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Property Fengshui 101

By Property Soul


Do you believe in house fengshui? I am a big fan of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not being superstitious. Fengshui is very scientific. There is nothing speculative or supernatural about it.

Property fengshui believes in maintaining the harmony between man and nature for the sake of good health and good fortune.

Good fengshui depends very much on the external environment, especially the four basic elements of wind, sunlight, mountain and river. It talks about how to judge the fengshui of a place according to its location, direction, ventilation, sunlight, etc. Fengshui is all about harnessing Sheng Qi (生气) and avoiding Sha Qi (煞气).

Buy first or let a fengshui master see it first?

Many people hire fengshui masters to see their new home after they bought the place, when they should have done it the other way round. There are two reasons behind this.

First of all, since you have already made your purchase, it is too late to tell you even though the fengshui of the place is bad. And because you are a customer of the fengshui master, to be courteous, problem areas are only mentioned subtly in order not to make you lose face or upset you too much. Afterall, there is not much you can do now.

Furthermore, most fengshui masters like to advise their clients on renovations and decorations. But in reality, the outside environment is much more important than the interior decoration. If external fengshui is bad, there is only so much that interior fengshui can do. And you can’t make good use of the Qi if it doesn’t exist in the first place. There is an interesting analogy from a famous fengshui master: You can’t do hairstyling if you don’t have any hair in the first place.

Consequence of buying a good or bad fengshui property

Why am I so particular about buying a good unit?

Because I care about the well-being of my family and I have to ensure that there are no bad elements of our home.

Because I have my pride and I know people visiting my place will be full of praise.

Because I can get a good tenant in a soft rental market when competing with other landlords.

Because I can market it at a premium price next time when I sell my unit.

Because I know how things can turn out the other way if I buy the wrong unit out of ignorance.

For I have personally stepped into hundreds of resale units during flat viewing. You can’t imagine what kind of bad units that people can buy. The location, direction, facing, floor and layout are all wrong.

There are so many silly mistakes that the owners could have avoided if they bothered to do their homework and think twice before they buy.

The sad thing is: These owners have spent so much money buying the unit. But their family have to endure the nuisance or undesirable consequence. Next time when the unit is for rent or for sale, potential tenants and prospective give a frowny face before criticizing the place.

Some common examples of bad fengshui

The definitions and criteria of a good unit may be subjective. However, people tend to agree what defines a bad one – an obstructed view, a bad facing, lack of privacy, too much void area, noisy or dusty, bad or odd layout, etc.

Last month I went to view a condominium project that just obtained its TOP. Half of the units have fantastic unblocked seaview. The units facing the sea are asking for a premium price.

However, when you open the double glazed windows in the balcony, you are immediately turned off by the noise coming from the heavy traffic of the highway. Unless the windows are closed all the time, I can imagine how the residents are disturbed by the Noise Sha (声煞), causing troubles like restless days, hot tempers, sleepless nights and poor health.

I used to own a unit in a condominium with building blocks much higher in height than the surrounding projects. It has unblocked view. I thought it is bright and windy with very good fengshui.

But the problem is that it faces strong winds from all directions. Very often the wind is so strong that the doors keep slamming if they are not closed properly. If the wind is too strong, all Qi will be dispersed and good fortune cannot be kept. The situation is similar to the only house built on top of a hill. The problem in fengshui is called Wind Sha (风煞).

There are also other Sha Qi that should best be avoided. For instance, the Heaven’s Kill Sha (天斩煞), Scissors Sha (剪刀煞), Wall Blade Sha (壁刀煞), Flame Sha (火形煞), Reflection Sha (反光煞) and Roof Ridge Sha (屋脊煞).

All these Sha Qi can easily be identified if home buyers have the knowledge and keep practicing it by observations.

Afterall, many principles of fengshui are just common sense. However, to many people, common sense is not common.

Learning how to pick the best unit is more an art than science. If you want to know more about how to find a good fengshui condo/house, how to choose the best block/unit in a project, and how to read floor plans, join us at the How to Buy Good Quality Properties one-day workshop this Sunday.

Read more here:: Property Fengshui 101

Hong Kong Property Prices Expected to Fall by 2016

By Reid Kirchenbauer

Despite being the city with the 3rd most expensive real estate prices in the world and home prices hitting a record high earlier this year, Hong Kong property prices are expected to begin to drop in 2016, according to experts and analysts in the city’s residential property sector.

With an average price at $22,814 per square meter, property values in Hong Kong have long been ranked third in the world and have been considered to be extremely pricey. One of the main leading reasons for the high prices and the constant increase in value was the limited space in the financial hub of Asia.

Home values have been on a constant rise as proven by the 340% increase since 2003. The relentless rise in real estate prices has, in fact, renewed concerns that the government may impose more property tightening measures in order to puncture the trend. Example of such a measure would be stricter mortgage restrictions or higher taxes on foreign purchases.

However, this trend seems to be changing. Both JPMorgan Chase and the global lender UBS disclosed recently that home prices in Hong Kong could be on the fall until the end of 2017 as buying demand is hurt by an economic slowdown in China and Hong Kong, rising unemployment rates, and a lower inflation rate.

The Future of Hong Kong Property Prices?

According to Cusson Leung, the head of Hong Kong research, conglomerates and property for JPMorgan, there is a high chance that residential prices will start falling by 5% to 10% per year starting in 2016.

Despite the expected fall in residential housing prices starting next year, real estate prices are still expected to rise for the rest of 2015. With the new homes and existing housing expected to be 5% and 10% more expensive respectively, property values for this year will still be relatively expensive.

Eva Lee, executive director and head of Hong Kong/China Property Research at UBS, was of the same opinion. In a briefing the previous week, she mentioned that the upcoming cycle that will lead to the fall of Hong Kong property values will be different from previous ones, This is because it will not be triggered by global economic shocks, but rather the deteriorating local economy.

Cusson Leung pointed out that the shrinking retail market in Hong Kong, mainly driven by the closure of many luxury brand stores, was one of the main factors in driving down the property sales. The other factors were rising unemployment, shaken investors’ confidence over concerns that China’s growth is slowing, and that the global markets may suffer from a planned in the interest rate hike in the United States.

According to Leung, “Pressure on the economy is the biggest concern here instead of an interest rate hike.”

Alfred Lau, a property analyst from Bocom International predicted the potential fall in prices from looking at real estate prices relative to property stocks. Lau said that Hong Kong home prices are currently the highest relative to property developer stocks in almost two decades.

“It is a sign that the property market will drop as much as 20 per cent in the last quarter this year,” he said.

There were other signs telling the same story.

In August, Hong Kong’s private-sector economy saw its sharpest contraction ever since 2009. This is a distress signal for the economic health of Asia’s financial capital.

Weakest home sales in 17 months were also reported after a month-long stock rout that originated in China hurt market sentiment among buyers and investors. Comparing year to year data, the sales this year have been down by a third in terms of units sold.

In regards to the shrinking retail market, it was found that 42% of the sales came from tourists. This constitutes the highest proportion in the world and Hong Kong real estate values will suffer even more once the tourist arrivals fall and hit the retail market.

The post Hong Kong Property Prices Expected to Fall by 2016 appeared first on InvestAsian.

Read more here:: Hong Kong Property Prices Expected to Fall by 2016

Online Hiring in Banking and Finance Sector Remains Slow in South East Asia

Below is data released by Monster Employment Index, which provide insights on the job market for banking and finance. At the moment, the market doesn’t look good for job-seekers wishing to enter the financial sector, especially in global wealth hub like Singapore. 

Launched in May 2015, with data collected since January 2011, the Monster Employment Index is a broad and comprehensive monthly analysis of online job posting activity conducted by Monster India. Based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large, representative selection of online career outlets, including, the Monster Employment Index presents a snapshot of employer online recruitment activity nationwide. 

Southeast Asia, October 5, 2015 – As economic conditions continue to falter, online recruitment activities across Southeast Asia’s Banking and Finance sectors are registering weak growths.

This is according to the latest Monster Employment Index (MEI), a monthly gauge of online job hiring activity by, which records the industries and occupations that show the highest and lowest growth in recruitment activity in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.

Among the three markets surveyed, Singapore exhibited the weakest year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector, at -13% between August 2014 and August 2015. This is a further dip from July’s -9%.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines witnessed positive year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector at 10% and 2% respectively, where the sector emerged as the top growth industry in Malaysia. Between July and August 2015, the Philippines registered the most notable growth in the SEA region, as annual growth improved from -8% to 2%.


BFSI Industry:

Month Market 2014 2015 % Growth Y-o-Y
May Singapore 126 122 -3%
Malaysia 100 116 16
Philippines 118 91 -22%
June Singapore 129 120 -7%
Malaysia 100 105 5%
Philippines 101 91 -10%
July Singapore 134 122 -9%
Malaysia 99 111 12%
Philippines 106 97 -8%
August Singapore 134 116 -13%
Malaysia 88 97 10%
Philippines 104 106 2%


Finance & Accounts Roles:

Month Market 2014 2015 % Growth Y-o-Y
May Singapore 110 106 -4%
Malaysia 107 104 -3%
Philippines 111 90  -19%
June Singapore 113 101 -11%
Malaysia 98 97 -1%
Philippines 92 89 -3%
July Singapore 117 104 -11%
Malaysia 95 95 0%
Philippines 103 91 -12%
August Singapore 113 98 -13%
Malaysia 88 91 3%
Philippines 106  96 -9%

E-recruitment trends for Finance and Accounts professionals show negative annual growth for all markets except Malaysia. Jobs in the Philippines have dropped -9% year-on-year, while roles in Singapore experienced the biggest decline at -13%.

“While we are experiencing an overall slowdown in hiring across the region within the BFSI sector, Malaysia and the Philippines are emerging ahead of markets such as Singapore, as international brands continue to explore their options in both countries. This is resulting in a rise in demand for professionals with niche skills, especially within governance and compliance,” said Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, (India, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong).

“In Singapore, cost considerations are still playing a part in the overall downsizing of the industry. We do expect this to pick up again slowly in the coming year, however the short-term reality is stagnant headcounts and limited hiring activity in the sector.”

The Monster Employment Index is a monthly gauge of online job posting activity, based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large representative selection of career websites and online job listings across Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The Index does not reflect the trend of any one advertiser or source, but is an aggregate measure of the change in job listings across the industry.

