Tag Archives: Foreign exchange

06/04/2011 TARELV – Equity based property derivatives vs. fractional interests in mortgage notes as a new form of currency? – Part 1

Is the debt form of a claim on a financial asset better or is an equity form of claims on financial assets better to serve as a new form of currency for a sovereign community?  
Before I get to answer that question, I would like to first clarify again that the word “derivative” has been grossly misunderstood and has been mis-used in the media, especially in recent times after the global financial crises had happened.
Generically speaking, the word means what it means. Anything that is derived from something else is a “derivative”. Therefore “money” is in fact the world’s first “financial derivative”. It helped people save the troubles associated with a bartering system to swap goods for goods, to swap services for services or to swap goods for services and vice versa.
Hence the economic utility of a “financial derivative” could easily be understood. It is simply an alternative form of a claim on an asset that may serve better as a medium to swap between claims on different goods or services.
There are different derivatives such as simple derivatives vs. complex derivatives just as there are different types of people, i.e. thin people vs. fat people or care-free persons vs. deep thinkers, etc. There are good derivatives vs. bad derivatives just like there are good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol in our human bodies. There are also derivatives based on equity ownerships vs. derivatives based on loose credit claims just as there are glass-and-steel building built on rock solid foundations vs. tall buildings that were hastily erected on quick sand that may be doomed to collapse.
So to carry on the conversation we would first have to let in those who could distinguish between the intellectual academic meaning of financial derivatives to join the conversation and let out those derivatives-bashers in public media who do not care about knowledge based intellectual pursuits.
The point I wanted to make is not another defense of derivatives but is rather that yes indeed, a currency should in fact be considered a form of a claim and hence a form of “financial derivatives” on certain assets a sovereign community owns. However, that unfortunately has not been the case in our modern world. The paper currencies, regarded as legal tenders and issued by may countries are in fact, very vague on what they are backed by.
The second question is that whether a claim of the equity ownership of financial assets that a country owns is better and safer than a claim on a debt obligation either collateralized on some financial assets or simply on the country’s verbal promise of its ability to pay better and safer.
These will be the subjects that I would like to continue to work on in future blog posts here in the coming months, hopefully with the active participation from many of the SwapRent.com blog readers. I have also set up a new group on Linkedin under the title “TARELV. Please feel free to sign up and leave your comments there as well.  

05/02/2011 The New TARELV backed foreign exchange rate system and SwapRent (SM)

As could be anticipated, SwapRent makes a precise new financial instrument with a robust mathematical model to make the TARELV based new exchange rate system a reality.

With reference to my two earlier blog posts, one on 04/12/2011 A new exchange rate pegging system based on and backed by each country’s total aggregate real estate and land value (TARELV) (http://swaprent.com/blog/2011/04/12/04122011-a-new-exchange-rate-pegging-system-based-on-and-backed-by-each-countrys-total-aggregate-real-estate-and-land-value-tarelv/ ) and the other on 02/20/2011 It is not Keynesian. It is not Monetarist. Perhaps we could call it SwapRentism? Any better suggestions? (http://swaprent.com/blog/2011/02/19/02202011-it-is-not-keynesian-it-is-not-monetarist-perhaps-we-could-call-it-swaprentism-any-better-suggestions/ ) the linkage between an external exchange rate for a country and the internal domestic free market based operation for swapping cash for an economic ownership of real estate could be established.

While the domestic money could sit in the bank deposit accounts to earn interests for any defined maturity date, it could also be turned into a claim on economic real estate ownership for any maturity date and earn a market based rent, i.e. the SwapRent rate through an exchange or a marketplace such as REIDeX. (http://www.REIDeX.com)

As a result, this new free market based operation between cash and real estate exposures could offer the collateral security that a foreign entity would need to gain confidence in holding this country’s external debt in the form of its currency, either in paper notes, coins or electronic bank records.  

The new uninhibited free market based capital market operation between cash and real estate exposures through SwapRent (SM) contracts could offer the enhanced liquidity to the holders and hence further confidence than those offered by the conventional legal forms of real estate and land ownership. A SwapRent (SM) contract could therefore even become a legal tender like the country’s own treasury securities.

04/12/2011 A new exchange rate pegging system based on and backed by each country’s total aggregate real estate and land value (TARELV)

This is an idea that first propped up in my head when I was a junior FX and gold options trader at Chemical Bank in the late 80’s. Puzzled and bewildered by the vague and imprecise ways that global currencies are valued, the quest for a viable alternative method has been with me throughout my entire career in the banking, risk management, financial services and real estate industries.  

