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Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
The Real Estate Market is just not real, part 3
Finally, the final installment of our look at the real estate
Asset Protection Schemes are not unique to the UK. America
has agreed to underwrite securitized real estate debt and, unbelievably, relaxed
the rules on defaults. Ireland also has its equivalent which will buy GBP70
billion of bad property loans. It has to be said that these governments do not
really care about real estate per se or the people in it but they do worry about
the banks and bankers. By taking the steps they have these governments have
saved a possible large scale foreclosure on commercial developments. However,
this does not stop the problems that occur when a property becomes vacant as
this interferes with rental income usually used to pay off debt. In 2009 the
European commercial property debt maturity schedule is USD65 billion. In two
years time it will be over USD150 billion and in 2012 it will be over USD160
billion (perhaps the movie is right and it really is the end of the world!).
It is the income which is the most important thing for the
banks. If interest is not paid then they become worried as yet more losses will
be incurred by borrowers who have lost income from the failure of the businesses
which they have rented out their properties to.
It is not necessarily the LTV which the banks are worried
about but if interest loans are not repaid as they should be then the bank has
to account for them in other ways. As Ian Marcus of Credit Suisse says, “A
serious impact from tenant default means that any borrower will have significant
difficulties in refinancing their debt.”
This is one of the main problems and is a massive obstacle to
overcome for those who lend on property. Nearly GBP1,000 billion of commercial
mortgage debt will mature by 2014 and GBP330 billion of it is in Europe. This is
just huge and the problems will just compound if there is no money to cover all
these loans as and when they come up for renewal. Banks will try and roll these
loans over where possible if for no other reason than not to have them in the
loss side of the balance book. Naturally, they will also increase the
commissions earned for doing this. The problem is that this does not reduce the
risk that the real estate sector has.
One group of analysts believes that GBP100 billion will be
required to revitalize the property market in Britain, and in doing this,
reducing the LTV to a sustainable ratio. However, the downside in this strategy
is that negative equity could be around for anything up to ten years.
What does all of this mean? Well, as you can see from the
above figures, the maths is simple. The real estate sector is up that well known
creek without a paddle. This will take years to sort out and basically reverts
to the old fashioned idea of when someone lends something then they want their
money back, preferably with some interest. If this does not happen then there
Is there any hope? Well, a good property recovery would help.
Indeed, in H2 of 2009, there was an increase in the price of commercial premises
but this was really due to the demand for prime property. It is all the property
that is not classified as ‘prime’ which is the problem. It will be almost
impossible to refinance this until the market gets better. This brings in the
real estate Catch 22: the banks want to offload bad property debt but cannot
afford to do so and the real estate companies want property but are not prepared
to pay what they bank wants. Unless a compromise is made then repossessed
buildings are going to stay on a bank’s books for a long time.
People are already looking at different possibilities to get
us out of this hole and will look at such options as REITS and Property Funds.
Also, for those who are brave, offering loans should be very profitable at the
There is already one fund which is available which will
protect against any further drops in the market. As I agree with two recent
reports (Fitch and Capital Economics) which are forecasting a minimum fall of
15% in the price of UK property over the next two years, I heartily recommend
it. It is called the UK Property Protector Fund. This is a unique product that
is designed to benefit anyone who has property assets in the UK. The product
acts as both an investment and an insurance solution, which protects UK property
owners against the loss of equity due to falling house prices by acting as a
hedge that relates directly to the UK House Price Index. Property Protector is
intended to secure the current value of UK property assets, whilst also giving
investors the opportunity to benefit from the depreciating UK property market.
It should make up a small part of your diversified portfolio.
The above data and research was compiled from sources
believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its
officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above
article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any
actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For
more information please contact Graham Macdonald on firstname.lastname@example.org
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
Sod’s Law and SD cards
received the email below, following the publishing of my article on SD
cards and electronic traps for young players a couple of weeks back.
Hi again Harry,
Always great to read your column on a Friday. I may
not take great photos, but I do have a lot of experience with SD cards!