See below for countrywide trends across Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines:

Singapore Highlights

  • The MEI registered a decline of -10% year-over-year in August 2015, a slight decline from July’s -8% year-over-year growth.
  • The Healthcare industry reported the least decline at -3% year-on-year, while the Government/PSU/Defence sector continues to see the greatest decline at -22%.
  • Healthcare roles performed best with 6% growth, Hospitality & Travel still register the steepest fall at -21% year-over-year.
Top Growth Industries
Year-over-year Growth  Aug




% Growth


Health Care 112 109 -3%
Education 96 92 -4%
Import/Export 88 84 -5%
Engineering, Construction and Real Estate 98 93 -5%
Production/Manufacturing, Automotive and Ancillary 105 95 -10%
Lowest Growth Industries
Year-over-year Growth Aug




% Growth


Shipping/Marine 104 92 -12%
BFSI 134 116 -13%
Consumer Goods/ FMCG, Food & Packaged Food , Home Appliance, Garments/ Textiles/ Leather, Gems & Jewellery 103 88 -15%
Hospitality 132 106 -20%
Government/ PSU/ Defence 104 81 -22%
Top Growth Occupations
Year-over-year Growth  Aug




% Growth


Health Care 107 113 6%
Legal 105 106 1%
Real Estate 124 121 -2%
Customer Service 120 112 -7%
Engineering /Production 102 92 -10%
Lowest Growth Occupations
Year-over-year Growth Aug




% Growth


Marketing & Communications 90 80 -11%
Sales & Business Development 114 101 -11%
HR & Admin 113 100 -12%
Finance & Accounts 113 98 -13%
Hospitality & Travel 125 99 -21%

China Beats Japan in Bid for Indonesia Rail

By Reid Kirchenbauer

After several weeks of speculation, uncertainties, and even the temporary cancellation of construction, China has become the chosen one to construct the very first high speed Indonesia rail – a 150-km line connecting Jakarta and Bandung, the business hub in the West Java province.

Both of the Asian infrastructure construction powerhouses have been vying for this US$5 to US$6 billion contract ever since China joined the bidding game in April 2015.

There were quite a few dramatic developments before this contract was awarded. The Indonesian government was presented with many different views from many of its ministers. One of the topics that came up most frequent was the appropriateness of having a high-speed train in a corridor already well served by medium-speed trains and road transport.

The climax of this argument unarguably took place when the Indonesian government abandoned the whole idea in early September. Minister Rizal Ramli held a press conference providing clarification that a high speed train was unnecessary and that a “medium-speed” train would do.

And now that the winner of this race has been decided, an analysis of how and why China won is in order. To start off, the terms proposed by both countries are further examined.

China to Build Indonesia Rail Faster and Cheaper

Looking at the time required to finish construction, China appears as the more attractive option promising to complete this project in just three years as opposed to Japan’s five. Bonus points were awarded for China for proposing that construction can begin just a month after the signing date.

In terms of the contract value, China proposed a significantly lower price of $5.5 billion when compared to $6.2 billion from Japan.

However, the time was a make-or-break factor, unlike the different financing terms proposed by both countries. Expert analysts agree that the Chinese financial package far exceeded the Japanese one for this ASEAN country. Even though both countries proposed to finance the construction, China was the only one that did not require a funding guarantee from the Indonesian government.

Ramli once also was quoted saying that the Indonesian government was not keen at all on using any state funds for the project. Japan’s bid was built around the fact that part of the funding would be from the Indonesian government and a low-interest loan offered by Japan. In comparison, China offered to provide a loan and include Indonesian state-owned firms to provide for the remainder of the costs.

Consequently, it was indeed the financing question that became the deciding factor between the two countries. In fact, Indonesia’s National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil was reported explaining to the secretary of the Japan’s chief cabinet that it was Indonesia’s wish to bring this project to life without any guarantee of funding from the state. This meant that the project will have to be completed under a B2B model, something that Japanese companies are unwilling to compromise on.

With the contractor finally selected after weeks of a highly intense bidding war and dramatic developments from within the Indonesian government, the beginning of the construction is here.

A project team from China has already been sighted in Jakarta and will break ground before the end of this year. With their deep expertise and wide experience in the construction of high-speed railways, the Chinese contractors are looking forward to deepening their relationships with Indonesia through more and more practical cooperation on infrastructure facilities and production capacities.

The Indonesia railway is scheduled to commence its operations by 2019.

The post China Beats Japan in Bid for Indonesia Rail appeared first on InvestAsian.

Read more here:: China Beats Japan in Bid for Indonesia Rail

Future-proof your wealth

Many investors and financial professionals struggle to make sense of gold and silver bullion as a form of wealth-building asset. After all, precious metals do not offer dividends like stocks, nor do they provide investors with interests like bonds. In addition, unlike real estate, they do not allow investors to establish steady stream of passive income through rental collections. So what is exactly the basis for wealth builders to buy physical gold and silver? The answer is simple: risk management and future-proofing your wealth.

When you invest in stocks, there is a possibility of losing your capital invested. Of course, the potential rewards can be much higher than owning gold and silver when the management of the companies deliver on earning expectations. Conversely, if the companies are poorly managed and consistently making losses, your stock prices may also plummet. The frightening thing about investing in stocks is that whenever the stock market crashes, novice investors who put all their life savings into stocks watch in horror as their retirement funds evaporated overnight.

I feel sad whenever I read investors committing suicide as a result of losing all their life savings after dappling in the stock market. They don’t deserve this and something should be done to educate investors the perils of the stock market. It is true that you can make money from stocks but if you don’t practice risk management, you would end up losing your pants as well.

Bond is a form of financial instrument that allows investor to collect interest payment in exchange for investors’ money. In Singapore, the bonds issued by the government (SGS) consistently achieved very high rating from international agencies, so they are considered very safe investments with very minimal risk of default on the debt obligations by the Singapore government. However, the thing about bond investments is its liquidity as compared to stocks. Furthermore, not all bonds issued by other governments or companies are as safe as Singapore government. There are not many bonds with ratings as high as Singapore government bonds in the world. So you need to be careful when buying bonds.

And then there is property investment, which is the most viable source of passive income. However, in Singapore, the government has always maintained the stance that public housing, namely HDB, is not meant for investment purposes. Thus, the only chance of investors making money from properties rests solely on landed and non-landed private properties. Notwithstanding the slew of cooling measures introduced by the government for the past few years, the private residential market is still resilient and expectations of a major price correction has not materialized. This means that investors need to fork out a fortune for making the down-payment. You also need to pay for the Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 7% if the investment estate is your second property.

I am not advocating readers to put all their monies into precious metals as that would be an irresponsible thing to do. Instead, balance is always key in winning every game. In the current climate, wealth builders need to allocate some of their funds into precious metals to future-proof their wealth against market uncertainties. We cannot predict the future accurately but we can certainly ensure that our portfolio is able to withstand market shocks and mitigate potential losses through proper asset allocation. To achieve this, you need to invest in different asset classes that behave differently during market swings.

BullionStar CEO

Wealth builders can buy gold and silver bars from BullionStar, one of the largest dealers based in Singapore which exempted investment grade precious metals from the goods and services tax (GST). Just like BullionStar, one of the the goals of SG Wealth Builder is to educate Singaporeans on the merits of owning gold and silver bullion as a means of wealth preservation. 

BullionStar recommend people to put at least a part of their savings in gold and silver as precious metals always retain value in the long run, whereas fiat currencies, although they may function well as a medium of exchange in the short run, always depreciate in the long run.

BullionStar made it easy for our customers to buy gold and silver. You can open an account in less than a minute and buy your first gram of gold in another minute, using our product called Vault Gram® with which you can buy gold, silver and platinum in increments of as small as 1 gram.

So start to future-proof your wealth and add precious metals to your asset holding!

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Picking the best unit in a property project

By Property Soul


Do you like visiting showflats of new launch projects? Was that once your favourite weekend activity before you bought your present home? Me too. Except that I didn’t stop doing so even after I bought five properties.

Have you chosen a good unit?

In fact, I have visited well over a hundred showflats since year 2000. Now I can step into any sales gallery, flip the sales brochure for five minutes, and point out from the project model which blocks and units are the best ones. The marketing agents serving me are often surprised how I manage to do so in such a short time.

And let me share with you a little-known fact: Units that are priced higher, or blocks that are selling fast, are not necessarily the best blocks or units in a development.

Why? Because most buyers decide on their choice based on the recommendations of their property agents. Many are excited first-time buyers or upgraders who are inexperienced. More are amateurs who can’t tell the difference between a good and a bad unit.

I believe that you are the other type of buyers who care about buying a good fengshui condo or HDB unit for your own stay, or you are serious about investing in a good quality private property. Because if you are one of those buyers who barely spend an hour in a sales gallery and buy just any unit there, you won’t be reading my blog and sign up as a follower anyway.

Why you can’t rely on your property agent

Property buyers often empty their hard earned money to buy a property without knowing the problems of the units they bought. Unfortunately, it is not in the interest of the developers, marketing agents or property agents to share tips with buying on how to pick a good unit. Their job is to move off the shelves blocks in the launch phase, star buys of the week and unsold units in the project.

That is the reason why property agents will tell you that west sun is good for drying clothes, and that expatriate tenants from western countries enjoy watching sunset. No laundry area to dry clothes is a new trend because modern families tend to use washer-dryer or go for laundry service. Hall too cramped to place a dining table is fine because couples prefer to have dinners on two bar stools in front of a bar top table or on the sofa to eat and watch TV at the same time …

Four tips to pick a good unit

Tip #1: Visit the actual site, not the sales gallery.

In the past, showflats are open house in a completed project and sales galleries are built on the actual site. Nowadays it is common to see the actual site and the sales gallery at different locations. Misunderstandings arise because:

1. The location of the sales gallery is accessible, but the actual site may not be.

2. The advertisement says it is just next to or a few minutes away from the MRT station. But it doesn’t specify whether it is a few minutes’ walk, run or drive.

3. It highlights the proximity to two or three train stations. But the actual site may not be near to any one of them.

4. The sales gallery is surrounded by lush greenery, open space and nice view. But blocks in the actual site may see HDB blocks, another development or a religious place.

Tip #2: Ask what they don’t tell, not what they want you to know.

If you have done your homework before stepping into a sales gallery, the things that the property agent tells you in the first ten to fifteen minutes you should already know.

A property investor once shared with me two principles to stick to in a sales gallery:

1. Pay a deaf ear to whatever the sales rep is telling you, like the skill you mastered after years of living with a nagging spouse.

2. Focus on things the sales rep doesn’t tell you. Show your utmost curiosity by asking questions like a three-year-old.

If you are an experienced property buyer, you should immediately tell what they forget to show in the showflat, like a bad view from the window, or that obstructing pillar in the unit.

Tip #3: Study the sitemap, not the project model.

The project model, just like the showflats, are often not built up to scale. It is an artist’s impression for your reference only: Buildings blocking the panoramic view are not found there. The open sea view can only be seen from super high floors. Two blocks too near to the opposite ones are removed to make the development look more spacious.

Learn how to read directions and where sunlight and wind come from. Know the impact of all condo facilities that are built near to your block, including swimming pool, water feature, barbeque area, tennis court, carpark entrance and rubbish collection area.

Tip #4: Spend time on the floor plans, not the showflat units.

Wonder why a bare unit or your new unit is always smaller than what you see in the showflat and from the floor plan?

Learn how developers calculate floor areas. Know the differences of strata area versus GFA (Gross Floor Area), construction floor area versus sellable floor area, and built-in area versus open-air area.

Understand the pros and cons of different development, including walk-up apartment, mansionette, shoebox units, penthouse, cluster housing or townhouse.

Learn how to draw a rectangular block of a unit and locate the centre which is the heart of the property. Identify all the layout problems in the living room, dining area, kitchen, toilets and bedrooms.

Learning how to pick the best unit is more an art than science. If you want to know more about how to find a good fengshui condo/house, how to choose the best block/unit in a project, and how to read floor plans, join us at the How to Buy Good Quality Properties one-day workshop this Sunday.

