On Human Capital. And East End vs Geylang

http://www.mikemilken.com/quotes.taf?mode=print

“There are only three ways for a country to build human capital: Increase knowledge and skills, improve the quality and length of life so people are more productive, or import people with specific abilities. Some countries have done this better than others. Consider the two former British colonies of Jamaica and Singapore. Back when I was in school in 1960, their economies were similar with a gross domestic product of about $2,200 per person (in current dollars). But they chose different paths to development. Jamaica centered its economy on agriculture and tourism and today has a per-capita GDP of about $5,500. Singapore, which developed its human and social capital and created a knowledge infrastructure, is a modern technology powerhouse with a GDP of more than $39,000 per person.”

Ha. Sounds like a marketing deck from the Ministry of Manpower and the WDA. But still, it’s a useful quote for the person in the relevant field, especially with government accounts. Should send it to my sister in Mercer. Heh.

Our government has certainly applied the above recommendations very well, especially the last item over the last ten years, “import people with specific abilities“. Onwards then to Population X or 6.9 mio. I am long future waterfront housing along the Keppel-Tanjong Pagar dockyards. Forget about the clinically pristine Marina Bay Financial District built on reclaimed land. We need to have our own Canary Wharf rejuvenation. Towards 2029, when they finally move the dockyards and port terminals out of the city proper, just in time for the next property up cycle. Bleah. Boring.

Conversely, apart from the typical ‘highly-skilled foreign talent’ and imports of white-collar expats sustaining demand at the high end in the city centre, there may be even greater opportunity at the other end of the value chain. Don’t forget for every expat executive imported working in finance or professional services/knowledge-based industries, comes 3 or 4 others – middling PMETs and below, service staff in retail and F&B, bus and cab drivers, general workers. These are predominantly sourced from the Philippines, India, and not in the least, China. And where does this new horde of fresh immigrant hoi polloi end up after arriving in Spore? More often than not, the slightly unsavoury, yet also very colourful, vibrant and gay (as in the old Gay World or Happy World amusement park, cabaret and restaurant complex in the 1950’s-70’s) historical area of Geylang!

Geylang is truly the new and real Chinatown of Singapore. The crowds and buzz there (albeit different in sight and smells…) rival that of Orchard Rd. If London has its East End, Singapore has Geylang. Where else in Spore can you find freehold property just at the edge of the city fringe still costing less than $1000psf ? And the choices and variety will whet any appetite, from typical modern residential apartment estates, to shoebox units suitable for serviced management, to old but gorgeous shophouses just waiting to be restored and gentrified into live/work/play/entertainment spaces. I can’t wait to get my hands on a row of dilapidated century-old shophouses and develop them into magnificent showcases of living and working lofts, boutique hotels, art studios and galleries, maybe even a restaurant or bar at the first floor… What? It’s been done already?! D’OH!

http://www.thelor24ashophouseseries.com/

thelorong24ashophouseseries

thelorong24ashophouseseries

facade

facade

caged_spiral_ascent_gallery

caged_spiral_ascent_gallery

scourged_metal_green_terrace

scourged_metal_green_terrace

a_river_runs_thru_lines

a_river_runs_thru_lines

red_dragon_crazy_lines_galore

red_dragon_red_and_more_red_coworking_space

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This other developer bought an entire street of shophouses at the outer edge of Geylang almost 10 years ago and redeveloped them into serviced apartments with some pretty nifty shared facilities. I guess they did well enough to go ahead and buy the next entire row of shophouses facing the same street about 3 years back. This time, they really went for it and gutted the houses bare save for the facade, and rebuilt them totally, adding several more floors with glassed curtain-wall and a rooftop terrace, which actually fits pretty well into the whole design scheme. Basically, they own the whole street now. Talk about building Monopoly-style: Old Kent Road down, Whitechapel next! I always preferred building a bunch of hotels on Old Kent or Euston than a single house on Mayfair anyway. Harrumph.

http://www.redwoodwest.com.sg/
http://www.redwoodwest.com.sg/redwood_central_location.html

redwood_residences_shophouses_restored_raised_glassed_and_terraced

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This new spot is good for quaffing down an ice cold beer on a sultry Singapore night. No warm lagers or pasty wankers here please. And they even widened and beautified the Geylang river running next to it. Nice.

http://www.thetuckshop.com.sg/

the-tuckshop

wanker_special

On Sovereign Debt. And Companies > Individuals > Sovereigns

http://www.mikemilken.com/quotes.taf?mode=print

On sovereign credits:

“One of the great things about making loans to business leaders in the United States is that when there is a change of management, the new management has to recognize the liabilities of the old management. Sometimes when you make loans to sovereign countries, the new management does not recognize the liabilities of the old management.”

