have quadrupled in the last five years to reach 12 billion rupees ($220 million) in 2012

Himalaya, India’s Booming Herbal Healthcare Company
Adam Plowright | March 31, 2013

Bangalore, India. Its raw materials are plants and it bases its products on texts dating back millennia, but don’t dare call India’s biggest herbal healthcare group a maker of “alternative medicine.” “It’s high time people took us very seriously and did not view us as an alternative form of medicine,” says Philipe Haydon, the India chief executive of the Himalaya group from his office in tech and healthcare hub Bangalore. “This is not a feel-good product. This will save a man’s life,” he says, taking a box from a stack next to his desk.

It is marked Liv 52, a blend of six herbs used to treat liver disorders, and is one of the firms best-selling products. In two recent clinical tests, results published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2007 and in the Antiviral Research journal in 2009 showed significant results. “It so happens that the input material is a herb but the rest of it is very very modern,” said the 50-year-old, who joined Himalaya in 1979. The group is an Indian healthcare success story, combining ancient traditional medicine known as Ayurveda with cutting-edge technology. Its air-tight production facility converts truck-loads of fragrant organic matter into eight million tablets a day and 10,000 bottles of medicine. In the quality control area, men and women in lab coats sit next to conveyor belts as tablets fly past on their way into plastic pots carrying Himalaya’s green and orange labels. In the research and development wing, 250 scientists are working to find new combinations of herbs whose active ingredients are extracted and concentrated to form products that are then tested by humans.

Sales have quadrupled in the last five years to reach 12 billion rupees ($220 million) in 2012. Its target is a billion dollars in annual revenue in the next four years as it spreads into foreign markets. Read more of this post

Thailand’s Pichai Chunhavajira will draw on his experience during the dark days to help him resolve SME Bank’s ingrained woes

Changing the system from the inside out


Pichai Chunhavajira will draw on his experience during the dark days to help him resolve SME Bank’s ingrained woes.

Published: 1 Apr 2013 at 00.00

Are we in a new bubble? It certainly seems like it, considering the massive trading volume on the stock exchange, the long queues at the Bangkok International Motor Show and the ever-changing city skyline as new buildings seemingly appear each day.

“You have to admit there are some areas that are overheating, but overall it’s not that bad,” said Pichai Chunhavajira, executive chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank).

One major difference today is that speculation aside, most of the country’s banks and top companies remember the lessons learned from the Asian economic crisis. Risk management, asset diversification and balance sheets today for the country’s top firms have all significantly improved over the course of the past several years. Debt-to-equity ratios have fallen sharply, as many chief financial officers remember painfully the dangers of excessive leveraging and overdependence on banks for funds. Read more of this post

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