Read more here:: Picking the best unit in a property project

Three of China’s Most Undervalued Stocks

By Reid Kirchenbauer

The Shanghai Composite erased its year-to-date gains and dropped by around 40% in a three month period between June and August. Most people will tell you that the cause of this is due to “slower growth” in the world’s second largest economy.

While China will probably not continue at a growth rate of 7% to 8%, that doesn’t take away the fact it is still the fastest growing large economy in the world. For comparison, Brazil’s GDP growth was 0.1% in 2014, Russia’s was 0.6%, and the United States’ was 2.4%.

Heck, most central bankers would kill to have their nation’s economy grow by even 6%. Assuming China’s growth dropped to that amount (analysts at Fitch, Goldman Sachs, and the IMF are predicting 6.8% for 2015), it would still be the 7th fastest growing non-frontier market economy in the world.

Whether or not you think a 40% decline in Chinese stocks as a whole is justified, there are many equities that have been measurably beaten down beyond any reasonable level. Here is a short list of just three.

SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. (SHA:600104)

SAIC Motors, China’s largest car manufacturer by total assets and sales, has dropped to 16.8CNY per share from its 52 week high of 29.18CNY. This is despite a dividend yield of 7%, a P/E ratio of 6.5, an ROI and ROE well above the industry average, international expansion plans, and all sorts of other great fundamentals.

The recent Volkswagen scandal has sent shockwaves around the auto industry worldwide and this has, for no justifiable reason, also panicked SAIC shareholders over the past week or two. A great buying opportunity presents itself here.

GD Power Development Company (SHA:600795)

One of China’s “Big 5” electricity producers, it is also perhaps the most focused on renewable and clean energy. Everyone knows that China has a pollution problem – especially those in government.

As Beijing continues to urge businesses to use less coal and more solar panels, wind farms, and dams, GD Power is extremely well positioned to take advantage of government grants and investment.

GD Power is trading at 12 times earnings, has a dividend yield of around 4%, has strong growth for a utilities company, and is expanding internationally into Myanmar and other countries in the region.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (SHA:601398)

Named the largest company in the world this year by the Forbes Global 2000 rankings, ICBC has lost around 25% of its value over the summer. Banks are usually among the worst performers in an economic crisis, but GDP growth of 6.8% is only a “crisis” to scaremongers.

There are still fears about ICBC’s bad loans, but a low P/E ratio of around 5, a strong dividend yield of nearly 6%, access to over 1.3 billion consumers, and support from Beijing all bode well for the world’s largest company in the world’s most populous nation.

The post Three of China’s Most Undervalued Stocks appeared first on InvestAsian.

Read more here:: Three of China’s Most Undervalued Stocks

Time is money

After almost two months of waiting, my new car finally arrived last Friday. I was pretty excited because it is my family’s first new car. Previously, I had owned two pre-owned Japanese cars – my first car was Toyota Vios and subsequently, Nissan Latio. So after driving for 5 years, naturally my next car is another Japanese brand, this time its Honda City.

As a wealth builder, I am fully aware that car is a form of liability, this is especially so in Singapore, a city state that discourages car ownership. Given that the cost of a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) is so high, it would seem like an unwise decision to purchase a new car at this moment. As a matter of fact, I bought my car at $105,000 and took a three year loan. Forking out so much money is not matter to be taken lightly and for sure it was not an impulse buy. My wife and I had been planning to buy a car for the past one year because my pre-owned car’s COE was about to end in 1.5 year time.

There were a few factors that prompted me to buy our new car. Firstly, my pre-owned Nissan Latio had been giving me a lot of problems lately. The ignition coils and radiator were down, costing me a lot of maintenance fees. Also, due to wear and tear, the engine was not as powerful as before. So we thought that it was better to trade in now for a good price. Secondly, we don’t know if COE prices would be higher or lower one year later. There were a lot of uncertainties and for a wealth builder, uncertainty was definitely not a good thing when it comes to planning. So after some budgeting, we felt that $53,000 was a reasonable COE level for us and so we made the purchase.

photo (5)

Above all, my key reason for buying this car was due to needs, and not wants. I am not someone who is very much into car and I am definitely not a hands-on person who knows how to change tires. So therefore, I don’t aspire to buy sports, luxury or continental car. As a family man with two young kids, my priority is to select a “bread and butter” sedan car which is affordable and reliable. This is because everyday, I need to send my daughter to child-care centre and then go to work. Having a car would help to save time because her child care centre is half an hour walk from my home. Furthermore, having a car allows me to reach home earlier and have dinner with my family. During weekends, I can also drive my family for outings, enrichment classes and gatherings.

Indeed, time is money. As I always mention in my previous posts, there are many trade-offs in life. If you want more money, you have to put in more time in your career and less time with your loved ones. If you want more time with your family, you have to sacrifice work time and make less money. Finding the right balance is never easy but for the sake of my family, I would rather have lesser savings.

From another perspective, you may argue that Singapore has a world-class public transport system and so there is really no need for a car. Well, if I am a bachelor with no dependents, I would fully agreed. But as a family man with established career, I would beg to differ. A car would enhance the quality of your life if your finances are well managed. Just imagine you have an important meeting but the MRT train breaks down again. Imagine your heavily pregnant wife taking the MRT train to work but no one gave up their seat to her. Imagine that you are taking your elderly parents to the hospital for medical check ups but could not get a taxi during the peak hours.

At the end of the day, don’t take chances and don’t waste your time with buses, trains and taxis. You have a choice and who said you can’t buy time? You can always earn back the money but can you turn back the clock? The answer is pretty obvious.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Where to sell your gold and silver bullion in Singapore

Many investors deem gold and silver bullion as “bad investment” because they don’t yield interests and furthermore incur storage costs. Even the famous Warren Buffett expressed a disdain for gold but it should be noted that the world class investor bought 129,710,000 ounces of silver through Berkshire in the 1990s. In this regard, I don’t deny that gold and silver are a form of bad investment. Because they are never meant to be an investment tool in the first place.

Gold and silver are actually money and have been used as money historically. From a wealth builder’s point of view, gold and silver are meant to hedge money portfolio during time of volatility, high inflation and financial crisis.

Another concern of precious metals is its level of liquidity. This is indeed the case in Singapore where there are not many precious metal dealers willing to buy back gold and silver which are not sold by them. For example, as far as I understand, UOB does not buy back gold bars and coins not sold by them. This is where BullionStar comes in and address the gap in the industry.

Gold and Silver Bullion

Gold and Silver Bullion

Sell Gold & Silver to BullionStar

Sell orders for bullion products are placed on this page. To sell bullion stored under My Vault Storage®, click here.

Guide for how to sell to BullionStar:
1. Select product/s and quantity.
2. Enter your personal customer information and payment instructions.
3. Submit your order by clicking “confirm”.
4. Hand over the metals to us in our shop at the address below within one business day from the order confirmation. You can walk in with your metals. No appointment is necessary. Alternatively you can send/ship your metals to us within one business day to:

BullionStar Pte Ltd
45 New Bridge Road, #01-02
Singapore 059398

Opening Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 11 am to 7 pm
Friday: 11 am to 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 2 pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

5. We will pay you according to your instructions when we have received and verified the authenticity of your metal.

Contact us if your item/s are not listed below for us to quote a price.

Please note that sell orders are binding. You must hand over the items or ship the items no later than the next business day. BullionStar reserves the right to reject sell orders according to the General Terms & Conditions.

The below listed prices for bullion bars are valid for Investment Precious Metals (IPM) in original bullion condition.

Bars that do not qualify as IPM will have their price reduced as follows:

– Gold Bar with weight 1 gram – 10 gram: 4 %
– Gold Bar with weight 11 gram – 50 gram: 2 %
– Gold Bar with weight 51 gram or more: 1.5 %
– Silver Bar with weight 31.1 gram – 500 gram: 6 %
– Silver Bar with weight 501 gram or more: 3 %
– Platinum Bar regardless of weight: 6 %

The below listed bullion prices are valid if the bullion is in original condition.

The reduction for a bar or coin that is not in its original condition is dependent on its severity of damage but normally ranges from 0.5 % to 4 %.

If you would like to sell an item which is not Investment Precious Metals and/or an item which is not in its original condition, you may still place your sell order online. We will update your order to reflect the adjusted price when we have received and assessed your bullion items.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

CPF Retirement Planning

One of the financial mistakes made by Singaporeans is that we always procrastinate retirement planning until its too late. Money issues may dominate your golden years and affect your quality of life if you are not careful with financial planning in your early years.

As a wealth builder, I tend to make this mistake as well but I always force myself to think about what kind of lifestyle I want when I am in my golden years. To do so, mindset needs to be changed. This is because our needs and wants change with time. It may not be realistic to project your future income and expenses based on current situation.

The major reason for so much frustrations among Singaporeans on the CPF Minimum Sum is because most of us depend solely on the amount as the main source of retirement fund, which may not be sufficient given the rising cost of living in Singapore. You need to start investing early and develop sources of passive income, while constantly upgrading your skill and knowledge to achieve better salaries from your day job.

Indeed, you need to have discipline and adopt a long term view when it comes to retirement planning, especially if you have just embarked your working life. But what if you are in your forties and fifties and yet to start planning for your twilight years?

To this end, the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) will be organising a series of retirement planning roadshows from August to November, in a bid to help Singaporeans aged 40 – 54 prepare themselves financially for their golden years ahead.

[ROADSHOW No. 3] Planning for your Retirement 
[DATE] 10 October 2015
[TIME] 11.00am – 6.00pm 
[VENUE] Jurong Point (opposite Boon Lay MRT and MoneyMax)
[PRICE] Admission is free
[WEBSITE] Visit  to find out more 
[DESCRIPTION/ LISTING] Unsure of how to plan for your retirement? Join celebrity and entrepreneur Irene Ang and financial expert Alfred Chia, CEO of a financial advisory firm at this roadshow to pick up insightful tips on financial and retirement planning. Win prizes at various game booths when you test your financial knowledge too! 

[UPCOMING ROADSHOWS] Planning for your Retirement 
[DATE] 31 October 2015

[TIME] 11.00am – 6.00pm 

[VENUE] Ang Mo Kio Centre Stage (between Jubilee Mall and S11 Food Centre, NTUC)
[PRICE] Admission is free
[WEBSITE] Visit  to find out more 
[DESCRIPTION/ LISTING] Unsure of how to plan for your retirement? Join celebrity and entrepreneur Irene Ang and financial expert Alfred Chia, CEO of a financial advisory firm at this roadshow to pick up insightful tips on financial and retirement planning. Win prizes at various game booths when you test your financial knowledge too! 

[UPCOMING ROADSHOWS] Planning for your Retirement 
[DATE] 14 November 2015

[TIME] 11.00am – 6.00pm 

[VENUE] Braddell Heights Community Club (outdoor space)  
[PRICE] Admission is free
[WEBSITE] Visit  to find out more 
[DESCRIPTION/ LISTING] Unsure of how to plan for your retirement? Join celebrity and entrepreneur Irene Ang and financial expert J.  Parasuraman, CEO of a financial advisory firm at this roadshow to pick up insightful tips on financial and retirement planning. Win prizes at various game booths when you test your financial knowledge too!

