WHAT REALLY HAPPENED – THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

credit-crisisThis might be a little too late as the global financial crisis appears to have stabilized prompting the economic soothsayers to predict a recovery before the year ends but here’s a great video that explains what really happened with the financial crisis that shocked the world like a massive asteroid, nearly toppling down the earth’s biggest and the mightiest financial institutions.

If you can spare a few minutes, of which I am certain you won’t regret, check this out :

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

The creativity of the financial institutions in concocting sophisticated deals that generated profits that looked like they came from the magician’s hat finally met its fate, one that wrought havoc to those players that played the game from both sides – financier and investors alike. When the stage came that  “those who can afford to buy a house already bought a house ( prime customers) ” the savvy deal makers focused their sights on “those who can barely afford a house” ( sub-prime customers), sold houses to them nonetheless, for if they defaulted on payments, the banks took ownership of the houses ( not a problem if the house value appreciates). Then came the proverbial “too much of anything is poison” phenomenon – too many owners defaulted, too many houses on the market brought the price down, even those good paying customers walked out on mortgages that were more than the worth of their homes that devalued so fast in a short span of time . In short, chaos reigned and financial institutions were saddled with tremendous loses as the result of the toxic mortgages they carried on their balance sheets. The big ones survived with government intervention but others collapsed into bankruptcy.

The experience is extremely painful and the economic fallout is still being felt by the world as we speak. I remember a TV interview with former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, when he was blamed for supporting the sub-prime mortgage strategy. He replied in a rather philosophical manner by saying that ” we will be talking about this thing again 10 years from now”. There is no antidote for man’s greed. As long as there is the motivation to make the most profit out of the smallest investment, man will continue to create new schemes in the high stakes game of risk vs. reward. These paradigm shifts will cause the bubble to burst every now and then. The turbulence it will create will be serious and may have life changing effects on society and people. But one thing is certain – we will survive, pick up the pieces  and continue our journey.

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PACQUIAO – A STEP AHEAD OF HATTON

manny-pacquiao-ricky-hattonIt’s only 2 days before the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, dubbed as the Battle Between the East and West and I am catching the last bus to bloglandia to join the fray of soothsayers trying to predict the outcome of this super fight, so far the biggest fight of the year.  After Manny’s win over de la Hoya last December 6,  I was surprised that my post PACQUIAO – PERFECTION NEEDED TO BEAT DE LA HOYA had lots of hits, only for people to find out that the post was dated November 26 !  People thought it was a post fight analysis, but it wasn’t.  It was an opinion, that if Pacquiao had to win, he had to be perfect and he was – well,  almost 🙂

This time around it will be a little different, with both men almost the same height, same weight. A lot of people perhaps don’t understand what the de la Hoya victory meant to Manny.  Vanquishing the much bigger de la Hoya was like slaying Goliath . In truth, he had no business fighting de la Hoya but he had to and won convincingly.  Manny’s confidence is at the crest of the wave right now and it is safe to assume that Manny feels he will beat anyone smaller than de la Hoya.  Knowing Manny’s killer instinct when he gets in the ring, he is even more lethal with the confidence.

Nothing against Hatton but his recent change of trainer might work to his disadvantage. His rushing , slugging style is what made him Ricky Hatton notching 45 wins in the process. He was beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr. because his style was the antithesis to Mayweather’s craft – a fast , elusive and skilled boxer.  Now he wants to change his style and be a boxer rather than a slugger ? If he can become 80% of Juan Manuel Marquez overnight, yes but I doubt it. He will get more heat from Pacquiao than Mayweather in case he doesn’t know.

An hour ago I watched a replay of Hatton’s fight with light hitting Juan Lazcano, his next fight after the loss to Mayweather and boy I thought he was in real trouble if not for the partisan referee’s ( the fight was in Manchester) creativity. When Hatton was hurt and clinching, the ref gave Lazcano a sermon for either holding or hitting below the belt and if the reprieve wasn’t enough, ordered Hatton’s corner to tie up his loose shoe laces ! The lull gave Hatton his senses back and went on to win with a decision. Let me cut it short. The Pacman will be one step ahead of Hatton the whole night. When Hatton comes in with his bread and butter left hook to the body, watch for the Pac nail him with a thunderous left to the head.  Sure lucky punches do happen in a fight but the Pac, other than being the more complete boxer of the two, is a relentless, non-stop fighting machine. Hatton will receive more punches than he will throw and when that happens, you know what the outcome is.

