#215 yo-yo stock market

I cannot believe that I read: yesterday the US stock market soared 900 points or 11% (!) while for the past few days, in spite of monies injected, yet…there was a spiral downwards! Why no stability? Who are the suckers? Who are the winners?

Who has been deciding or manipulating the rise and fall of the stock market?!

Who is pocketing the monies? Surely the monies cannot just evaporate!

28th-29th October is the anniversary of the Great Depression 79 years ago! At the time, there was no government intervention or bailout.

Yet today, in spite all the interventions, there is great votility! What is really happening? Who stand to benefit in this yo-yo?

#214 food scare

Milk, an essential for babies and now cup noodles, the popular fast food for adults especially the elderly who found this convenient to prepare.

All one needs is to pour hot water into the cup and wait for several minutes…voila, the food is ready for eating! Mind you, the price for a cup noodle is not that cheap…but for convenience, to fill the hungry stomach and saving time in this fast track life is an alternative choice!

Tainted milk in China stole the headlines at a time when the global financial crisis was looming large, now this cup noodle scare in Japan where insecticide is found! Is there something more sinister?!

About a million cups were recalled. This scare comes at a time when prices of some staple foods are on the rise!

The Nissin Foods product company was founded by Mr Momofuku Ando. Died at ripe age of 96, he was born in Taiwan in 1910 and returned to Japan in 1933. According to sources, he was inspired to provide cheap food for the masses after witnessing people queueing for hot ramen (noodle) at a black market stall during the time of food shortage in WWII.

Interestingly the first instant noodle came on the market in 1958 but the cup noodle in 1971.

#213 european rights prize

Hu Jia, a prominent activist and currently serving jail sentence from China apparently won the European rights prize. What does this prize stand for?

Will this prize given to Hu Jia encourage more dissent in China?

When people are given the housing and food, will they rise up against the leadership of a country?

Will any nation in Europe give a red carpet for Hu Jia & family to live there? If they had given him the prize, surely they could go a step further in offering political asylum! That surely is freedom of expression for people like him — an opportunity to express his freedom then!

Then, he & his wife will discover if there is…

Is the West using this human rights weapon to minimise and causing dissent in a country that is a rising economic power?

There is great poverty in India yet… However India has a Ghandi proponent for peace. Yet in his lifetime, no one in the West took note of him!

Human rights issue is relative. What is democracy?

Where has democracy brought the West today? Drugs, promiscuous sex, guns, gay rights…whatever social ills there is.

The latest financial crisis is a result of greed of a few. The few squandered the resources of many? Living on borrowed money? Resulting many are having to live on the streets soon!

Today, anything and everything can be turn into weapon of discontent and dissent!

#212 simple understanding

CNN’s senior business correspondent Ali Velshi gave this layman’s understanding on Oprah Winfrey show:

The first step toward grasping the bailout plan is to understand how we got in this mess in the first place. Ali says it started with three basic assumptions about the American economy: homes will increase in value over time, wages will go up over time and investments in the stock market will go up over time. “Very rarely do all three not go up at the same time,” he says. “So we thought that things will be better for us financially year after year.” The banks encouraged that concept because the more the American people spend, the more money banks make.
 
…since Americans thought their finances would increase over the years, they spent as if that money was guaranteed. “We all lived a little beyond our means and then a lot beyond our means,” he says. “Now, our country, our people, our banks and our government are all heavily, heavily indebted and the money is running tight.”

…a mortgage meltdown is primarily responsible for the economic trouble. The cycle started with regular Americans who were unable to afford their mortgage interest rates. As a result, banks foreclosed their homes. Eventually, the effects of the home foreclosures reached a global scale, causing a financial collapse. “We are very powerful people, because we caused this,” Ali says. 

The other key to understanding the financial mess is understanding credit. “Let’s show you how central credit and banking is to your life,” he says. “The bank gives you a credit card, and you use that to spend money at the grocery store. But the bank also gives the grocery store money because the grocery store has to [borrow] to buy things from a supplier, let’s say the cereal factory. …The supplier [or cereal factory] needs to buy wheat or flour, so they borrow money from the bank [too].” But because of the current economic situation, banks don’t trust anyone to pay them back, Ali says. “Your credit line, if you did nothing wrong, may have been reduced by the bank just because they are scared that you might get into trouble.” 

…due to credit reduction, the cereal factory can’t buy as much wheat, and the grocery store can’t buy as much cereal. When stores or suppliers can’t afford to buy as much they used to, they can’t do as much business. Then, people get laid off. 

