US Extreme Game of Economic Dominoes

~By P Chong

Financial Dominoes

It is as though US is playing an economic game on the world stage, & all the countries are playing along dangling on the string or as cards or domino tablets falling along as “waves of tsunami” sweep over them.

Ever played Dominoes? The global economic fallout or meltdown is kind of similar to the domino effect. The economic hammer or axe knows no friends or foes. Every sphere of human endeavour is sort of interlinked or entwined in the economic meltdown. Like the newspapers, the source of news & information, if not for the bad news there would be no news. Their revenue is fast depleting with decreasing commercial advertisements & deepening deficits. They have to come out fast with a complete menu of alternatives before sinking under.

Paul Volcker, who was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve under United States Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (from August 1979 to August 1987) & currently Chairma of the newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board under President Barack Obama, in his recent address to the Canadians in Toronto as part of the Grano Speakers series, suggested that the banking world could do with more Canadas. He pointed out that the basis of strong banks lies in the traditional commercial banking practices of “taking in money & providing credit” – unlike the high-risk financial highwire acts that brought down Wall Street. In this light, Canada is far better off then the US, Europe or UK & Japan. Trust & confidence are two key words in the world of banking & investment. Paul Volcker really hit the nail on the head.

The crux of the global problem is that US “Financial Frankensteins” spun their vast economic web enveloping & capturing their unsuspecting victims the world over, including the City State of Singapore draining off substantially a great percentage of its assets through its Tamasek’s investments. It’s likened to a worst form of financial cancer spreading without any imminent hope in sight. It’s doom that projects all the gloom without any comfortable room or garden to bloom.

In totality, all the Rescue Packages amount to more than $4 trillion, an amount nearly ten times larger than the budget deficit for all of 2008. In just 30 odd days Obama has earned the distinction of becoming the single profligate spender in history. The $4 trillion is made of $787 billion stimulus package, $3 trillion administration’s bank bailout plan & $275 billion anti-foreclosure plan.

Do you realise how immense or massive US$4 trillion dollars is? Can you visualise it? To help you see the picture here’s a couple of illustrations:

1.If you were a very rich man living at the time of Christ … and you could have started saving $1 billion per year every year thereafter, you’d still be only half way there! You’d need still another 2000 years to finance what Obama has committed to spending in just the one month since he began his presidency.

2. If you could borrow $4 trillion at 6% interest, your interest payments alone would be $240 billion per year, $548 million per day, $761,000 per second.

As can be seen, there is no quick fix solution in monetary terms or time. Of all countries in the world, China is perhaps in the best position in the face of this financial crisis. It keeps saying that it has to take care first of its own internal economy, which is suffering a slowdown in the economic fallout, before it can venture out & extend its helping hands. US however is fast to extend its hands of economic friendship & sealed its relationship with China through its State Secretary Hilary Clinton on her maiden overseas (Asian) overture.

I categorically maintain that it’s GREED that breeds the fall, & it’s GREED that’s swallowing them all!

Benjamin Franklin would say this: “He does not possess wealth; it possesses him.” People can be so materialistic and self-centered that community spirit becomes lacking. It follows that if wealth is lacking & debts are mounting, death would be sounding.

Predictably, some of their policies will help. Most will fail … backfire … and aggravate the crisis. And in the end, a whole new monetary system will be needed. It will be interesting to speculate what will the consequential world order be? Which country will ultimately emerge victoriously & powerfully on the world stage?

Money & Wealth

Money & Wealth


Two little key words to distinguish: need & want.

The first refers to a specific basic life’s necessity with varying limitations, but

want encompasses insatiable limits tending towards obsessive greed without creed.

Money is the root of all evils, so the famous saying goes. It is so claimed more by those particularly without money than by others who are wealthy. The fact of the matter is, it is our own doing with money that becomes our own undoing. Money by itself is not evil. How can it? It has no mind, will or desire on its own. It’s what you do with money that counts. You’ve got to be its master and not the slave to it.

Money is important, unless you’re living in the primitive world. In the modern world everything is run on money. Modern economy & our very existence revolve around money, without which all economic activities will come to a standstill. Remember money cannot buy you happiness, love, respect or honour (which must be earned), but the lack of it will make you miserably so.

What is money? Money is simply a means of exchange – be it in paper form or metal or even plastic material as credit & debit cards. With credit cards it needs to be emphasized about budget control. It’s so very easy to freely sign your life away charging all your purchases or services to your credit card. You can’t spend like hell and still hope to be swell. There’s always the question of payment. You’ve got to be in control especially when tempting offers seem to be overpowering.

Remember whatever you want – money, respect, honour, love or power, they’re all in the hands of others. Consequently, you need to earn them from others through some forms of service.

Before you can accumulate money, you’ve got to be money conscious, that is, to be aware of money forms. Everything is in the form of money – a house, a car, a holiday etc. Taking a step further, differentiate a lump of coal with a precious piece of diamond. Basically, they are of the same constituents, but structurally different. Diamond is the result of enormous pressure over a long passage of time. So if you want more money, you’ve got to put in more effort & time. There is no question of less work & more pay. Rewards are qualitatively & quantitatively measured.

