Friday, 5 August 2011

Filipino dragon boat paddlers win gold medal in Tampa Bay

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano

MANILA—Is being under-supported enough push to become a world champion and even a world-record holder?

Ask the cash-strapped Philippine Dragon Boat team as it let the paddling do the talking.
The team splashed its way to a third world title in the biennial International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) 10th World Dragon Boat Championships by winning the Premier 1000m event (small boat) in Tampa Bay, Florida Friday.

On the final round of, the Filipinos’ 4:57.13 clocking set a new world record for the event.
Australia won the silver medal (5:00.09), while Hungary captured the bronze (5:03.71) in the race no. 27 in day two of the 10th Worlds.

The win in the 1000m Premier event (small boats) is Philippines’ first gold medal at the 2011 Worlds thus far.

A small boat in dragon boat parlance has up to 10 paddlers while, a standard boat has up to 22 paddlers.

The Philippines won two gold medals at the 2009 Worlds in Prague, Czech Republic in standard boats (not small boats, as reported earlier by this contributor)—the 200m Premier Mixed and 200m Premier Open categories.

It was reported that the Filipinos will compete in small boat events—and not on standard boats, which means the the paddlers will not defend their world titles in the 200m Premier Mixed and 200m Premier Open categories using standard boats.

But a schedule of the races, though with many blanks yet to be filled, found on the Internet showed that the Philippines is competing in small boat events.

In the preliminary round (race no. 24 of scheduled races for the day), the Philippines topped the race with a 4:50.79 clocking with Australia (5:02.59), and Hungary (5:09.87) behind.

Why stock prices move

Business Mirror

Most people are at least aware of the stock market. Every major media and press outlet covers the daily price fluctuations just as they do sports, reporting on winners and losers. Ask a person his/her opinion about the stock market and I am sure you will get a strong attitude, positive or negative, about the market. And virtually anyone who has bought some shares of stock has a story to tell.

One of the great mysteries of the universe is the movement of stock prices. Let me share with you the press comments about the Philippine Stock Exchange PHISIX index price movement over the last week.

Prior to President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25th, the stock market closed at 4,480. After the trading session on Tuesday, the market fell 0.3 percent, this was the reason given: Stocks fell due to prolonged debates on the US borrowing limit and lack of market-moving news from Mr. Aquino.

On Wednesday the market rose 0.4 percent. Local stocks rebounded as optimism about the upcoming corporate results overshadowed jitters over the US debt crisis.

On Thursday the PHISIX index was unchanged, 0.0 percent from the day before. Trading was cautious on Thursday following an overnight Wall Street bloodbath that was caused by the prolonged debates over the US borrowing.

The following day, Friday, prices went up 0.5 percent. Stock prices surged as investor optimism over prospective second-quarter corporate results prevailed over global jitters regarding the prolonged US debt crisis. No that was not a mistake. That language was almost identical to what was said two days before.

We began this current week on Monday with a 1-percent move to the upside. That was because investors cheered a US debt deal and a robust stream of local second-quarter corporate earnings.

Tuesday came leaving the index down 0.2 percent. The euphoria over a US debt accord that averted a US sovereign default was replaced by concerns over weak US manufacturing data.

And yesterday, Wednesday, the index fell by 1.2 percent because there was profit-taking, as rising concerns over the US economy sent stock prices on Wall Street plummeting overnight.

The PHISIX index began the first trading session after the President’s speech at 4,480. The market closed yesterday at 4,488. The price change from last Tuesday until yesterday’s close is virtually zero.

The last seven trading sessions on the PSE have been against the backdrop of the debt-ceiling debate in the US. Having said that, it was nothing more than a kabuki theater, full of drama and extravagant performers, but only a political show. There was not any chance whatsoever that the US would default on its debt payments. Yet, look at the words that were used to describe PSE trading over that period of the debt drama: “optimism,” “euphoria,” “concerns,” “cheered,” “surged,” “bloodbath,” “cautious,” and “jitters.”

My professional life consists of three parts; analyzing the general market trends and some 70 individual PSE stocks, presenting that analysis in a clear form to the subscribers of my Strategy Guide, and trading the market. That’s what I do to put food on the table for my family.