 

 

ADAM LAMBERT – THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL ?

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Fussy Eater

images1I’m a person that likes to look at things at face value, with more of a take it or leave it mentality.  I’d love everything to suit my taste but also recognize things that can’t be changed. Let me rephrase – I hate straying from the standard,  making exceptions to something that is already set because I hate it when a request drags into an argument.  I believe that a restaurant menu exists because it serves a purpose – to keep things organized. My wife has a penchant for changing things in the menu, even worse, in fast food counters where every item is set and numbered, she’ll throw in something like – “oh, can I have half of this and half of that ?  Or can you put in some of that on this?”  It confuses the server and she’ll reply ” don’t worry – I’m willing to pay if you’ll charge me”.  Then the ” wait, I’ll check with my manager.. blah,blah ” routine  ensues resulting in delay. Gosh. Me ? No problem – give me THAT and everything that comes with the damn thing – pickles, sauerkraut, roasted bugs – whatever and I’ll shut my mouth. Darn, let’s get over with the ordering and start eating for godsakes 🙂 

Lately I’ve learned not to order big because I’ve been given the job of a swiper, a finisher. Very likely my daughter would consume half of what she orders and my wife a little bit more than half therefore we must be conscientious and not allow good food to be dumped into the waste bin when half of Africa is starving.  Additionally, I have to be prepared to swap my plate with the missus, just in case her order becomes a culinary disaster 🙂 “Yuk, this pasta alfredo tastes so crummy. Can we trade  ? “  When I sampled the pasta, it looked like it need a sprinkle of salt and my taste buds gave it a passing grade. Or perhaps, I just have the very non-discriminating taste buds of a pit bull hehe 🙂   I always ask my wife and daughter to place their orders first and when my turn comes, I’d likely say ” just french onion soup for me please”.  Being the finisher I have to leave a bit of room for my tummy.  It could be a drag when we are out on a trip, where we eat in restaurants for every meal. I’m the one who would likely bloat 🙂

Are you a fussy eater? For me being fussy these days doesn’t have to do much with taste but with the kind of food I eat. I’m learning how to drink coffee with low fat milk minus the sugar and boy I’m beginning to get the hang of it 🙂 And yes, I’m getting into the gym once again, after an absence of almost 7 years 😉

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What’s In It For Them ?

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When I think about the staggering amount of $50 billion  Bernie Maddoff milked from his clients with his Ponzi style investment scam,  I’ve always wondered – why has this scam gone on unnoticed for so long ? Where was the breakdown ?  Barely a year ago, another scam artist, Lou Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding investors of some $300 million.  Pearlman , the creator of the famous Backstreet Boys and NSYNC boy bands enriched himself shamelessly with the millions the bands made from their records and endorsements while sharing them peanuts. The rip off was so bold and calculating that Pearlman made himself the 6th Backstreet Boy in the contract thereby making it difficult to trash him legally.  The presiding judge had offered a reduction of one month of his sentence for every million Pearlman returns to his investors. 

Isn’t it about time for the justice system to impose the death sentence on these kind of monsters who shatter people’s lives by defrauding them of their lifetime savings ? Aye ? Nay ?   I hate the thought of Maddoff sitting in his well appointed cell watching CNBC and browsing the net waiting for his time to croak.  Even if he is deemed not high risk or danger to society like a psychopath he should not be walking around free. He should be in the dungeon sleeping with rats to give his victims the feeling that he is being punished 😡

The Maddoff incident reminded me of a rule I read in the book The Rules of Wealth.  I thought that the author had some wisdom to impart to ordinary folk like myself with this rule .

