Showing posts from June, 2010

The mindset of a property millionaire

By Sherry Koh

19 properties in Malaysia.

1 property in Singapore.

Properties worth more than RM22 million (S$9.4 million).

Five-figure positive cash flow.

Those figures belong to Milan Doshi, a property and stock investment guru who have made his millions over a course of more than 20 years.

In his recent Property Intensive workshop, Doshi posted an interesting question, "Which would you rather be? A debt-free beggar or a financially free billionaire?"

For most people, the answer would be the latter but they might be doing the opposite, which is to earn as much as possible to pay off debts.

Doshi highlighted that the old school of thinking is to not borrow money or borrow as little as possible and return it soonest possible. His thinking is, "The more you borrow, the richer you get."

He also advises investors to analyse the advisor before analysing the advice. For example, one might make the mistake of taking financial advice from people who sell investment products rather …

Unique Job Search Tactics That Work

by Laura Rowley

Gail Neal worked for 12 years placing laid-off workers in new jobs before she got her own pink slip in March 2008. That September, she found a commission-only job selling cemetery plots, an industry she thought would be recession-proof. She was wrong.

"With the economy the way it was, people were doing direct cremations," she says. She persisted for more than a year before launching a new job search. At a networking event, she heard about an ad sales job at a Detroit radio station. She sent a cover letter and one-page resume in a pretty, invitation-sized envelope with a gold sticker, which got the manager's attention. She was hired a few weeks later.

"I'd worked in job placement for long time but did the same thing everyone else does -- sent out a plain resume based on knowledge of a job opening and made phone calls," she says. "I didn't stand out. The competition is such in this area that you've got to do something very different…

How to Get the Salary You Want

by Joe Light

A tight job market might have taken away some jobseekers' leverage in a salary negotiation, but that doesn't mean they should roll over and accept the first offer, says New York-based executive coach Rabia de Lande Long. To get the top compensation possible—without putting a sour taste in your potential employer's mouth—take these steps.

1. Do your research.

It used to be hard to find out what your coworkers and other professionals in your industry get paid. But now, several resources have attempted to opened that black box, says Ms. de Lande Long. and give salary ranges to expect based on a job seeker's position, location, and experience. Employees at the actual company you're applying to might have also posted their salaries at

2. Don't give out the first number.

You'll be pressured to do this through the application process. "What's your salary requirement?" "What salary range are you look…

How to ride an up-and-down market

By Adam Lashinsky

FORTUNE -- Volatility in the stock market is a lot like turbulence on an airplane: scary, nausea-inducing, and, if at all possible, best to ignore. Just as a plane almost certainly will land safely despite the uncomfortable bumps, the market usually rises over time (the gruesome past decade notwithstanding). Yet while for the vast majority of investors the sensible thing to do in the face of choppy markets is nothing at all, some yearn to seize the day. After all, seesawing prices can mean opportunity.

By that measure there has been plenty of opportunity of late. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) registered triple-digit gains or declines 22 times between April 20 and June 9, the most since the financial crisis of late 2008. Here, then, are three approaches to volatility that anyone can take -- provided you have the stomach and the attention span to do so.

"Rent" your stocks

One way to profit in unstable markets is to sell call options on shares you alrea…

Elon Musk, PayPal Pioneer, Is Paper-Rich, Cash-Poor

The funny thing about Elon Musk is that he does sort of remind you of Tony Stark. Minus the Iron Man suit.

Like the fictional Mr. Stark, Mr. Musk seems like the kind of guy every Silicon Valley hopeful wants to be. For starters, he’s a rocket scientist. No, really: he helped design the Falcon 9 booster used by NASA. He also helped create Solar City, a leader in solar power. And he helped dream up the Tesla, the electric car that made electric cars sexy. No wonder the film director Jon Favreau modeled his über-capitalist superhero on Mr. Musk.

There is just one small problem: Mr. Musk says he is broke.

