Philippines: Your Best Investment Destination in Asia

The Best Place to Do Business in Asia

Do you want to sit back and relax, feel the cool breeze, spend less and don’t worry about the world? Check online for the Philippines and take a digital tour. It is the best destination in Asia. It has a warm and friendly culture, simple and amenities of technology and business, nice and beautiful women that are educated. Most people speak English. It is safe to be here.

I traveled in Asia — Hongkong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The Philippines still has the best to offer to business investors or a nice vacation in a relaxing atmosphere that you forget the rat race. When you enter the airport, there’s a pretty active dynamics; something cool attracts your attention — the smiles you see in everyone including strangers.

When you get to your car and hotel, you feel like a king or queen. The staff’s natural way of giving you their best is felt in how they handle all your concerns. It is easy to walk around and feel you have lived here for quite some time.

Manila City offers you a rich history of the American and Spanish influence of the Philippine history — seeing the old buildings and parks enhanced over time. You will see the glorious Manila Bay sunset that enthralls the souls of locals and tourists as a wonder of the world. What used to be Dewey Boulevard has been reclaimed since 1978 and is bustling with business establishments including the famous Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Film Center, and a little farther ahead, the world-renowned Manila Hotel.

Makati City is the business and financial district that offers the most modern amenities of business and lifestyle with cost much lower in Asia. You can have a luxury buffet at the price of less than $10, fashionable clothes for almost a song. You see call centers, BPO’s, embassies and multinational companies strong in the business community. Your change in business or careers is here.

Check the resorts of Boracay, Batangas, Palawan, Cebu, Iloilo and a lot more idyllic places that only your soul can relish the gift of solitude in a cool crowd or a private sanctuary. Splurge on a vacation without spending a fortune. You will surely get your money’s worth when you watch the Manila sunset or get a nice slow exotic tan you will never forget for the rest of your life.

Green Shares: A Compilation of Moral Investments

According to the liberal theories of Adam Smith, in order to maximize efficiency in the production process, a commodity must be produced in the cheapest manner possible. Because of this theorem, industrial giants have often put economic efficiency before personal ecological responsibility. As a direct result, investment money, which is always geared by efficiency and profits, often makes its way into the hands of immorally wasteful companies.

Thanks to advances in both ecological awareness and in technology, however, today there are alternatives for the green-wise investor. The companies that will be discussed in this paper have found a way to efficiently produce goods while still remaining ecologically responsible. Green companies, as they are called, give investors an opportunity to invest not only in their own economic futures, but also in the future of their planet2.

British Petroleum (BP)

In 1954, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) became the British Petroleum company as an American coup d’état removed then Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadeq from office. Before the coup, oil industry in Iran was shared between the British and Iranians. After attempts to nationalize the oil industry in 1950 and 1953 by the Iranians, however, the British needed a way to preserve their seat in Iranian oil politics. In order to achieve this, the British enlisted the help of the United States. By planting bogus evidence of communist activity on Mossadeq, the British engineered the removal of Mossadeq from Iranian office by the United States. He was replaced with the pro-Western Iranian general Fazlollah Khomeini, who would allow Britain to remain at the summit of the world’s oil industry.

British Petroleum has often benefited as a result of shady business enterprises. In 1969, BP acquired the Valdez Oil Terminal of Alaska for $1 from Chugach natives inhabiting the area surround Prince William Sound. To this day, natives of the surrounding area contend that the transaction was illegal and not agreed upon by the Chugachian people. In another example of BP corporate malfeasance, as a reaction to the Thatcher-driven privatization of the company, Kuwait claimed part ownership of BP in 1984. These claims were largely ignored by the British government. Whereas this privatization had a crippling effect on the oil-reliant Kuwaiti economy, however, it had an altogether different effect on waste reduction efforts taken by BP.