RULE 71 – ALWAYS ASK WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM

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  I don’t want you to be paranoid generally but it is OK to be paranoid when it comes to your money. There are a lot of sharks out there looking for easy pickings from the less awake amongst us. Watch out.

 Jeremy Paxman, the UK broadcaster, always interviews politicians with a basic underlying assumption that they are hiding something and he has to find out what and why

Obviously we don’t want to go round believing everybody is out to get us, but there is a good technique here that we can adopt to question anyone :

  • Offering us a money-making proposition
  • Offering to “look after” our money
  • Looking to invest in our future or schemes
  • Offering us any financial advice
  • Offering to work for us
  • Offering us a partnership
  • Offering us products or services

You have to be suspicious of anyone and anything that could make inroads into your wealth. Be wary of anybody who:

  • Promises to help you get rich quick by short-cuts using tax loopholes or dubiously legal schemes
  • Uses the word “offshore”
  • Uses the letters MLM or pyramid selling
  • Claims to be incredibly wealth and is offering to share their secrets with you – the secret is they make money out of people like you!
  • Offers to increase your wealth by using the Internet
  • Asks for money upfront to seed investment, pay for promotional material or carry out a survey

And there are three things to always remember:

  • If it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is a duck and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t
  • If it looks too good to be true it probably is
  • Not all that glitters is gold

Remember to keep asking “What’s in it for this person? “ Don’t trust anyone. Don’t give your money to anyone to look after for you. Check the small print of anything you sign. Be on your guard.

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Folks like Maddoff and Pearlman undoubtedly had business savvy and charisma which made their job much easier. Even if we get sweet-talked by friends and well known people we must not trust easily. One time I had a couple of lunch meetings with a financial advisor who claims he works for a big bank. I wondered why he always wanted to meet at a coffee shop and granting that it was close to my office and he carried official business cards from his bank, I wasn’t too sure. On our third meeting, I asked that I meet him at his office and true enough he was completely legit. There was no way I was handing him anything at the coffee shop 😯

 

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NOW THAT PACQUIAOMANIA HAD DIED DOWN A BIT……

beanI had a whale of a time with the recent Pacquiao vs. de la Hoya fight, not only with the fight itself but with the usual pre-fight hype and hooplas that characterize such a big event . In a nutshell, it was damn intertaining ! I particularly like HBO’s novel 24/7 show, which normally airs a few days before the fight. It features a calculated intrusion or mild invasion of privacy of the boxers’ lives as they train and prepare for the grand showdown. The show really brings you down into the ceiling level of the private homes of these people and you get a glimpse of their “ordinary-ness”, their daily routines, how they interact with family and the team and cope up with the stress of showing up fit and trim for the big day.

Here’s a few of those Pacquiao 24/7 Pinoy moments in LA :

  • Manny shares a condo with this wife while his Pinoy entourage, all 10 of them cramp up a 2 bedroom condo. One of them even converted a closet for his bedroom.
  • The boys cook strictly Pinoy food at the condo but 6 times a week, Manny and the boys frequent a local Thai restaurant where no dish costs more than 6 bucks .They feast on hefty servings of Asian dishes especially cooked for the team.
  • In an effort to keep the boys trim, Manny offers a $1,000 incentive to the ones who lose 10 lbs and $2,000 reward to those who lose 15 lbs.
  • Manny offers a $1,000 reward to the sparring partner who floors him in a sparring bout
  • Manny listens daily to the heatbeat of his unborn child through a special listening device that he places on his wife’s tummy
  • Manny gives aways free turkeys at the Filipinotown during Thanksgiving. He stands inside a big truck handing out frozen turkeys to Pinoys. Some Pinoys simply came to shake his hands and declined to accept the handout.
  • Manny drives a Lexus while the crew roams in what looked to be a Ford Explorer SUV
  • Manny jogs daily with his pet dog aptly named Pacman
  • Actors Mark Wahlberg and Mickey Rourke pay the Pacman a courtesy visit in the gym
  • Manny plans to go back to the US on Dec 17 where we will spend Christmas with the family. His wife is scheduled to give birth at a US hospital sometime this month.

 

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