- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Learn to Live to Learn
Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Portfolio Construction - Part 6
We’ve been generally scathing about Wall Street’s ability to
open its eyes and view what Basil Fawlty would have called “the bleedin’
obvious”. We’ve tended to excuse Morgan Stanley from our most trenchant
criticisms. They seem to be more aware than most on the street that the equation
isn’t as simple as weaker growth = interest rate cuts = economic stimulus =
higher growth + lower inflation = smiles, bonuses, new Ferrari (Porsche are
so passe) and champagne all round.
The company has recently expressed concern that markets seem to be relying on
the Fed to cut rates, but that the markets may be getting ahead of themselves,
especially with inflation appearing to be on the high side. The Fed has, for the
most part, recently left interest rates unchanged, but made some significant
changes to the tone of the accompanying statement explaining why they have acted
in such a way. Specifically, the FOMC seem to be taking a more negative view of
current economic conditions, changing language from “firmer economic growth” to
indicators being “mixed”.
The change that the market is focused on and reacting to is the replacement of
the phrase “additional firming” with the new phrase “future policy adjustments”.
This is being interpreted as being a more neutral stance, the altered linguistic
nuance being taken as a major “come on” by markets. Markets are now asking
whether the Fed has issued a Bernanke “put”. This is the notion that the Fed
will act to bail investors out by cutting interest rates when there is market
turbulence and worries about the financial system. Precedent shows that the
average time between any change in bias to the first easing has ranged between
two and six weeks, but there are several reasons why a Bernanke “put” has
probably not been issued:
* First, the Fed has almost always eased only when it is confident that
inflationary pressures have diminished in the economy. Typically for this to
occur there has to be softer growth and consequent weakness in the labour
market. This has yet to occur in earnest.
* Second, the change in language probably is designed to give the Fed additional
room for manoeuvre going forward, rather than being an intention to cut rates
Markets are now caught between a rock and a hard place - whilst there are fears
of slowing growth in the US, there have been various disappointing inflation
releases from around the world:
* Headline inflation in both Canada and the UK was higher than expected during
February. China’s annual inflation ticked up from 2.2% to 2.7% in February and
there were upside surprises in the Euro zone and the US, but markets seem to be
paying little attention to these moves up in prices. Having hit 4.90% in
January, yields on US 10 year Treasury bonds have since retraced close to 4.60%.
* The implied inflation rate has remained remarkably contained whilst real
yields have dropped on growth fears. But, given the run of higher than expected
inflation numbers are markets missing the point by focusing solely on a growth
slowdown? Worst of all, could we be entering a period of both weaker growth and
rising inflation: a possible period of mild stagflation?
Anecdotal evidence tends to lead the official data and is now pointing to
emerging inflation concerns especially in developing economies and in terms of
upside risk to commodity prices. If that were the case, markets (both equities
and bonds) could move from only being concerned about growth to also worrying
about inflation. This would take away the ability to cut rates and leave the Fed
(and other central banks) in a very tight bind.
We echo these concerns and also we would make the point that we’re not sure how
effective the rate cuts would immediately be - there tends to be a lead time of
around 18 months before monetary policy really bites - but the market wants it
both ways; on the way up the economy could shrug of the rate hikes but on the
way back as soon as cuts are made they will have an immediate stimulus effect.
We’re not so sure about this. Even the eminence grise of the bond markets, Bill
Gross of Pimco seems to think that an aggressive series of rate cuts could
salvage the US property market. We are very unconvinced about this. Again, five
asset classes, adaptive allocation, an open mind and an intelligent sensitivity
to the lessons of economic history are the key factors in portfolio management
right now. At times like this, thank your lucky stars for MitonOptimal!
Now we will try to focus on the liquidity issue and specifically, the liquidity
surfeit that all markets have enjoyed over the last few years, why that will
change and what the consequences of that are likely to be.
Let’s look at UK property which has been rampant during the easy monetary
conditions - for the past five years interest rates have been exceptionally low
and lending extremely easy to arrange. Individual buyers have been easily able
to change properties, acquire investment properties and in some cases even
acquire second/holiday homes. Developers have found it easy to launch new
projects, virtually willy-nilly. Money supply (M4) has seen a consequential
rapid growth to reach a 12-year high. It is likely, of course, that increases in
the quantity of money are also likely to be contributing to asset price growth.
As Milan Khatri, the chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors, said last year: “Low interest rates have been the primary fuel for a
surge in property demand, though by the end of 2006 these will rise.”