As a result of privatization, BP efforts towards becoming environmentally friendly increased. In 2005, the main oil division of BP, Innovene, was sold to Ineos, a privately owned British chemical company. As a result of losing it’s main oil division, research and development in BP was shifted away from efficient oil production towards the production of environmentally friendly energy sources. Locally, BP has created an alternative fuel division in Whiting, Indiana. In order to inspire creation of the factory, Indiana legislators agreed to allow BP to dump up to 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge into Lake Michigan – every day. In spite of this state allowance that would undoubtedly have translated into improved efficiency for BP, however, BP’s website claims that “the BP Whiting Refinery does not and will not dump sludge or toxic waste into Lake Michigan.” As the example indicates, BP has certainly grown beyond it’s roots in capitalism towards becoming an ecologically responsible company.

Today, research of alternative energy sources by BP includes solar energy and fuel cell energy research. reports that “BP has built a substantial solar energy division, which made a profit for the first time in 2004 and increased global sales of solar capacity by more than 30%.” Future residual effects of this successful expansion into the solar energy field will undoubtedly include inspiring other companies to look into the research of alternative energy sources. Where there is net profit, there will be competition.

Elementary economics has shown that becoming green is another way of saying becoming inefficient. If this was true in the case of British Petroleum, inefficiencies would be reflected most profoundly in the price of company share value. In December of 1995, British petroleum closed on the market with a share value of $20. In December of 2003, BP ended the fiscal year with an individual share value of $40. As of writing this paper, the share price of BP is $72.74 per share. This data shows that since 1995, BP has typically doubled every five years. Any investment guru will tell you to bet the house on a stock that doubles in value every five years. But what chances does British Petroleum have at continued growth in the presence of stricter air pollution regulations?

The popularization of environmental friendliness in recent years has placed new emphasis upon the importance of developing alternative fuel sources. Since Carbon Dioxide released as a byproduct of oil burning is the foremost contributor to global warming, this has meant an industrial shift away from excessive oil usage. Similarly, higher gas prices as a result of worldwide oil shortages have given new potential to developers of alternative fuel sources. For these reasons, it is highly likely that BP will continue expansion into the next decade, even if not at the rate of doubling every five years. British Petroleum therefore receives the author’s certification as a fiscally and environmentally responsible choice for the everyday investor.


To economic gurus of the past, it would be a logical assumption that no environmentally friendly company could reach the summits of capitalism. Citigroup stands as a stunning counterexample to this assumption.

Citigroup formed in 1998 as a result of a $140 billion merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group. It is composed largely of financial institutions, including Citibank banking and Ameriprise investments. In March 2007, the Forbes 2000 declared Citigroup the largest company in the world. Contrary to the teachings of traditional economics, however, this financial success has not been at the cost of environmental friendliness.

Whereas globalization usually means destruction of the environment, Citigroup has worked towards reducing the effects of it’s expansion. Most recent green efforts by Citigroup include a 2007 donation of $50 billion to the research of renewable energy sources. Among the sources being developed, Citigroup has put special emphasis on the research of wind and solar energies, often considered the most promising of all alternative fuel sources. In Manila, Philippines, Citigroup has worked with SM supermarkets (one of the largest supermarket chains in the Philippines) to revolutionize the grocery shopping industry. Under the joint program, Citibank credit card users receive free “GreenBag” shopping bags in reward for purchases. According to Bea Tan, Citibank’s Cards Business Director, these bags will replace “plastic bags and other non-biodegradable products [that] not only endanger marine life, but are also hazards during the rainy season and the cause of many floods in the Philippines.” Achieving environmental friendliness is another success in the history of the world’s largest company.

As a result of Citigroup’s worldwide success, it’s share value has shown continually promising growth since 1997. Citigroup’s induction to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), a compilation of the thirty leaders of enterprise in the United States, stands as a testament to the financial success of the company. Among others, AT&T, Johnson and Johnson, and McDonald’s are all included in the DJIA. Empirical analysis of the stock reaffirms Wall Street’s classification of Citigroup in the Dow Jones.

