Monday, December 10, 2012

Green Shoots In Brazil - Is It A GARP Opportunity?

Wind the clock back a couple of years and you wouldn't think of the Brazilian stock market as a value play - if anything it was part of the emerging market super-growth bloc that promised permanent double digit returns. But is it time to review the situation? Does the Brazilian stock market present a compelling value opportunity or has the market simply priced in a new lower-growth higher-risk environment?

Full story:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bear No More - It's Time To Get Beta In China

The Chinese stock market has had a volatile year, initially rallying before slumping as concerns about a hard landing culminated in speculation on the end of the Chinese economic growth model. If history shows us anything it's that people will always overreact; on the down side and the upside. But is it an overreaction to still be bearish on China?
In order to answer this question, we need to review a number of key economic and market themes. The bottom line is that there is a compelling outlook, but it's not as simple as it may seem.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top 5 Videos on Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and ranks amongst the world's wealthiest people. Warren Buffett made much of his billions through applying his keen business sense and his value oriented investment style - he sees his core talent as being a skilled allocator of capital; and owes much of his investment success to picking skilled managers and letting them get on with running the business. Clearly as one of the world's most successful investors, his methods and path to success have been closely studied by many aspiring investors around the world, and in a game where knowledge is power it makes sense to learn from this master of investing. The following 5 documentaries provide an insight into the life of Warren Buffett, how he made his money, what he thinks about, and how he invests.

1. Warren Buffett Revealed
This Bloomberg documentary provides an interesting look at this legendary investor, telling how he became interested in stocks early in his life and became a disciple of the 'father of value investing', Benjamin Graham (author of the book "Securities Analysis"). Buffett mastered the style of value investing and with instincts and gumption made a strong start, but he really took things to the next level when he orchestrated the takeover of Berkshire Hathaway; later focusing the business on insurance - allowing him access to a sizeable pool of investable assets

2. The World’s Greatest Money Maker
This BBC documentary offers an intimate look at the life of Warren Buffett, how he made his money, how he operates, how he came to operate in the way he does, and how he thinks about his wealth. It also takes you on a tour of his office and the annual shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, not to mention a peak at his many eccentricities.

3. Biography – Warren Buffett
This biographical documentary takes you through the life of Warren Buffett; how he developed his value investing philosophy, how he came to be majority owner and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, his frugality, his upbringing, his key choices in life, his mentors, the turning points and defining moments.

4. Warren Buffett – Going Global
This video is more about an applied look at how Warren Buffett operates, the CNBC show follows Warren on one of his rare trips overseas, including a look at one of his first offshore acquisitions - ISCAR. This video shows how folksy, old fashioned, and down to earth the billionaire investor is, but it also shows how he is quick to realise a good deal and his talent for allocating capital. It also shows his brilliance for identifying great companies and strong capable management teams and letting them get on with the business for him.

5. Warren Buffett MBA Talk
Finally we get a talk from the man himself, with some key messages for the MBA students he is addressing on the importance of integrity, intelligence, and energy for success; but that there is more to it than intelligence and energy - without integrity a person can become dumb and lazy. He also opens the floor to some interesting and thought provoking questions, providing an eye opening look into how the man thinks and what he sees as the key issues in business and investing.

Thanks to for finding all these documentaries (and others!) 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

6 Documentaries on the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

The European sovereign debt crisis has been a dominant force in the banking system, financial markets, and global economy over the past couple of years. Each day we have a different headline, either explaining how things are getting worse and worse, or how a big solution is imminent. But what is the cause of the crisis? How did it come about? And how will it ultimately play out? These documentaries provide a concise and engaging means of understanding the euro zone debt crisis.

1. The Great Euro Crash
This documentary starts the viewing by explaining the well intentioned ideas underpinning the Euro. Along with the history of the Euro, it also explores the present crisis and looks at how the future shape of the Euro may evolve. There's a few interesting interviews with present and past power brokers of Europe.

2. Debtocracy
The poster-child of the Euro crisis has to be Greece. Greece is a country that epitomises the crisis; it spent profligately, racking up large fiscal deficits and taking on more and more debt, all the while becoming less and less competitive with the rest of Europe. In many ways it was only a matter of time before Greece encountered a crisis. But what's next for Greece? This documentary explores the causes and potential solution to the Greek crisis.

3. Debt and Redemption
This documentary focuses on one of the many enabling factors of the crisis: derivatives and investment bankers. While ultimately it was poor economic policies, low productivity and competitiveness, and fiscal mismanagement that caused the crisis, this additional factor of mis-sold derivatives and financial contracts certainly didn't help.

4. Catastroika
In combating the debt crisis the governments of the various countries in Europe have taken on harsh austerity measures and aggressive programs to raise cash and revenues. Much of the austerity drive has been mandated by the terms of the various bailouts. This documentary looks particularly at the cash raising part - privatisations. Privatisations are often controversial, but have many potential benefits and some risks.

5. Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story
The UK is not immune to the Euro crisis, sure it didn't join the currency union, but it's experience isn't too far removed from Ireland's. Britain has likewise accumulated a large sovereign debt load, but has recently embarked on significant austerity moves to sure up it's fiscal sustainability. 

