Information Ring – 2012 Holiday Editions

“Everyone has always told me I’m nuts when making investment decisions, but when you can look at something differently than other people, you can find opportunity.”

– Sheldon Adelson, Billionaire Casino Operator

$6 Billion Later
It took $6 billion to find out Obama remains President, the Democrats still control the Senate and the Republicans still control the house. Senate Democrats are fortunate to take two seats from the same two Republicans who made their controversial rape comments. Richard Mourdock, one of the losers and the only senate candidate that Romney endorsed, said that if you get pregnant because of rape, it’s a gift from god. The GOP certainly didn’t win any votes with that one.

End of the World
If the world doesn’t end on December 21st as the Mayan calendar predicted, the Americans made sure that there is a back up date to get the job done: December 31st. That date, nicknamed the Fiscal Cliff, is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, payroll deductions, break for business, shift in the alternative minimum tax, debt ceiling expiration, and a lot of other stuff that will throw the economy and the world down a cliff. According to Barron’s, over 1,000 government programs – including the defense budget and Medicare are in line for “deep, automatic cuts.” The American government made sure that this will happen because it requires Democrats and Republicans to work together. Right now Obama is answering fiscal cliff questions on Twitter.

Obama 2012-2016 Agenda
Incredible how this election was run without knowing what each candidate will do. The whole campaign was focus on trashing each other’s past. With the pressure to be re-elected gone, let’s see what’s on the table for the next four years.
– Fiscal cliff (see above)
– Attack the deficit/debt issues
– Immigration reform
– Stimulus package for states to help hire public school teachers
– Massive infrastructure upgrade that will provide jobs to thousands of construction workers
– Plans to consolidate progress on financial regulatory and health care reform (Obamacare)

Romney Disheveled
Romney loser

‘This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

-Western Union internal memo, 1876.

Take this Mess
Obama is not the only one to inherit a mess from the last four years. China has a new leader, or secretary general.

Out: Hu Jintao
In: Xi Jinping
Needs to be fixed: According to The Economist the list is long: Reduce the power of the state-owned enterprises, reform the financial system, address the inefficient state sector, building a welfare state has become an economic priority as well as a social one, local government is a mess, the economy is a mess, corruption is rampant, the courts need to be reformed, empower farmers, curb land grab, address wealth inequality.

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” — Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, to Elvis Presley in 1954.

Twinkies Ebay
Marijane and Twinkies
Worst timing ever duudee. As several states are legalizing medicinal marijuana the iconic creamed filled snack filed for bankruptcy. Ebay bidders went crazy for Twinkies, some item starting as high of 8k. The supply of Twinkies in Canada remains safe, thanks to Saputo Inc. who has the rights.

Marijuana Stocks get High
Medbox (MDBX) shares surged 3,000% after the election, from roughly $4 Monday to $215 two days later, before falling to back to $23 a share after executives sought to dampen investor enthusiasm. A lot of investors and venture capitalist companies are rushing for a potential gold mine. Risky business: Yes. Unless you are a gangster, a grower or a VC, I wouldn’t touch any of that stuff yet until a clear legislation is in place. Valuation is very high at the moment.

US Business Releases ‘Deficit Manifesto
80 CEOs of the United States’ largest companies have written an open letter calling on Congress to fix the country’s fiscal deficit, by way of both government spending cuts and tax increases. In support of the bipartisan Citizen’s Petition to Fix the Debt, the letter is signed by CEOs from financial and industrial companies such as Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Honeywell and Boeing. Some of them also helped to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 25 on behalf of the campaign. The campaign also received over 300,000 signatures for citizens.

Lloyd’s Plan for America
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, released his plan for the great American Revival. One of the world’s favorite hate figure in one of the world’s favorite most hated company has a plan to bring back America. It’s a great plan that I fully endorsed and America should sign up for. For the full complete article here is the original link. I fully recommend that you read it.
Here are some the key points:
– Remove the risk of a double-dip recession and give the economy a stimulative jolt.
– Restore confidence in public finances
– Keep marginal tax rates low
– Act like we need to compete and win—because we do (energy, trade, immigration)

Get ready for 54.5 mpg by 2025.
At the moment current standards require all news cars and small trucks to meet 34.5 mpg by 2016. The standards are from the US EPA.
1 mpg = 0.42 km/liter
34.5 mpg = 14.66 km/liter
54.5 mpg = 23.17 km/liter

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for music.” made space history with by launching his new song, Reaching for the Stars, on Mars via the rover.

