Category Archives: Politics

08Feb/16
Trump Cruz Iowa

Senator Cruz Stuns Trump in Iowa

The 2016 elections officially got underway early this month as folks in Iowa gathered for their historic caucuses. On the democrats’ side, it turned out to be a real horse race as former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton defeated Senator Barry Sanders by less than .5% of the caucus vote. With that, each person is expected to get support from half the delegates at the state convention.

On the GOP side, the results were a little more conclusive, but not in favor of the candidate that was leading by a safe margin according to the polls taken just days before the event. When the smoke finally cleared from the Republican caucus, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas had defeated billionaire businessman Donald Trump with 28% of the vote. Trump received support from 23% of the caucus members, barely beating out Florida Senator Marco Rubio by tenths of a percentage for second.

The results have to be confounding for Trump’s camp that was expecting an easy victory. What went wrong? There is a few theories on that. First, there were a lot of voters during polling that had yet to make up their minds. The fact Trump decided to skip the Fox debate just days prior to the caucus may have prompted those undecided voters to break for Cruz or Rubio.

Secondly, Trump failed to carry the day with voters under 49-years of age as had been predicted based on his popularity with that group on as national level. Finally, it might have been nothing more than the normal aberrations that occur when polling is done. That’s why everything is stated with an expected margin for error.

If anything, the results in Iowa made clear that this election cycle is going to be close and highly competitive. Leaving nothing to chance, look for all candidates to step up their games as they move on to New Hampshire and South Carolina.

19Jan/16
Oil companies OPEC

Small Oil Companies Feeling the Crush

With oil prices continuing to plunge due to large supply reserves all over the world, small oil companies are quickly finding themselves at the point of critical mass. After reaching a peak of $103.66 per barrel in June 2014, oil prices have fallen over 70% to a recent low of $29.93. Even worse is the prospects of continuing downward pressure on prices as the OPEC nations continue producing oil with little or no regard for pricing levels.

Not only are small oil concerns feeling the crush, but they also find themselves with fewer options as the oil price plunge continues. It takes a great deal of capital investment to drill, set up a rig and maintain on-going operations. After making these huge capital investments between 2010-2014, the financial yield at current price levels is insufficient to cover operational costs.

The options are becoming limited. Most oil drilling companies need to continue pumping given that any revenues are better than none. The only other alternative is to cap wells and start laying off large groups of employees. Neither of these two options are going to do much to help companies avoid the prospects of filing bankruptcy.

The increased possibility of major bankruptcy filings within the oil industry is creating an even bigger problem for investors. According to analysis done by the people at Yahoo-Finance, only 5 of 569 oil companies have been able to avoid significant decreases in stock prices. In fact, more than a third of these companies have seen a 90% or more decrease in stock price since hitting its highs in 2014.

While consumers are certainly enjoying the drop in prices at the pump, the strain on the sector and the economy in general could eventually erase the benefits of lower gas prices. It remains to be seen when the bleeding will stop.

12Jan/16
Inauguration Of Emirates National Oil Co. Plant

Why are Oil Prices Still Falling In Spite of Tensions Between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

In direct conflict with past history, oil prices are continuing to tumble despite tensions rising between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the world’s largest oil producers. Surprisingly, oil prices currently sit at 11-year lows, and falling, as supply is exceeding demand all across the globe.

The trouble began when officials in the Sunni-Muslim dominated nation of Saudi Arabia moved forward with the execution of 47 Shiite-Muslim activists, including prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. In response, Shiite Iranian citizens attacked and damaged the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The end-result has been the total cessation of diplomatic ties between these two neighbouring countries.

Other than creating more upheaval and unrest in the Middle East, it would appear that recent events are having little to no economic effect on other countries, even those that are entirely dependent on oil supplies from one of these nations or the other.

One reason events like this tend to have minimal economic effect on other countries is because of the lack of desire of foreign nations to invest in countries facing so much turmoil. If it weren’t for the need to import affordable oil, most nations would most likely cease to transact business of any kind with many if not all countries in the Middle East. It’s just too risky for most foreign investors.

As far as the future prospects of oil prices, it would appear that oil supplies are high enough to continue putting downward pressure on pricing. It seems the only way to curb falling prices is for OPEC to agree to massive production cuts. That said, it isn’t likely to happen because both Saudi and Iran are part of OPEC and neither would realize an advantage from such cuts. Also, OPEC doesn’t have the kind of economic influence over the oil market like it did in 1970s and 80s.

05Jan/16
Figthing ISIS

Fighting ISIS With an Unconventional Weapon

While the bombs might help slow down ISIS troops on the ground, it is doing very little to upset the structure of the organization, and yes it is indeed an organization. As with any other organization on the planet, money is the fuel that drives the engine. With that in mind, leaders and key officials from around the world have decided to wage financial war on ISIS and its ever-expanding bank account.