Yet, according to press and media commentary, following the markets is an emotional rollercoaster filled with euphoria and jitters. At my age, euphoria comes from getting up in the morning without a new ache or pain. And my jitters and concerns are worrying if both of my Internet providers are going to be working at the same time.

In fact, if a stock trader is feeling all those emotions, I guarantee they will lose money.

However, as a professional trader I do know that the amateurs make trading decisions using their emotional response to external factors. And if I think that there is going to be a trading response to something, I will watch to see if that response happens. I also know that emotional responses are inconsistent.

Stock prices move because there are either more sellers or more buyers. There is no “why” except that buyers (sellers) believe the price will go higher (lower) for whatever reason that you can never understand.

That is all you need to watch. If there are more buyers, prices rise; more sellers push the prices down. As a trader, you do not need to, nor is it a wise use of time and effort to try to figure out the psychological motivations behind investors accumulating or selling their shares.

Ultimately, buyers buy because they believe the price will never be any lower while they own the shares. But sellers sell for countless reasons, many unrelated to the stock market and financial events.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Worst is Yet to Come

Business Mirror

Constantly being accused of being a wild and crazy optimist, (especially about the Philippines), for once I thought I would share some very negative thoughts.

All the nonsense talk these past two weeks about the possibility of the US not paying its debt was foolish. First, the US government takes in all the money it needs each month to pay its international “credit card” bills. Thank goodness, because the US owes the Philippines about $50 billion that the Bangko Sentral loaned to Uncle Sam. Oh sure, the US only pays the minimum monthly payment but that is just enough to avoid default.

Second, the real issue was and is the amount of debt, not the monthly installments. Here the situation is much more serious. It is only a matter of time before the sovereign credit-rating agencies lower the US AAA rating. Completely inevitable.

Money, international capital, is like a gold-digger, only interested in the next high-profit opportunity. While the global markets breath a silly sigh of relief that the US will not default, the rating agency Moody’s has already said “The ‘limited magnitude’ of both debt plans put forward by congressional leaders would not put the nation’s AAA credit rating back on solid footing,”

The conversation about the credit rating is simplified to “Can they pay their bills?” It is not about paying the bills as much as it is about total financial solvency. I have a neighbor that pays six or seven credit cards and loans each month. And every month he goes farther and farther into debt, just like the US government. It is not a matter of being “broke.” It is a matter of using a lot of your income to pay your debt and, most significantly, spending borrowed money. My neighbors borrow money to pay the school tuition.

The US government borrows 43 cents for every dollar that it spends. Why did the US need to raise the debt ceiling (credit-card limit) by $2 trillion? Because in the next 18 months it will spend about $5 trillion; $3 trillion it takes in from taxes and $2 trillion it borrows. Not a sustainable situation.

Yesterday the peso rose to 41.997 to the dollar. Expect to see peso appreciation continue. When (not if) the US credit rating is lowered, lenders will want a higher interest rate. That will put more dollars into the global financial system and the value of the dollar will continue to fall.

Two years Obama and his band of economic fools believed that the US economy was suffering from a liquidity problem. That is, they thought that there was not enough money in the financial system so they lowered interest rates to zero and told the banks to lend out very cheap money to get economic activity going. Two years later there is very little lending and almost no economic activity.

The latest revised economic figures almost ignored during the debt talks show that the US economy grew by a total of 1.6 percent in the last four quarters. Not 1.6 percent per quarter; 1.6 percent total. And the US needs in excess of 2-percent annual economic growth just to keep from going down more.

It was not a liquidity problem; it was a solvency problem. The US was not broke, meaning out of money. The US was and is insolvent, bankrupt, owing more money than it has assets. And the banks would not and will not lend money to individuals and businesses that are insolvent.

It is like my neighbor asking for some cash until he gets paid on the 15th. Sorry partner. Your paycheck coming on the 15th is already spent and the only way you are going to be able to pay me is to borrow from someone else. That is the US financial situation, both public and private, and it can only get worse because there is so little wealth-creating business activity going on.

Overall, Europe is in worse financial shape than the US. But the US is the big dog while Europe is the sick little puppy. And this is the important thing to consider.