Making money is one of the easiest things in the world – if you know how & if that’s what you want. Cash is the effect of a cause. You reap what you sow. What you sow must be in qualitative & quantitative terms. So consider first in rendering a truly valuable service, both qualitatively & quantitatively, before thinking of a bountiful harvest. Even in selling a product, the question of service is all important.

You can make money through the sale of an idea. Ideas in essence make money. Some of the richest & most successful men in the world began with a simple idea, for example, Colonel Saunders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. You’ll never know how valuable your ideas can be. Dr. Napoleon Hill of “Think & Grow Rich” fame says this:

“Whatever the mind of men can conceive & believe, it can achieve.”

So have faith in your ideas & you can build a fortune on them.

If making money is relatively simple, how come most people end in life missing the financial boat. The truth of the matter is we must plan & learn how to save. For the majority, it is only the question of spending. To them, the philosophy is money is no good unless you can spend it. True, you’ve got to be able to spend, but within budget.

A simple lesson in money management is:

  1. Pay yourself first by saving 10%. In so doing, you’re creating a good

    habit, which will give you a sense of financial security. You will be amazed what you can achieve if you establish such a habit. Remember, you deserve to be paid – don’t just pay others.

  2. Set 20% of what you make for the creditors. This could mean paying off your credit card & other debts without jeopardising your own financial situation.

  3. Last but not least, 70% of your money will go towards your day to day expenses.

The above formula is simple but it is executing it that is difficult. Consider a young person starting off life at age 25 and in 40 years time what sort of financial bounty will he be reaping if he can execute this simple formula & stick by it. In terms of mere savings, not even considering the return from investment, on the basis of an annual income of just $25,000 (and for simplicity stays fixed for 40 years), if he pays himself 10%, he could easily end up with $100,000. Believe you me, a lot of people won’t have that to show. The success of a person is not measured so much by the amount he makes but more so by the amount he saves.

Remember we all have the freedom to work for others or to have others work for us, & ultimately to have money working for us. Top have money working for us,we do not necessary depend entirely on our own money. We can always employ the principle of O.P.M., i.e. Other People’s Money. The banks and other financial institutions utilise this principle. They all you a lesser interest than the interest they accrue through their investments or from others. Similarly, make sure your return is higher than what you have to pay for financing your project.

In money management, more must come in & less to go out. I can also recall when working as a manager for the American International Assurance, my managing director used to say: “live five years below your budget. We would not like to be a scrooge, but budgeting is very important.

However, don’t be obsessed with money or status. Making money is not the be all & end all. Greed often sets in with lots of business people & you soon become a question of being possessed by your possession. It does not matter to these unscrupulous people how many money is made, morally or immorally, legally or illegally. The object of the bottom line blurs out all other considerations or consequences. Some of these people camouflage their misdeeds by being philanthropic. This tantamount to laundering evil money through charity & hopefully people will be blind in the process. There is the danger of entrapping yourself & be oblivious to all sense of value. Wealth is relative – there is no end to wanting more of it.

To be a millionaire, you’ve got to have a millionaire mentality. Winning money through lottery or lotto will not make you one. In fact, money coming in an easy way will just as easy go out. Have a good investment sense & invest wisely.

God created us in a world full of abundance. We are the most unique creatures of all His creations – being created essentially in His own image. As such, you should have all the necessary skills to make it in life. There is no justification or rationalisation for missing out the financial boat in life. Begin to believe that you have the ability & capacity to make your dream come true. Build from within yourself that internal desire to achieve that great wealth.

images-1isWarren Buffet  images

Bill Gates                                               Li Ka-shing

If you are one of those gifted people with some special talents, you are more than certain to be on the road to riches. You could, for instance, be a singing star or a sporting talent like Tiger Woods or even Greg Norman. In a different league, people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Li Ka-shing are exceptional wealthy billionaires. They all possess a mentality way above that of the average rich guy.

Paul Chong

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Plain Old Greed – An Unwanted Creed

Plain Old Greed

An Unwanted Creed

Banking institutions use the principle of “OPM” which literally

means “Other People’s Money”. Likewise with all the stock exchanges

where corporations made their listings to secure & amass additional funds

from the public. In the western democratic capitalist world this principle

is exploited without compassion to the fullest extent. Such practice is rampant

and widespread right down from the Government to the Man in the street.

imagesBernard Madoff

You have heard it often said ‘It could only happen in America’! This is a country of high drama and crimes . . . with happenings to dwarf any other globally. This is a country that is out to dominate, dictate, decide & even define in all spheres of human endeavour. The recent fraud case of Bernie Madoff who was sentenced to 150 years life sentence sets an unbeatable human record and defies all human crimes since time memorial. How could an apparently innocent-looking guy cheat the system, pulling wool over the eyes of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and was undetected for as long as three decades fraudulently grossing over 65 billion? The world is without an equal in this respect. Could it be just plain stupid policies & lax regulations that breed such fraudulent crime?

