Wednesday 31 May 2023

Month of May 2023

This was a rather chaotic month as various events were compressed week after week.

It began with a sudden declaration by my helper that she was pregnant. She had just returned from her home leave two months ago and consented to a new two year contract. Omg right. The immediate thought was that she needed to be sent home soonest possible. However, this shocker was delivered three days before I was due to make a business trip. So we came to an agreement that she could leave right after I return in ten days time. The next day, a slight hysteria ensued as she said she experienced bleeding and wanted to go home. That's when I knew this was just play acting as I offered to send her to hospital yet it was refused. A couple of panadols was all she needed. In the evening, an air ticket was purchased for next day's morning flight and her work permit was cancelled. My wife and I sent her off and the parting was amicable even though we were disappointed.

The business trip to Taiwan was hectic from the start as the travels took me from North to South and back over five days, each day ending pretty late and starting an early meeting the next day. Then, it got better as my wife joined me over the weekend in Taipei for a foodie revenge escapade. There were simply too much to eat and the one I missed most was braised food (Lu Wei). We took public transport, drank artisanal tea, visited Xian Tian Gong, walked Linjiang night market, shopped at Ximen, did foot massage and even hiked Elephant Mountain. It was a vertical steps climb and luckily the weather was kind. This trip made me wonder whether it's possible to spend an extended period of time here in semi retirement.

Once we returned, the focus went back to the kids. They were having exams and sometimes stayed late in school for various activities. So we had to do ferry service and dinners were mostly takeaways. The reward came when we attended a ceremony to award the younger two for achievements in character behavior and CCA. Meanwhile, the eldest son requested to change subjects from pure to combined science. He felt it gave him a better chance to get into a poly course of his choice. Hopefully, his choice turns out correct. Grades may be important but I think it does not beat a well rounded development. As a parent, my wish is for them to grow up to be fine and healthy men.

My schedule is rather tight next month, with potential travels for work and leisure. Fortunately, I managed to squeeze some time and completed some tasks such as taking the IPPT, dental cleaning and reading.

Tip: Nabeshima Aiyama Junmai Daiginjo, mild sweetness, clean and short body

Monday 15 May 2023

Finance Investment Movement 33

Recently, I went on a couple of business trips and met about 20 friends/associates. In meetings and mealtimes, there was a sense of pessimism even though we have not met since Covid. Conversations centered around the fragile business environment. Most of their forecasts predicted a slowdown attributed to unresolved global events and risky conditions such as high interest rate persistence. Are we heading towards a major disaster? To avert it, there was a surprise consensus on the solution. Everyone pointed their gaze at China. The country that's sizable enough, the mischief maker in the seas, the creditor of the Belt and Road initiative, the technology competitor, the relations and opinion divider in the various ongoing wars. However, there's a big concern. China had overstretched itself financially in its Covid fight and there were anecdotes shared that government payments were delayed. It will need time to repair its finances but time is what we lack now. Anyway, it's broadly agreed this year's results appear to be a lost cause.

Business aside, I spent time looking for new products that could provide decent yields. One of these was endowment plans with regular premium for a limited time. But as I read through various companies' brochures, a few thoughts bubbled. Vanilla endowments used to be just like a long dated time deposit with a little insurance cover. Now, its function has expanded to offer payout after a certain time, much like an annuity, even up to 120 years. If required, after a few years, the policy can be terminated and funds are returned with bonuses and capital intact. Otherwise, by holding till expiry, the policyholder stands to enjoy many multiples return. The catch is the guaranteed and non-guaranteed portions that's determined by the company. That got me thinking how is the reversionary bonus determined, are there formulas that the public can access and how closely is it audited. Basically, the concern lies with the reliability of the payouts as claimed (of course each and every company is smart to include all sorts of caveats).

Tip: LaDame De Montrose 2017, fresh and lighter fruit than previous years, needs more time