Wednesday 30 November 2022

Month of November 2022

As I recall, this was one of the busiest months and boy were there many events that happened. I had to be selective so as not to overload the page.

When the exams were over, school teachers must have been clutching straws on how to make time pass more meaningfully. In a rather last minute arrangement, parents were given one month notice of a Father Son Camp. Usually, this was an annual 2D1N event but Covid stopped it. We indicated our interest since both the younger ones were keen. Apparently, there were too many applications and we luckily secured our seats. On a drizzly Saturday morning at 7am, we reported to school, put the bags in the allocated classroom and then began a full day of activities. There were about 150 pairs of fathers and sons, plus a few like mine with 3. Our group went to Sentosa, built a catapult for launching water bombs and also did kayaking while the afternoon was spent cooking from mess tins and playing team building games. As one can imagine, it was a tiring day. After a campfire huddle, it was lights off at 10pm. In the end, the sleep on the floor resulted in lots of tossing and a backache. Well, at least gained some new friendships and bonding time with the kids.

I don't remember how long ago but it's been a while since I attended a wedding. Not one but two in a month and they were a Chinese lunch and a Western dinner, held at St Regis Caroline Mansion and Fullerton Bay Hotel respectively. Both locations were first time experiences. The joyous occasions proceeded per standard procedure but there were two interesting impressions left behind. In the first instance, by 3pm, a friend was stumbling and terribly drunk when she usually held her liquor very well. She was probably too relaxed and drank quickly. 3 people were activated to send her home, stretching a hectic lunch till almost 5pm! Second, the emcee for the dinner was a popular Getai personality and responsible for the Mandarin speaking portion. Her co-emcee was the groom's friend who, being inexperienced, was simply bumbling through. They obviously didn't rehearse any script and just played by ear, often wondering aloud what's on the next agenda. The night ended with her dedicating a hokkien song to the couple. By the last of a not-so-tasty menu, probably one third of the seats were vacated, wasting the desserts. This was one of those East meets West kind of event that became more of a fumbled rojak.

On a weekday morning, I was poised to meet a friend for lunch at Dempsey and needed to pass time. So I opted to go for coffee at Holland Village. As I parked and walked towards my destination, I came across a shop that has stood the test of time. For the older folks, they might remember the well stocked magazine stall at the corner of Lorong Liput. It reminded me of my younger days going through the covers of 4-4-2, Teenage Magazine, FHM, Time, Cosmopolitan, Square Rooms etc. Such wonderful memories but a pity that kids nowadays don't really patronize such places any more. The only change I noticed was the shop having a space selling coffee, presumably by its tenant.

On another weekday morning, I was having breakfast alone and reading from the phone. A waving hand from the front roused my attention and I naturally looked up. It was an ex colleague whom I have not met for about 5 years. But this was not an ordinary meeting and I politely mouthed the usual greetings. He started talking about work and gradually eased himself into the seat in front of me. This was the General Manager who left the company after being caught for diverting business transactions to his new employer (where he still remains) over a period of time. Further investigations found that he hid certain decisions and created a messy situation. There was no amicable parting as he tried to implicate some subordinates. He praised my company for doing well recently and expressed that it's been such a long time. Unfortunately, reputations count in any industry and I don't think many would have forgotten his eventful time with us. We spoke for about 30 minutes and then he had to leave, not before extending an invitation for a coffee catch up session next time. Hmm...

To end the month on a positive note, my son achieved his desired PSLE results that enabled him to apply for his school of choice, hopefully reuniting with some of his classmates. Well done and a note of thanks to my wife who was the educator in charge all these years. Now, we can relax and prepare for the long awaited holiday travel.

Tip: Macallan Classic Cut 2021, impressive caramel, vanilla and candied fruits

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Finance Investment Movement 27

The theme of the month so far is the continuation of last month; a buffet of investment options for cash holders. It's becoming more impactful as many of us would have felt the purchasing power of our money diminishing. So instead of standing idly by, it's best to sought out assets to retain value.

I did several moves to diversify out my investment timeframe and objectives. One was to add the October SSB by $7000. The November edition looks tempting at 3.47% average and the probability tilts towards another application. I aim to purchase enough tranches so as to enjoy uninterrupted monthly payout for the next ten years. It feels like a mini annuity plan that's custom designed and hopefully gives $250 per month eventually. Another was to subscribe to T-bill that yielded 4% and caused a system outage. I reckon retirees and those with excess OA in CPF were the ones tuning up demand this time round. In the end, I was allocated 49% out of $6000 (=$2940.15) that I applied. My plan was to capture short term interest rate spike and enjoy while it lasts.  It would be awesome if it can hit 5% but the path to get there is uneven given the overwhelming response from investors. Why am I optimistic? While the US inflation situation seemed to be peaking, it does not take away the fact that it's still very high. Hence I expect the Fed to continue raising interest rates and that would coax short term rates higher. Cross my fingers, the US economy would then slowdown and go into mild recession, thereby bringing the market and rates down, probably from mid 2023.

My assessment of the stock market presents a see-saw pattern of indecision. There are rich pickings if one doesn't mind the volatility and possess holding power. With this in mind, 1000 shares of FCT was bought at $1.94 to lower average cost. Next was to do a short strangle on Starbucks options since I expected a narrow price range. The call was almost activated as it came within a few cents of the strike price. Either way, I would have sold off quickly if that happened. This trade collected a premium of US$65. It was followed by selling a Disney put. But the markets taught me a lesson. There was much speculation among analysts that company results would be spectacular. What I learnt is the so called "experts" can say what they want to hear but it's better to do due diligence. Disney reported a poor set of numbers and the stock plunged 12% immediately at the opening bell, touching my strike price. Then the price the next day rebounded due to the announcement of less than expected US inflation rate. So I collected another US$24, not bad for a nice coffee break.

Tip: Katsuyama Tokubetsu Junmai En, fragrant rice, pleasant and clean after taste