Outsourcing Gone Too Far? The Miss Philippines National Costume Drama

Outsourcing is big business. The industry is currently estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.  Companies in countries with high costs will outsource some of their processes in countries where labor and materials are cheaper yet dependable.

But are there limits to what can or cannot be outsourced to another country? Can goods/ services of national and cultural importance be outsourced to foreign entities?

Those questions have been part of a hot topic recently in the Philippines. During the national costume presentation at the Miss Universe pageant in Doral Forida, Miss Phlippines, Mary Jean Lastimosa, wore a national costume that drew mostly negative comments on the internet.

The internet asked “What the hell was that?” Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa’s national costume for the Miss Universe pageant in Doral. Image from Jory Rivera/ OPMB worldwide

 

Some compared her dress to a wedding cake. Some compared her outfit to a multi-flavored ice cream combo. Some compared her outfit to a float filled with flowers. On a more serious note, many questioned the relevance of her outfit to Filipino culture.  Continue reading Outsourcing Gone Too Far? The Miss Philippines National Costume Drama

Despite Russia’s Recent Economic Struggles – Miss Russia Wears Ridiculously Expensive Gowns to the Miss Universe Pageant in Doral

It is no secret that Russia has been on an economic slump lately due to economic sanctions brought about by the United States, Europe and their allies. The drop in crude oil prices makes things even worse.

Russia’s GDP grew by only 0.7% in the third quarter of 2014, and the World Bank projects that the country will go into recession in 2015. The Russian ruble (RUB) already lost about half its value. To counter the ruble slide, the Russian Central Bank raised interest rates to around 17%. Inflation is at around 9%.

But you probably cant’t tell what the Russian economy is going through based on what Miss Russia, Yulia Alipova, has been wearing to the Miss Universe 2014 pageant in Doral, Florida.

For the official evening gown portraits, Yulia wore an Elie Saab haute couture gown. Fashion pundits estimate the gown’s price tag at USD175,000. Yes, the number of zeroes are correct – the gown costs as much as a house. Continue reading Despite Russia’s Recent Economic Struggles – Miss Russia Wears Ridiculously Expensive Gowns to the Miss Universe Pageant in Doral

Opportunity: Miss Universe in Doral Miami

Since this is an investment related blog, it’s only fitting that I see opportunities where there is one.

The 63rd Miss Universe will be held tonight in Florida (tomorrow morning Manila time), where Miss Universe 2014 will be crowned. It is already 2015, so it seems that there has been a slight delay.

 

This blog goes (virtually) to Doral. Image from missuniverse.com

 

A lot of people do not care about pageants anymore, but many people still do – Filipinos and South Americans in particular. To reach out to that audience, I will be posting Miss Universe related investment information.

 

Bienvenidos.

 

Learn more about the actual pageant here. If you are in the area, see if you can still buy tickets here.

 

A Creative Way to Expense Kickbacks?

Many companies, willingly or unwillingly, will have to deal with corrupt entities. The corrupt entity may be from the government or a private firm. To facilitate a deal, get favorable contracts, or secure the necessary permits, kickbacks will have to be given at some point. Though most jurisdictions outlaw the giving of kickbacks, this practice continues to be a way of life for many businesses. Obviously, the cost of the kickbacks is less than the benefit from the deal, or else, there is no point in handing them out. For these companies that give kickbacks, the money is treated as cost of doing business.

To deter this unsavory practice, tax agencies obviously don’t allow kickbacks to be expensed for tax purposes. The practice of giving kickbacks is also a criminal offense. However, for the financially creative, they’ll find ways to go around the restrictions.

A corruption scandal is currently making headlines. One party (OP) is alleging impropriety in a land deal that involved a high ranking official (HO). According to OP, this was how the kickbacks to HO were disbursed. Continue reading A Creative Way to Expense Kickbacks?

Undoubtedly One of the Best and Successful Investments Ever Made by the Boy Scouts?

The title of this post was derived from the statement of Alphaland, a Filipino real estate development company, in response to its alleged involvement in corruption accusations that are currently making headlines in the Philippines.

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) ordered the involuntary delisting of Alphaland in late 2014, citing violation of disclosure rules. Trading of its stocks has been suspended since January 2014.

What is this investment that they speak of? Is it really “the best and successful investment ever made” by the Boy Scout of the Philippines (BSP)?  Continue reading Undoubtedly One of the Best and Successful Investments Ever Made by the Boy Scouts?

What Did Obama Say During His State of the Nation Address? What’s Your Say?

On the 20th of January 2015, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union Address.

“Tonight, we turn the page”, Obama said.

Clap! Clap! President Obama during his State of the Union Address on January 20, 2015. Image from AFP/Getty Images

 

Below are some excerpts from the President’s speech. I made my own comments. How about you? What’s your say?

Continue reading What Did Obama Say During His State of the Nation Address? What’s Your Say?

Overpriced Swiss Watches Become Even Pricier

Switzerland is the home of many watch brands, and of most of the luxury ones.

Breguet Tourbillon watch in Rose Gold priced at around GBP 88K. The owner will probably still look at his smartphone to tell time though. Image from thewatchgallery.com

 

On January 15 2015, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), decided to remove the currency cap on the Swiss Franc (CHF) which kept the CHF artificially low against the Euro (EUR). Investors buy CHF because they consider it as safe haven currency. Because the SNB suddenly will cease the practice of “printing” CHF to buy Euros to support the cap, the CHF appreciated significantly. Before the move by the SNB, CHF:EUR was hovering around 0.80. On January 15, CHF:EUR went past 1.17. As of the writing of this post (January 21 Manila time), CHF:EUR is trading at around 1.0. See CHF:EUR quotes here

This is bad news for the Swiss since exports comprise around 70% of their GDP. Swiss made watches, who many people think are already expensive, will now even be more expensive. Continue reading Overpriced Swiss Watches Become Even Pricier