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Quick Thought Of The Week: Underwhelmed

Brian-Hillegas-Flickr

Let’s not confuse politics with economics and investing, especially after the historic Kim-Trump handshake on the idyllic island of Sentosa.

From a political perspective, the event was underwhelming. But that would depend which angle you are looking at it from.

The US would like to think that it walked away with a good deal. But it got close to nothing. North Korea, and the power behind it, China, on the other hand walked away with everything. Such is the art of the spiel.

This meeting between the two once-sworn enemies, we should never forget, was staged managed with absolute perfection….

…. the orchestration of the event, right down to the late-night whistle-stop tour of Marina Bay Sands just hours before the much-awaited photo-op at Capella, was conducted with meticulousness PR precision….

…. Just think: 11pm Singapore time is mid-morning in New York and late afternoon in Europe. Perfect timing for television audiences in the West.

And why not? There was a lot of spin at stake. And we, together with thousands of journalists who had descended onto Singapore, not to mention millions around the world, lapped it up.

Let’s not kid ourselves that the walkabout was for our benefit, or that Kim has suddenly taken an interest in orchids. It was to show the G7 members that China has won, and the Group of Seven has lost.

Someone, somewhere, has been playing the White House for a chump. And the White House fell for it.

The markets have taken a different view, though.

They have not exactly cheered the outcome of the summit to the rafters. If anything, they are more circumspect.

They know that the current US administration can change its mind faster than it can change its staff.

Let me digress for a moment….

…. I was delayed on Scott’s Road on Sunday afternoon because the busy thoroughfare was closed to all traffic awaiting Kim’s motorcade from Paya Lebar to his hotel. Standing next to me was a shopkeeper who like other onlookers were hoping to catch a glimpse of the North Korean leader.

The procession of vehicles took ages to arrive. And the shopkeeper couldn’t wait any longer. He told his friend he had to go back to mind the store.

That is both sobering and instructive.

We, too, should be minding our store. So, focus on the things that matter. Revenue matters; profits matter and cash flow matter, more than anything else.

The shopkeeper has got it right. Look after your rice bowl because nobody else is going to look after it for you.

A vrsion of this weekly article is published on Stock Advisor Singapore and Stock Advisor Gold.

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