To be continued…
The above data and research was compiled from sources
believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its
officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above
article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any
actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For
more information please contact Graham Macdonald on
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
a ‘moving’ experience
I do not claim to be an expert in shooting video, but there are certain
aspects that are true for all types of photography. However, I have
written and directed a few TV commercials, so I do have some experience
of the genre.
main difference lies in that still photography freezes a moment in time,
while video photography tells a moving picture story. Try not to shoot
‘stills’ with a video camera and your videos will start to look
Like all aspects of good camera-work, you have to think about the end
product before you begin to shoot. For the still photographer it is a
case of looking at the background and then working out the best
combination of shutter speed and aperture. For the video photographer it
is a case of working out the story line and then how to shoot the
various elements in the story.
One of the ways you can pick the first time video user is the fact that
the camera operator spends much time taking shots of still subjects.
Having not made the mental adjustment from still photography, many
minutes are taken up with a video of his wife standing by the front door
of the hotel. That, Mr. cameraman, was a ‘still’ shot. With video, you
film your wife checking out at the cashier’s desk, picking up her bags
and walking towards the exit. Then you rush outside and the next footage
is her coming out of the hotel and hailing a taxi. You have just shot a
So where can you go to ‘learn’ this new art? Just as still photographers
have photographs in books and magazines to study, the video photographer
has a very ready source of informative examples to scrutinize. This is
called TV! Sit down in front of the goggle box and see how the pros do
it. Even the dreadful Thai soap operas have good cinematic technique,
despite the glaringly obvious story line! So start to look critically at
technique. Where was the camera, relative to the subject? Did they
“zoom” in or was it one far shot and another close up to follow? How
many times did the cameraman actually use the inbuilt zoom? You may be
amazed to see how seldom!
Here are a few more “rules” which can help you produce better video.
Firstly, no rule is absolute, but you should have a good reason to break
it. Having said that, let’s look at a few basics.
You should also shoot people in full or three-quarter profile to let the
viewers see both eyes. The one eyed effect does not look good. Again,
look at TV. When two people are talking, the camera shoots over the
shoulder of person one to shoot the second person face-on to the camera.
When the first person replies, the shot is taken the other way, over the
shoulder of the second person. You can also take shots of the person who
is listening to the other speak. These are called ‘noddies’, because the
person will be nodding while listening to the other speaker.
When shooting people, place the subject’s eyes one-third down from the
top of the frame no matter the type of shot. It is that old rule of
thirds again. Dead central is boring!
Another shot to avoid is one with large distances between people. Again,
look at the soaps on TV. The people are really standing much closer than
they would in real life (in each other’s personal space in fact), but if
you have them a meter or so apart, you lose ‘contact’ in the video.
Focusing. This is a common problem with still cameras with Auto-Focus
(AF), and 99 percent of video cameras are AF too. The magic eye in the
camera focuses on a spot in the middle of the screen. When you are
filming a couple, if the magic dot is not on one of the people, they
will end up out of focus and the background perfectly sharp.
Application of these simple aspects of video photography will give you
(and those who watch your videos) a much better end product, and a much
more satisfying one for yourself to produce.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
One of the major breakthroughs in immunology occurred
recently, following two decades of work by Professor Ian Frazer, director of
the Center for Immunology and Cancer Research of the University of
Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. This was the development of the Human
Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
For many people, HPV was previously thought of as a ‘minor’ virus, which
seemed to be endemic, in that everybody had it at one time or another, but
the effects on human health were thought to be mild, if anything at all.
This was not correct. HPV was found to the major underlying cause of female
cervical cancer and genital warts which can affect either sex. And untreated
cervical cancer is one of the major killers of women.
The importance of this viral cause was not lost on the world’s medical
research community, who argued that if the cause was viral, it might be
possible to develop a vaccine against it. That was Professor Ian Frazer’s
stance, and life-long work, to produce such a vaccine.
That vaccine has been heralded as a huge step forward for young women, and
vaccination programs have commenced all over the world, including Thailand.
There are four major types of HPV that we know cause 70 percent of the
cervical cancers, and the new vaccine is 100 percent effective against
infection with them, resulting in a 90 percent drop in the incidence of
cervical cancer. This has the potential to save millions of lives through
the decrease in cervical cancer in women.
It was also found that the vaccine protects completely against those strains
of HPV that produce genital (and anal) warts.
The vaccine is being recommended for females between the age of 9 and 26,
and it is expected that a large percentage of this group will not have been
sexually active, and therefore not exposed to the various HPV strains. For
them, the vaccine offers 100 percent protection against the main four HPV
For women who are sexually active, and may have been exposed to some strains
of the HPV, the vaccine still offers immunity against the types of HPV not
yet experienced, and will still be worthwhile for them.
The reason that the vaccine is made available to women up to 26 is merely
that this was the maximum age up to which the vaccine was tested, and to get
FDA approval for older women will require further testing on another age
HPV vaccine is given as a series of three injections into upper arm muscle.
It should be given within a six month period - for example: first dose -
chosen date; second dose - 1 to 2 months after the first dose; and third
dose - 4 to 6 months after the first dose.