Come again? Mr. Musk is a member of the PayPal Mafia — those serial entrepreneurs who, for a time, looked like the Brat Pack of the Valley. He made a fortune as a co-founder of PayPal, the e-commerce payments system. Not so long ago, he had more than $200 million in cash. Not bad for 38.

Now Mr. Musk, who is in the middle of a divorce, says his account is empty. Actually, less than empty. H…

One Big Thing We Don't Know About Stocks

Carl Richards is a certified financial planner and the founder of Prasada Capital.

The only reason we invest in stocks is to earn more than we would get from cash or bonds. The amount you are supposed to earn by taking the additional risk of owning stocks is called the risk premium. If you don't get paid more for taking the risk, you should put your money in bonds.

Over the last 207 years you got paid 2.5 percentage points more each year (on average) to invest in stocks than you did in bonds.

But you know what they say about statistics, right? In the real world, we have to deal with the fact that like all averages, this one has some serious problems. Sometimes the risk premium is higher than 2.5%, and sometimes it goes away or is hugely negative (say, in a bear market).

Until recently, most of us thought of bear markets as those three to five year periods where you grit you teeth and hang on. But recent experience is more painful than that.

In an article by Robert Arnott in the Journal…

The Happiness of Choosing Wisely

by Laura Rowley

I stopped at my local bookstore last weekend to meet Columbia University psychologist Sheena Iyengar, whose book -- "The Art of Choosing" -- I reviewed in a recent column. A petite brunette with a lyrical voice, she signed the hardcover for me, and next to her signature, wrote: "Choose when to choose."

I thought about that statement later when I received a letter from my bank stamped "ACTION REQUIRED." It explained that under new federal rules, banks can no longer automatically cover overdrafts and charge (exorbitant) fees for the privilege. After July 1, consumers must opt in and agree to overdraft protection, otherwise the ATM or vendor may deny the transaction for insufficient funds.

"If you're like most consumers, you rely on your ATM or debit card to save the day," the letter stated. "However, what do you do if you do not have sufficient funds in your checking account?"

Apparently I'm not like most consumers (…

Central banks join the gold rush

Annalyn Censky

Foreign governments have been getting in on the recent gold rush, driven by continued fears about Europe's debt crisis and the pace of the global economic recovery.

Those concerns have been propelling the precious metal to record highs over the past 18 months. In fact, gold posted a new intra-day high Friday, when it reached $1,260.90 an ounce. A day earlier, it reached a fresh record high closing price of $1,248.70 an ounce.

Last year, foreign central banks were net buyers of gold for the first time since 1997. India, China and Russia have been the biggest buyers. And more recently, the Philippines and Kazakhstan jumped into the fray with big purchases of the precious metal during the first quarter, according to data released by the World Gold Council Thursday.

What's behind the buying binge?

Each country has its own unique reasons, but there are a few broad trends that unite them all, said Natalie Dempster, director of government affairs for the World Gold Council.

Learn The Number One Secret To Long Term Investing

by Hank

Here it is, and I’m giving the secret away to you for free! The #1 secret to long term investing is…
Ignore the stock market!

Wasn’t that easy? Thanks to the twenty-four hour news cycles and a million cable television channels, investors are glued to the ticker tape of stock market results. How did the Dow Jones Industrial Average do this week? It does not matter. Or, it should not matter to you if you are a long term investor. In fact, I hope the market heads lower (in the short term) because I want to buy some cheap stocks.

Our Best Friend…Time. If you are decades away from retirement, what do you care about the market’s movement this week. I care where the market is going to end up in the year 2040, not 2010. In fact, given the historic average rate of return (approximately 8% annually), the Dow Jones would double in the next nine years to over 19,000. The best thing that young investors have going for them is time and compounding interest. There will be exponentially more mone…

Avoiding a Death Sentence

by Mark Hulbert

The Dow Theory jury is still out.

But we at least know more than we did as recently as late May. According to one of the three Dow Theorists I monitor, precise parameters are now established for what the bull must now do in order to avoid a death sentence. The second of these Dow Theorists appears to agree.

The third member of the jury, however, has already said he is voting for that death sentence.

So the bull market has its work cut out for it to keep even this shred of hope alive.