In recent weeks, the United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions to make it increasingly more difficult for ISIS to raise funding for its war efforts. Over the past couple of years, the terrorist group has raised billions of dollars through the sale of stolen oil, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, outside contributions and the sale of confiscated cultural antiques.

While these resolutions stand to do little to immediately stem the tide of financing being accumulated by ISIS finance ministers, they are helping to form a financial battleground on which nations from around the world can financially join the fight against this terrorist monster.

According to CBS News Senior National Security Analyst Juan Zarate, “This is the best-funded terrorist group in modern history.” In order to disrupt efforts to continue raising money from illegal endeavours, the UN is calling on member countries to freeze assets suspected of belonging to ISIS and affiliated groups. They are also asking to see more efforts being made to criminalize transacting business with the terrorist group.

This is not the first time a financial war approach has been used to combat terrorists. This is in fact quite similar to the tactics that were used by the United States when they confronted al Qaeda in Iraq. As part of the Treasury group that participated in those efforts, Zarate recommended, “You squeeze from the outside, you cut off choke points, but you’ve got to physically dislodge them from the resources they have.”

17Dec/15
Gun stock prices increase

Gun Stock Prices Seeing Big Inceases

In financial news, there is one sector that is experiencing a surprising boost in stock prices due to a number of factors that are both old and new. Gunstocks like Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger (RGR) both saw 5% increases during trading on Monday, December 7.

It’s not unusual to see top gunstocks in this sector experience price increases during the holidays, especially the week after “Black Friday.” The extra boost these stocks saw on Monday was due in large part to last week’s mass shooting in San Bernadino (14 dead, 21 injured). President Barack Obama’s immediate call for stricter gun controls in a speech he delivered to the American people also added fuel to the fire. He spoke about both terrorist threats to the nation and continued gun violence on the streets of America.

In recent years, there has been a rash of mass shootings with most of them involving some type of assault weapons. In response, liberal factions, including President Obama, have tried to seize on the opportunity to get gun concessions from public sympathy. To date, President Obama’s rhetoric and calls for stricter gun controls related to background checks and assault weapons have been met with strong resistance from the National Rifle Association and conservative groups from around the country that stand behind the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

On the year, Smith and Wesson has already seen a 113% rise in its stock price while Sturm, Ruger follows close behind at 67%. With the political environment keeping gun control at the top of the debate list, current trends within this sector are likely to continue. Anytime Americans sense a threat to gun ownership rights, investors see an opportunity to pick up shares in companies that are likely to see a big boost in revenues as gun enthusiast clamor to pick up those items that might become banned.

02Jun/15
china-south-sea

China’s Reclamation in the South China Sea

What makes it a headline

What new and hot in the world todays is the reclamation in the South China Sea by, of course, China. For some time now, China has been doing some construction on some of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. It is said that the purpose is to improve and maximize the functions and potentials of the said islands and reefs, as weel as of the living conditions there. The reclamation has been going so fast, and that doesn’t make some countries happy.

Several other countries also have their eyes set on the Spratly archipelago, such as Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam. But what makes the particular reclamation case by China becomes the spotlight? It may be the fact that China has reclaimed a lot, over 2000 acres in the South China Sea. That number exceeds all of the combined reclaimation in the said sea by the rest of the claimants. It also surpasses what noted in the entire history of the region is. Moreover, it may be the fact that China did all of that in only the last 18 months.

Many countries are concerned whether China will stop shortly, or whether the project of its will go on further. The stretch of water concerns big countries around the world, such as US, Japan, and other ASEAN members. These countries are worried not only about the marime conditions and safety. They are also alert about China’s behavior that seems to risk disorders in the region.

The United States consider that behavior of China’s as “out of step with internaitonal norms.” For Japan, it speaks out that the current condiotion may affect the peace and balance in the region. It also states that China, as well as other countries reclaiming in the South China Sea, should behave more responsibly.

13Apr/15
hillary

Hillary Clinton will run for president

After many weeks of speculation and political analysts debating over the question, Hillary Clinton has officially confirmed last Sunday that she will be running for the top spot of the US government.

The first information released was through an email sent by John Podesta to her supporters. Shortly after, came a video that was released on YouTube titled “Getting Started” which now totals over 2 million views.

In a bold PR move, Mrs. Clinton took the back seat to focus on ordinary people, featuring people from all walks of life, financial income and even sexual preference.

“I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president,” Clinton said in the video.

Shortly after the release of the video, the campaign staff sent out a press release providing additional information regarding her next steps.

Clinton also took to twitter saying “I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. –H”.