Emcee Lin Youfa demonstrating how to play the life-sized Snakes & Ladders financial game (1)


Asian Development Bank Predicts Slower Growth

By Reid K.

Growth forecasts for Asia as a whole have once again been brought down from previous expectations. The Asian Development Bank said in a new report that it will be cutting its forecasts for the region mainly due to slowdowns in China and India, as well as the developed markets’ slow recovery.

“The first half of 2015 has been softer than expected across the board,” the ADB said, citing harsh winter weather and labor disputes at the U.S.’s West Coast ports and Japan’s weak economic recovery as key impacts on growth. “Emerging markets are facing receding capital flows and depreciating currencies – a trend that may be exacerbated by the upcoming rise in U.S. interest rates.”

As a result of the economic challenges confronting Asia’s largest and third-largest economies, China and India, the ADB cut the region’s growth outlook to 5.8% for 2015 and 6.0% for 2016, which is noticeably lower than the previous 6.3% forecast for both years. For comparison, the region’s growth rate for 2014 was 6.2%.

The US and Japan-led bank also revised down its expectations for economic growth in India to 7.4% from 7.8%, citing “external demand weakness and slower-than-expected pace of enacting key reforms”.

However, there is still a consensus to be reached as to how much of a concern the slower growth rate should be and its estimated impact. Piyush Gupta, chief executive of DBS Bank Ltd, told the Milken Institute’s Asia Summit last week that as economies grow in size, “a glide path of slower growth” is normal and should be expected. As China slowly goes onto this path of slower growth, the region’s exports, particularly of commodities, are taking a hit, he noted.

Yet, he added that there is still somewhat of a cause to be worried. “China at 5% to 6% [growth] still puts a Germany on the map every four years. It’s not negative growth. It’s still creating massive demand. But it might not be enough.”

The ADB cut its forecast for China’s growth to 6.8% for 2015, 0.4% down from its previous forecast of 7.2% and a long way below 2014’s 7.3% growth rate. It anticipates that the growth rate will continue its current trend of falling even in 2016, predicting 6.7% during that year.

“Despite robust consumption demand, economic activity fell short of expectations in the first eight months of the year as investment and exports underperformed,” the report said. “As external demand strengthens with the pickup in growth in the industrial countries, and as improved financial conditions support investment, downward pressure on growth will ease.”

Slower Growth Expected Throughout Asia – Not Just China

India’s forecasts were cut by 40 basis points to 7.4% for 2015, down from a previous forecast of 7.8% growth.

“External demand weakness and slower-than-expected pace of enacting key reforms are holding back India’s growth acceleration,” the ADB said, but it added that it expected 2016 growth to pick up to 7.8% as reforms began to take hold.

The ADB also cut the outlook for the Southeast Asian region to 4.4% this year, the same pace as in 2014, but down from its previous forecast of 4.9%. It said it expected growth to rise to 4.9% in 2016.

“Thailand has yet to bounce back from its 2014 slump, while infrastructure investment has fallen behind schedule in Indonesia and the Philippines. Drought in several countries, and floods in Myanmar, have hurt agriculture,” the ADB said. “Vietnam, by contrast, is growing faster than anticipated earlier this year, powered by foreign direct investment and buoyant private consumption.”

However with this recent update on the forecast numbers, ADB has also urged Asian central banks to strengthen their financial system because of the rise in capital outflow as dealers look for safer US investments ahead of a possible Fed rate hike.

The post Asian Development Bank Predicts Slower Growth appeared first on InvestAsian.

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How to Buy Good Quality Properties 1-Day Workshop (Oct 11, 2015)

By Property Soul


How to Buy Good Quality Properties 1-Day Workshop
A workshop by Property Club Singapore


Do you know how to choose the best unit in a property development and the best house in the street? Do you know if you want to lease or sell your properties faster and at a rate higher than the competition, the project, direction, facing, layout, fengshui, etc. can make all the difference? Unfortunately, many property buyers have no clue. Are you one of them?

The trainer will share with you how to pick good quality properties from her knowledge and experience accumulated after visiting over a hundred new launches and going for hundreds flat/house viewings. As a fellow property buyer and investor with no vested interest in the industry, it is going to be an honest sharing of all the hidden truths and profitable secrets in choosing good quality private residential properties in Singapore.

Workshop details

Date : October 11, 2015 (Sunday)
Time : 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Venue : National Library
Trainer: Property Soul, Author of No B.S. Guide to Property Investment
Fee : Member – $299 (1 pax), $549 (2 pax)
Non-Member – $449 (1 pax), $849 (2 pax)
(Prices include lunch and tea breaks.)

Target Audience

Buyers or investors who are:

1) Planning to buy new launch or resale properties; or
2) Interested in buying good quality properties.

Topics covered

Morning Session
1. The importance of training yourself to tell the good from the bad
2. Exercise – Hey, what’s wrong with all these projects and units
3. Experience sharing: My painful story of buying the wrong thing
4. How to be an expert buying in a new launch project
5. What are the surprises that developers forget to tell you
6. Case studies: The hidden truths in showflats
7. Group Discussion – Identifying the pros and cons of different development

Afternoon Session
8. What defines a good location
9. All about direction and facing
10. Fengshui 101 in properties
11. Understanding the implications behind different layouts
12. Which flats and houses you should never buy
13. Exercise – Picking the best unit in a development
(Note: Strictly NO marketing of local or overseas properties, property-related products or services.)

About the trainer

Property Soul is a property enthusiast who bought her first condominium unit for rent since 2002. In the next 4½ years, she built up a portfolio of five private properties. By 2008, its total value had more than doubled. In 2010 and 2011, she sold four of the properties, realizing a net profit of 80 to 120 percent.

In 2010, she set up a personal blog to share her experiences as a property investor and to exchange ideas with fellow investors on accumulating wealth through properties. In April 2014, she published her first book No B.S. Guide to Property Investment. The first print was sold out in bookstores within 8 weeks’ time. The book was a bestseller in Kinokuniya and Times bookstores.

Property Soul is also the founder of Property Club Singapore – a neutral platform for the learning and networking of like-minded private property buyers, investors and owners. Seminars, talks, workshops and networking sessions are organized regularly.


Please complete the form below.


Payment can be made by one of the methods below:

1. By bank transfer to DBS Bank Current Account number 066-902-8008.
2. By crossed cheque made payable to “PROPERTY CLUB SINGAPORE PTE LTD”.
Mail to Choa Chu Kang Central Post Office, PO Box 251, Singapore 916839.
3. By paypal (add 4% paypal service charge).

For members, please log in and make payment here.
For non-members, please make payment with your paypal account or debit/credit card here.

You can sign up for Property Club Singapore membership now to enjoy all the member benefits.

Please contact us if you need any assistance.

Read more here:: How to Buy Good Quality Properties 1-Day Workshop (Oct 11, 2015)

Gold price surges to 1-mth high following Draghi comments

By Kathleen Retourne

The gold price surged to its highest since August 25 during Thursday afternoon sessions as the yellow metal took advantage of a slump in the US dollar.

Spot gold was last at $1,154.80/1,155 per ounce, a $23.9 increase on the previous day’s close as the greenback fell nearly one percent against the euro to $1.287.

The dollar slumped following comments from European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi this afternoon when he stated the central bank needed more time before deciding on additional stimulus measures.

The rest of the complex tracked gold higher, with silver back above $15 to $15.12/15.17. Palladium was up $10 at $656/661.

Platinum recovered off its six-year lows to last trade at $952/957, a $24 increase on the previous close. The white metal found some support from a rebound in Volkswagen stocks – up 6.4 percent – following the announcement that chief executive Martin Winterkorn will step down after the company forged US car emissions tests.

(Editing by Perrine Faye)

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Profit Mastery Seminar

To succeed in your personal finance journey, you need to acquire the right knowledge in the various form of wealth building strategies. One of the ways is to achieve this is through reading. However, reading is a very passive form of learning because you are merely downloading information. There is lack of interaction and exchange of ideas which would otherwise, result in a better decision-making outcome.

That is why I believe that attending seminars would help to broaden a wealth builder’s perspective. Make no mistake, I am not advocating you to sign up for those investment seminars that attempt to hard sell you their so-called secret money making formulas. Neither do I believe that you pay thousands of dollars to attend a wealth building or internet marketing seminar.

However, I do think that there are many affordable yet credible money seminars in the market that offer investors the opportunity to learn and at the same time, network with successful investors. One of them is the Profit Mastery Seminar conducted by Wealth Directions.

The local company is celebrating their 5th year anniversary the best way they know how. That is to share their knowledge about financial planning and investment. During this one day event, they have lined up a few speakers that will talk about:

1)      Getting the right investment mind set

2)      Key to good retirement planning

3)      Market outlook and many more

Similar to past event, Wealth Directions is keeping the cost low to encourage more participants to join. For only $20, you can get to hear what the money gurus’ views on the markets and their investment insights.

Here are the details that you might want to take note:

1)      Name: Profit Mastery Seminar

2)      Date: 27th Sep 2015 (Sunday)

3)      Time: 1 pm to 6 pm (registrations starts at 12:15pm)

4)      Location: 7th floor, NTUC Auditorium at 1 Marina Boulevard.

If you have not sign up, you may do so at here. In this haze situation, spending $20 for an indoor seminar to enhance your financial knowledge may not be a bad idea. Look out for one of the speakers, Brendan Yong. He will be touching on the topic on how to weather-proof your retirement plan. I have met him before and I personally found him to be a good guy with deep knowledge in the area of insurance. In fact, I have written an email interview with him before.

Wealth Directions Pte Ltd was founded in year 2010 and have educated more than 10,000 students in personal financial literacy.

They have conducted numerous financial related courses and workshops for fellow investors in Singapore. Recently, they have also organised the Inaugural Financial Blogger Investment Seminar with some of the top financial bloggers like Big Fat Purse,  Dr Wealth, Cheerfuegg etc.

With the mission to help 1 Million Millionaires, Wealth Directions Pte Ltd aims to be the leading provider of Financial Education in Singapore and the region.

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Euro Stocks Fall from VW Scandal, China’s Bleak Outlook

By Reid K.

European stock markets took a dive on Tuesday with car manufacturers and miners in free-fall resulting from the worsening Volkswagen scandal and a bleak outlook for the Chinese economy, according to dealers.

Volkswagen recently revealed that as many as 11 million diesel cars were equipped with devices that could skew emissions data. This resulted in the plummet of Frankfurt’s benchmark DAX 30, which sank 3.8% to 9570.66 points, with the guilty “The People’s Car ” company dropping by nearly 20%.

The rest of Europe followed similar patterns. The Paris CAC 40 lost 3.42% to 4428.51, points and London’s FTSE 100 dropped by 2.83% to 5935.84 points.

Another factor contributing to the decline in the global markets is the recent slashing by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) of growth forecasts for China. This directly led to miners suffering sharply, which was also shown in the fall of the European markets.

“If a growth downgrade from the Asia Development Bank wasn’t bad enough for global stock markets, knocking the mining sector sharply lower on prolonged global growth fears in Asia, the auto sector has skidded into full reverse as Volkswagen’s woes continue,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at traders CMC Markets analyst.

Volkswagen Scandal Spreads Throughout Europe

It seems as if there were more to the woes surrounding VW. According to Hewson, VW has issued a profits warning as concerns mounted “that the probe into VW’s emissions deception might uncover much wider malpractice in the sector.”