A scenario of such nature paints vividly a big picture of greedy moneymen, free market hucksters, white-collar thieves of the highest & self-serving politicians. It bespeaks a system that caters for the rich & powerful to the detriment of the poor & neglectful.

Whenever events of such magnitude happened, politicians only speak in terms of statistics. Numbers & statistics are so meaningless in place of compassion, human values & sufferings. It’s what people do to people that matters most . . . jobs lost, life savings spent, millions of homes foreclosed, the emotional strain & stress & lots of other intangible consequences.

A society of thrift & frugality cannot be instituted overnight. Such culture must long be inculcated & established & must be able to endure the test of time. It is not something that comes & goes. Any sensible individual will know that you cannot go on spending like crazy & hope to make life easy.

Can you imagine all the nation’s wealth, i.e. the tax payers’ money, is being used to service a backbreaking load of debt that was accumulated to fuel the booming bubbles in the stock market, the bond market, the housing market & whatever credit of the economic hell! How do you solve a double-digit unemployment and a mounting national credit of $2.7 trillion expected by the end of 2010. Interest rates virtually down to zero! The amount of cash in circulation printed & pumped in by Federal Reserve has surged past the horror-inflation of 30 years ago. To begin to understand what’s it like having a dead currency is to ask a Zimbabwean!

The imbecility of the US Congress in thinking it can spend America’s way out of a recession caused by too much spending and debt takes the breath away – that should set you crying all the way to hell! It’s not a recession . . . it’s all the way a financial scandal that is the shame!

In times of financial crisis such as the present, Dubai’s building has become its undoing. Dubai’s propensity for building big while also throwing funds at overseas banks has left it looking to its neighbors for spare cash as boom turns to crunch. How much in the way of silly lessons has it learned from the master, the US government?

At least some countries like the Chinese are recognizing that the US way of finance involves running up vast debts through deficit spending while taking what’s wanted and killing anybody that gets in the way.

US Population, brought up on a politicized & substandard education system of pop culture rather than the classics, believe in greed to be the creed. Greed is the excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

Greed is the American disease – seriously considered as “cancer” hard to eradicate. This reckless greed is responsible for:

  • The obscene salaries of the CEOs

  • The crooked cops & politicians

  • The disgraceful corporate scandals that cover the media

  • The murders of the narcotics world

  • The proliferation of wars & encroachment of others’ sovereignty

In brief, greed is the reason that US is being run by the insurance, pharmaceutical, weapons and the petroleum industries. Suffice to say that greed is the cause of every conceivable problem existing within the American social structure. It’s not just Bernie Madoff or the Garys and the Morgans, who are but a small bunch of evil men . . . but the evil has seeped right through from Wall Street to the Main Street.

Believe me

Greed is no Creed

It’s utterly evil in Deed

Totally an unwanted Creed!

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Capitalism – The Sense of Morality

Capitalism – The Sense of Morality

This poem of mine was initially written in the 80s

at the time when Australia was plagued with economic

recession, ‘Bottom of the Harbour Schemes’, political leadership struggle

between John Howard & Andrew Peacock . . . nothing like the scale & magnitude

of the present global economic crisis.


“Capitalism creates a rational frame of mind which, having destroyed the moral authority of so many other institutions, in the end turns against its own.” – Joseph A. Schumpeter

CAPITALISM is good: it generates a lot of food

Growth and progress begin to shoot.

Materialism and consumerism grow

Discontentment and greed get out of control.

Disillusionment and immorality are sins of the century

When aims and energy are directed essentially towards prosperity.

Ethics and morality are no longer strong

Thus the nature of things just go wrong.

The song of the century hits your mind:

When you hang your soul on the line,

Is it worth the price you pay for the money you make?”

Certainly creates the disillusionment for the day.

Sins occur here and there and everywhere

All sense of value and morality fly through the air.

Delinquency and street kids multiply in folds

When every action and freedom can never be told.

There is decay in every facet of society.

Nothing good can be guaranteed.

Fast Buck rules in politics as in business.

Loyalty, morality, trust and faith are silenced by greediness.

We are drifting away from the proper way,

Indulging in escapism, sex, drugs and alcohol as we sway.

In our search for fulfilment

We are lost in our apparent contentment.

There’s a way and it’s God’s way:

Search your heart and soul and pray.

There can be no other way

Having Jesus in your heart will not make you sway.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Hello World!

Welcome to my blogosphere! This is your opportunity to have your say. Whatever you express will stay. With your help & assistance we shall together impact the world with our thoughts & ideas. We shall endeavour & persevere to eradicate all tears & fears. Together we shall make & leave this blessed earth with a rich legacy of peace & harmony. Everyone of us is created equal in the eyes of our God. May we then live in jubilation without persecution, food without hunger, fairness & justice without discrimination, justification or rationalisation, separation or polarization. Let our elected politicians serve without any self-motive or gain. Greed is not our creed. You & I  will strive, seek & find that glorious vision.



Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

(Dedicated to God for Guidance & Strength)