Investment Strategy: Palm Oil & the Africa Connection

There has been a lot of talk about Palm oil, fueled mostly by the meteoric rise of palm oil futures on the back of demand from — where else — China and India.  Red Palm oil is cold-pressed and bottled as cooking oil;  blended into mayonnaise & salad oil;  even fortified into health foods & anti-aging cosmetics.  The main global trade of the product is through RBDPO Continue reading “Investment Strategy: Palm Oil & the Africa Connection”


Trade Notes: Milk Most Likely to go the way of Onions in India

Manmohan Singh, current prime minister of India.
Image via Wikipedia

I’d mentioned as long ago as March that milk prices are likely to spike higher.  The Economic Times delivered to my hotel room in Kolkata suggests this is coming true

After vegetables, now milk will also pinch consumers, as Gujarat‘s largest milk producer, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) marketing dairy products under the brand ‘Amul‘ on Tuesday announced a pan-India hike in milk prices by Rs 2 per litre. Continue reading “Trade Notes: Milk Most Likely to go the way of Onions in India”

Trade Notes: Stay Long Russia or Edge Towards the Door?

THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. With President-Elect Dmit...
Image via Wikipedia

Around 2007, Tim Rogers —  Valartis’ MC Russian Market Fund PM — said something very interesting about prospects in Russia.  He thought the days of making a killing just by picking under-appreciated Russian companies (i.e., pretty much any Russian company) were pretty much gone after the third level of privatizations.

Henceforth, the managers would have to make money the hard way:  by really working on picking the few remaining gems.  He’s no longer at Valartis, but it would be interesting to see how he would manage now. Continue reading “Trade Notes: Stay Long Russia or Edge Towards the Door?”

Background: Whatever Happened to Tim Rogers?

Geneva at Night

Tim Rogers used to manage the MC Russian Market Fund for Valartis out of Geneva.  I first met him in 2005-6, invested in his fund(s) soon afterward and love the guy as a good solid manager who — perhaps unsurprisingly for a Canadian — is also a very nice guy.  He came to fund management and Russia investment in a rather roundabout way.

In the early/mid 90’s his girlfriend (he tells this story to a lot of investors, so I’m not breaching any confidences) wanted to travel overland from Hong Kong to Geneva.  A large part of this trip necessitated train travel through Yeltsin’s Russia.  The energy of the place then got him thinking about investing in the newly-privatized parts of Russian industry. Continue reading “Background: Whatever Happened to Tim Rogers?”

Trade Notes: buy Louis Dreyfus?

This is a much older story, first breaking in late September that has since gone into silent mode — probably as the deal-making is done or is killed by the majority owner.  Essentially, the 150-year old trader Louis Dreyfus Commodities is hoping to reinvent itself from a flow-trader agency trading commodities to someone who can bet its own balance sheet.  Continue reading “Trade Notes: buy Louis Dreyfus?”

Background: Burma’s “Election” and Possible Military Noise

Burma’s military government has slated nationwide parliamentary elections for November 7.  Well, nationwide except for the

more than 3,300 villages located near conflict zones where the lumbering civil wars between the state forces and ethnic armies have never ceased. At least 110,000 internally displaced people live in these regions, many of them in hiding and on the run from the Burmese army. Another 140,000 subsist in refugee camps up and down the Thai-Myanmar border. Continue reading “Background: Burma’s “Election” and Possible Military Noise”

Trade Notes: Buy Coal India?

coal mine in India
Image via Wikipedia

The head of Coal India’s IT department told me a remarkable story in the mid-1990s.  They had started putting the CV’s of all their employees (about 800,00 of them, though the numbers were a bit imprecise) into what they called the world’s largest employee database.  That’s when they’d found that some of their employees, if alive, should be more than a century old.

Turns out some of the coolies (the people who would be physically transporting the coal) and other laborers had been transferring employment from father to son and so on.  Each coolie had a medallion as an identity piece, as long as you had one, you could work and you could get paid.  Continue reading “Trade Notes: Buy Coal India?”