The Dow Theory, of course, is the oldest market timing system still in widespread use today. Although its adherents don't always agree on its interpretation — as is the case now — the Theory has received an academic seal of approval for having beaten a buy-and-hold in the past. So it behooves us to pay attention to what the Dow Theorists are saying.

You might wonder why there is any room for disagreement in the first place. The reason is that the Dow Theory's creator — William Peter Hami…

With Bears Making Headlines, Time to Get Bullish?

Josh Lipton

Bears are growling on the cover of BusinessWeek.

In the latest issue, our colleagues there assembled a cast of prominent grizzlies that rose to fame in the market crash of 2008 -- including stockbroker and author Michael Panzner, NYU professor Nouriel Roubini aka Dr. Doom, and veteran investment guru Gary Shilling -- to trace the development of their outlooks and where they see the economy going from here.

The cover story notes that as the markets now show fresh signs of panic, much of it emanating from the debt crisis across the pond, the spotlight is swinging back toward these bearish forecasters.

"Their moment could be coming back around," the article emphasizes.

(After sifting through the article, if you're looking for more optimistically inclined analysis, check out twin op-eds in the Wall Street Journal: Bob Doll's "The Bullish Case for Equities" and Alan Reynolds' "Don't Believe the Double Dippers.")

Of course, as Ed Yardeni o…

Leverage, Baby!

by Jane J. Kim and Jeff D. Opdyke

It would be the height of foolishness to load up on debt now, right?

Just look at the news these days. Homeowners are being foreclosed on at a record clip. Governments around the world are lurching toward insolvency. Job growth in the U.S. remains feeble at best. And at the center of the global economic storm are bad loans, which promise to weigh on consumers, businesses and governments for years if not decades to come.

And yet—and yet!—the cold clarity of financial analysis points to an inescapable conclusion: There has never been a better time for people to borrow money, whether to buy financial assets or boost cash reserves.

For sophisticated, disciplined investors who have lived and invested within their means—and perhaps decried the bailouts being lavished on those who haven't—this is your time to take advantage. Not only are interest rates just about as low as they can get, but future inflation could erode the paper value of loans, making debt e…

Lots of Bears a Reason to Buy? No, Says Strategist

There are so many bearish calls and so much negative sentiment that now is the time to buy stocks, some analysts and strategists have advised. But Philippe Gijsels, the head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, thinks the opposite is true.

Many investors missed the 2009 rally because they could not see a reason to buy, and those trying to buy the market now risk the same fate in the opposite direction, Gijsels told

"There are certainly more bears than a couple of months ago," he said in a telephone interview. "However, we should also not forget that the rally from the March lows last year was the most hated and non-believed rally in history."

"At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 we started talking about positioning for an explosive rally," Gijsels said. "As the rally started in March, there were few people who got on board. Fund managers were underweight equities and were forced to play catch-up as they tried to buy the d…

The 11-Year Itch: Still Stuck at Dow 10000

by Jason Zweig

Will Dow 10000 turn out to be a long replay of Dow 1000?

Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 10000—again. Since March 16, 1999, when it first touched 10000 in intraday trading, the Dow has bounced over that threshold and back 63 times. This Friday, the index closed 219.6 points below where it stood exactly 11 years ago.

This isn't the first time stocks have been stuck on a seemingly endless pogo-stick ride. On Jan. 18, 1966, the Dow hit an intraday high of 1000.50. It broke through the four-digit barrier three more times that January and February, then faded. The Dow cracked 1000 again in 1972 and 1976, then fell back both times. Not until December 1982 did the Dow finally hurdle above 1000 and stay there.

Wall Street veterans even coined a term for the market's behavior: "quadraphobia," or the fear of a four-digit closing value for the Dow.

Of course, financial history doesn't repeat itself—and even when it rhymes, the sounds can be …

Why the worst isn't over yet

by Duff McDonald

FORTUNE -- Economists, as you have likely heard, are enjoying a bit of a renaissance these days. With a startling new piece of economic news emerging on a near daily basis -- Greece is going under! No, it's Spain! China is in the midst of a housing bubble! China is our savior! -- there's been a surge in demand for those who would purport to tell us what it all means.

