Goodwill in negotiation

The trade negotiation between the US and China broke down over the weekend. In any kind of negotiations and for success of an agreement, both parties need to come to the table with goodwill. Both parties must walk away with a feeling that each has gained something out of the agreement.

 

This is made more critical when two nations negotiate. No one country should be made to look inferior in the eyes of her own citizens. Putting politics above all else in negotiations reduces a chance of amicable solution to an agreement.

 

I hope for common sense to prevail in the trade negotiations between two powerful nations in terms of the economy. When two elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. The rest of the world looks on with trepidations because we are all inter-connected in many ways.

 

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

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Posted in Financial Management

Intertidal Walk on Sisters’ Island Marine Park

Sisters’ Islands are situated south of Sentosa near to St. John’s Island. We set off this morning to the Big Sister’s Island also known as Pulau Subar Laut. Only the Big Sister’s Island is open to public. To reach this island, we took a ferry from Marina South Pier. Access to this pier is made convenient with the North-South MRT Line to Marina South Pier Station.

NParks organised this intertidal walk for free including free ferry ride to the island. It was a guided walk. The whole trip started from 7.30 am to 10.30 am. Ferry ride took about 30 minutes each way. We spent 2 hours on the shore. The guides and NParks personnel did well to help us enjoy the intertidal walk.

When I woke up at 4.50 am this morning, it was raining heavily with gusty wind. We thought this trip would be cancelled. But the weather cleared and it was sunny when we left the island.

This is my third intertidal walk. Sentosa intertidal walk, Changi Coast intertidal walk and the Sister’s Island intertidal walk were different. Each one was special in terms of the marine lives on the shores and the environments of these places. Sister’s Island required a ferry ride, whereas the other two need not have to. The ferry ride was like I was on an overseas holiday!

What did we see? Many types of corals; Diadema sea urchin; sea anemones; Clown anemonefish; many types of slugs; black sea cucumber; other marine lives.

For more information, visit NParks web-site. I would recommend a guided-walk to appreciate the trip.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Approaching Big Sister’s Island

Low tide

Sea anemone

Clown anemonefish

Coral

Many corals

Info Board on marine park

Posted in Travelogue

When US and China cannot come to a trade agreement …

The stock markets were driven by investors’ sentiments in times such as this. The on-going trade negotiations between the US and China is one factor driving the global stock markets. The markets were generally positive until 6 May when President Donald Trump suggested that trade negotiation was going too slowly.

The stock indices from the start of 2019 and 30 April 2019 were up for the major indices below. Shanghai Composite Index was up 23.8%.

Stock Indices 31-Dec-18 30-Apr-19 YTD Change
Shanghai Composite 2,493.90 3,086.40 23.8%
Nasdaq (USA) 6,635.28 8,095.39 22.0%
Hang Seng (HK) 25,845.70 29,699.11 14.9%
S&P 500 (USA) 2,506.85 2,945.83 17.5%
Dow Jones (USA) 23,327.46 26,592.91 14.0%
Nikkei 225 (Japan) 20,014.77 22,258.73 11.2%
STI (Singapore) 3,068.76 3,400.20 10.8%

Then came the bombshell that the trade negotiation seemed to hit a roadblock. During this week, the stock indices corrected downwards.

Stock Indices 30-Apr-19 8-May-19 Change
Shanghai Composite 3,086.40 2,893.76 -6.2%
Nasdaq (USA) 8,095.39 7,943.32 -1.9%
Hang Seng (HK) 29,699.11 29,003.20 -2.3%
S&P 500 (USA) 2,945.83 2,879.42 -2.3%
Dow Jones (USA) 26,592.91 25,967.33 -2.4%
Nikkei 225 (Japan) 22,258.73 21,602.59 -2.9%
STI (Singapore) 3,400.20 3,283.84 -3.4%

Shanghai Composite Index corrected 6.2% down between end of April to 8 May. This was significant adjustment. As for today 9 May 2019, the Shanghai Composite was 2,850.95 points. This brought the drop to negative 7.6%.

It now depends on the China trade negotiators and the US’ to come to an agreement this week. Otherwise, more red ink is in the pipeline. It now appears that month of May is going to be a frightening month for stock investors.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

Posted in Financial Management

All it took was one tweet by Donald J. Trump …

On 6 May 12.08 AM, Donald J. Trump threatened to raise tariffs on China export to USA from 10% to 25% on Friday on US$200 billion goods and 25% on untaxed goods from China not already subjected to tariffs. The President felt that the trade negotiation with China is going too slowly.

Just one tweet by Trump after midnight and the stock markets slumped in the morning, Asian time.

Shanghai Composite dropped 5.34%
Hang Seng Index dropped 3.31%
Straits Times Index dropped 3.22%
(At 1.24 pm.)

