Monday, August 27, 2012

The Apple-Samsung Lawsuit Saga: Titanic Corporate Battle?

Given that all the money recently spent by these two tech giant goes to high-priced copyright lawyers, will the Apple v Samsung case eventually stifle consumer tech product innovation? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Back in August 25, 2012, a US jury in a California court decided that South Korea based tech giant Samsung should pay Apple 1.05 billion US dollars for copyright infringement – i.e. the jury found Samsung guilty of copying critical features of rival Apple products for use in manufacturing their mobile smartphone and tablet computer line – for profit. Sadly, it is we – the consumer – who are bound to loose in titanic corporate battles such as these that involve copyright infringement and arcane patent laws, because the expense of such courtroom dramas are directly passed on to us. 

Money that should have been spent on innovation – as in research and development or R N’ D - by the two tech giants are now destined to be spent on high-priced copyright lawyers. And in the complex world of patent law legalese, money merely paid to a high-priced copyright lawyer doesn’t have any return of investment. For all intents and purposes, it is a dead end investment. Thus consumers could be facing higher-priced mobile smartphones and tablet computers during their holiday shopping sprees right up to Christmas.
But here in the Far East, Samsung holds the lion’s share of the market in mobile smartphones and tablet computers because on average, their products only cost one third that of equivalent Apple i-Phones and i-Pads - especially here in Singapore and Hong Kong. Sadly, by the close of the Monday August 27, 2012 trading day, Samsung’s stocks took on a nosedive that resulted in 12 billion US dollars being wiped off the South Korea based tech giant’s value. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Was There An Economic Trickle-Down Effect of the London 2012 Olympics?

Economists say it may yet be too soon to tell, but will there ever be a real economic trickle-down effect of the London 2012 Olympic Games to the host city’s economically disadvantaged residents? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Ever since the modern Summer Olympic Games went commercial back in 1984, many a host city has been relieved of the insurmountable burden of debt after hosting the event. But have economists ever wondered – or even in their wildest dreams contemplated of doing a study - if there ever was a real economic trickle-down effect of hosting the Olympic Games to the host city’s most economically disadvantaged residents? 

As the London 2012 Olympics came and went, many of the world’s top economists have wondered whether Stratford East London had truly been economically reinvigorated by the recent event. The area has been recognized not only as London’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood but also the most economically least well-off. Yet, almost all of the under-35 population remains hopeful that the recent Olympic Games will eventually reinvigorate the small businesses of Stratford East London. 

But older residents who have witnessed first hand the Hugh Grant / Julia Roberts Notting Hill debacle fears that Stratford East London, and other economically least well-off parts of London, will experience the brunt of gentrification during the next few years. Almost all Brazilian immigrants who are former Notting Hill residents can no longer live there because they have been “gentrified out” by high property prices. Looks like the gentrification issue will make the unhealthy product sponsors McDonald’s, Heiniken and Coca Cola the more lasting economic issue of the London 2012 Olympics.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Post Lock-Up Facebook Stocks: Still Economically Viable?

With its stock price now about 50% of what it was during its initial May 18, 2012 IPO, does Facebook still represent an economically viable part of one’s stock portfolio? 

By: Ringo Bones 

As the post lock-up period trading of Facebook stocks now values it at a bit above 50% of its May 18, 2012 initial IPO flotation period, it seems that the famed social media network has been “unfriended” by corporate bigwigs, directors and seasoned stock market investors as the 90-day lock-up period expired back in August 16, 2012. But will everyone taken by the irrational exuberance of Facebook’s May 18, 2012 IPO be dumping their stocks like its going out of fashion? 

To the uninitiated in stock-market investing, lock-up period is the length of time that prevents shareholders unloading their stocks to the market so close to the IPO floatation period. Lock-up period laws are primarily designed to prevent the stock market from being swamped with pre-owned shares whose value may or may not rise by the end of the lock-up period. 

At present, Facebook still really has a lot going for it because over 7% of the world’s population are using / accessing their Facebook accounts via mobile devices and/or mobile smart-phones. Despite share prices on the decline, the lucrative mobile adverts on Facebook are still economically viable for the famed social media network. But seasoned investors’ concerns over the earning potential of Facebook justifying its 38 US dollar a share IPO will probably occupy their minds. After all, it is not that long ago that everyone was taken for a ride of the irrational exuberance of the dot com boom of the late 1990s. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Standard Chartered: Standard For Money Laundering?

Though the investigation is still on-going, does the recent New York State Department revelation on the extent of Standard Chartered’s secret money laundering scheme with Iran undermine everyone’s already shaky trust on banks and other financial institutions? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Despite denying the allegations, shares of standard chartered drop as much as 15% in London trading due to the recently revealed reports by the New York State Department that Standard Chartered – their New York branch - did more than 60,000 secret transactions worth over 250 billion US dollars over the last 10 years. Even more damning is the evidence showing that Standard Chartered also actively hid proof of dealings with Iran in clear violation of the established economic sanctions by the US government. Given the evidence uncovered so far, will Standard Chartered’s dubious code of conduct undermine our (as in we, the 99% with a large chunk of our pension funds probably tied-up in this financial scheme) trust in banks and other financial institutions? 

Sometimes I wonder if this financial institution already got reputational risk insurance since Standard Chartered’s apparent lack of due diligence in doing their financial transactions had created conditions in which fraudulent dealings occurred during the last 10 years in clear violation of the federal government’s established economic sanctions against a designated rogue state like Iran. Truly - an unprecedented example of a moral hazard that could stain the reputation of banks and other financial institutions in the austere fiscal environment of our post global credit crunch world. 

And Standard Charterd’s clear breach of economic sanctions against Iran could have far reaching financial consequences because even though the bank is UK based – it does 2/3 of its business here in South-East Asia which could cause a trading turmoil not seen since the Asian financial crisis of 1997. And given the already revealed evidence by the New York State Department, this financial cloak and dagger doesn’t have a semblance of a happy ending whatsoever.