In addition to individual share price, Price/Earnings (P/E) ratio reveals an important indicator of stock potential. P/E ratio is calculated by dividing the price of one share of a stock by the earnings of that stock during the past year. In layman’s terms, P/E ratio reveals how long each share of a stock must be held in order to see a profit from ownership of the annuity. If a company’s P/E ratio is too high, this means it’s price is high in comparison to it’s earnings, and the stock is therefore a bad investment. If a company’s P/E is too low, this means that while it’s shares are inexpensive, the company has limited earning potential.

Comparison of historical Citigroup P/E data shows promise for future investors. Over the past ten years, Citigroup’s P/E ratio has declined from over twenty to where it stands today at around nine. Whereas ten years ago Citigroup stock was overvalued by buyers because of the company’s obvious growth potential, a recent lowering of share value has opened new doors to investors. This new affordability of Citigroup shares in combination with the company’s historic success gives Citigroup (C) this author’s certification as an environmentally and fiscally friendly stock choice.

European Climate Exchange (ECX)

Worldwide anti-pollution measures have lead to the creation of institutions that oversee the exchange of pollution credits. These credits, most valuably in the form of “carbon credits,” are issued to companies by local governments, and restrict the amount of legal air-pollutants that a company may release. For each credit, a company is allowed to release one ton of carbon dioxide. Since air pollution is proportional and large companies often produce the most air pollutions, smaller companies with unused carbon credits may sell them to larger companies.

In Europe, the creation of carbon credits has lead to the creation of the European Climate Exchange. Since it’s launch in 2005, the ECX has been responsible for the exchange of nearly 1.3 billion tons of carbon credits, whose total worth is around €24 billion ($35 billion)7. Because the ECX provides companies the ability to increase profits by decreasing wastefulness, the ECX figures to play an integral role in encouraging companies to join the green revolution. The ECX’s potential, however, is not limited to reducing worldwide pollution.

ECX has shown enormous financial growth potential as a result of stricter worldwide pollution regulations. This can be seen most obviously by a skyrocketing of ECX individual share values during recent years. At the beginning of the current fiscal year in January 2007, the individual share price for ECX was valued at around $1070 per share. Today, as of nearly one year later (December 2007), the stock is valued at $2,500 per share. In little over a year, the value of ECX shares has increased nearly 250%. As pollutant-regulating legislation will only become stricter in years to come, the value of ECX stock should continue to rise. Because of this, ECX (CLE.L­) receives the author’s certification as a green share with enormous investment potential.

Ceres Power

Like many other companies in the world, Ceres Power was created in order to exploit technology discovered through research at a university. Traditionally speaking, this exploitation of technology has often translated into the corporate exploitation of nature. In the case of Ceres Power, however, the technology being exploited will greatly reduce the negative effects that humans have on the environment.

Professor Brian Steele, a professor of chemistry at Imperial College in London, first discovered the process of combining fuel cells with anti-oxidants in order to eliminate waste. In this process, special holding cells are able to harness the atomic energy of hydrogen. As energy is released by the hydrogen, a lack of oxygen in the fuel cells prevents the creation of carbon dioxide as a byproduct. This works to effectively limit waste, creating only oxygen and water as byproducts. By eliminating harmful carbon-based byproducts and still providing cheap energy, fuel cell technology promises to become an important alternative fuel source.

Ceres Power takes advantage of fuel cell technology by offering consumers a household water-heater that harnesses wasteful byproducts to create electricity. The heater uses energy produced by the aforementioned hydrogen fuel cells to heat water, and converts any steam byproduct into electricity. By allowing consumers to reduce energy use and therefore their effect on the environment, Ceres Power has found a way to escape an economic axiom that theoretically prevents the success of environmentally friendly businesses.

Similar to the European Climate Exchange, historic stock quotes for Ceres Power reveal the company’s investment potential. While in 2005 it was subsidized by the European Union to prevent bankruptcy, since then, the value of each Ceres Power share has grown to $592. The high price of the stock should not work to deter investment, however. Of the eight fiscal quarters that Ceres Power has been in existence, only one quarter has translated into financial loss for investors. In addition, the products of Ceres Power have gone largely unmarketed in places other than Britain. With further development and expansion into foreign markets coming in the near future, Ceres Power shares look to increase in value for years to come.


