Magnetizing Malaysia

It looks like those who want to make a sound investment might benefit from taking a peek at what’s been going on in Malaysia in recent times. The country’s “political stability and gateway to the huge market in the region,” is making it an increasingly good choice. As well, the region has received a significant economic boost due to implementations carried out under Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the country’s Prime Minister.

America Ambles Towards Malaysia

So it now makes sense for Americans to make investments in Malaysia which it is doing. Since the South East Asia has a high population of nearly 600 million, this makes it a very large market. Just today, Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, the country’s Ambassador to America gave a brief to US journalists to prep them for the visit from Najib who is currently in England.

But the question on everyone’s lips is why would Americans be turning outside their already fragile-economy country to make investments elsewhere and not instead choose to help their own economy? Apparently Malaysia’s advantages render it a perfect “platform [through which] to enter the region.” In addition, America views Malaysia as “a serious player in protecting intellectual property rights and had a reliable work force with a good command of English.”

American-Malaysian Stats

If you just start looking briefly at the history of trading between the two countries, you will start to understand why there is so much excitement at future coalitions. Just last year for example, America was the fourth largest trader in Malaysia, resulting in $36.43bn, a jump of $5.4bn from the previous year. There are further investments predicted too, with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) anticipating American investments to jump 10 percent this year from 2010.

More Business Opportunities in SE Asia

There are continuously more and more business opportunities becoming available in South East Asia. Just yesterday, South Korea’s SK Telecom announced its $16.5m additional investment in a Malaysian broadband operator with a view to developing its presence in the SE Asian market. By 2020, it is expected that around 36 percent of the country’s population will be able to access broadband services. Right now that figure stands at half – 18 percent.

Malaysia Goes Muslim?

Another attractive feature about Malaysian investments is that the country could be used as “a partner to enter Muslim countries.” Various businesses are working with Malaysians in America in an attempt to “use our citizens as a bridge to the Muslim countries.”

It’s Always Sunny in Singapore?

Stable Singapore Stakes

Is it true that things (financially-speaking) are that good in Singapore these days? Is that what is making the area so attractive for hedge funds, financiers and investors? Indeed the answer should be a resounding yes. The country is for sure facilitating things for these financiers as “setting up shop” is now deemed as much easier in Singapore than in any other Asian city.

If you just take a look at Hong Kong you will see just how much harder it is for such financiers to work. Indeed, managers of hedge funds alone are doing it tough, being forced to engage in the “same licensing requirements as mutual-fund managers.” Small funds in Singapore will be able to continue operating without having a license at all. Since it is today Singapore and Hong Kong which are the countries that have the most operation of hedge funds, of course these financiers would choose the former over the latter.

Seductive Singapore Taxes

The taxes haven’t always been so attractive in Singapore. But today they are, given what is going on in the UK. Currently the highest taxes for individuals reaches 20 percent in Singapore but the UK recently put their top rate up to a staggering 50 percent. In addition, the whole of Europe – as well as America – in general works on “tougher rules.”

So it makes sense that hedge funds in Singapore saw a significant development, reaching $48bn at the end of 2009 which was a jump of $10bn from just four years earlier. In 2001 there were only 20 hedge funds; two years ago that figure had escalated to 320 hedge fund managers. All predictors are pointing to a continued hedge fund interest looking to “tap Asia as a source of funds as well as a source of excess returns,” over the next year.

Singapore Squeeze?

While this is great for the country, is it so good for the people and the businesses already in existence there? Apparently there is the fear that “the increasing number of global hedge funds is unlikely to crowd out smaller Singapore-based managers.” There will however, be space for “large and niche players” as long as they keep adding “value to investors.” There is now more focus on “transparency and risk management by investors post-crisis,” also, which will lead to hedge fund managers around the world developing their “mid-bank office infrastructure.”

It’s great that Singapore is providing such an attractive environment for financiers around the world and that for sure will help the country’s economy. But at the same time, it has to ensure it looks after its own.

Large Saudi Arabian Turkish Investments

Saudi Arabia hopes to make significant investments into Turkey over the next two decades. Figures for this are up to $600 billion. The main areas of investment will probably be manufacturing and agriculture, according to the National Commercial Bank’s chair, Abu al-Nasr. He commented that agriculturally, Turkey has come out as “one of the top recipients of Saudi investment, as the kingdom seeks to boost its food security.” In this vein, Planet Food World is set to put a $3 billion investment into Turkish agriculture over the next five years. The goal is to ultimately “export food products to the Gulf region.”

