Friday, October 30, 2009

Facebook - New login system Phishing Scam

Just to warn anyone who may not have realised it, this is a Phishing Scam. Some details here and here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If you hate what you do..

Suicide may not be the answer although, sadly, twenty four employees of France Telecom have killed themselves in the last 18 months. See the report here.

One employee stabbed himself in the middle of a meeting, but survived, another jumped out of the office window, very shocking and in France of all places, a country not known for a driving work ethic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raj and the local market

The story of Raj Rajaratnam's arrest was all over todays newspapers. Given the dearth of news that can be reported this story has provided much gristle to the media mill. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion to air or an axe to grind.

Nevertheless it was rather amusing to see the reaction of an official of the (local) SEC: "In the general sense of things we need to probe and find out whether any of the transactions Rajaratnam was involved were questionable, said an SEC official, who declined to be named. “There haven’t been any issues in the past (over his investments) but due to the new developments it is incumbent on our part to look at these issues afresh”. (from the Sunday Times).

Anyone who has any insight into the Colombo Stock Exchange will tell you that the local market runs on a healthy dose of price manipulation with more than a dash of insider trading thrown in. I believe the problems to be so rampant that investors here would be better served if these activities were decriminalised and the SEC disbanded with the resultant savings in costs passed on the investors in the form of lower transaction costs.

A body which allows the listing of Ponzi schemes on the market does not deserve to exist and apart from the persecution of innocents such as poor old Michael Mack who was hounded to his grave I have not seen a great deal of value added to investors.

Anyway, for the adventurous, tomorrow should be a good buying day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Raj Rajaratnam, Founder of $3 Billion Galleon Group Hedge Fund, Arrested

It seems that Raj Rajaratnam, a large investor in the SL market has been arrested for insider dealing by the FBI. See this

This may be bad news for the local market if he has to liquidate his positions here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

9 financial signs of a cheating spouse

Saw an interesting looking article on the above topic here.

I don't think many of these are applicable to SL; for example "Income tax returns that reveal unexplained or previously unknown travel-related deductions" does not apply because there are no travel related deductions (and hardly any other deductions) that are allowed.

Credit cards are the main thing to watch for here. I was told by a bank employee that they have had several instances of trouble when verifying overseas usage on cards-the bank calls the contact number (which, unless the person has roaming, is a home number) to verify a transaction and it turns out that the spouse of the cardholder is not aware of the trip.

Credit card statements also leave a trail, as do phone bills and info on both is much sought after by jealous lovers trying to nail down an infidelity.

On maintaining a separate bank account- this I find surprising, I would expect most people to continue with their own individual bank accounts even after marriage, in addition to having a joint account. I know someone who closed everything and put all her money in a joint account and lost a packet when her husband left. Sharing is the key in marriage, but don't the individuals continue with at least a part of their former lives and their bank accounts? What is the usual practice with managing money post-marriage for couples here?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Random Questions

1. How much does cricket contribute to SL's GDP? There are tidy sums of money from television and advertising rights to player fees to ICC grants that flow in. Support services include coaching and supply of equipment. Its a fairly small but rapidly growing industry. Does anyone care to hazard a guess as to its size or the number it employs?

2. What is driving the demand in the local FMCG sector? Companies are experiencing double-digit volume growth, what drives this? Some people guess that it is a switch from imported products (due to the high duties), some of it is probably due to increased supply to the East. Today I heard a novel explanation: soldiers pay. The government pays the army quite well now and increasing amounts are being sent home to their families in the villages and this is causing a change in consumption patterns. Does anyone have any other explanation and/or harder data?

3. Are the leasing companies the next on the list of financial institutions in trouble? The finance companies, heavily involved in the property trade, have already had their little crisis. With yards full of repossessed vehicles and a collapsing vehicle market are they now tottering?


Sunday, October 04, 2009

What am I?

Four months

Four different choirs

Two churches of different denominations

Oh what a wandering minstrel, have I become.

A soldier of fortune, all for the price of a song.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Silly radio commercials

My mind is being assaulted by a number of very silly radio commercials:

1. The wheels of the bus go round and round (Arpico advertising some promotion)
2. 100 items lower than the lowest price (Keells claiming they have lower prices)
3. Dulux half a litre free with every four litres.
4. Airtel's long cock-and-bull story about a marriage proposal (international phone calls).

These tell me a few things:

1. Sheer desperation on the part of the companies, some gimmick, any gimmick to try and push sales. The reasoning seems to be: 'the war's over, lets tap the optimism and get the sales up'.
2. A complete lack of ideas as far the agencies responsible for the production of the ads. Reasoning on the lines of 'we need to get the ad done by xx, whats the first thing that comes to mind....'

Incidentally, all the above have to do with price. I keep telling marketing guys if cutting prices is the only way you can grow, then why do we need you???