And default rates of sovereigns vs individuals vs private companies:

“The best credit by far, history has shown, has been the private company. Sovereign countries have defaulted 30 times as often as private companies, both domestically and foreign. Individuals default five times as often as private companies.”

Interesting current example making the news right now, Argentina and its imminent sovereign bond default:
Why Argentina may default on its debts

And like Milken said, sovereigns’ default record hasn’t been exemplary, especially Argentina and its eight defaults in 200 years:
Argentina Bust Lures Investors After 200 Years of Defaults

Paul Singer has his finger in many places around the world:
Argentina Defaults As Battle Against Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Drags On

Including here in Singapore. But sometimes, itchy fingers get burnt:
Hedge Fund Elliott Meets Match in Singapore’s OCBC
In Wing Hang Fight, Elliott Backs Away

Heh.

The past is always triple-A. The future is always single-B

Michael Milken on risk and time value, the (non)utility of hindsight, and discounting the future.

“The past is always triple-A. We can all remember what the past was. But if we try to make the future triple-A, we have no future. The future is always single-B.”

–  Michael Milken

http://www.mikemilken.com/quotes.taf?mode=print

Credit_ratings_table

Credit_ratings_table

PAST – AAA
FUTURE – B
Me – ???

Gotta raise my junk bond ratings. Need to make at least BBB- to be investment grade. Then again, I’m supposed to be returning speculative ten-baggers anyway. … … My BVI master/feeder fund and PPM-placement prospectus will be ready soon. Managed accounts also offered. Anyone?

[Apart from those amazing rough-and-tumble traders who pioneered MBS/CMBS (mortgaged backed securities) in ML’s Liar’s Poker like Lew Ranieri in Salomon Brothers, there was of course also Mike Milken and his junk/high yield bond saga at Drexel. Guess reading about these much-storied (and pilloried) characters and their trading exploits in my teens during the 1990’s already planted the (greed) seed in my mind, and was a natural (to me, at least) extension of my interested subject matters for study and possible future craft and vocation – architecture, law, philosophy, math, science, computational finance… Somehow, it all fit and made perfect sense to me.
]

A prophecy for a fantasy, the curse of a vivid mind

I was obsessed with the lines of this song back then. I loved how these words were able to conjure up and whirl me far away into magical and fantastic worlds in my mind. Magic words, like spells.

Clever words too, with their sly conjunctions of somber ancient narratives with whimsical scurrilous fantasies.

T’Pau. I used to call them 茶包.
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Come from greed
Never born of the seed
Took life from a barren land
Oh eyes wide
Like a child in the form of man
A prophecy for a fantasy
The curse of a vivid mind

It was a theme she had
On a scheme he had
Told in a foreign land

To take life on earth
To the second birth
And the man was in command

It was a flight on the wings
Of a young girls dreams
That flew too far away

T’Pau – China in your hand:

It was a theme she had
On a scheme he had
Told in a foreign land

To take life on earth
To the second birth
And the man was in command

It was a flight on the wings
Of a young girls dreams
That flew too far away

Don’t push too far
Your dreams are china in your hand
Don’t wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can’t help them
You don’t know what you might
Have set upon yourself

China in your hand

Come from greed
Never born of the seed
Took life from a barren land
Oh eyes wide
Like a child in the form of man
A prophecy for a fantasy
The curse of a vivid mind

Don’t push too far
Your dreams are china in your hand
Don’t wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can’t help them
You don’t know what you might
Have set upon yourself

China in your hand
In your hand, your hand

Don’t push too far
Your dreams are china in your hand
Don’t wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can’t help them
You don’t know what you might
Have set upon yourself
You shouldn’t push too hard, no no
Don’t push too far
Your dreams are china in your hand
Don’t wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can’t help them
You don’t know what you might
Have set upon yourself