My latest triumph being the recovery of most of a
friend’s son’s wedding photos after problems with the card, which may
have arisen from constant deleting, rather than regular downloading all
photos to a computer and re-formatting/re-partitioning the card
I have read several times that constant deleting can
cause a variety of problems with cards.
I always advise frequent downloading of SD cards and
IMMEDIATE backup of all photos onto another, preferably external,
storage device - I usually suggest a USB thumb drive as they are so
cheap - but I use an external hard disk myself, which contains back ups
of other files.
(The necessary SD/USB adaptor is available in shops
here for as little as B50! I advise buying two at that price - if one
Then I recommend formatting of the card in camera -
again immediately to “Format (Card)” which is simple to find in the
menus of many small cameras now.
Finally I advise the purchase of a second SD card as
soon as possible - not just for “overflow” - but it is not unknown for
SD cards to corrupt beyond recovery - very rare, but “Sod’s Law” always
“Belt and Braces” approach, I know, but it saves a
lot of woe - and me sweating trying to recover images!
Thank you, Don, you are certainly a very loyal
reader, and since you like to shoot in the ‘RAW’ format, as you told me
in February, I am sure you do take some “great photos”, so don’t be so
Yes, “Sod’s Law” does exist and seems particularly
apt in photography. Batteries will always go flat as you are about to
take the world’s best photograph of … fill in your own details…! You
press the “Delete All” button, when you meant to delete one shot only.
My favorite is the shot you decide to come back to take tomorrow when
the light will be better, and it rains for three weeks non-stop. And
when the sun actually does come out, somebody has removed the item you
wanted to photograph.
Now I know there are people out there who say that
Murphy’s Law is quite different from Sod’s Law, but I think the
terminology is inter-changeable. But there are other laws which you will
recognize, so enjoy these.
Sod’s law, also known as Murphy’s law. If anything
can go wrong, it will.
O’Toole’s commentary on Murphy’s law. Murphy was an
The first corollary to Sod’s Law. Anything that is to
go wrong will do so at the worst possible moment.
The unspeakable law. As soon as you mention
something, if it’s good, it goes away; if it’s bad, it happens.
Non-reciprocal laws of expectations. Negative
expectations yield negative results. Positive expectations yield
Howe’s law. Every man has a scheme which will not
Zymurgy’s first law of evolving system dynamics. Once
you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is to use a larger
Skinner’s constant. The quantity which must be
multiplied by, divided by, added to or subtracted from the answer you
get to give the answer you should have got.
Law of selective gravity. An object will fall so as
to do the most damage.
Jenning’s corollary. The chance of the bread falling
with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the
Barth’s distinction. There are two types of people:
those who divide people into two types and those who do not.
Ninety-ninety rule of project schedules. The first
90% of the job takes 90% of the time, the last 10% takes the other 90%.
Farber’s rule. Necessity is the mother of strange
So this week you have had some words of wisdom on SD cards, and a
smile as well. Happy snapping!
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Buying drugs from Internet “pharmacies”
Around 12 months ago I wrote on this subject and finished by
saying ‘Caveat Emptor’ (let the buyer beware) as there are many ‘copy drugs’
out there. But one article doesn’t stop them. Every day I receive at least
four email offers of cut-price drugs that will keep me in a state of
perpetual priapism. For those unsure of this condition, it is a state of
continuing (and painful) male erection and the term was coined after the
Greek god Priapus who is shown in paintings to have a central member similar
to the fifth leg of the elephant.
However, this is actually a serious situation. If most
drugs are only available through pharmacies world-wide, on the prescription
of a doctor, is it safe to just buy over the Internet, without any doctor’s
I believe it is not safe. As the American Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) reports in its website, “Patients who buy prescription
drugs from websites operating outside the law are at increased risk of
suffering life-threatening adverse events, such as side effects from
inappropriately prescribed medications, dangerous drug interactions,
contaminated drugs, and impure or unknown ingredients found in unapproved
The FDA goes on to warn “… certain drugs be dispensed
only with a valid prescription because they are not safe for use without the
supervision of a licensed health care practitioner. Generally, before the
practitioner issues a prescription for a drug the patient has never taken
before, he or she must first examine the patient to determine the
appropriate treatment. Subsequently, the patient receives the drug from a
registered pharmacist working in a licensed pharmacy that meets state
practice standards.” That situation is certainly not the case when you look
at buying blue diamonds over the ‘net, is it?
