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The International Investor

January, 2016 Archives

A City of Teslas

By Benjamin J. Butler

 

Seoul, South Korea

 

I am on a train from Daegu City to Seoul in South Korea to meet a friend. In a sign of our times, he - a well-respected businessman and entrepreneur in Korea - is looking for financing from US sources for his chip company. Local sources of funding are not so easy to come by as in Silicon Valley, and if he does procure capital, it's from the wrong source. Other friends of mine in Korea are talking about how Chinese VCs have just “discovered” Korea and are looking to invest more money into startups here.

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A Negative and Fearful Davos

By Benjamin J. Butler

 

South Korea but vicariously at Davos

 

So the World Economic Forum 2016 in the exclusive Swiss ski resort, Davos, has kicked off. This is where several thousand members of the elite -- policymakers, CEOs, visionaries, etc -- all meet up to discuss the future of the planet. It was interesting that on the eve of the Forum, Oxfam released a survey which calculated that 68 billionaires have more wealth than 50% of humanity. Clearly central bank policies since 2010 have been seriously exacerbating the wealth gap.

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Debating a China Economist

By Benjamin J. Butler

 

Daegu, South Korea

 

I am seeking refuge from the biting Korean winter in a warm café with K-pop blaring in the background. Terrorism and geopolitics are dominating the news yet again, this time explosions in Jakarta and the evacuation of the Sydney Opera House. A couple of hours ago I was on an international radio show with Tom Orlik, the smart Beijing-based Chief Asia Economist for Bloomberg Intelligence. It was nice of them to notice and congratulate me on my calls for financial markets since I last spoke on air. I believe that knowing Tom was going to be more sanguine about the world than I, they were hoping for a bit of a sparring match. I really don’t think it's very nice when commentators on some channels get quite disrespectful or even rude with each other on air; my goal is always to be respectful and appreciative of the other’s views.

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House on Fire

By Benjamin J. Butler

 

Daegu, South Korea

 

We have just experienced one of the worst starts to a year ever and it really doesn't surprise me. Furthermore both gold AND the US Dollar rose. This is rather ominous to me: could this mean that with the failure of central banks to reflate and the economic data going the wrong way, they will try harder later in the year? And perhaps our elected politicians are now going to try even more radical policies to force us to spend or take away our money?


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