US looking at building a Death Star
Here is a link I got from Edgar Rodriguez, our legislative correspondent. They might not have the cash, but they have the will. What is the Death Star? Somekind of mega space platform and weapon system which would ensure space-superioty. The petition claims would act as a stimulus for the economy because of the boost in job creation in the fields of construction, engineering and space exploration.

Finally, $7 Starbuck coffee is here | Jimmy Kimmel Review

WWII v2?

Is China and Japan going to war? The Economist did a nice analysis piece explaining the situation. Link here.
Preview: The idea that China and Japan might go to war over a few tiny islands seems absurd; but there is an alarming parallel between Asia at the beginning of the 21st century and Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, where the rise of a great power, combined with growing nationalism and diplomatic failure, led to disaster.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

For Sale:
AEG,the world’s second-biggest promoter of live events is for sale. World class assets include Los Angeles’s Staples Centre arena, LA Galaxy football (soccer) club, a stake in the Lakers basketball team and the O2 concert venue in London. Any deal is likely to be one of the biggest ever in the sports and entertainment industry.

Royal Treatment

Prince Harry is caught drunk and butt naked in Vegas and the major newspaper has no hesitation publishing the photos on their front page all over the world. The Duchess’s nipple are expose in a terrible grainy pixely picture in some French tabloid magazine and all sudden the high morale strict journalist code of ethics is severely violated.

Carney Central Bank News
Central bank news are extremely boring but make front page news all the time. Mark Carney, the Canadian super star banker,is leaving the Bank of Canada to head Bank of England. Rumors about his future have been swirling for years such as a potential move in national politics or to head other central banks. He would become the first non-British national would lead the BoE.

In England, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, that country’s equivalent of a finance minister, called Carney

“the outstanding central banker of his generation. He is quite simply the best, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to do the job,”

Other Canadians that rescue the old motherland
In 2010, the prestigious Royal Mail hired the president of Post Canada, the profit margins are higher. In 2011, the executives at Heathrow airport didn’t know what to do when the airport close for a couple days because of a snowstorm. They called the #2 guy at the Montreal airport. Where else would you call? Can’t go wrong there.

Kayak: The Successful IPO of 2012 Got Better
My favorite travel search engine got bought out for $1.8b by Priceline. Priceline offered a 40% premium over the November 8th closing price and a solid 50% return since the IPO in june ($26). Definitely a nice surprise if you were holding shares.

What is the future of online travel search? Last year Google bought ITA Software, a service that organizes online flight information for Kayak and others, is currently working on entering the travel search arena. This is a considerable threat considering that Google is the search king and the other travel search company are at the mercy of Google’s technology. All of this should be good for the consumer.

Obesity, Flying and the extra seat
Government regulation are forcing airlines to provide overweight people with extra seats. This can’t be cool for the flyer, the airline and the fellow passengers. Some airlines are required the overweight passenger to buy an extra ticket. This can be stressful, humiliating and expensive. The airline put themselves in a delicate situation too. How do you go about this: “Dear beloved passenger, it’s my pleasure to inform you that you automatically qualify for an extra seat because you’re special.” Air Canada found a way around this and might be the best policy to model after:

International airlines such as Air Canada address this issue more amicably: Because the airline considers obesity a medical condition, it provides overweight passengers with a free extra seat as long as they present a doctor’s note.

World Debt Clock
Reposted from The Economist Click here for the world debt clock.
The clock is ticking. Every second, it seems, someone in the world takes on more debt. The idea of a debt clock for an individual nation is familiar to anyone who has been to Times Square in New York, where the American public shortfall is revealed. Our clock (updated September 2012) shows the global figure for almost all government debts in dollar terms.

Does it matter? After all, world governments owe the money to their own citizens, not to the Martians. But the rising total is important for two reasons. First, when debt rises faster than economic output (as it has been doing in recent years), higher government debt implies more state interference in the economy and higher taxes in the future. Second, debt must be rolled over at regular intervals. This creates a recurring popularity test for individual governments, rather as reality TV show contestants face a public phone vote every week. Fail that vote, as various euro-zone governments have done, and the country (and its neighbours) can be plunged into crisis.