VW is looking to take action themselves to deal with negative publicity better. There are reports saying that the VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn could be forced out later this week by the company’s supervisory board. The United States has also opened up a criminal probe.

VW stock plunged by 19.82% to €106 per share as the group also set aside €6.5 billion in provisions in the third quarter to cover potential costs arising from the scandal.

The effect the scandal had on the share price has been disastrous. With its stock plunging 35% in just two days, VW lost €25 billion in market capitalization and now has issued a warning that it will have to adjust its annual profit targets accordingly.

The enormity of Volkswagen’s problems became more clear as it acknowledged 11 million diesel vehicles may have the pollution cheating device, much more than the half million for which US authorities could fine the carmaker up to US$18 billion.

The fast-moving scandal sent rival European carmakers plunging on growing worries over the sector. German carmakers BMW and Daimler sank by 6.02% and 7.02% to stand at €79.32 and €66.25 respectively.

In Paris, French peers Peugeot shed 8.76% to €13.86 and Renault 7.12% to €66.55. Shares in Fiat Chrysler fell 6.21% to €11.93 on the Milan exchange, which fell 3.33% overall.

“It’s an auto sector shaking incident that is the main contributor to Tuesday’s bearish trading – and something that looks like it could rumble on for some time,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at dealer Spreadex.

China’s Economy and Mining Sector Woes

Mining companies were also among the worst performers after the ADB forecast Asian growth would hit 5.8% this year and 6.0% in 2016. March’s forecast was for 6.3% for both years.

It tipped China – the main driver of global economic growth – to expand by 6.8% this year. That was downgraded from 7.2% after a stream of weak indicators including on trade, inflation, investment and consumer spending.

The news weighed heavily on mining and metal groups around Europe because China is a major consumer of commodities such as copper and gold.

In London, mining giant Glencore saw its share price nosedive 10.63% to 106.35 pence, topping the FTSE 100 fallers’ board. Anglo American dropped 6.73% to 648.10 pence and Antofagasta shed 7.25% to 524.50 pence.

In Amsterdam, shares in ArcelorMittal – the world’s biggest steelmaker – lost a hefty 5.92%, declining to €5.46 a share. Steel group Thyssenkrupp shed 4.8% to €16.26 in Frankfurt.

In foreign exchange activity on Tuesday, the European single currency slid to US$1.135 from US$1.1195 late in New York on Monday, as the dollar received support by US officials talking up chances of an interest rate hike later this year.

That talk hit emerging market currencies in Asia, but the region’s stocks fared better. Sydney ended 0.74% higher and Seoul closed up 0.88%. Hong Kong added 0.18% and Shanghai finished up 0.92%.

But US stocks followed Europe’s lead, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding 1.64% to stand at 16,240.1 points in midday trading. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.63% to 1,934.88, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 2.05% to 4,730.09 points.

The post Euro Stocks Fall from VW Scandal, China’s Bleak Outlook appeared first on InvestAsian.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is Having a Rough Time

By Reid K.

With eyes all around the world focusing on China as the Yuan, the domestic market, and global confidence in Beijing are all dropping, Chinese President Xi Jinping could arguably be holding the world’s least wanted job – the leader of the world’s second-largest economy.

But that’s not to say that he hasn’t been doing his job. President Xi Jinping has consolidated more power within his country than any other Chinese leader since the early 1990s, which happened just in time for a major economic slowdown and financial markets turmoil – the Shanghai Composite tumbled again last Tuesday as China reported its weakest factory activity in three years.

However, at the current moment, the Chinese leadership has been under a great deal of pressure both from within and from outside, says an East Asia analyst at geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, John Minnich.

“None of these issues by themselves would be enough to apply any pressure,” he said. “But together, It’s kind of a perfect storm where a lot of these things are hitting.”

There were also other internal instabilities which are making it harder for Xi. A deadly industrial explosion in Tianjin last month cast further doubt on Xi’s capability to control local officials, a politically inopportune event during a key moment in his campaign to reform China’s economy and environmental practices at the same time.

John Minnich feels that the internal uprising against the Government could be imminent with the turn of current events. “We are approaching a moment where, in the next couple of months, if there is going to be resistance from within the leadership against Xi, we are going to see (it) emerging more strongly,” he said.

It also did not help at all when the Government poorly handled the stock market crash – which saw everything from liquidity interventions to arrests for allegedly malicious selling. This represented the first big stumble for the Xi administration, said Nicholas Consonery, the Asia director for the Eurasia Group.

But even with this series of unfortunate events and resistance building up, Xi appears to have consolidated enough power to achieve his reform goals, according to experts.

While Eurasia Group’s Consonery said the equity market interventions were “definitely” counterproductive, he was still optimistic about Xi’s plans to manage broader economic headwinds.

“I’m not overly panicked about their ability to manage through these problems,” he said, adding that it’s unlikely there will be any changes at the top of the country’s leadership.

Minnich shared the same opinion that Xi and his close allies won’t lose control of the situation—especially given his continuing popularity with the regular citizenry — but his capacity to institute reforms may be limited by political resistance.

“Xi is not all-powerful,” Minnich said.

The government seems to be doing something to curb the internal uprisings. In fact, it appears that Beijing is trying to warn off would-be resistance from within. Chinese state media carried an editorial in August warning retired officials not to undermine the Communist Party by agitating against its current leadership. Additionally, another state commentary reportedly warned that Xi’s reforms encountered “unimaginably fierce resistance” from different interest groups.

Even the media—normally considered a mouthpiece of Beijing’s power — may have angered the Xi administration.

Last week, authorities arrested Liao Hong, CEO and editor-in-chief of People’s Daily Online, allegedly on suspicion of taking bribes. Many have suggested that the move is punishment for not following a governmental edict.

People’s Daily did not respond to requests from the press for comments.

“Leadership is moving into a time when it needs to be sure it can be effective at shaping domestic perceptions of its actions,” Minnich explained, so Xi may be attempting to redouble his control over the media.

Still, as with many aspects of China analysis, the country’s political inner workings remain largely opaque, so the exact nature of the situation is difficult to ascertain.

The post Chinese President Xi Jinping is Having a Rough Time appeared first on InvestAsian.

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Gold price slips lower, dollar strength caps rally

By Dalton Barker

Gold futures declined for the second consecutive day in the US on Tuesday, with last week’s rally running out of steam amid a recovery in the dollar.

Gold for December settlement on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was last down $7.90 or 0.7 percent at $1,124.90 per ounce. Trade has ranged from $1,124.70 to $1,136.10.

After a dovish Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement last week, markets piled into gold while the dollar sank. But after Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen maintained her desire to raise rates – perhaps as soon as October – the precious metals lost momentum.

And the dollar has surged this week – it is currently 0.3 percent stronger at 1.1157 against the euro, its best since September 9.

“Gold prices have risen sharply of late, in part supported by the Fed’s decision to leave the federal funds rate unchanged,” FastMarkets analyst Boris Mikanikrezai said. “But the current rally may lack impetus – the dollar has resumed its rally following the release of the FOMC statement.”

In April, the Fed removed all calendar references in its forward guidance, meaning the bank is now entirely data-dependent.

Today is relatively light day for data – in US figures, the house price index for July at 0.6 percent was better than the forecast 0.4 percent and up from the previous month’s 0.2 percent. The Richmond manufacturing index is due later.

Earlier, China’s CB leading index rose one percent in August, up slightly from 0.9 percent in July. The index is a combination of six economic indicators related to total loans issued, raw material supplies index, new orders, consumer expectations, export orders and housing.

The market will look to China’s flash Caixin PMI for September on Wednesday. The forecast is 47.6, up slightly from 47.1 in August – but a number below 50 still means contraction in manufacturing activity.

In wider markets, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 were down 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively but the downturn has failed to stimulate much demand for safe-haven investments.

As for other precious metals, Comex silver for December settlement was last down 46.6 cents or 3.1 percent at $14.755 per ounce. Trade has ranged from $14.695 to $15.220.

Platinum for October delivery fell $25.80 to $947.90 per ounce, while the most actively traded palladium contract at $595.90 was down $20.20.

(Editing by Mark Shaw)

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Gold price ticks up, content to range tightly

By Martin Hayes

Gold prices held onto modest gains during Tuesday European morning trading, settling back into a restrained ranging pattern after faltering at $1,140/1,142 overhead resistance in the previous session.

Firmness in the dollar and signs of stability in equity markets have reduced the safe-haven interest that lifted gold to three-week highs on Friday in the immediate reaction to the US FOMC ‘no-change’ stance on interest rate policy, traders said.

“Gold prices are consolidating off Friday’s highs but prices are generally holding up well – we wait to see if they will resume their rebound,” William Adams of FastMarkets said.

Spot gold was indicated at $1,133.50/1,133.80 per ounce, up $0.50 from yesterday – prices hit $1,141.60 on Friday but have stalled at the selling above $1,140.

“In the absence of any real driver, such as a significant directional change for the dollar or some large ‘risk-off’ event, current demand for gold is unlikely to push it far through ($1,140/1,142) resistance, if at all. On the downside initial support should kick in around $1,120-1,125,” Alex Thorndike of MKS said.

Gold also became less attractive as a safe-haven investment on news from Europe that Alexis Tsipras will return as the Greek prime minister after his Syriza party convincingly won the national election – the country’s fifth in six years. Greece is now seen as on course to impose the measures agreed in its bailout package.

This morning, the dollar was holding around a slightly steadier 1.1200 against the euro, consolidating yesterday’s rebound.

In data, China’s CB leading index rose one percent in August, up slightly from 0.9 percent in July. The index is a combination of six economic indicators related to total loans issued, raw material supplies index, new orders, consumer expectations, export orders and housing.

The market will look to China’s flash Caixin PMI for September on Wednesday. The forecast is 47.6, up slightly from 47.1 in August – but a number below 50 still means contraction in manufacturing activity.

Today is relatively routine for economic figures. In Europe, eurozone consumer confidence data is due before US figures that include the house price index and the Richmond manufacturing index

In comparison, other precious metals lost ground, reflecting their more-industrialised nature and trends in base metals. Silver was quoted at $14.97/15.02 per ounce, a 23-cent loss. Platinum was last at $960/965, down $11, while palladium fell $10 to $604/609.

(Additional reporting by Vivian Teo in Singapore, editing by Mark Shaw)

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Fed Decides to Intensify Currency Wars, Global Markets Sink

By Reid K.

A lack of activity by the U.S. Federal Reserve last Thursday by keeping the interest rates low was not surprising for some people, yet it reassured analysts that other central banks will now be looking to ease their policies even more. This move is expected to be the epicenter of global shock waves across currency markets.

The U.S. Federal Reserve cited concerns over the global economy and financial market volatility among the factors that played a role in keeping interest rates near zero.

The Fed hoped that its decision to not alter interest rates would help soothe frayed nerves at home and overseas, but that does not seem to be the case.

Global Markets Lower as “Currency Wars” Threat Looms

While a delay in a rate rise on paper should help support risk assets, global markets were noticeably lower after Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s statement, which did little to offset investor uncertainty or encourage on the health of the domestic U.S. economy.