The US, Europe and China are economically joined. It is not going well for China. China’s purchasing manager’s index (PMI) fell to a 29-month low in July to 50.7 percent. The PMI measures if companies business (production, new orders, employment) is “better,” “same,” or “worse” than the prior month. A reading of below 50 says business activity is decreasing.

The next 12 months are going to see a further deterioration of the US economy bringing a lower dollar and higher unemployment. The worst is yet to come for them.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Monday, 1 August 2011

$10-B fishery exports eyed

Business Mirror

THE government is targeting to boost export revenues from fishery exports to as much as $10 billion by providing the industry with a strong research and development (R&D) support, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) said.
In a statement, BAR said the export revenue of the fishery sector reaches $700 million to $800 million annually. The Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 Visioning report noted that the subsector has the potential to generate as much as $10 billion in export receipts.

To achieve this potential, the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has lined up R&D programs for 12 commodities from 2011 to 2016. 

These are on tuna, seaweeds, shrimp, tilapia, milkfish, shellfish including abalone and oyster, mudcrab, rabbitfish, sea cucumber, grouper and pangasius.

“The government’s thrust to make the fisheries sector a big dollar earner and jobs supplier is a potential that the fishery industry has long recognized. Our research programs will help establish these hopes and sustain the sector in reaching revenue targets,” said BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar.

The BAR noted that tuna is a top R&D agenda. The agency is looking at mapping through a geographic information system (GIS) the migratory patterns of tuna and value-adding technologies to generate more, higher-priced tuna products than the present export of mostly canned tuna.  

The agency will conduct these activities in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department, and the University of the Philippines Visayas.

The agency said tuna is the country’s top export earner at close to $400 million. 

For shrimp which contributes $70 million to fishery export, Eleazar said there is a need to come up with a Philippine-bred, disease-free broodstock.

Currently, the country imports specific pathogen-free or specific pathogen-resistant broodstock for Black Tiger shrimp. 

“Shrimp or prawn has a huge export market in developed countries even as Thailand exports prawn at $1 billion to $2 billion yearly,” said Eleazar.

Seaweeds, which rakes in $130 million in revenues mostly in the form of semi-processed carrageenan, require programs on the development of disease-free species, particularly for the food-processing grade cottonii variety, the BAR said.  

“Molecular marker assisted breeding will be used to develop disease-resistant strains.  Other seaweed programs are the establishment of live gene bank for the identification of quality seaweed germplasm and a study on seaweed growing’s stock enhancement and stock monitoring system,” said Eleazar.

For tilapia, BAR said the R&D agenda focuses on the development of low-cost, high-quality, and environment-friendly feeds. While BFAR’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute has already developed excellent tilapia strains such as saline-tolerant and cold-tolerant tilapia, there is a need to produce their broodstock and fingerlings. 

“The production of fry for tilapia suitable for extreme temperature arising from climate change is an important concern as much as this is also a concern in other fishery species,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BAR said popular local fish species milkfish needs improved hatchery techniques on broodstock management, nutrition, larval rearing, and handling. Low-cost feed production, mapping of fry sources, and proper-cage design under extreme environmental conditions are other milkfish-research areas.

“The BAR is also supporting R&D for other fishery products that have yet to be produced in bigger quantities. R&D area in mudcrab includes development of a hatchery system, production of quality broodstock and value-adding technologies,” said Eleazar.

The BAR said other products that require a good hatchery system and value-adding technologies are rabbitfish, sea cucumber, abalone, and other shellfishes. For pangasius, a big export product of Vietnam, the R&D concern is on the production of fingerlings. 

The rest of the research areas are on the identification of potential sites for oyster and quality-control standards particularly for the depuration from PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) toxins of oyster; genetic fingerprinting for breeding of grouper; and  development of grow-out culture protocol and marker-assisted breeding for abalone and other shellfishes.

The Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 spearheaded by the DA and the Congressional Commission on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization indicated that the Philippines can become a seafood basket and aqua-marine center of the world.

Among the goals are to produce one-million metric tons (MT) of bangus and 500,000 MT of tilapia, and 90,000 MT of shrimp from the present 35,000 MT; establish a 1,000-hectare aquaculture area that is mechanized and a tilapia grow-out facility for private farmer partnership; and set up a fisher technician-training program and a community organizing volunteers project.