The incidence of internet pseudo-pharmacies is also very
high. In the US, according to the American Medical Association, there are at
least 400 web sites that both dispense and offer a prescribing service -
half of these sites are located in foreign countries. Some have estimated
that the number of websites selling prescription drugs may now be closer to
As far as I can see it, one of the big problems is the
lack of regulation that these “net pharmacies” work under. Are the blue
diamonds ‘real’ Vitamin V?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has
been fighting drug counterfeiting since it became a major threat in the
1980s. The problem was first noticed by the pharmaceutical industry. They
saw that their own products were being copied, and it went on from there.
In fact, the WHO estimates that 25 percent of medications
bought in street markets in developing countries are fake. My own experience
in some of the poorer SE Asian countries has been that another 50 percent
are real but out of date, leaving around 25 percent genuine manufacturer’s
Some authors say that the figures are even worse than
that. An international study published in Tropical Medicine and
International Health found that 53 percent of Artesunate tablet packs sold
in the region did not contain Artesunate. And Artesunate is a vital
antimalarial drug. You can see the danger.
The reports come in from all over the world. The WHO
cited the case of a counterfeit iron preparation that has killed pregnant
women in Argentina in the last two years. Hundreds of children in Bangladesh
suffered kidney failure and many died due to a fake paracetamol syrup
diluted with diethylene glycol, according to a study published in the BMJ in
The FDA in the US estimates that worldwide sales of fake
drugs exceed USD 3.5 billion per year, according to a paper published in
April 2005. The Center for Medicines in the Public Interest in the US
predicts that counterfeit drug sales could reach USD 75 billion globally in
2010 if action is not taken to curb the trade.
According to WHO, drugs commonly counterfeited include
antibiotics, antimalarials, hormones and steroids. Anticancer and antiviral
drugs are also faked. And yes, the ‘blue diamonds’. Never forget the phrase
“Caveat emptor” (Let the buyer beware).
You have been warned. Get your medications on
prescription from a pharmacy you can trust.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Times have gotten tough since my girlfriend’s sponsor quit
sending her money for the buffaloe (sic) which had horrible stomach
problems. I have had to resort to drinking cheap beer from the 7-11 and sitting
on the curb with my boys. I have lost respect with them. I am hoping that her
benefactor didn’t do anything rash like jumping from a balcony (UFF -
Unidentified Flying Farang) or spending his money on something foolish like food
and clothes. Anyway, I have started walking on the opposite side of the street
when passing high buildings until my girl makes another contact. Wish me luck.
Dear Singha Jerry,
Times are tough everywhere, my Petal, even for people who
can spell (and you certainly can’t). No wonder the buffalo (no “e” Petal) has
problems. Interested that you have found a 7-11 selling cheap beer. Generally
the convenience stores don’t have the cheapest items in town compared to the
supermarkets, for example. But then, if you are having to walk there,
Tesco’s’/Carrefour/Big C/Foodland might be too far. I wouldn’t worry about the
UFF problems, you are more likely to be hit by a UFS (Unidentified Flying
Songtaew). And as far as wishing you luck - are you kidding? Here you are
pimping on your girlfriend’s “sponsor” as you call him. You don’t need “luck”
Singha Jerry, you need a conscience.
When did you become stucked (sic) to champane (sic)
and chocolates? With that sorta (sic) diet you must weigh about 10 tons
by now. Are you locked in your office because your (sic) to (sic)
fat to get through the doorway? Anyway, we loves you, Hills old fruit, but no
bubbles or chocs from us - we’re thinking of your wasteline (sic).
The Likely Lads
Dear Likely Lads,
I was very tempted to drop this rude, poorly spelled and
dreadfully constructed letter in the round file under my desk, but then I
thought, “Why let this opportunity pass me by? This is my chance to do some good
for someone out there.” So, Likely Lads, listen up. There is no word “stucked”
in the English language. The word you were looking for was “addicted”, but
because it has more than four letters it was probably not in your vocabulary.
