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31 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Why forecasting markets is a mug’s game

[COMMENT: Stock market forecasting…. Possible or impossible? This story is based on the underlying assumption of long-term investing. It is another one of those stories that is implying that us investors ought to be investing for the long-term. How absurd! Have these people not learnt anything from the GFC and the many years since? The … Continue reading

30 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – China tries to deal with its mountain of debt

(30 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p19, Neil Gough, Keith Bradsher, and New York Times) The New York Times headline: Markets on Edge as China Moves to Curb Risky Lending ‘China’s financial system is in danger of becoming too big to bail out. Official bank lending has more than doubled since the global financial crisis, … Continue reading

30 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Costco takes its cut of market share from Woolies, Coles

[COMMENT: For anyone who thinks that the grocery (and fuel) dominance of the Coles/Woolies duopoly ought to be reigned in, this news story could be good news.] (30 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p16, Eli Greenblat) Costco gets another $110 million from US parent for Australian expansion ‘Warehouse retailer scores second year of profit in … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Prominent bears concede to the bulls

(27 Dec 2013, AFR, p32, Karen Maley) ‘There’s nothing like six years of market rises to test doomsayers, but even Wall Street was shocked when two long-term bears turned bullish in 2013.’ ‘The first to recant was David Rosenberg, the Gluskin Sheff chief economist who developed a strong following after he warned in the mid-2000s the … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Crane count a sign of Brisbane’s turnaround

(27 Dec 2013, AFR, p36, Mark Ludlow) ‘Cranes are finally returning to ­Brisbane’s skyline. After a few grim years following the global downturn – in which the state’s property and tourism sectors took a battering – Brisbane’s crane count is slowly beginning to return to levels not seen since the beginning of the global financial … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Floats 2013 – The ones that got away – Nine Entertainment leads dynamic year for IPOs

[COMMENT: Be cautious about how you read the headlines that the sub-editors put on news paper stories – they are written to sell newspapers. Also be cautious about some of the writings of some commentators. Despite the positive thread woven through this article, it is difficult to succeed at investing in IPOs.] (27 Dec 2013, … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Outrage over ASIC fine deals

(27 Dec 2013, AFR, p5, Patrick Durkin) ‘Investors’ advocates have expressed surprise and dismay at a Christmas deal by the corporate regulator to drop its inquiries into dealings by National Australia Bank and investment bank UBS, despite uncovering evidence they allegedly manipulated the sharemarket.’ ‘NAB has agreed to a voluntary $2 million fine after being … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Records smashed as wealthy flock back to property

(27 Dec 2013, AFR, p4, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘Sales records were smashed across the country in 2013 as solid equity performance and the Australian dollar’s fall enticed the wealthy back to the luxury house market. In Sydney, the estimated $52 million sale of Altona on Wunulla Road at ­harbourside Point Piper topped the country’s residential prices … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Spending binge with a bag of complaints

(27 Dec 2013, AFR, p3, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘Retailers are reporting bumper post-Christmas sales along with a swarm of complaints about crashed websites, late deliveries and poor service in one downside of the online shopping binge.’ ‘Myer was forced to apologise when its website crashed while David Jones was attacked for putting up sales banners covering … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – US corporate borrowing in a purple patch

[COMMENT: In case you are not familiar with the term purple patch – “A run of success or good luck”.] (27 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p19, Matt Robinson) ‘Credit quality for US companies is showing signs of weakening as issuers from Verizon Communications to Apple borrow unprecedented amounts of money to expand and reward … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (TheAge, Bloomberg) – UPS fails to cope with Christmas deliveries

(27 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p17, Craig Trudell) ‘, the largest online retailer, has offered customers $US20 gift cards and refunds on shipping charges after an avalanche of orders caused United Parcel Service to miss delivery of some packages by Christmas. The retailer cited failures in UPS’s US transport network in messages to customers, … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Babcock & Brown executives misled investors, writ alleges

(27 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p16, Ben Butler) ‘Senior executives at collapsed investment bank Babcock & Brown have been accused of misleading investors who put money into a failed scheme to buy $US386 million ($432 million) of railway cars in the US. In a writ lodged with the Victorian Supreme Court just before Christmas, … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Tills ring but online sales in big surge

(27 Dec 2013, The Age, p2, Ben Butler) ‘Hundreds of thousands of shoppers turned out for the Boxing Day sales – but the real growth is online, at least for those companies with functioning websites. The Australian National Retailers Association estimates the nation spent $1.9 billion on Boxing Day alone, up 5.5 per cent from … Continue reading

27 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Borrowing to invest: the duffer’s guide (Chanticleer)

[COMMENT: This article from Chanticleer is a great eye-opener, documenting some of the failures of the financial system including: big greedy banks that encourage investors to over-gear using levereged products like margin loans, with some case study details of recklessness – bad financial advice gone wrong.] (27 Dec 2013, AFR, p56, Chanticleer – Tony Boyd) … Continue reading

26 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Sales of new US homes fall

(26 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p27, AFP, AP) ‘Sales of new US homes edged lower in November after a strong rise the previous month, according to Commerce Department data. New sales for single-family homes hit a seasonally adjusted 464,000 in November, down 2.1 per cent from the revised October count, according to the data. … Continue reading