6. The Great Euro Crisis
The last stop on the video tour of the European debt crisis is "The Great Euro Crisis". This documentary probes into what may come of the Euro - will Greece stay in, will get kicked out, or will it opt out? One thing is for sure: the Euro will not look the same in 5 years time; but it remains to be seen what will come..

Thanks to for finding all these documentaries (and others!) 


Friday, July 13, 2012

Top 8 Documentaries on Financial Crime and Fraud

Finance has received a bad reputation through the financial crisis, and while not all that went on around the crisis was outright fraudulent, there have been through history some notable episodes. Be it from incompetence, poor governance, or deviousness; through history several figures have achieved noteriety for their sometimes spectacular misdeeds. This article lists the top 8 documentaries on financial crime and fraud. While these cases are extremely interesting and appalling, they are also very informative in terms of equipping yourself to notice some of the warning signs.

1. The Madoff Affair
This one takes the number one spot due to the scale of the fraud and the temerity of the perpetrator. Indeed Madoff has become the word to describe ponzi schemes and investment scams. Madoff was ultimately responsible for losing billions and billions of dollars in a phony investment scheme that suckered in famous people, other financial institutions, and many individual investors. Watch and learn!

2. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
This list would be incomplete without this one. In fact this documentary has become a key tool for classes that teach on corporate governance. What you had with Enron was a complete failure of corporate governance, where greed took over and rogue executives ran wild, serving their own selfish interests and dooming a company that employed thousands of people and was invested in by thousands.

3. Bigger Than Enron
Who was bigger than Enron? The auditors - the guys who should have picked up on the games they were playing over at Enron, but instead chose to cover up and hide the fraud. This lead to the demise of a once highly esteemed, 89 year old major accounting firm. A good case study on ethics and corporate responsibility.

4. Masterminds - Crazy Eddie
Remember Crazy Eddie? Eddie Antar cooked the books, faked inventory and sales, committed insurance fraud, and stock manipulation. The company's financials were doctored to present a booming profitable business, and of course, when the company listed on the stock exchange in an IPO, Antar got rich,while investors were duped into buying a shoddy company. Here's how he did it.

5. American Greed - Hedge Fund Manager
Here's another version of Madoff - this is on a smaller, but by no means trivial scale. Samuel Israel set out to start a hedge fund, he started with the best of intentions, but one mistake lead to another. In the end he was dipping into client funds, making stupid investments, and ultimately falling for a scam himself as he tried desperately to make the money back. Warning: check your investment manager very carefully!

6. 25 Million Pounds
Ever heard of Barings Bank? Or a guy called Nick Leeson? Or have you seen the movie "Rogue Trader"? Basically this is a case where a young up and comer rose to management, started trading on the bank's book, initially making large profits, before losing billions, and hiding it through his having control over back office functions. This is a lesson on why you need good controls and processes!

7. Frontline - Black Money
This PBS documentary investigates the influence of money in politics. Remember the saying "money is power"? Well here's how it works. Corruption, graft, blackmail, bribes, and other shady dealings dilute the proper functioning of democracy and add costs and inefficiency to doing business. This is financial crime on a larger scale.

8. Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud
The final documentary focuses more on how you can avoid investment fraud. This is a great documentary to cap the list off with, because it is important to realise what's a scam and what's a good opportunity. You shouldn't be discouraged by fraud and scams, rather you should learn from them so you can make the right financial moves.

Thanks to for finding all these documentaries (and others!)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Zealand - Safe Haven Or Value Trap?

New Zealand has attracted significant bond flows in recent months as the island nation's status as a safe-haven, or relatively-safe-haven, has been galvanized by Euro worries. But where is New Zealand's economy headed? And does the country deserve this 'relatively-safe-haven' status? And of course, what does this mean for New Zealand's share market - which for most people will be expressed as the ENZL exchange traded fund?

Full Story:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

5 Documentaries That Explain Investment Banking

Investment banking, what is it? Well it depends who you ask: some might say it's what those people on Wall Street do, others will say it's all about greed and using other people's money to maximise bonuses, and some will say it's an essential set of services for efficient allocation of capital and an important part of the workings of the financial system. Well I'm not going to give you an answer, but I will give you 5 documentaries on investment banking that will help shed light on the industry and help you come to your own conclusion as to what investment banking is all about.

1. Investment Banking
This documentary was put together by an Australian University in conjunction with UBS, and provides a good introduction to the key roles within an investment banking organisation. While the focus is on one institution it does provide an inside perspective on investment banking.

The Wall Street Warriors series follows a variety of Wall Street professionals in a range of professions and variety of experience levels. It gives a real inside perspective on how these people live and what they do and what kind of people they are; quite an eye opener.

CNBC put together a very interesting documentary on Goldman Sachs. This documentary takes a more critical view point on investment banking, and highlights some of the conflicts of interest and moral hazard present in the industry. 

Adding further perspective, this BBC documentary shows how investment bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors have become 'super rich' and includes some interesting interviews and insights into how the big earners operate and the consequences of greed and success.

The final documentary rounds it off with a tell-all from a former investment banker who tells of the guts and glory of being a banker in the City of London, giving an insight into some of the excesses indulged by some in certain circles of high finance.

Thanks to for finding all these documentaries (and others!)