“However, any bounce in risk assets will be short-lived,” said Kit Juckes, macro strategist at Societe Generale. He also added that in currency markets, the Japanese Yen “could be the biggest winner” if the risk mood sours.

One of many ripple effects that are expected from this move is the increase in severity of global currency wars. Valentin Marinov, managing director and head of G10 FX research at Credit Agricole, commented on Friday that he expects global “currency wars” to intensify from here.

He predicts the Bank of Japan (BOJ), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) have now effectively been pushed into unveiling more stimuli.

“The Fed inaction could spur other central banks into action,” he said. “It is currency wars.”

The dollar slipped to a three-week low against a handful of major currencies after Thursday’s decision. This comes after the greenback had been appreciating significantly since the middle of last year in anticipation of higher interest rates in the U.S.

A higher interest rate can mean a higher yield on assets and investors in the U.S. have been busy bringing their dollars home, and thus out of high-yielding foreign investments.

A weaker dollar in the short term could now leave other global economies frustrated and dent export-focused companies that favor a weak domestic currency.

There are several other ways in which a country can deal with fluctuations in its currency. Manipulating reserve levels is one of the ways that a country’s central bank can intervene against currency fluctuations. Other measures include altering benchmark interest rates and quantitative easing (QE).

Central banks often stress that exchange rates are not a primary policy goal and can be seen more as a positive by-product of monetary easing.

There have been discussions over the last few years about countries purposefully debasing their own currencies — a concern that was termed “currency wars” by Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega in September 2010.

Credit Agricole’s Marinov highlighted that the ECB could be the next to act by ramping up its current bond-buying program, thus weakening the single currency – even though its only mandate is to manage inflation.

Analysts at BNP Paribas also stated Friday that the Fed decision had increased their conviction that the ECB would increase its quantitative easing program. Marc Ostwald, strategist at ADM ISI, said in a note Friday that the ECB and the BoJ who will now face “even bigger challenges, given that the Fed is clearly not in any hurry to live up to its part of the ‘policy divergence’ grand bargain.”

But there’s also the volatility coming from China. Growth concerns in the world’s second-largest economy have spiked in recent weeks after the country’s central bank decided to intervene and weaken the Chinese Yen. This managed to roil global stock markets with the Shanghai Composite losing its year-to-date gains.

Chinese authorities might want a change to a more consumption-led economy, but this devaluation proved to many that they are not scared of helping out their export-focused sector. And Marinov highlighted that a weaker dollar could now mean Beijing could devalue the yuan further as it looks to deleverage its economy.

“(This) could unnerve and indeed lead to more market turmoil,” he said. “So by implication the Fed might be seeing more risks to their lift off.”

The post Fed Decides to Intensify Currency Wars, Global Markets Sink appeared first on InvestAsian.

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Haze Bringing Down Business in Singapore

By Reid K.

The majority of the businesses in Singapore are taking a hit as a result of the persistent hazardous haze that has been putting a damper on customers’ desire to go on their outdoor adventures.

Those which are bracing themselves for a long decline in sales are also those which were deeply looking forward to a surge from Formula 1 week – one of the biggest and most profitable weeks of the year for many businesses. A few of these firms have already started to see their takings go down.

Many establishments, especially restaurants with ample outdoor seats, have been greatly affected according to Singapore River One, a not-for-profit organization that manages businesses at Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay. A few of them are the Dallas Restaurant & Bar, Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore, and The Penny Black Victorian London Pub.

The Dallas Restaurant & Bar saw its number of customers nearly halved. According to the restaurant supervisor, Nikkie Caube, they usually accommodated over 250 customers per day but the recent haze has brought the number down sharply to only about 150 customers daily.

The Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore at Boat Quay was hit even harder. With only one table occupied on Monday, when there would have normally been 10 to 12 tables occupied daily without the haze, the restaurant has gone through some rough patches. The public relations manager of Pasta Fresca, Eleonora Caroppo said, “During this time, everyone wants to sit inside and we don’t have enough space to accommodate) all the customers indoors, so we had to reject several customers on some days.”

As for the Penny Black Victorian London Pub, sales were down by 20% even though they had counted on the F1 season to boost their sales. Their customer service manager, Declan O’Donnell commented, “Tourists will usually pass by our pub while walking down the river (during) the F1 period and some make a pit-stop for drinks here.”

The extent of damage to businesses is not limited to restaurants, for even coffee shops have not been spared. Many cafes reported declining sales. Steven Chan, 55, supervisor of Siang Ho Coffee Shop in the Chinatown area, said that he had been closing an hour earlier at 19:00 because of the haze and drop in patrons. He estimated that his business was down by about 10%.

An owner of a noodle shop in Chinatown also remarked that his business had dropped and that he had noticed a sharp hike in takeaways.

Not All Businesses Affected by Haze

However, not all is lost as there were other businesses which are still doing fine. At Equinox Restaurant located on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, restaurant reservations over the race weekend have not been affected. But noting that haze conditions may vary in the upcoming days, the management said it would take into consideration guidelines set by the National Environment Agency.

Even though their businesses have not been affected, these restaurants were not taking any chances.

1-Altitude, located on level 63 of OUB Centre, said that it has prepared two other indoor venues at Altimate and Stellar in case conditions worsen.

At Marina Bay Sands, a spokesperson said that health advisories for guests at their rooftop establishments have been placed at ticketing booths. Customers who required a mask before they ventured outdoors can also approach staff for assistance.

Resorts World Sentosa and Sentosa Development Cooperation have prepared contingency plans as well. Resorts World said it is currently advising guests and staff to stay hydrated and take regular rest periods. It is prepared to adjust outdoor shows and entertainment schedules, and has placed trained medical personnel on standby.

Sentosa Development Cooperation said that it has issued N95 masks and eye drops to staff working outdoors and scheduled more breaks for them. If the Pollutant Standards Index exceeded 300, or if the experience of the attraction is comprised, operations of some of the outdoor attractions may be temporarily suspended, it said.

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4 burning property investment questions answered

By Property Soul


There are four commonly-asked questions often raised by followers of my blog at and readers of my book No B.S. Guide to Property Investment. So I decided to give some quick answers here for easy reference.

Q: Is it a good time to buy properties now?

A: It depends.

If you are a savvy property investor with many years of experience, if you have the financial means and you know what you are looking for, by all means go ahead.

But most of us are just ordinary property buyers who are most likely able to afford only one or two private properties, who have no idea about what real good deals are and where to find them, who are at the mercy of restrictions of Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), burden of additional buyer and seller stamp duties, hike of SIBOR rates, fear of market oversupply, softening of rental market, etc.

I mean no offense but property agents have to tell you “any time is a good time to buy” because they need to make a living any time of the year. Developers will say “buy now before prices go up soon” because they need to clear their unsold units before the penalties of 96 percent (8% + 16% + 24% + 24% + 24%) of land value over 5 years kick in.

The answer is: Take a good look at yourself. Know your limits and calculate the risks before taking the plunge.

Q: How do you know when housing is overpriced?

A: When prices have climbed to a point that they are out of reach for the end users, that housing becomes unaffordable for people who are buying for their own stay, that residential units are purchased only by investors and speculators looking for a quick profit, you know that housing is overpriced in that country.

Afterall, housing is a commodity and its prices are affected by supply and demand. Housing is not like collectibles that only the privileged can afford. When there is no real demand to support the supply or the price level, prices will go south.

It is especially dangerous when residential projects built for the mass market are being acquired only by investors – once these investors lose interest in the projects or lose confidence in the market, the prices will collapse.

Q. Should I buy that overseas property?

A: Many buyers are feeling the pain of the TDSR and other buying restrictions from the government’s cooling measures. They now understand that the government’s efforts in slowing the property market are not going to go away soon.

With the aggressive marketing of overseas projects, some buyers decided to go abroad to try their hands on lower quantum foreign properties.

Many don’t realize that they are actually stepping into an unknown world. Yes, they may be free of property buying restrictions in Singapore. But simultaneously, they are also exposing themselves to markets unprotected by the Singapore laws and the stability of the Singapore economy.

Now foreign property buyers start to understand that the biggest risks of buying overseas properties are the political and currency risks.

I think I have done my part to warn my readers in my 2014 blog posts “Three biggest risks buying overseas properties” and “Tough times ahead for Iskandar and Malaysia properties”.
Now it’s not the time to add salt to the wound. But let me say this again: Buy that overseas property only when you know the market or the project better than the guy selling it to you, and when the return is much higher than what you can find at home.

Q: How do tell whether it is the next hotspot or the future ghost town?

A: It doesn’t matter what the marketers say. Just remember this: The proliferation of construction projects or residential development itself cannot do miracles to transform a remote place into the next modern town. Everything must start with economic activities.

It can be a government decision or the locals’ initiative to promote an industry there. When activities start to gain traction, the creation of job opportunities will naturally attract people to move there. The growth in population creates the demand for housing and amenities. That in turn makes the place a hot market for residential and commercial projects.

If people try to work everything the other way round, the outcome is likely to be a new ghost town.

As what I said in my blog post “When property hotspots become ghost towns”, ask yourself the following questions before you buy into that “property hotspot”:

1. What are the industries there and how can they support the growth of the local economy?

2. How is the salary growth of the existing population compared with the hike in property prices?

3. Where is the new population coming from and how fast can it grow?

Answers to these three questions should immediately give you a hint to whether this place is going to be the next hotspot or just another ghost town.

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The best investment article on CPF Special Account

For the longest time, there were several investment bloggers who had been talking up the merits of topping up CPF Special Account (CPF-SA) with cash or CPF Ordinary Account (CPF-OA). They gushed and purred about how parking those extra $7000 into CPF-SA can earn risk-free 4-6% of return. Apparently, many readers were so impressed by their idea that they were pretty sure that these two fellows had uncovered the sure-win secret formula to wealth building. One of the readers almost kissed the foot of one of the bloggers.

Finally, today SG Wealth Builder came across one fellow blogger who had the guts to stick out his neck and pointed out 6 Reasons not to Voluntary Top Up your CPF Special Account with cash or CPF Ordinary Account.

If you have not read the article, I would urge you to read it (at least once) because it was one of the most well-balanced investment article I had come across with regard to CPF matters. The author described the approach of topping up your CPF-SA as “dangerous” and cautioned Singaporeans to consider carefully before doing it. As a wealth builder, I fully agreed it!

I would not list down all the 6 reasons written by the blogger but fundamentally, his points on cash-flow and business opportunity costs were exactly what I had in mind whenever I came across bloggers espousing the merits of voluntary topping up CPF-SA.

Look, in life, there are always trade-offs. You don’t expect free lunches and if things are too good, they probably are! Whilst I don’t deny the fact that CPF-SA interest rate is indeed hard to beat and can be considered risk-free, investors must realize that such an approach is an one way ticket. This mean you cannot take out the money as and when if you need it for emergency cases.

Sure, if you consistently pumped $7000 every year into your CPF-SA for the next 10 years, you would have an extra $100,000 (more or less), including the interests. But imagine you are retrenched from your job. Imagine you have mortgage, car, insurance policies, children’ school fees and living expenses to worry about. Imagine calamity struck and your loved ones need money to battle long term critical illnesses. You are just one disaster away from financial ruin. Would that $70000 come in hand?