Investments Good for King?

Maybe this is what is helping Saudi Arabia’s King get well again. According to reports from his daughter, King Abdullah is getting so much better that he will soon be making his way back to is country. Currently King Abdullah is in America where he went for back surgery on November 22 for a debilitating herniated disc complicated by a haematoma which put pressure on his spine. The surgery was successful but he also required a supplementary surgery to repair other vertebrae. That too went well.

Of course, any good news like financial improvement for his country would make King Abdullah happy. But perhaps this really good news about working with Turkey helped facilitate his recovery even further.

Japan Causes Toshiba Tension



Japan’s crisis has led to a downturn in Toshiba investment.  According to one of the corporation’s American partners (NRG Energy), there will be no additional investment in a Texas nuclear power project, due to the “Japanese nuclear plant” crisis.  There was the intention of developing a further two reactors near Houston but now David Crane, the company’s president has said that the recent crisis created “multiple uncertainties around new nuclear development in the United States which have had the effect of dramatically reducing the probability [of constructing reactors in the South Texas Project] in a timely fashion.”

US Impacted by Japan’s Crisis

This announcement came in reaction to the Japanese crisis.  NRG – as a result of what happened in the Asian region – “will not [be] invest[ing] additional capital in the STP development effort.”  It has been said that this indicates that the Japanese crisis “has directly affected the US nuclear power industry.”  It remains unclear as to whether Toshiba will move forward with its project with other partners.

New Toshiba Projects

But despite its reservations vis-à-vis the Japanese crisis, Toshiba is still forging ahead with other new and exciting projects.  It is due to “launch its first tablet computer” in a couple of months and, according to company’s digital products and services unit president Masaaki Oosumi, “attempt to gain a 10 percent share of the global tablet market by 2013.”  It is an impressive PC tablet, based on Android’s 3.0 operating system, priced at approximately ¥60,000 (US$730) in Japan.


Protect Yemen from al-Qaeda

Yemen is not beyond hope according to “two influential French senators.” It can be saved from “becoming the next base for Al Qaeda” despite the fact that it is currently “faltering,” leading to fear brewing in Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar.
All might not be in agreement with this. It seems that Saudi Arabian officials fear Yemen could be a “more hospitable environment for terrorists than even Afghanistan,” leading to Al Qaeda’s main home. This must be pretty scary for Yemen and its people.

America Understands Threat to Yemen

America is no stranger to Al-Qaeda or its threats and is now revealing “previously secret diplomatic cables,” from 2009-10 (from WikiLeaks) showing a country about to fail even without all the uprisings; President Ali Abdullah Saleh who “exploited the threat of al-Qaeda to extract foreign counter-terrorism help that he sometimes diverted for use against internal foes; and an al-Qaeda franchise remarkably suited to thriving in Yemen’s tribal culture and rugged terrain.” In addition, the cables are showing it was Yemen that became the “launch pad for attacks” such as the 2009 attempted Detroit-bound airliner bombing.

Saleh Needs to Watch Out

Saleh has also been getting a bad rep himself recently, as concern grows over what is happening in Yemen, “disrupting counter-terrorism operations involving U.S. Special Operations forces, aerial surveillance from armed Predator aircraft and clandestine CIA operations.” Ultimately, America is said to have “strongly condemned any illegal disclosure of classified information,” which would anyway deter diplomatic efforts, threaten individual and national security and “undermine [their] efforts to work with countries to solve shared problems.”

Qatar: Investment Building and Environment Cleaning

Mega-Millions for Qatar Investments

Qatar is on its way to making mega-millions; at least that’s what it is hoping for at the upcoming Business and Investment Opportunities forum due to take place in Washington this week. Indeed, H E Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi (the country’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow-up Affairs) is looking at a staggering $5bn worth of investments. To kick-start this, five contracts will be signed in an attempt to expand trade links between the two sides. It seems that Qatar is looking into forging business deals with Americans, following the conference which will have around 400 US trade and industry members and 200 Qatari officials participating in.
This makes sense. Both sides have quite a bit to offer in the field. Qatar has a reputation for being the world’s greatest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas and America the world’s largest energy consumer.