Because of it’s abundance and potential as an energy source, oil has seen widespread industrial use. The long-term overuse of oil as an energy source, however, has revealed some problems with initial assumptions about the infallibility of oil.

Before industrialization around 1750, concentration of carbon dioxide in the troposphere was calculated to be 280 ppm. Currently, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at 377.3 ppm. Because it is the most significant of the green house gases, growth of carbon dioxide at the same level for the next 250 years would cause the temperature of Earth to rise over fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Significant heightening of the Earth’s temperature could in turn lead to glacial melting, worldwide flooding as a result of rising sea levels, and the occurrence of another ice age. Based on recent shifts in consumer and producer attitudes towards environmentalism, however, oil is not likely to cause the ruination of the Earth.

Technological advances in the field of alternative energies reflect a changing economic and political atmosphere in the world. National as well as economic laws are being revamped to reward green companies. Legislatively, the creation of a carbon credit system signifies the emergence of a generation of innovative, environmentally protective laws. This carbon credit system makes the cost of polluting higher for companies than that of simply developing green production processes, and provides economic benefits to companies that overcome the initial expenses of becoming green friendly. Today, because environmental protection laws are making waste expensive, green companies experience both direct and indirect benefits. As a direct benefit, more stringent pollution legislation has often meant the large-scale success of green companies. Before air pollution legislation in the form of the 1963 Clean Air Act, companies had no reason to risk efficiency in order to limit pollution. Creation of the law, however, and the successive creations of stricter Clean Air acts in 1967, 1970, 1977, and 1990, have forced companies to limit pollutant byproducts or face financial repercussion. Because of these laws and others that hold companies financially responsible for the impact they have on the environment, oil use has been largely reduced in industry.

In the case of Ceres Power, whose development of the hydrogen-powered water heater has lead to financial success, the research of alternative fuel sources has been highly lucrative. For non-energy producing companies, conversion to the production of machines that utilize alternative fuels can also mean success. To Toyota, this has meant the sale of one million hybrid cars since 1998. Elsewhere, donations by brokerage firms like Goldman Sachs to the creation of green friendly offices ($2.4 billion) reveal the importance of environmentally friendly business practices in the mind of today’s consumer.

Based on warming corporate and public attitudes towards environmental friendliness, the conventional economic wisdom that a green production process means red in the business prospectus is no longer true. In today’s world of environmentally friendly producers, there are many available green companies that provide investors with highly lucrative and moral investment opportunities. Those discussed in the paper represent only a very small percentage of available green friendly investment choices.


Mutual Funds and Other Investment Ideas for Graduate Students

Money Money Money!

So you have a little bit of money, and you want a lot of it . You have read the first article of this series but those “safe” investments just are not going to grow your money fast enough! Unfortunately, being a graduate student means that you do not have the dough to finance your own oil drilling expedition. Instead of hitting the Vegas Blackjack tables, some of my classmates have written in questions on how to get involved in more legitimate aggressive investments. I am definitely not a professional financial advisor. However, I hope that being a graduate student, I can comment more relevantly on the specific financial issues that graduate students face. My answers are based on a handful of business classes and my own experience creating and managing my own portfolios.

I’m a typical graduate student with limited funds for investing. Should I invest in stocks or mutual funds?
Mutual funds are a better choice than individual stocks if you do not have a lot of money to invest. The general rule of thumb is that it takes at least $50,000 in order to have a well-diversified portfolio of stocks without eating up all your money in transaction fees (fees paid to the brokerage for each buy or sell transaction). Each mutual fund will generally invest in many stocks (or bonds), so you do not have to buy each stock for yourself. The two main reasons mutual funds are great is that they can help you diversify and many don’t have fees to buy and sell them.