Clinton, 67, is seeking a fourth chapter in what is already an unprecedented career in American politics. She previously served as secretary of state and US senator for New York, as well as first lady when her husband, Bill, served two terms at the White House in the 1990s.

06Mar/15
benigno-aquino-iii

7 Filipinos everyone needs to know

Henry Sy, Enrique Razon Jr., Benigno Aquino, Katherine Luzuriaga, Socorro C. Ramos, Lucio Tan, Beatrice Campos.
You may not know all of the above names, but these 8 Filipinos are shaping the country’s political and economic history and have greatly contributed the country’s international footprint. From politics to business and community developments, the Philippines is growing into a regional powerhouse, producing textbook success stories and paving the way for healthy growth and sustainable development in South-East Asia. Western professionals and business leaders have a need to understand the forces at work and appreciate the complexities of a dynamic and promising market if they wish to partake in the regional business. So, what better way of doing so than by learning about the key people driving the economy and shaping the culture?

So here they are:

Henry Sy
Sy is the richest man in the Philippines with a whopping $12.7 billion net worth. The 90-year-old self-made man has passed the torch to his children, who now run his empire. The “Retail King” has interests in retailing, real estate, hospitality, banking, mining, education, as well as healthcare services. He is best known for establishing the very popular SM Mall, the 10th largest supermall chain in the world. He is the chairman of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the holding company that owns and operates all of his business interests. Sy is also the owner and Chairman of Banco de Oro, the largest banking group in the Philippines.

Enrique Razon, Jr.
This billionaire is Chairman and CEO of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), the Philippine publicly traded port-handling giant Razon took over from his father in 1995. The company currently operates a network of ports in 22 countries. He is also the owner of Solaire Resort & Casino, a five-star complex located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque in the Manila Bay. The very successful resort is expanding, adding a few hundred more rooms, a shopping mall and a theater to its operations. 54-year-old “Ricky” is also known to be an avid golf fan.

President Benigno Aquino
The president of the Philippines, also known as P-noy (short for President Noynoy), is of course, the most influential Filipino today. He is the son of two extremely popular and admired public figures in his country. His father, Senator Benigno Aquino died fighting for democracy. His death spurred the people’s power revolution which saw an end to Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship. Aquino’s mother also marked the country’s history. President Corazon Aquino was elected by the people to take over the presidency in 1986. She is known by Filipinos to be a religious, charismatic and just leader. P-noy did not have his mind set on politics, until after the death of his mother and strong public demand for his candidacy. He subsequently ran and won the 2010 elections.

Katherine Luzuriaga
This scientist may be American, but she definitely earned her spot in this list for the amazing contributions she has made to medical research. Born of a Filipino father, Katherine Luzuriaga was part of the research team that mesmerized the world by discovering the first ever functional cure for HIV. They were able to administer this breakthrough cure to a baby born of an HIV positive mother. 39 days after birth, the baby was declared HIV-free, after having been administered the cure 30 hours after birth. The MIT educated wonder-scientist was featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world.

Socorro C. Ramos
The second woman on the list has been an invaluable contributor to Philippine culture. She has overcome countless challenges and lived through occupation and dictatorships, thriving thanks to her exceptional salesmanship and unconditional love for books. Socorro C. Ramos is the matriarch of National Bookstore, the Philippines’ leading bookstore chain which also sells office supplies and greeting cards. In 1965, she and her husband Jose set up a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal which became the very first National Bookstore. The Ramos family has steadily grown its business over the years. She is the personification of a success story. Since she started as a bookshop clerk when she was 18, she worked her way to owning and operating a company that employs 2’500 people and has become a legend in Philippine business history.

Lucio Tan
Probably the most controversial businessman in Philippine history, Lucio Tan has built a vast empire over the years, having made his first millions in the tobacco and alcohol industries. In and out of courts for years, Tan has managed to stay on top of his problems, even after the discovery of illicit agreements he had with President Marcos in the early 1980’s that preserved his monopoly and ensured legislative reforms would not get in the way of his business.
Be as it may, Tan, who mopped floors to pay for his education, has to be credited for his tenacity and business acumen. Today, he has stakes in more than a dozen major companies, among which Air Philippines, one of the fastest growing carriers in the country.

Beatrice Campos
Beatrice Campos ranks number 19 in Forbes Asia’s 40 Richest Filipinos. She is the widow of Jose Campos, who died in 2006 and was one of the co-founders of United Laboratories (Unilab), the country’s largest pharmaceutical company, established in 1945. The Campos family also has a controlling stake in Del Monte Pacific, headed by the son Joselito. Today, Beatrice Campos’ conglomerate produces over 300 prescription and over-the-counter drugs.