Thursday 30 September 2021

Month of September 2021

One month ago, dining out was possible for groups of 5, now it's back to 2. More Covid cases are spreading in the community and we are told to learn to live with it. So why go back to the restriction? I feel for F&B owners and their associates. It's really a hard earned living with disruption upon disruption. When you hear well-loved hawkers throwing in the towel, it's really a regrettable loss and many tears are shed.

It's not good for the economy, environment and social aspects if the world continue to live in a restricted way. Rather, we should learn to curb excesses, rethink priorities, recalibrate living expectations and protect Earth.

This month, I managed to spend time in the sun with the children, lock in a round of golf, met new friends and caught up with old ones. Also, spent money to repair a wall leak ($350) and replaced a hair dryer ($599).

Tip: Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2018, earthy fruits with a slight citrus finish

Thursday 16 September 2021

The Net Is About To Come Out

I refer to the Straits Times article published on 14 Sep, "Time to Consider Wealth Tax for Singapore".

As the Parliament debates proceed during the week, I thought the above couldn't have been a coincidence now that Singapore is on the way to economic recovery while tackling many rising social issues. Key areas are aging population, income inequality, foreign manpower, education pressure and job security. I mean, these are so prominently featured that one can't possibly miss them.

To sustain or improve the situation, there's one matter for any government to solve, that is, where to find money to fund the programmes.

This piece is not about the merits or demerits of a wealth tax but rather, point out the purpose behind it. As the article noted, it's about "addressing significant wealth polarization" because "Singapore's wealth is distributed in a highly skewed manner". Where in the initial years of nation building, the government put forth meritocracy, justice and equal opportunities as a societal leveler. Now, it has to calibrate measures to help those on the lower rungs of society to keep them afloat for example via GST vouchers or differentiated subsidies. I think there's nothing wrong to that. It's the natural order of things that occur as a result of a developed nation. It's time for the wealthy to show how civilized and compassionate a society that we can be and be a good example if this comes into reality.

It may sound counter-intuitive but China is also in a similar situation. Its government handles this is a different manner. By banning cryptos, censuring big corporations, curtailing young people's game time and hitting "bad" industries such as tutoring. These hard and patriarchal measures serve to protect society by keeping the wealth gap from expanding, creating homogeneity and improving quality of life instead of the intense focus on study or work success. The good news for China is the economy is still growing and will continue to do so for many years, therefore money is not the big issue, unlike Singapore. Both countries seek to achieve social harmony through regulations and interventions when required. The wealth tax is just another tool, along with many other tools, that may help the less abled to live a meaningful life.

Tip: Yuzu juice with soda

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Finance Investment Movement 13

My enthusiasm in trading Dow Futures dropped a notch as the market consolidated and gave no chance of entry points. It's well known that September is a month to stay away and it's proving so as I look elsewhere for some needed inspiration.

The only notable activity in crypto portfolio was a purchase of Aave as its price retracted in accordance with the trend. There seemed to be brewing unease over potential major regulator intervention especially when stablecoins are seen as systemic risk to the financial system. I lean towards the same feeling since many of these companies claim sufficient fiat or equivalent coverage for liquidity purpose but ultimately this is unaudited. So in the interest of transparency, I hope the information can be verified and would be a boost to crypto credibility.

Last week, I had a chat with a property agent friend as we reviewed rental or purchase options in the market. While she advocated "now is the best time to buy", I can't help but feel it's more about buying something one truly likes instead of buy to flip. Maybe I'm too emotionally attached so it becomes hard to let go when the time comes.

Tip: Tsingdao draft beer

Friday 3 September 2021

If You Only Have A Split Second

Took me about two months and I just completed another book by Malcolm Gladwell. That came about as my previous reading was also by him and I liked his observation and writing style. It's anecdotal, simple and delivers an insightful message at the end of each example. Again, I was impressed with the amount of research which then distilled into digestible story bits in the book, "Blink".

Throughout, Malcolm drew upon examples from long ago and recent history. I guess it's to tell the reader that humans, a highly cognitive animal, make decisions on a spur in the same way. Given a question or situation, the instant reaction comes from years of mind preparedness which is instinctive, no matter how educated he/she is. Say a person does not practice gender bias, the reality is he/she will make an assumption based on experience. The desire to be fair and neutral all the time is almost impossible. So either we learn to recognize this inherent trait or ignore at one's peril. Decision making is not easy and even more pressurizing if you only have a moment to decide. A suggestion is to make deliberate analysis if a decision is a straight forward one between given choices, otherwise it's better to go by gut feel when there are too many variables. So I guess if you want to outwit an opponent, you must understand conventional thinking and go against it in order to spring a surprise so that a standard reaction becomes ineffective. Most importantly, learn throughout your life and you'll be prepared when the time comes.

Tip: Myokosan Junmai Daigingo, balanced sweetness and medium bodied