As a result, all the people who lost their jobs aren’t paying taxes or shopping as much, Ali says. “They’re a net drain on the financial system. They’re not contributing.” Ali says that in the first nine months of 2008, 750,000 people in the United States lost their jobs. In September 2008 alone, an incredible 159,000 jobs were lost. “This is what hurts this system,” he says. “And that’s why it affects you.”

#211 dispute over ancient temple

The latest dispute according to news left 2 Cambodians dead and 2 wounded while 5 Thai soldiers wounded.

Where is negotation? Where is peace? What do some leaders know about peace?

These leaders certainly know how to add spicy spices to the lives of the villagers.

As it is, the villagers are living in dire poverty, will they have to flee?

Are temples not holy shrines?

The 11th century Preah Vihear temple, now cited as an UN World Heritage site, though situated on Cambodian territory (?), Thailand also claims right to that temple.

Will the UN World Heritage body consider removing the recognition?

Conflict over the rights to tourism revenue?

#210 school lessons boring

“How’s school?”

“It’s boring!” remarked a teenager from a good school.

Sadly students think that teachers can teach…but the truth is, many of us who had gone through the mill discovered the qualified teachers were average. They could hardly impart knowledge. Some teachers read through the text with us during lessons and they expect us to perform. We must be the intelligent to have gone through schooling with such teachers!

I recall in the past when teachers have time, they would gossip and naturally creating more and more discontents. Some teachers took their frustrations out on the students…I reckon that was abuse! This unhappy and cantankerous mood of teachers was resolved when the education ministry made teachers attend extracurricular courses and given opportunities for upgrading their skills.

However today, a new phenomenon has emerged. The young think they are smarter than the grown-ups…especially those in the primary schools!

There is seeming lack of humility and unwillingness to learn. If children resist learning in every situation or think they know more than adults, the society is heading for…I don’t know what! 

Is this the frog-in-the-well mentality…or, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

#209 learning to live within one’s means

Man has short memory indeed! The last recession was about 6 years ago here in Singapore?

Have we picked up since then? Or are we gliding further? Up a little and slide further?

Have we learnt our lessons since?

Recession, panic selling in the stock market, credit crunch gale force sweeping Europe might be blessing in disguise — though painful!

This is perhaps a time when man is forced to wake up to learn living within one’s means — no more borrowed money or assumption to making easy money!

A time to be true and honest with self…no more living in pretense or deception!

#208 retrenchments and wage cuts

Singaporeans are forewarned there will be retrenchments and wage cuts during this recession.

Who are the ones to be retrenched? Will those in the 50s of age bracket be the first to go? The rationale that the older ones are higher wage earner…but the new intake start with higher starting pay without experience!

What about rents on commercial properties? Will there be a freeze or lowering of rates?

#207 who do you trust?

Having money is a problem these days. Putting money in the bank is no consolation either.

You lose your hard earned cash when a financial institution collapsed. I was told you could file for misrepresentation — that the profile of products bought did not suit the personality of one. How does this work?

The high turnover of officers serving you in the banks leaves one insecure and lacking continuity especially for the smaller or new savers. 

Why the high turnover of bank officers? The officer has to perform, otherwise the manager will be breathing down his neck daily. Should he not perform according to portfolio, the officer is shown the exit. If he did well, he was rewarded handsomely.

The latest news: Iceland is a country that is going bankrupt! What does that mean? Will those who had savings in the banks see these evaporate?

#206 students in school uniforms

The school uniform a student wears serves as an identity.

Yesterday at a bus interchange, instead of queueing for the bus, a student in Nanyang Girls’ High uniform tried to cut queue. She thought by following an uncouth middle-aged man, no one bothered ticking her off.

This student obviously did not take pride in her school — neither pride in herself!

I have on occasions found students from the National JC or Hwa Chong JC loudly talking to one another or laughing away creating such din on a bus. They were not respecting themselves or other passengers already seated there!

Also, girl students from Raffles JC loitering on steps at Takashimaya. Once I tried suggesting to these students that if they had wanted to loiter, to do in more discreet fashion — either they changed into their home clothes or go to parks or sit around benches provided but not littered themselves on floor or on steps.

Yesteryears, we were proud of our school uniforms. Girl students would bring their home clothes to change after school if they had wanted to loiter.

Gone are the days when students from better or more elite schools cared if they bring shame upon the school or themselves. A sign of low self-esteem?!

Is social etiquette lacking? Where is the gracious society that we’re talking about?

Economically, we might be first class; social etiquette…? Or, is this freedom of expression?