24 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Shops report bumper Christmas as crowds squeeze in last-minute gifts

(24 Dec 2013, The Age, p5, Rania Spooner, Eli Greenblat) ‘Shoppers nearing the festive season’s 11th hour have braved frenzied crowds and unseasonable rain in Melbourne.’ Read more at

23 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Japan’s record budget aims for surplus in 2020

(23 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay p18, Keiko Ujikane) ‘Japan unveiled a record budget for the next fiscal year, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe boosts spending on social security, defence and public works while trying to contain the growth of the world’s biggest debt burden.’ Read more at

23 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Sharemarket forecast to strengthen as US scales back stimulus

(23 Dec 2013, The Age, p17, AAP) ‘The Australian sharemarket is expected to continue to strengthen after the US Federal Reserve announced it will start to wind back its stimulus in a market-friendly way. Telstra hit a near nine-year high on Friday after announcing it will sell its stake in Hong Kong mobile business CSL … Continue reading

23 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Victorian industry in strife

(23 Dec 2013, The Age, page 1, Josh Gordon) ‘Manufacturing in Victoria is being choked by the high dollar, rising costs and strong competition from cheaper foreign rivals, as employment in the sector has fallen to its lowest since records began almost 30 years ago. There are now 271,383 Victorians working in manufacturing, down almost … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Stimulus cut will help push $A down

(20 Dec 2013, AFR, p3, John Kehoe) ‘US Federal Reserve chairman Ben ­Bernanke’s decision to reduce monetary stimulus from January unleashed a burst of optimism on­ ­global markets and is expected to help Australian exporters and manufacturers by sending the Australian ­dollar downwards. The $US10 billion cut to the Fed’s $US85 billion monthly bond-buying program is the … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Federal Reserve’s stimulus program pledge sparks sharemarket rally

(20 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Glenda Kwek) ‘The local sharemarket has joined a pre-Christmas global rally, as investors welcomed the US Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep interest rates at low levels as it wound back its historic stimulus program. The US dollar rose on the back of the decision to taper, pushing the … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Crossroads loom for emerging markets

(20 Dec 2013, AFR, Special Report pS4, James Sherbon) ‘Emerging markets might be ready to cede the driver’s seat of the global ­economy to the developed markets in 2014, but they should still be solid ­contributors to global growth led by China, says Giles Keating, head of research and deputy global chief in­vestment officer at … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Share rally as US stimulus ends – on ‘baby steps’ taper

(20 Dec 2013, AFR, p19, Sally Rose) ‘For eight months investors have been nervous that a reduction in United States central bank stimulus would prompt a share sell-off. But after “the taper” was finally announced, on Thursday morning Australian time, equity markets moved higher. The Federal Open Markets Committee said it will reduce its $US85 … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Fed taper small but perfectly formed

(20 Dec 2013, AFR, p29, Philip Baker) ‘That’s $US10 billion less. Now there’s only another $US3 trillion or so to go. Given the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has swelled to about $US4 trillion and was closer to $US940 billion on September 10, 2008, just before investment bank Lehman Brothers went bust, the endgame for the Fed is to get its … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (AFR) – Coalition to cull Labor’s FoFA reforms

(20 Dec 2013, AFR, p3, Laura Tingle) ‘The Coalition will seek to overturn virtually all of the former Labor government’s reforms to the financial planning industry in the wake of the Storm Financial collapse, in spite of concerns it will leave small investors open to similar problems in the future.’ ‘Assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos has … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – ‘Float fatigue’ sets in as travel insurance group Cover-More sinks on debut

[COMMENT: Now, some of us are not surprised that many of the current IPOs that are coming to market are under water. Empirical research over the years has shown that this is the norm. Investing in an IPO is, in hindsight, often not a good idea for the retail investor. See more information about the … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Coalition waters down financial advice reforms

[COMMENT: The inference in this news article is that the previous (Labor) federal government introduced the FoFA legislation in the extreme, with the intent of protecting retail investors from all the bad boys; but with extremem consequences that have over-complicated, and over-priced the financial advice processes. Many financial advisors have warned of difficulties in offering … Continue reading

20 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Federal Reserve’s stimulus program pledge sparks sharemarket rally

(20 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Glenda Kwek) ‘The local sharemarket has joined a pre-Christmas global rally, as investors welcomed the US Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep interest rates at low levels as it wound back its historic stimulus program.’ ‘The US dollar rose on the back of the decision to taper, pushing the … Continue reading

18 Dec 2013 (AFR) – The ghost of profits future – Record number of S&P500 companies warn on profits

(18 Dec 2013, AFR, p23, Karen Maley) ‘With global sharemarkets hovering at near record highs, should investors worry that a spate of disappointing profit performances could be about to spoil the party?’ <snipped..> ‘According to FactSet, which collects the financial projections of Wall Street analysts, the percentage of companies issuing negative earnings guidance for the … Continue reading

18 Dec 2013 (TheAge) – Independent expert to investigate CommSec over pooling clients’ money

(18 Dec 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Georgia Wilkins) ‘An independent expert will investigate Commonwealth Bank’s online broker, CommSec, after the financial regulator found it pooled clients’ money and withdrew funds from client accounts for years without authorisation. It comes as the regulator releases its final submission to a Senate inquiry into a separate scandal … Continue reading