Never mind, now you know. The drink is called “champagne” as it comes from the
champagne area of France. That’s a country on the other side of the English
Channel. You may have heard of it. “Sorta” isn’t a word either, what you should
have written was “sort of”. When you want to write “you are”, it is written as
“you’re”. If you use “your” it means something belonging to you. Getting the
message, Lads? And the region of your belly where your belly-button lurks, is
called your “waist”, not your “waste”, which means rubbish. By the way, your
belly-button is an important feature of your waistline. It is for holding the
salt while eating celery in bed. But finally, Petals, my name is Hillary and I
am not “old fruit”. Reserve that term for rotten bananas and the like. So
pleased to have been of service to you. Even though no chocolates or bubbles.
But please don’t write in again until you have mastered Primary 3 English,
that’s good boys.
Can you help please. I am not sure if I have found some
strange culture problem, or maybe I just have too open a face. Do all Thai
people ask you the most personal questions? Things like “How much money you
make? You married yet? Why not? You got girlfriend? You want me to go with you?”
Apart from the fact that this is considered a very rude way of starting a
relationship in the UK, I also find it very embarrassing when I am over here.
How do I get these people to stop doing this? You seem to have the answers for
everyone else, so I hope you have some for me too.
Shy and Retiring
Dear Shy and Retiring,
Or is that Shy and Retired? You have to look at where
these women are who ask such direct questions. My bet is in a bar somewhere.
They are not in the habit of issuing a gilt edged invitation to dinner, hand
inscribed in Ye Olde English. Be real and be thankful that ‘these people’ as you
call them are interested enough in you to even ask questions. There’s only one
thing worse than being a wall-flower at parties, and that’s not being invited at
all. In actual fact, my Petal, those inquiries are very cleverly designed
“standard” bar girl questions to see if you are worthwhile bothering with at
all. If you have no money all interest will be lost immediately. Likewise if you
are married they will want to know if “You marry Thai?” or whether your partner
is waiting faithfully for you back home in the UK, while you contemplate the
unfaithful ideas. Lighten up and when you are asked next time just say, “No
money. Wife take all money to boy bar,” and then laugh a lot. They’ll get the
message and you will be left happily lonely, then you can write me letters
asking why does nobody talk to you!
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Iron Man 2: US, Action/
Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The really big picture of the moment,
playing all over the place. Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Robert
Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Glwyneth Paltrow, Mickey
Rourke, Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany (fresh from “Legion”), Samuel L.
Jackson, and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Seems like it has turned out to
be a wild and lavish, as well as expensive film, that’s a lot of fun.
The wonderful actor Robert Downey Jr. again plays the role of Tony
Stark, the wealthy playboy whose exploits as Iron Man are now public
knowledge after his admission at the close of the first film. Stark is
under pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share
his technology with the military, but he is unwilling to give away too
much. Thai-dubbed at Big C.
Kheaw Ar-Khad / The Intruder: Thai, Horror/
Suspense – It’s payback time when hundreds of cobras attack residents of
an apartment that was built on their breeding ground. The story goes
that when the film was in production last year, two of the actors were
actually bitten by the snakes. Make of that what you will.
Kick-Ass: US/ UK, Action/ Comedy/ Drama – I rather
enjoyed it – uncomfortably. An unnoticed high school student and comic
book fan decides one day to become a super-hero, even though he has no
powers, training, or meaningful reason to do so. Mainly a wild, virtuoso
comic-book adaptation that fizzes with originality, feisty wit, and an
unexpected degree of heart. With Nicolas Cage, to boot. Rated R in the
US for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual
content, nudity, and some drug use - some involving children. 18+ in
Thailand. Generally favorable reviews. Now at Pattaya Beach only.
The Crazies: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A
remake of George Romero’s 1973 film, by director Breck Eisner, the son
of Disney’s Michael Eisner. Definitely not a Disney movie! What is it?