Airbus 2050
Flying in 2050
Airbus unveiled a new concept plane and part of its vision of what passenger aircraft might look like in 2050. Features: Intelligent cabin, panoramic views, virtual golf and vitalising zones.
Airbus gold

Holiday Apple Sale
Apple stocks took a severe beating in the last couple weeks. Several small factors contributed to the selling; supply chain problems, top-tier management problems, the botched release of IOS 6, higher competition, the tablet market being flooded by cheaper competitor, the fiscal cliff, higher potential capital gains and fund managers locking their gains for the year. After all their bonus depends on it. Apple is trading at a multiple of 13.2x PE (12-3-12), which is historically low for the company. The other side of the story is that Apple can’t maintain that hyper growth that they have been on.

The hottest stock on the street. Yes hard to believe. The stock is up over 90% since the low of September. It’s currently trading at about $12 a share (12-3-12), up from $6.22 on September 24th. What’s up?

The early reviews for the Blackberry 10 are very good. One critic even went as far as saying it’s the best smartphone ever. I’m not sure how they accomplished that because I don’t think they have any engineers left working there. The BB10 also got the highest security level from the US government, a must. Also telecommunication companies like to have negotiation power, which they lost when the world came down to two systems (Apple & Google), so they are looking forward to a new device to mix up the cards. 43% of executives are still using BBs. Why? Security. Emails from BB to BB are impenetrable, unlike the other devices which are easily hackable. So security is BB’s nice markets. Now that the BB10 are apparently good, let see if they can sell them. It is expected to come out in the first quarter of 2013.

Hotel Secrets
Someone started an online discussion thread on Reddit asking hotel staff to reveal secrets. Link to the thread. Well the thread exploded with over 5500 comments in two days. It’s a great read but not before you eat or preparing to stay in a room. Here are some of the comments:

“Always use the disposable cups in the rooms. The glasses/mugs are usually just rinsed in hot water in your bathroom sink.”

“The glasses for toothbrushes are not always washed since the cleaners are in a hurry, often they are just held under the tap and rinsed (if even that). Check for lip prints.”

“The remotes for the TV are rarely cleaned.”

“If you book a jacuzzi, be warned, the jet system is often completely clogged up with really nasty gunk.”

“I’m a bellman and valet at a resort. I can give you free water bottles, tampons, valet parking, tours, shuttle rides, reservations, dry cleaning, hell even an upgrade to a better room if you just ASK ME. But no one ever does because they think I’m just a doorman. Oh and room service isn’t open all night so the kitchen cooks meals (like sandwiches and dessert and what not) and leaves them in a fridge near the front desk in case a guest checks in at like three in the morning and wants food. Anyways in the morning there’s just free food sitting there, every morning I get a free cheesecake if I want, but the guest could have it if he or she asked.”

“”I work in a five-star hotel located in Central, Hong Kong. Yes, we have to comply with any request if the guest is considered a VIP. Not sure if this is interesting to you guys but we do have contact with local triads when prostitution is needed. We simply make a phone call and girls will be delivered faster than pizza.”

“I worked for the ritz carlton for a few years. In my orientation, the HR rep told everyone that each employee has a special allowance of $1,500 to make sure they can help the guests feel like their stay would be memorable. There was a story about a guest who lost his Rolex and asked the front desk if they had seen it or one of the maids took it and complained a lot. When the guest finally left, the guy from the front desk went out and purchased the guest a new rolex and was reimbursed fully by the ritz. The guest was extra happy and is now returning to the same property every year. So, every Ritz Carlton employee in the U.S. has a $1,500 account for guests if needed. Not many people know that.”

“The best way to cancel your reservation with out getting charged, if you’ve waited after the cancellation time, is to call 1st and say you’re changing your stay to a later date, then call back within a few hours, (hopefully getting a different clerk) and the cancellation fee will be bypassed because there’s now a new cancellation time on the new date.”

“I do this for people all the time. They call and need to cancel after the cut off time, so I tell them I will change the arrival date and that they should call back in 2 or 3 days and cancel it then. That way they do not get charged and I do not get in trouble with the boss. But this only works for reservations that are booked through the hotel directly. Pre paid reservations from travel sites like expedia can not be manipulated this way.”


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