Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2011, 12:00am


Unlikely Mongolia gains safe-haven status amid the market turmoil

There was intriguing advice for investors bloodied by recent events from Dale Choi, the chief investment strategist for Frontier Securities.

Writing from the capital, Ulan Bator, in deepest Mongolia, he eschews all that guff about emerging markets decoupling from the developed world. Nevertheless, he believes the Mongolian stock market is a 'safe haven' in these difficult times.

'For Mongolia, we don't see much risk from the US downgrade given that Mongolia's economy is highly tied to China's appetite for natural resources,' he writes.

'Even though an eventual US recession may take its toll on commodity prices, we believe that Mongolia will be relatively unscathed because the production costs for Mongolian coal and other minerals are much cheaper than other countries (given that most of the coal is open pit). This gives Mongolia a bigger cushion against a commodity price fall.'

The Mongolian stock exchange was the world's best-performing market last year, rising 165 per cent. Until the beginning of this year, Mongolia had the distinction of being the smallest exchange in the world before overtaking Laos. Its market capitalisation is about US$1.6 billion, with turnover of a mere US$75,000 a day. It may be a safe haven, but like Noah's Ark, it's not that easy to enter.

In need of business acumen

Hong Kong's so-called post-1980s generation lacks basic financial planning and savings awareness and skills, according to a survey. Most respondents also have very unrealistic expectations of returns on investment.

The survey found that 94 per cent have savings of some kind, with 80 per cent of these saving for rainy days or emergencies. Typically, they put 17 per cent of their income aside as cash savings, and a further 15 per cent for investments or insurance.

Beyond this, much of their saving is done for short-term ends to improve their immediate quality of life, rather than for the long term. Half save regularly for a home or other property, while 48 per cent save in order to travel and 42 per cent save to buy things they like.

The survey goes on to say that the generation also appears to be undisciplined about monitoring its investment portfolio. More than 60 per cent reviewed their bank accounts a few times a month, while just less than half checked their portfolio this often.

The survey was carried out by fund managers Fidelity International, which is not entirely disinterested in how people save and invest for the future.

Kerry Ching, Hong Kong country head for Fidelity International, said there was a wide gap between what the post-80s generation needed for retirement and their actual savings. She said it should start saving now and 'seek professional advice to manage personal and pension investments wisely'. She did restrain herself from advising people to go to Fidelity for that advice.

Sipping at the good life

Despite the bloodletting in the financial markets, Hong Kong's love affair with wine continues.

A coming highlight for wine buffs is Winefuture Hong Kong'11, when, 'renowned wine personalities' Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, and Pancho Campo 'as well as prestigious film director and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola and other wine professionals will be in attendance to lead unique tastings, and industry forums', public relations firm Impact Asia tells us.

This, Impact says, will ensure 'Hong Kong will be the epicentre of the wine world'.

The event runs for three days from November 6 at AsiaWorld-Expo at Chek Lap Kok. If the event matches the hype it should be quite something - but then again ...

Bad timing

What do French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the 15-member Irish cabinet of debt-ridden Ireland and most of the European Union have in common?

Despite the market meltdown, there were either on, or were on, holiday.

According to Associated Press, Sarkozy is by the Mediterranean in his swimming trunks, Cameron was in Tuscany - until cutting his break short yesterday - and Osborne has been amusing himself at the Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles.

On Sunday, the Belgian finance minister, Didier Reynders, posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself on top of a mountain, with a caption that read: 'En vacances.' Nothing like a global economic crisis to help right your priorities.