Life is unpredictable and sometimes can be very fragile. It is foolish to expect that for the next 20 years, you would be in the pink of your health. Even if you try your best to keep fit, there might be unforeseen circumstances that are beyond your control. For example, what if your loved ones had an accident and need your urgent financial help? Can you bring yourself to reject their plea for help? Henceforth, it is important to have cash-flow in your portfolio. There is no point in being asset rich, such as having a lot of cash in the CPF-SA because there is zero liquidity. You simply don’t have the flexibility to use the money to address urgent needs because CPF-OA and CPF-SA are meant for retirement needs. Your money, once transferred into CPF, would be locked in until you reach 55.

The golden rule in personal finance is always to achieve a healthy cash-flow. In times of crisis, cash is king. Indeed, there are a lot of carrots being dangled around in exchange for your money. Be prudent and ask yourself if it is worth to lock up your money for decades? Don’t be seduced by the idea of magic of compounding. It might sound sexy but in my view, not worth it!

Another important point that needs to be highlighted is business opportunity costs. Sometimes, you might come across a brilliant business opportunity. Never say never. Just imagine the amount of money that you had transferred into your CPF-SA could have been used for the business. You would have the chance to grow your pot of gold into a much bigger pot of gold. But alas, you have to give it a miss because you are short of money!

In summary, my principle for financial freedom is never ever to depend on CPF-OA and CPF-SA for retirement needs. The government has designed the CPF system to cater for Singaporean’s retirement needs but in my opinion, the CPF savings are not sufficient to meet our needs. Singaporeans must start to invest as early as possible and develop sources of passive incomes to build their wealth. You can never attain financial freedom if you have only your CPF savings to rely on when you are old and unemployed.

So start to wake up your money!

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy

SG Wealth Builder is excited to be given the opportunity to review the book “The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy (April 2015; Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-119-07783-1). The authors of this work, John Lee and Vincent Wong, reveal intimate stories from their past, right up to the present day.

I like many of the key money principles defined in the book because they are aligned to my philosophies as well. I agree with the authors that money solves the problem that not having money creates. In life, we cannot deny the fact that money plays an important role in our society and in many cases, can help to solve many of our daily problems.

The current haze situation in Singapore drives home the importance of what money can do for you. If you have infants or elderly at home, would you not spare some cash to buy air purifiers so that your loved ones can have better quality of life? Conversely, if you are financially struggling and have been living from pay check to pay check, would you not feel guilty for not doing anything for your loved ones?

Wealth Dragon

Having money certainly gives you choices, to either do good or to keep the money for your children. Having money allows you to enrich yourself, like going for vacations or taking courses to upgrade your knowledge. On the other hand, if you are poor, if you are restricted to do less things because you can’t afford to give your loved ones a better life, much less helping others.

The reason for so much frustrations among many Singaporeans stem from their anxiety and fear over their retirement savings, or the lack of them, for their twilight years. The problem is further exacerbated by the high cost of living and stiff competition for high paying jobs with foreign immigrants. But can Singaporeans do something for themselves and change their lives for the better? Indeed we can and must take actions before its too late. Learn to manage money before it manages you.

Like the authors, I share the same view that real estate holds the key to your financial destiny. If you play the game right, property investment can certainly help to build your wealth.


‘The Wealth Dragon Way’ Shares 20 Years of Combined Wealth Creation Philosophies to Help Individuals Quit the Rat Race, Shows Path to Financial Success

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy (April 2015; Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-119-07783-1) is a new ‘go-to’ read for those seeking to change their lives, based on the psychology of money and how we can all achieve ‘infinite wealth’ in our lifetime. The authors of this work, two Anglo-Chinese self-made millionaires, ‘Wealth Dragons’ John Lee and Vincent Wong, reveal intimate stories from their past, right up to the present day, detailing their own Wealth Dragon Way. The key message for anyone reading this book is that we are all capable of changing our financial future; regardless of our age or the life we were born into. John and Vincent will show you how to build assets and create passive income through property investing and business ownership. But the starting point is you and your personal relationship with money. This work is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa and JWb), a global provider of knowledge and knowledge-enabled services that improve outcomes in research, professional practice, and education.

Commenting on the launch of this book, co-authors, John Lee and Vincent Wong, said:-

“We both grew up knowing what was expected of us by our families; what was traditional and deemed ‘acceptable in life’. Our parents’ generation took the safest road possible, they did not tolerate failure, and they took no risks. This was a cultural expectation as much as a life expectation. We believe that in life, if you don’t take risks you don’t move. Every action we take, whether it is our first ‘baby’ steps or setting up a business, there is risk involved. Entrepreneurs embrace risk because they understand this is part of the enlightened path towards infinite wealth.”

Providing real-life examples of how the authors built their significant property investment portfolios from 20 years of combined experience, The Wealth Dragon Way shares invaluable top tips and strategies that can help define and create ‘the why, the when and the how to become infinitely wealthy’. Lee and Wong highlight daily challenges that prevent some individuals from truly taking control of their financial future, and challenge readers to own up to and take control of their own ‘life procrastination’. Finally, the book reveals ten of the most important guiding principles to become ‘A Wealth Dragon’.

In uncertain economic times, there are many people who want more control over their financial future but don’t know what to do or where to start. Certainly, there are many strategies towards building a passive income, and for that reason, The Wealth Dragon Way uniquely combines a hands-on and practical guide to building personal wealth, with a strong motivational message which helps the reader to question the underlying reasons and obstacles that may have prevented them from achieving their financial goals in the past.

The Wealth Dragon Way introduces readers to a whole new fresh perspective on personal wealth that unlocks any individual’s potential for growth, both monetarily and on a more holistic level. Readers will discover new truths about the subject of wealth and create a personal ‘Wealth Dragon Way’.

The Wealth Dragon Way is available in paperback format at all major bookstores and online retailers. To order directly from the publisher, visit: or visit the authors’ website at:



Are Emerging Markets Still Emerging?

By Reid K.

Emerging Markets GDP Chart

A report from the Financial Times has sparked debate on the applicability of the term ‘emerging’ market, with some countries possessing questionably more advanced characteristics than those actually branded ‘developed’. Take China, for instance who’s export diversification trumps the vast majority of, if not all other countries in the world. The key question here, is what defines a market as developed?

According to the IMF, there are three main criteria which helps determine the status of an economy as either advanced or emerging/developing (EMDE):

  • Per Capita Income level
  • Export Diversification
  • Degree of integration into the global financial system.

Although these are the main factors, it must be noted that an expanse of other variables are also considered when categorising a market as, fundamentally, they comprise of many dimensions, including socioeconomic factors too. Thus, political, economic and legal risk are all notable criteria, but also opacity of say, creditworthiness or market accessibility are other factors which could be considered. See Karolyi’s analysis of the term.

InvestAsian has compiled data on a select few countries to determine the applicability of such terms.

Economic Indicators Correlate

Figure 1 below shows the significant gap in GDP per capita Income between the two types of economies. The subsequent evidence suggests that a relatively higher income is commonplace in a developed economy which usually means a more stable business environment. The important consideration here, is that the above variable usually correlates with others too, such as unemployment rate or gender equality.

Another factor is export diversification. It is considered that the more diverse the export profile a country has, the more developed the economy is. It is clear, again, that the developed markets possess a somewhat more diverse assemblage of exports. And this is usually the result of sophisticated governmental controls of economic legislation. Subsequently, the diverse export profile is therefore coherent to the per capita income level.

Relativity is Key

However, with respect to the above information, and putting GDP per capita aside, China’s GDP growth far exceeds that of Thailand, which reverberates the questionable classification of an emerging market. It is therefore postulated, is China a new strand of ‘emerging’?

The simple answer is no. China’s GDP is certainly admirable, especially when we consider the rate that is has continually grown at over the past few decades. However, as it has been said, the distinction between emerging and developed economies is determined by much more than just a said few statistics. In comparison to Thailand, such economic indicators are proportionally fair. Take GDP per capita or export diversification. For China, and many other emerging economies, legislation and governmental influence are normally their downfall, which hinders them from being classified as developed. Even though China supersedes any other emerging economy in certain statistics, relativity should always be considered.

What Does this Mean for Asian Countries?

Emerging economies tend to bear a higher growth rate, especially when conditions are favourable, take Cambodia. This means, for investors, that the potential of return of investment is usually far greater than what it may be in a developed economy. Though the risks associated with this are also far greater. ASEAN member nations have also seen continued growth, especially in recent years, which promotes the idea that emerging economies have the potential to attract greater inward investment.

So, are emerging markets still emerging? Yes, they are. A prescribed level of economic and humanitarian sophistication fundamentally distinguishes an economy as developed, and until emerging markets reach this level, they will still be considered emerging. One must consider the relativity of markets, as although fruitful continued economic growth may be appealing, it does not necessarily mean they are developed.

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Gold price climbs to one-week high after US data miss

By Ewa Manthey

Gold climbed to its highest in a week on Wednesday afternoon after the dollar tumbled in response to disappointing US CPI data.

The spot gold price was last at $1,118.90/1,119.20 per ounce, up $13.40 on Tuesday’s close. The dollar index was last lower at 95.21.

Gold had been trading in a narrow range this week ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting at which it will decide whether or not to raise interest rates. Today, trade has ranged from $1,104 to $1,120.50 so far.

In US data, the CPI in August at -0.1 percent was below the forecast for an unchanged reading from last month. Core CPI, which strips out food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent, in line with estimates.

Today is the start of the two-day FOMC meeting – a statement and press conference are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

The various members of the Fed’s policy board are locked in a debate over the state of the US economy and if a Federal Funds rate increase is appropriate considering lagging inflation and mounting worries over the state of various economies due to tumbling commodity prices.

Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen has expressed a desire to raise rates, which have been near-zero levels since 2008, at some point this year.

“Fed-watching continues to dominate the precious metals markets, with the FOMC meeting and rate decision overshadowing pretty much everything else,” ICBC Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate said. “Very thin volumes and choppy technically-based trading look set to dominate as the market readies itself for what the Fed decides to do.”

Silver followed in gold’s footsteps, climbing to its highest in around a week – it was last at $14.81/14.87 per ounce, up 44 cents. Palladium climbed above $600 to its highest since the end of August and recently traded at $606/611, up $8, while platinum was also $8 higher at $967/972.

(Editing by Mark Shaw)

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Gold rises as FOMC meeting begins today, trade action limited

By Dalton Barker

Gold prices saw a moderate uptick as trade action has suffered due to the general uncertainty in US markets.

Gold for December settlement on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was last up $10.10 or 0.9 percent to $1,112.80. Trade has ranged from $1,103.0 to $1,113.80.

Over the first two trading sessions of the week, Gold future volumes have halved from the previous week and hit the lowest levels of the year.

Though a majority of the investors are expecting the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to conclude tomorrow without an adjustment to US monetary policy, it is still causing a majority of trade action to wither.

“We expect investors to further reduce net long positions in the wake of Fed rate hikes this year and next year and a higher US dollar,” ABN AMRO said in a note. “Gold’s safe-haven status has been sharply reduced because of investors positioning in gold.”

In a typical market environment, gold would be an attractive asset class to store capital when uncertainty arises or global equities are vulnerable. However, these are not normal times with a potential Federal Funds rate rise being the first since 2006.

