Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishes for the New Year

This year had its share of the good and the bad. Just like every year I suppose. Except that the good was exceptionally good and the bad exceptionally so.

Two events come to mind. On the bad side everyone, everywhere and everything suffered in the financial crisis. This once in a century tsunami according to former Fed Chairman Greenspan. But with every crisis comes an opportunity like the Chinese say, and the opportunity for change.

Change came in big. The US elected its first African American president. Regardless of how Obama fares, his mere election is euphoric. It sent shock waves to all and awakened the sense that change is possible. The unthinkable is possible. Dreams are possible. So let the new year be the year of change and may your dreams come true.

Lastly while we are fortunate to live and dream of a better year, naked aggression has robbed many of their lives and dreams. Our thoughts and prayers go to the people of Gaza. May God bring us all peace and prosperity.

Monday, December 29, 2008

DOWn Prime Minister


Kuwait canceled a $9 billion joint venture with Dow Chemical Co., the biggest U.S. chemical company, following weeks of opposition from lawmakers. U.S.

It is unfortunate how this project got canceled. I don't think it was undone due to lack of merit of the project, but rather due to opposition. The continuous wavering of the Prime Minister time after time has gone too far. Time to step DOWn!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Madoff Victims from Kuwait


Other investors for whom Toub is listed as the agent include the Public Institute for Social Security, apparently a reference to the Kuwaiti government agency; the National Bank of Kuwait; and Safra National Bank of New York, controlled by the Safra family of Brazil.

Madoff fraud rippled around the world - International Herald Tribune

Some of the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme which lost $50 billion of investors funds are apparently Kuwait's PIFSS and NBK (not sure if NBK is on behalf of clients or their own investments). Interesting enough the same article cited above from the International Herald Tribune also appeared in the New York Times but did not mention PIFFS.

Other investors for whom Mr. Toub is listed as the agent include the Safra National Bank of New York and the National Bank of Kuwait.

Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders -

Let's hope our retirement funds are safe!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Money Under the Mattress


A time for financial risks | When the golden eggs run out | The Economist

This is how $100 saved monthly over the past 10 years would have fared. You would have been better off leaving you savings under the mattress than putting it in equities. But don't bet on keeping your savings -or what remains of it- under the mattress. This might be the time to invest wisely.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Meaning of Work


Over the past decade, the rich, professional classes have developed an increasingly unhealthy attitude to their jobs. We took our jobs and our fat salaries for granted and felt aggrieved if our bonuses were not even bigger than the year before. We demanded that the work be interesting in itself and, even more dangerously and preposterously, that it should have meaning. / Columnists / Lucy Kellaway - Money is the new secret of a happy job

Hard times remind us of the real purpose of work: earn a living. So I guess we should stop searching for satisfaction, or God forbids, a meaning for now!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Finance 101


Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has used his annual sermon to Muslim pilgrims assembling for hajj to urge Muslim countries to renounce capitalism and form an Islamic economic bloc that adopts interest-free finance. / Middle East / Politics & Society - Saudi cleric cites crisis to press for sharia

Is capitalism and interest based finance the root of the current financial crisis? Is "Islamic finance" the solution? Maybe the cleric should have clarified the meaning of Islamic finance and how it works. There is a saying by Mao the Chinese leader that it does not matter if the cat is white or black as long as it catches mice. If Islamic finance catches mice all the better. I suspect it is easier said than done.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Kaplan's Dream


That an unskilled dreamer could teach professionals how to bring off a masterpiece is a fantasy that many share but few presume to achieve. Mr Kaplan, after his first performance, said: “I had a feeling that people in the audience were urging me to fulfil my dream. They were up with me on the podium that night, playing baseball for the Yankees, writing the book they never wrote or getting the girl they never got.”

Desperately seeking Mahler | The Economist

In 1965 Gilbert Kaplan was an economist at the American Stock Exchange.  With $150,000 of borrowed and saved money he founded Institutional Investor a monthly magazine that became essential reading for financiers and reached wide distribution. By the end of the 60s  he became a millionaire.

Around the same time he founded his publishing business, he was taken by a friend to an orchestral rehearsal. He instantly fell in love. He later took time off work to study music. Ultimately his passion for music turned him into a notable conductor. It was a dream come true. An encouragement to everyone with a dream to follow their passion.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Uneducated Masses


The PAD, arguing that the masses are too “uneducated” to choose sensible leaders and resist vote-buying, wants to restore the semi-democracy of the 1980s, increasing the influence of the army, palace and royalist bureaucracy and diluting the popular vote.

Desperate times in Thailand | Desperate days | The Economist

Democracy in Thailand brought corrupt politicians. This is what one party in Thailand, the PAD, claims. So they have staged protests and blocked the airport demanding doing away with elected politicians and to retreat from democracy.

Similar demands are voiced here in Kuwait. While it is true democracy can have unfortunate consequences; it is more so unfortunate to do away with it all together. The solution is to improve on democracy rather than retreat from it. This can be achieved by better education, improved election laws and party system.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Say A Prayer

Dear Sister,

I wish you a spiritual Haj journey. I am certain you received many requests for prayer from friends, family and even random people. I will add one to those.

May God bless our family. Even though there are times when we can't stand them, they are the reason we are standing. 

May God bless our Friends. True friends are like diamonds, they are forever. Sometimes we seek friends who are popular or make us feel good. True friends aren't necessarily popular and will be honest with you even if it does not make you feel good. That's why they are diamonds in the rough.

May God bless our country. Despite all the negatives, it's where we belong. Our country is generous to us. Only if we were generous in return. Thank God for the blessing of safety and comfortable living. To many in other countries such things are luxury. We are blessed. Let's not waste our blessing.

Finally God bless you. May what you wish and pray for come true. Even when things don't go your way, have trust there is a better way. Whether you call it luck or blessing, without hard work it ain't coming. Go ahead say your prayer. May your life change for better.