If, like us, you don't like your economics dry-as-dust, the man to turn to is David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Canadian wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff. Rosenberg's daily missives (which you can sign up for on the firm's web site) both inform and entertain, while at the same time scaring the bejesus out of you.

Rosenberg, you see, is an unapologetic bear. He's no perma-bear -- the man was a bullish for most of the 1990s -- but his reading of today's data leaves him no choice but to continue sounding the alarm in the face of those who would have us believe th…

If Gold's Too Pricey, Other Commodities are a Steal

by Myra P. Saefong

With its record-high prices and reputation for volatility, gold may no longer be a bargain — but a few other commodities might be a steal.

Of course, traders probably need a little convincing.

"As attractive as the story is for gold, there is no guarantee of safety," said John Person, president of "Prices can and do fluctuate wildly."

The most-active gold futures contract hit a record close of $1,245.60 an ounce Tuesday — the highest since gold futures starting trading on Comex in the 1970s.

And it wasn't too long ago when gold prices tumbled around $250 per ounce in less than 14 trading days in October of 2008. More recently, prices dropped nearly $180 from peak to trough in December 2009 to February of this year, Person said.

"These wild swings can give the faint-of-heart investor less comfort than what they are looking for," he said.

Instead, investors can consider other commodity investments, but shouldn't expe…

Correction expected in Singapore’s property market: industry players

Industry players have said Singapore’s property market is in for a correction in coming months.

Tell-tale signs include a plateau in home prices and a drop in transaction volumes.

The Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers said there were 899 caveats lodged for condominiums in the first three weeks of May.

This compares with 3,060 for the whole of April.

New condominium projects are still doing well. But property agents said home sales in the secondary or resale market have dropped by up to 20 per cent recently.

Dennis Wee Group said buyers are becoming more cautious, going by sales figures in May.

Chris Koh, director, Dennis Wee Properties, said: “Instead of seeing a 30 per cent increase in transactions as the month before, I only saw a marginal 3.5 per cent increase. A lot of buyers are pulling their handbrake, what they feel today is that the seller is asking for too high a price, and if I am not in a hurry, why not sit and wait.”

Industry data from the Singapore Institute of Survey…

Goldman Sachs Revives an Old Tactic: Keeping Quiet

Goldman Sachs has decided to keep a low profile in response to harsh criticism and a subpoena fired at the company by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission yesterday.

On a conference call with reporters following the announcement of the subpoena, the chairman of the commission, Phil Angelides, angrily accused Goldman of "deliberately and disruptively" trying to thwart the commission's investigation by dumping billions of pages of documents in response to requests for information.

Goldman (NYSE: gs) offered up only the blandest and most tepid denial. "We have been and continue to be committed to providing the FCIC with the information they have requested," Goldman said in a statement.

Goldman is deliberately under-reacting to the public pillorying served up by Angelides, a person familiar with the thinking at Goldman says.

This response stands in marked contrast to Goldman's sharp and lengthy response to the fraud lawsuit filed by the SEC in April. The same af…

Beware of Fake Rallies

Simon Maierhofer

Bear markets are smart. The job of the bear is to separate as many investors from as much of their money as possible. The bear knows this can't be accomplished if everyone knows he's around.

To get the job done, the bear 'kills with kindness.' To make a major decline seem more like a correction and buying opportunity, the bear generously provides rallies, mainly larger one-day gains. This keeps investors believing that the bear is not in control - which is what it wants.

Trojan horses would be an apropos description of such rallies. The chart below provides a visual of those Trojan horses. Notice that despite big rallies, the trend of the market has been unmistakably down.

The biggest on-day gain this year came right after the May 6 flash crash and lifted the Dow (DJI: ^DJI) by 405 points. Wall Street viewed that as a bullish signal.

On May 14, the ETF Profit Strategy Newsletter warned investors: 'History tells us, this it not bullish. We've found …