See what happen in the next few days to see whether the stock sell-off is sustained.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

Posted in Financial Management

Running Thoughts

My mind runs away with many thoughts. It is working on overdrive, darting in and out in split seconds. Some thoughts are fleeting and I may not notice them. Some may linger longer and I am sucked into it, planning, thinking about them. I may not even realise that I am with a specific thought for far too long. My mind cannot be void, empty. So long as one thought ends, another thought fills the void. My mind stream cannot stop and I cannot stop it unless I am mindfully conscious about every single thought and redirect my mind into something else, such as watching the in-breath and out-breath. This is the biggest challenge and the hardest to achieve.

Therefore, I continue to be dragged along by thoughts and not knowing when I can move out of negative thoughts, e.g. thoughts of worries, anxieties, fears, anger, jealousies, unhappiness. If I dwell too long in these negative thoughts, it harms my mental health, and in a worst-case scenario it may lead to depression. If depression sets in, it is important that one has close friends or confidants to notice and to seek help for the sufferer.

I wonder how many people are stressed out of their minds that their thoughts are running overdrive without a breather to calm down? I went through a period of constant stress before I decided to resign from my last job. I realised back then that I must take back control of my life and my mind. The salary may be good, my position in the organisation may be good, but did I have the mental health to enjoy them?

One of my major obstacles is not being able to let go, take a back seat and leave the problem aside. Being obsessed with responsibilities and always thinking of others, got me in the bind. Things got better once I am retired. The problems related with office work are non-existent and that is a big chunk. However, my mind is habitual and it chooses other things to think about. The crux of the problem is still there if I continue to over-think.

Recognising I have the habit of thinking is the preliminary step to put my mental health in order. I have to seek advice to address my problem. This is work in progress and a big endeavour. I am not being prescriptive here as there are ways to address that suit different individuals. First recognise our mental health and act on addressing it.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Life Journey

When Rates Go Up, Cut on Usage

For most people, they are affected by rates increases that have impact on their cost of living.

Chief among these is the public transport fare increases from 29 December 2018. From this date, card fares for adults travelling on buses and trains had increased by 6 cents.

The second one is the water price increases implemented in two phases on 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018 respectively.

The third one is electricity tariff increases or decreases every quarter depending on global oil prices. The table below shows the changes by year. The electricity tariff had been going up in year 2018. In 2019, tariffs were coming down but they were still higher than in 2017.

Electricity Tariff (cents per/kWh)
Year/Qtr 2017 2018 2019
January 20.20 21.56 23.85
April 21.39 22.15 22.79
July 20.72 23.65
October 20.30 24.13

These three items are essential expenditure that affects almost everyone.

In the case of transport fare increases, our experience was that we had been topping up our fare cards more frequently than in the past. We felt the pinch when we saw the start fare per ride is now $0.83 instead of $0.77 before the increase. On a return journey, the fare has gone up by 12 cents. With more rides in a day, fare would just multiply.

As for water price increases, the increases are in table below.

Water Prices For monthly usage less and equal to 40 cu m
1.7.2017 1.7.2018
(per cu metre) Price ($) Price ($)
Water Tariff 1.19 1.21
Water Conservation Tax (% of water tariff) 0.42 0.61
Waterborne fee 0.78 0.92
Total water price 2.39 2.74

With these increases, we as a family cut down on usage of water in order to keep our total cost of water down.

Electricity usage had been most difficult to control. Our electricity usage (in kWh) had been going up in 2017 and 2018 from the previous year. With the volatile electricity tariff, we had been incurring higher electricity cost mainly due to higher electricity tariff. Our cost per kWh in 2017 was $0.206 and $0.228 in 2018. Cost per kWh had gone up by 10.7% from 2017 in 2018 (after stripping usage pattern).

Summary

We are facing increases in public transport cost, water cost and electricity cost in recent times. Because of that, we had been trying to cut back on usage. It is still expensive for us with these increases. Some items like public transport and electricity consumptions were harder to cut. However, we achieved some success with water consumption. We are not entitled to U-Save GST vouchers or public transport vouchers and therefore we bear the full brunt of price increases.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Social Issues

Among the Masses

The bottom 20% with regard to household income has been the focus of the government. Policies on government transfers and taxes are tailored to them at every budget cycle. The top 20% has less need for government support since their nominal average household monthly income from work per household member was at least S$6,279 in 2017.

Taking away top 20% and bottom 20%, the masses is the 60% of the resident households. Typically, they work real hard to keep up with the cost of living. They probably have young children and older parents to take care, and housing loans to pay.

Most of us with a qualification started with the masses. Some may break out from the masses to get into the top 20% in later years while majority will stay in the 60% grouping. This is the nature of the working class society. It is not that easy to get to top 20% as competition is stiff for the limited places at the top of an organisation.

Most of us went through the stages from starting out and later to be among the majority. The masses play an important role in any organisation. There cannot be Indian Chief without subjects to support him. Most do not speak up publicly but we cannot assume that they are not aware of policies of the government and events happening around them. All I am saying is that they cannot be taken for granted. 60% cohort is a big number to ignore. Have we empathise with them? Do we know how they feel about policies?

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Social Issues