Since the Fed removed all calendar references in its forward guidance in April, the bank is now entirely data-dependent.

“We repeat what we wrote from Tuesday’s note, namely that trading conditions will be lacklustre in most markets at least through Thursday, as investors will be reluctant to stake out aggressive positions ahead of the Fed rate decision,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone, said.

Gold ETF holdings of 1,526 tonnes as of September 11 have declined since the start of the month following the stabilisation in financial markets. ETF investors have sold about 12 tonnes so far in September, suggesting reduced safe-haven demand.

The FOMC meeting concludes tomorrow afternoon with a statement and proceeding press conference.

In the eurozone, the final CPI in August at 0.1 percent and the final core CPI at 0.9 percent both came slightly lower than expected and down from their respective July readings.

Turning to european equities, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 were up 0.5 percent and 1.4 percent respectively, while the euro was 0.1 percent stronger at $1.1277 against the dollar.

Meanwhile in the US, CPI month-over-month in August was at -0.1 percent, off the forecast of null. Core CPI – excludes food and energy prices – month-over-month in August rose 0.1 percent, in-line with estimates.

US NAHB housing market index, crude oil inventories and TIC long-term purchases are slated for release later today.

As for other precious metals, Comex silver for December settlement was last up 35.9 cents to $14.685 per ounce. Trade has ranged from $14.310 to $14.775.

Platinum for October delivery rose $8.50 to $966.70 per ounce, while the most-actively traded palladium contract was at $597.65, down $2.80.

(Editing by Tom Jennemann)

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Techventure 2015 starts here! A line-up of 160 technology startups are headed to Singapore

As a wealth builder, I am always intrigued by technology startups, especially fintech companies. As a matter of fact, SG Wealth Builder has worked with a number of Singapore fintechs to promote their products and services. Henceforth, this is an event that is worthy to support.
PINPOINT Public Relations – Sep 16, 2015 17:23 SGT

Singapore is the place in Asia for global tech start-ups and investors to start and grow their technology businesses and investments.

SINGAPORE, 16 September 2015 – Some of the world’s most exciting technological startups are making their way to Singapore this September. More than 800 attendees, 50 investors, 160 startups and 19 organisational and country pavilions will be participating in Techventure 2015 from 21 – 22 September in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands.

A technology event unlike any other, Techventure embraces all areas of technology – engineering and manufacturing; biotech and medtech; infocomm and digital media; and environmental sustainability. Some 1,000 delegates comprising global technopreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate ventures, angel investors and government funding organisations are expected to attend Techventure 2015. This edition focuses on increasing deal flow between investors and startups through facilitated and targeted meetings.

Tim Lafferty, Managing Director of Global Corporate Venturing (UK), who will moderate the opening panel at Techventure this year says, “Singapore’s startup ecosystem is now top ten globally. So it is increasingly attracting corporate investors to locate there and also to use it as a hub to access other parts of Asia. Techventure 2015 will be fascinating as it brings together many of the key players in Singapore’s innovation ecosystem.”

The UKTI Pavilion, one of the largest country pavilions, is bringing in 8 startups and other company representatives under the InnovateUK umbrella. Some of these companies are exhibiting for the first time at Techventure.

“The Singapore ecosystem is really strong for startups. It brings together great university capability, researchers, investors and developers with a base. The investment community spans from pre-seed to early stage incubation and late stage investments. We’ve been able to grow companies, from ideas and initial technology, into successful companies,” said Mike Holt, Chief Executive Officer, Get2Volume Pte Ltd, an incubator located in Singapore that invests in promising startups, and provides them with mentorship and networking opportunities to help grow their businesses.

It is not too late to register for Techventure 2015. For more information and registration,

– END –


PINPOINT Public Relations

Illka Gobius

Managing Director

+65 9769 8370


Held in Singapore, Techventure is the place to be for technopreneurs and investors to meet, to start and grow their technology businesses and investments.

The theme for Techventure 2015 is START HERE! – where global technopreneurs and investors meet. Marking its 18th consecutive year since its inception in 1997, Techventure 2015 is the leading technological startup event held in SE Asia. The event features a Diversity of Technologies – more than 100 innovative local and global start-ups from a diverse range of industry sectors.

Singapore is THE place in Asia for global tech start-ups and investors to set foot, start and grow their technology businesses and investments

Techventure has a packed 2-day agenda that includes a conference, exhibition and networking opportunities. More than 1,000 delegates will attend, comprising global technopreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate ventures, angel investors and government funding organisations.

The event will feature more than 100 innovative local and global start-ups from a diverse range of industry sectors.

The event is sharply focused on increasing deal flow between investors and startups through facilitated and targeted meetings

See you at SMART Expo on September 27

By Property Soul


I will be speaking again at the SMART Expo on September 27. Hope to see you there!

Event: SMART Investment & International Property Expo 2015

Venue: Hall A, Sands Expo & Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands

Date: 26 – 27 September, 2015

Speaking Timeslot: September 27 (Sun) 1 p.m. – 1.45 p.m. (Area 1)

Topic: The Burning Question for Property Investor – Is Now the Time to Buy, to Keep or to Sell?

Registration is free. Sign up TODAY!

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Buying gold and silver from BullionStar

SG Wealth Builder was alerted to an article written by fellow finance blogger on “Precious Metals: The warning signs are already here”. Personally, I like that article because it provides me value-added information on the latest updates on precious metals. The blogger highlighted that there is currently a tight supply of bullion even though the spot prices for gold and silver are falling. He also cited several notable reputable precious metal dealers to buy from, such as BullionStar. The challenge now is finding trustworthy dealers who have inventory to sell bullion to investors because of the huge demand.

As a wealth builder in Singapore, whilst I have been tracking the prices of gold and silver for quite some time, I did not really note down the price premiums for the gold bars that I bought like what the blogger did. This is because I have always been confident on the long term prospects of both gold and silver, as such, I don’t see the point of monitoring the price premiums. Nonetheless, I was really impressed by the blogger’s research and I must say he really knows what is considered the “normal price premium” for different products.

BullionStar CEO

In his post, he wrote “Today spot silver is at $14.65, but American Eagles are selling for $29.16. When I bought my American Eagles 2 months ago when spot silver was $14.80, I bought the Eagles at $24.57! Spot prices are 1% lower, but physical prices are 18% higher? Whoa, that’s weird, isn’t it?”

Perhaps I can help to address his query.

Even though the blogger has been tracking the price premiums for gold and silver bullion, he failed to realize the difference between spot price and market premium. The spot-price is the price for which someone can buy certificates or futures on the commodity exchange. On the other hand, market premium reflects the difference between the spot price and the price of physical metal on the real physical market. The market premium is dependable on several factors such as default risk in the commodity exchanges and the lack of production capacity for gold and silver bars.

So you can see that even though spot price and market premium are inter-related, they are not directly dependant on each other. That is why even though the spot price for silver is lower compared to 2 months ago, the blogger ended up paying more for his silver coins.

From the article, my general impression is that Singaporeans’ knowledge on physical gold and silver are still lacking. That is probably why many Singaporeans got ripped off by dishonest dealers or con artists. It is important that you buy gold and silver from reputable dealers who are willing to share their knowledge on the precious metal market with you. To this end, just like BullionStar, one of the goals of SG Wealth Builder is to educate Singaporeans on the merits of owning gold and silver bullion as a means of wealth preservation. 

Starting 8 September 2015, BullionStar will allow customers to add and keep funds on their BullionStar accounts.

As a BullionStar account holder, you will be able to keep funds on your BullionStar account in Singapore Dollars, US Dollars and Euros.

Keeping funds on your BullionStar account will greatly simplify trading in and out of bullion positions as well as making it easier to stay liquid without involving bank transactions. This will speed up the transaction flow with BullionStar as well as save you repeated and costly bank fees.

When selling bullion to BullionStar, you will have the option of keeping the funds on your BullionStar account to re-purchase at a later time. You can keep funds on your BullionStar account as long as you like and you can withdraw the funds at any time.

You will be able to check your balance, fund your account and withdraw funds under “My Account” after logging in to your BullionStar account.

Notwithstanding the above, it will be optional to fund your BullionStar account prior to making purchases. You will thus continue to be able to place and settle orders just like now.

Funding Your BullionStar Account  

There will be two different ways of funding your BullionStar account.

1) Add Funds via “My Account”

You will be able to fund your BullionStar account upfront via “My Account” after logging in to your BullionStar account.

2) Top-up Funds when Ordering

Alternatively, you will be able to top-up funds to your BullionStar account at the checkout page while placing an order.


Woman in Asia Paid Far Less than Men, Says UN

By Reid K.

A worldwide campaign calling for action on a global scale for equal pay for women has been initiated by a U.N. agency. On a global scale, the average woman is paid 24% less than men. But in Asia, the number is even more dire at 30% less than men.

A recently conducted study shows some alarming statistics. Estimated by the International Labor Organization, gender inequality in employment is costing the world a great deal of money. Across Asia alone, gender inequality results in a cost of over 45 billion USD in a year. Over 45% of working-age women are outside the labor force – nearly three times more than the proportion for men which stands at 19%.

The numbers were revealed at a forum at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters by the leader of the U.N. Women agency, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

A simulation was done to estimate the changes that would take place should female employment be at the same level as the men’s. Once again the numbers were shocking. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that if that were indeed the case, per capita GDP would skyrocket by 19% in Southeast Asia and 27% in the Middle East and North Africa where it seems like disparity in pay between genders are even greater.

Mlambo-Ngcuka feels very strongly about the importance of achieving equal pay for women in this world. She expresses her feelings saying, “We are definitely going to go on a major campaign on equal pay — this is one of the issues we are putting to heads of state, we are also putting that to private sector.” She added, “The issue of equal pay is paramount because we have to win some battles in order for women to be in a position to believe that we’re making progress.”

U.N. Women is pushing for the implementation of a stand-alone goal on gender equality and empowerment for women and girls. It will be known as Goal 5 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, and will be launched at the United Nations at the end of September.

The goal is to strive for equal pay on a global scale. Women from Wall Street, to the sugar cane farms in Brazil, to the factories in South Africa who are paid less than their male peers for equal work have talents that are not valued, and allowing that to continue would be tolerating a violation of women’s rights, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Another alarming statistic is the number of women who work outside home. Around seventy-five percent of women around the world who work outside the home are in the informal sector which means they do not have protected work, minimum wage, and pensions, leaving them poor in their old age, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

The ADB and U.N. Women announced Tuesday that they will collaborate on a study to track the Asia Pacific region’s progress in meeting its gender equality goals under the SDGs framework which runs until 2030. The study will focus on SDG Goal 5 but will also include all goals and targets to improve women’s lives.

The aim of the SDG Goal 5 is to end all forms of discrimination, violence, and harmful practices against women and girls. Another one of its aims is to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work undertaken by all female workers.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao said that while the Asia-Pacific region has made progress on gender equality in some areas, a lot of work still needs to be done in many more areas.

“We must address challenges in areas such as maternal health and employment by creating decent jobs, and ensuring wage parity so women and men, girls and boys reach their full potential,” he added.

The post Woman in Asia Paid Far Less than Men, Says UN appeared first on InvestAsian.

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