Qatar and America: More than just Resources Merger

What’s interesting about the investment opportunities that are set to take place between Qatar and America is that it looks set to go beyond the country’s natural resources. By joining together in some areas, Al Rumaihi belives other areas will develop too including banking, communications, education and health. This is particularly the case since American companies are already predicting the benefit of playing a part in Qatar’s health and water management areas since it already acts as the country’s “largest trade partner,” as indicated by the existence of Doha’s America Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

US-Qatar Expanding Trade

Truth is, all this isn’t such new news for the two countries. Already figures have shown how trade has been expanding between Qatar and the US with a staggering 340 percent increase from 2003 to 2009 of trade between Doha and Washington. And America clearly takes pride in the country, having established eight universities in Qatar (more than they have done in any other country).

Qatar Cleans Up

Other good news in Qatar is that the country is showing its “commitment to preserving Qatar’s natural habitat and wildlife at the ongoing Qatar Petroleum 2011 Environment Fair at the Doha Exhibition Centre.” Clearly, the better a country’s environment, the more attractive it will be to other country’s vis-à-vis investment opportunities as this also indicates greater stability. Environmental bodies in Qatar have been working closely with RasGas Company Limited to further this goal. At the conference, individuals were also presented with the opportunity of becoming an environmental ambassador for the company and “make a positive impact on sustainable development in Qatar.”

Online Drug Companies Abusing Tsunami Disaster?

Obama Causing Panic?

There’s always someone who tries to make money from a disaster.  And this time it’s following Japan’s tsunami, with the threat that Americans might be in danger of the nuclear fallout.  This is likely due to the panic President Barack Obama and his top medical official raised which has led to Americans buying drugs for protection.  Although Obama himself was given the assurance that “any harmful radiation from Japan will have dissipated before it reaches Hawaii or the US mainland.”  

So why the panic?  Because everyone likes to be prepared and according to US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, it is a good idea to buy radiation antidotes “as a precaution,” such as potassium iodine pills which is often able to protect the thyroid gland against cancer and radiation, reducing the amount of iodine the body can absorb.

Drug Suppliers Reap Benefits

So now drug companies are getting wise to how they can make some extra money. Although it seems a bit like black money.  Indeed one drug supplier in America sold 250,000 anti-radiation pills since last Friday, ordering more medicines to meet increasing demand.  Those who haven’t managed to buy them yet are spending extortionate amounts of money by purchasing them on line.  It seems everyone is suffering from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, but drug companies are taking advantage of what happened.

Brits Try to Escape Too

Brits are now being warned to leave Tokyo and other areas in danger of radiation poisoning.  The country’s Foreign Office is even considering putting on extra planes to ensure all Brits trapped in the country are able to leave on free “rescue flights.”

Asia, America, the whole world, has been affected by Japan’s tsunami.  The question remains, what is one’s host country doing to help, first their own citizens, and second, those working on a recovery plan in Japan?  As the situation changes daily, only time will tell which governments and administrations will really pull their fingers out.  Let’s just hope that in the meantime, entrepreneurs work for the good of the people, rather than trying to exploit them.

Price of Tsunami in Japan With a Potentially Crumbling California

<h3>Tsunami is Costly Vis-à-vis Dollars and Death</h3>
As Japan still faces a disaster that seems to keep continuing, the financial impact is slowly being assessed.  It is thought that the country will be facing tens of millions of dollars worth of damage as well as continuing fatalities, the latest being when 25 year old Dustin Weber was swept away and has not been found, as he turned his back to the surging sea.
<h3>How is California Coping?</h3>
Now there is talk of what is going to be with California.  Crescent City seems to be most affected as the  north part of the state is being impacted by roiling the waters.  According to Josh Zulliger, (warden at the California Department of Fish and Game), “there are three-foot waves still coming in here.”  It is not surprising that it is Crescent City that is being impacted the most since it is known for being a very vulnerable area vis-à-vis tsunamis probably due to its underwater ridge offshore  as well as the shape of the harbor that “effectively bounces waves directly back into the line of incoming waves.”
So the boats are sinking in California.  Everyone has been so focused (naturally) on Japan following the earthquake and tsunami, that California hasn’t been in the press much recently.  But the waves ultimately sent over “an eight-foot swell into the enclosed harbor here, smashing dozens of boats.”  Clearly Japan’s disaster is having a worldwide impact, not just on markets and the economy, but also more directly on people and the potential danger to their lives.

California now has to find a way to pick up the pieces.  Japan has their own – greater – problems that will no doubt take a very long time (and lots of capital) to fix.  But it seems like the west is being affected too and places like Crescent City need to find their own resources to get back to normal as well.  The lesson from this is thus clear:  such an earthquake and tsunami is not just restricted to Japan, or even Asia, but will have a worldwide boomerang effect, especially on an already volatile global economy.