The vaccine is most effective when all three doses have been given. Missed
doses should be given as soon as possible.
The vaccine provides protection for more than 90 percent of uninfected women
who are vaccinated. The vaccine protects against the types of HPV which
cause more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. This means that the
vaccine will not prevent all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
Many women ask, will Pap smears still be necessary after vaccination? The
answer is Yes. Regular Pap smears are important as the HPV vaccine does not
protect against all types of HPV. All females whether vaccinated against HPV
or not will need to have regular Pap smears from the age of 18 or within two
years of first having sex, whichever is later. Regular Pap smears are still
essential because the HPV vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancers. Pap
smears detect abnormal changes to cells in the cervix so treatment can start
before cancer develops.
However, despite some limitations, this vaccine will change the world
profile on cervical cancer, and is a huge step forward in preventive health.
Some states in the USA are legislating mandatory immunization, and in the UK
it is also licensed for boys between 9 and 15 years.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I’m another of those stupid farangs. There was one girl that I was a regular
with in one of the bars in Nana Plaza. I liked her a lot and I thought she
liked me too, but I didn’t want her to stay with me. Overnight was fine and
I thought we had built up a good relationship. She knew what I wanted, so it
went on for a few months. Then about a year ago she asked me for some money
as she had some problems with her grandmother, so I gave her 40,000 baht.
She promised to repay me within six months. Well it’s now a year and she
certainly hasn’t repaid anything, she’s shifted to another bar somewhere and
in Bangkok I could spend the next year going from one to another and still
not cover them all. I realize that I’ve been stupid, but I just wanted to
let everyone else know to not be stupid either. Please do not use my real
name, as I am happily married.
I have just called you what you called yourself, so forgive me if it looks
insulting. However, you have got yourself into this pickle by being very
selfish, Petal. You happily admit “she knew what I wanted”, but you did not
find out what she might have wanted, did you? You were happy enough to carry
on with a relationship that could have no future, as you are already
“happily married”, so what did you expect was going to happen? You wanted
casual sex, and you got it. What you did not ascertain was that she wanted
money - and she got it! Kiss the 40,000 baht goodbye and be thankful you
didn’t have to kiss your marriage goodbye as well.
I know you tell everyone to be wary of the girls from the bars, but they’re
not all gold diggers you know. I know quite a few of bar girls who have made
excellent wife and mother. So you can’t say they are all bad, or all only
want to rip us off. Correct?
George from Manchester
Dear Mancunian George,
Of course you are correct, my Petal. I have never said they “are all bad” as
you are inferring. They are girls with all the capacity for love and
motherhood that all women have. However, having chosen a ‘profession’ that
is not known for attracting those on the lookout for the money of her
dreams, rather than the man of her dreams, caveat emptor (let the buyer
beware). I’ve said it before, and I say it again, you don’t go the hardware
shop to buy cheese. Even in Manchester.
Dear Hellary (sic),
I have a new maid from up-country working in my house. She is 15 and quite
cute and knows nothing about life in the big city, i.e. unspoiled by the
night time scene. Her family are relatively poor. If I wish to ‘adopt’ her,
what should I pay her family? Is this legal? A box of chocolates for your
If you are going to write to me, wanting my inestimable advice, at least get
my name correct, Leery! It’s Hillary, not Hellary. Now, about your
‘adoption’ query - why is it I do not think that your motives are all above
board? Why does this “cute” 15 year old girl need adoption? She has parents,
she has a home, she has a background she knows of. I think you are looking
to score off this young and inexperienced girl. As far as any of your plans
might go - they are not legal, nor is she, and most certainly neither are
you. Forget the box of chocolates. Send her back to her parents, or pass on
to some employer with more morals than you have.
I am an American who was over your way in December last year and had a great
time. I went out with a girl from one of your bars. She really seemed to
like me and I took her to Samui and everywhere around Thailand for the month
I was on holiday. I helped her out with some money to get some surgery done
before I come back this year (she wanted to have her nose done, which is a
shame because I thought her button nose pretty cute). Since then I have been
writing to her care of the bar, but she has never replied. Do you think she
has got my letters, or what? Could you see if she did? Her name is Pim.
Sorry, my Petal, but I am afraid you have a problem here. Kinda like you’ve
been leading yourself up the garden path by the carrot. I think your Pim
will have moved on by now. Sorry, but there’s a lot of Pims out there.
Hillary gives advice to the love-lorn, she is not a Missing Persons Bureau
or the Pattaya branch of the Pinkerton’s. However, you could try putting
some money in the letter. You’re bound to get a reply from somebody! Or just
send it to me, I will try for at least a couple of hours before it goes into
the champers and chocs fund.
Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson
Life’s a funny thing. About a year ago, I
thought I’d run a series of interviews with regional Heads and
call it ‘New Heads on the block’. It was an obviously
tongue-in-cheek title referring to what appeared at the time to
be a refreshing breeze that had brought a long overdue bunch of
fresh faces to the region and the promise of some level of
competence on one hand, and the rather disquieting fact that
tenure of an International Head rarely lasts beyond three years,
on the other. Well, I managed to get around the most established
schools in the region and spoke at length with a number of
inspiring characters, whilst some less secure in their positions
chose to eschew the opportunity - entirely a matter for them!
Anyway, a year on and the educational landscape has changed
immensely. It’s incredible how the imposition of a new Head can
transform a school for better or worse. From a personal
perspective I watched in utter wonder as with an almighty roar,
Garden International School finally arrived in the first
division of international schools as hosts of the Fobissea music
festival last November. Since then, barely a week has gone by
without some genuinely extraordinary performance at the school
which has really become a centre for academic and especially
In all the schools I have worked in I have loved getting
students to write their own plays and work towards performances
that invariably include music, dance and acting. ‘Romeo and
Juliet’ to the music of ‘Queen’ for instance (think about it).
It’s so important to students and to school life - it’s a life
giving force. There was no compromise on quality; it was all
about challenging students - aiming for the stars - and they
responded in kind.
But I was sorry to hear that having put on ten productions over
the course of a year in one of the schools I worked in, the next
year, when I had left, there were precisely, er, zero.
Incredible but true. That’s one of the effects a new Head can
But I digress. The conversations I had with five Heads covered a
few interdependent areas and shed light on some pertinent
issues. You’ll notice that I have preserved the Heads’
anonymity. It’s important what they say, I think, rather than
who’s saying it. With a whole bunch of new staff arriving for
the new term, I thought I’d start with Recruitment & Retainment.
Recruitment & Retainment
Head 2 spoke of his guiding premise which is that
he has a mature, well educated, well grounded faculty dedicated
to lifelong learning and the pursuit of best practice,
reflecting the values of the IBO mission statement.
Head 1 is certainly influenced by teachers’ espoused philosophy
and speaks of the need to recruit “like-minded people”. In his
opinion they have to be able to fit in with the general pedagogy
of the school, because if they are outside of that, there is no
point in them being there.
It is Head 4’s view that the majority of staff reflect the
internationalism of the school. Part of the introduction to the
school involves talking about the school’s culture. Head 4’s
school recently appointed a secondary school Principal and for
her, it was extremely important that the person they appointed
was fully aware of what the IB had to offer, its mission
statement, where there had been criticisms of IB and where they
felt that criticism was appropriate and what could be done about
Head 2 was in favour of an international faculty and
theoretically compared an American teacher with broad
international school and IB experience, with a British teacher
directly recruited from the national system. “Who,” he asked,
“brings more diversity and a sense of ‘international’ to the
school?” implying that it was the former. But the main criterion
was, “What is best for the children?”
In response to being asked whether there might be a possible
contradiction between recruiting staff from a national system
for an international school such as he had described, driven
more by international ideals than national, Head 1 replied that
what he is looking for is a balance, because in his opinion,
there are a great many “like-minded people” working in national
systems who are looking for the opportunity to work in the
international arena. They bring, he says, enthusiasm and
idealism. Head 1 does not feel that there is a contradiction.
Head 2 pointed to a potential paradox between having a person
that gets very good IB diploma results who might be “a terrible
teacher,” suggesting that a student not enjoying learning or
when leaning is by rote, would be indicators of low quality. He
went further in suggesting that in these situations, even when
they are achieving decent scores, students are “not being
Head 5 regards coming from the British State sector of education
to the private international schools sector, as a “huge cultural
Head 2 spoke about the process of assimilation and learning that
teachers have to go through, in order to deliver an
international curriculum like the IB diploma.
Head 5 said that there are many cultural issues to which he has
had to respond quickly. New staff, in his view, bring vitality.
But moving into an environment where it appears to be quite
normal to have a quarter or even a third of the staff changing
because they are on one year or two year contracts represents
and necessitates, in Head 5’s view, a huge cultural difference
in the way he has to work with his staff and the way that he
undertakes performance management. Head 5 said that what he
looks for in a teacher is somebody who cares about every child
and it is that which he regards as fundamental.
Andrew Watson is a Management Consultant for Garden
International Schools in Thailand. email@example.com
All proceeds from this column are donated to the Esther
Benjamins Trust. www.ebtrust .org.uk email: info@ebtrust. org.uk
Next week: More Talking Heads
News | Business | Features |
Columns | Mail Bag |
Sports | Auto Mania
Our Children | Travel |
Our Community | Dining Out & Entertainment
Social Scene | Classifieds |
Community Happenings | Books Music Movies
Clubs in Pattaya | Sports Round-Up
Pattaya Mail Publishing Co., Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20150, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596
Copyright © 2004 Pattaya Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.