It’s part zombie movie, part apocalyptic bioterror, part military
conspiracy thriller. Reviews say it’s tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly
intelligent. A husband and wife in a small Midwestern town find
themselves battling for survival as their friends and family descend
into madness when a mysterious toxin in the water supply turns everyone
exposed to it into mindless killers and the authorities leave the
uninfected to their certain doom. Rated R in the US for bloody violence
and language; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews. At
Pattaya Beach only.
The Shock Labyrinth 3D: Japan, Horror/ Thriller –
A group of teenagers try to understand the sudden return of a friend who
went missing a decade ago. They revisit a haunted house attraction where
“something horrible” happened to them years ago, only for the weirdness
to start again and trap them in the labyrinthine house. The film and its
setting are inspired by the Labyrinth of Horrors attraction in an
amusement park near the base of Mount Fuji – the largest “haunted house”
in the world. Much of the film was shot on location during the park’s
off hours. At Pattaya Beach only.
Date Night: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance – In New
York City, a case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple’s
attempt at a glamorous and romantic evening into something more
thrilling and dangerous. Starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Mixed or
9 Wat / Secret Sunday: Thai, Suspense/ Horror – A
young man unwillingly takes a journey to visit nine different temples in
order to clean up his bad karma. He is accompanied by his girlfriend and
a young monk to do the chanting. But during the journey horrifying acts
done in their previous lives reveal themselves, and the more they try to
clean up the bad karma by making merit, the closer they get to “THEM.”
Rated 18+ in Thailand.
Legion: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – In
the first minute, the angel Michael falls to earth and then cuts off his
wings. It’s because God gave him a command that he didn’t want to do.
God, you see, has given up on mankind, while Michael thinks there’s
still hope. The first 40 minutes are terrific – evocative and stylish.
Then I suggest you leave. Here’s how they describe it: “After a
terrifying biblical apocalypse descends upon the world, a group of
strangers stranded in a remote truck stop diner in the US Southwest
unwittingly become humanity’s last line of defense when they discover
the diner’s young waitress is pregnant with the messiah.” With a quite
impressive Paul Bettany. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence,
and language. 18+ in Thailand. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Clash of the Titans: UK/ US, Action/ Adventure/
Fantasy – I didn’t find this film any sillier for our time than
the 1981 Ray Harryhausen adventure starring Laurence Olivier was for its
time. I guess it depends on the mood you’re in. Starring Sam Worthington
(the hero of Avatar) as Perseus, Liam Neeson as Zeus, and Ralph
Fiennes as Hades, and I found it fun to see what these actors did when
let loose on these parts. Generally unfavorable reviews. At Pattaya
Beach only, in both 3D and 2D. Note that the 3D is “converted,” i.e.,
not originally shot in 3D.
Green Zone: France/ US/ Spain/ UK, Action/ Drama/
Thriller/ War – Courageous director Paul Greengrass takes on the Bush
and Blair Administrations as he reminds us all, very forcefully, that
there never were “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq and the
governments knew it, and the whole fiction was created as an excuse to
go to war. Starring Matt Damon as a US Army officer who hunts for the
elusive WMD and finds only an elaborate cover-up. Rated R in the US for
violence and language, 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews. At
Major Cineplex only.
Edge of the Empire / Kon Tai Ting Pandin: Thai,
Action/ Drama – A film inspired by Thai historical heroes who sacrificed
their lives to fight against an invasion by the Han tribe. In southern
Mongolia over 1,000 years ago, a small tribe existed called “Tai,” a
colony enslaved by the Great Han. They were the forefathers of the
present-day Thais according to legend, but pretty much this belief has
been disproven. 18+ in Thailand. At Big C only, with English subtitles.
Saranae Sib Lor: Thai, Adventure/ Comedy – With
Mario Maurer of Love of Siam fame, playing a young man whose
father suspects he’s gay and is sent off on a road trip in an old
10-wheel truck to learn how to become a man. Will that do the trick?
Noo Kan Pai: Thai, Action/ Drama – The story of
probably the most famous tattoo artist in Thailand, the darling of young
Thai starlets and international stars. Angelina Jolie will get a tattoo
from no one else! They claim his tattoos impart magical powers, and this
is his story. At Big C, Thai only.
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