Why diversify?
Well, you could be the guy who invested only in Google (GOOG) and got fabulously rich, or you could be the guy who only invested in Enron which went bankrupt. Having many different stocks or different types of investments spreads out your risk. It is just common sense not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Of course, that leads to the question of how many baskets is enough? Two? Ten?
That is the tough part. I could tell you how to model each stock/investment as an equation and calculate the amount of decrease in risk each new investment will bring, but I do not know many personal investors who actually bother doing that. Just try to have holdings in different companies and different industries, small companies and big companies, investments which will rise even if the economy or dollar falls (hedge funds), fixed-income (bonds, CDs, etc.) as well as equity (stocks or mutual funds) holdings. If you have got all that, you are pretty well set, and you can also try diversifying to international holdings.

Since some investments rise in value while others fall, the main goal of diversification is to smooth out the volatility of the overall return from a portfolio. Diversification sacrifices some of the upside potential, but this should be more than offset by the benefits of a lower level of risk.

How do I choose a brokerage firm and mutual fund?. Do I need a financial advisor?

Choosing Brokerage Firms
If you plan on investing in many mutual funds, I highly recommend Vanguard for your mutual fund account. Mutual funds sometimes have a buy-in fee (which can be thousands of dollars), but Vanguard has the largest selection of “no-load” funds (no buy-in fee). However, Vanguard’s brokerage services are ridiculously expensive, so if you plan on buying individual stocks, I would suggest also opening a separate brokerage account at a different firm. I have my brokerage account at Charles Schwab. However, I do not recommend Schwab for the average graduate student because it is only a good deal (on price per trades) if you have a large account or can link to your family’s household account. There are many discount brokerage firms (if you do not need the personal attention and advisement of full-service brokerage firms). I think the most important features in a discount brokerage firm are the fee structure (the price per trade can vary depending on the type of trade e.g. limit, stop, stop limit, market order), if they have an annual fee, and ease of use. Research tools are a bonus though you can always do your stock/mutual fund research at another site such as

Choosing Mutual Funds
I do not have a financial advisor and generally pick mutual funds on my own. In looking at mutual funds, you should look for a lower (management) expense ratio or MER (the cost to keep-up the fund – such as the fund manager’s fees or administrative costs). As I mentioned above, you also want to watch out for the fees to buy and sell the fund as well as the minimum amount required to buy in. Many brokerage firms offer fund screeners where you can search by category, fund ratings, minimums, expense ratios, etc. to help filter through the numerous mutual funds out there. is a tool offered by Morningstar, a well-known investment research firm. The Mutual Fund Education Alliance is the not-for-profit trade association of the no-load mutual fund industry. They also have a tool for searching for no-load funds at is a great place to find mutual fund information and includes a list of the top performing funds in each category. You should also look at the prospectus for any mutual fund you’re considering investing in. The prospectus describes the fund’s goals, holdings, etc.

Another way to use mutual funds is to round out one’s portfolio by picking them for specific purposes. For example, one could buy an inflation protected fund since inflation has been rising over the last year. The idea of such a fund is that it generally stays around the same price, but the yield is adjusted for inflation. So, it is not something you would trade in and out of, but hold for the long term. Almost every brokerage firm should have one, such as VIPSX (a Vanguard fund) or ACITX (a Schwab fund). Bear funds, such as BEARX, are good hedge funds if you want protection against stock market declines. Broad market index funds will track the market such as SPY(also cutely termed spyders), which tracks the S&P500 and QQQQ, which tracks Nasdaq.

There are a range of tax-advantaged mutual funds including tax-free munipical bond funds. These generally have lower returns in exchange for a lower tax burden. However, I do not recommend them for graduates students since we are in a low tax bracket anyways. These should also never be held in a retirement account (e.g. IRA, 401K) because you would just be wasting the tax advantage.

Hopefully this bird’s eye view of mutual funds and portfolio building will pique your interest to further explore the various ways to invest your hard-earned money. Everyone’s financial situation is different. For some of you, this article will be as elementary as pipetting basics. While for others, this might not even be financially feasible. Your investment plan should be geared towards your own needs and personality.

So if you are stuck inside, and you do not feel like doing that maxiprep, I hope that this information will help you to try your hand at the stock market.