While I started the efforts to bring the economic advantages of financial derivatives to the mom and pop home owners after the turn of the millennium, these new exchange rate ideas have become more and more concrete but not at a degree that I could start talking about it without having a fear of being considered eccentric.

Efforts in residential real estate derivatives, institutional commercial property derivatives, SwapRent and then FARJHO have proved to be more acceptable by the masses and practical enough for making a living at the same time than devoting my spare time to creating a new jaw dropping financial instrument for the central banks. Having said that I did not foresee back then that I would be selling the SwapRent related concepts and methods as alternative economic policy management tools to many governments within the past few years either.

Rather than spending time on explaining the various problems of the existing exchange rate systems which are well known to many people already, I thought I should better focus on explaining why a new exchange rate system based on the total aggregate value of a country’s real estate and land could be better. Bear in mind that the proposed method is a suggested valuation methodology that may lead to a more precise and scientific consensus of a fair value of an exchange rate vs. that of any other currencies, the real operation of the exchange rate trading mechanism would of course continue to maintain a free market based operation.

So what are the positive arguments for a new exchange rate system based on a country’s total aggregate real estate value? Here a few starters.

1. First it simply reflects what a currency’s worth is much better with some real substance behind it. Total Aggregate Real Estate and Land Value (TARELV) reflects a country’s wealth better than a GDP number since the real estate value is more a passive investment than a GDP number that has too much volatility due to the human involvement factor. It is the same difference between an investment in a real estate property vs. an investment in a business (securities related). The business activities could go zero like a company stock could go to zero but properties would always maintain their utility value and never become zero. 

2. Legally the real estate property value of a country could better serve as a collateral for the country’s currency (a form of debt) just the same way as a person’s house serves as collateral for his/her mortgage. This could inject the necessary confidence into the foreign persons that hold the country’s currency. This would serve better the financial markets better as the world moves from a one super power dominated monopolistic world to a oligopolistic world that has many economic and political powers. To further appreciate this point, one could simply imagine a person wishes to issue a currency or any negotiable instrument, it is much better if this currency is based on his house as the collateral rather than simply based on his words or his bluffing power. 

3. Real estates and land are better than gold or any other commodities since real estate and land have real utility value. Gold may could go back to become a useless metal when people suddenly start to realize that it is nothing more valuable than a tulip bulb. At most it could become another generic exchange medium like any other precious metals or stones in a barter like system. Its value to back other country’s paper currency from hoarding it does not make any economic sense.

4. The system may be subject to much less opportunities for manipulation by a country’s central bank’s scheming monetary policies or unscrupulous politicians’ wish to artificially depreciate and inflate out of their country’s external debts.

5. This new system would also automatically make the country’s government to direct its national resources to more productive uses to maintain the country’s economic health and steady growth by putting the Main Street economic activities on an even or higher priority with the non-productive financial asset manipulations in stock and bond markets on Wall Street.

6. The fluctuation of the exchange rates based on the real estate and land value would automatically adjust to the economic cycles in a “self-healing” fashion. When the real estate and land value declines and the exchange rate may become weak and hence may make the country’s exports more price competitive and increase its economic activities. It would also attract more foreign capital inflows. When the exchange rate increases vs. other currencies, the reverse would be true. It would become more expensive to export and hence reduced economic activities to prevent inflation from getting out of hand. There would also be more capital outflows based on enhanced investment opportunities in other countries. This would help create more global economic growth harmony since capital will flow to wherever it is cheaper to produce goods due to a temporary relatively weaker economy. This would be very different from the capital flight from a weak economy under the current exchange rate system.

To be continued …..

10/15/2010 Foreign exchange rate is the competency report card of a government’s ability to manage a country’s economy

It is quite a amazing how the current Administration of our government has tried and almost accomplished the goal of brainwashing or duping the American public into believing a lower US Dollar value is good for us. They even got many financially illiterate politicians (Congressmen) to sing their tunes with them. 

Try to imagine that your kid comes home back from school with a D on his report card, argues with you and tries to brainwash you that an F should be better so that he would be able to compete with other more diligent and industrious kids? Furthermore he complains that the rules need to be changed so that the other kids should not study hard and instead should be playing more like he does? He calls the bad grades on his report card a “manipulation” by those hard working kids. He even labels those industrious kids “Grade Manipulators”.

The simple truth is that a lower exchange rate would produce the immediate wholesale sell-off of a country’s wealth in the global marketplace, not increasing any genuine economic competitiveness. Economic competitiveness is produced through productivity and innovations, not by artificially altering exchange rate so that incompetent politicians could cosmetically buy some more time to hang on to their jobs a bit longer.

Competent governments in managing the country’s economy will be rewarded with a stronger currency and hence increased national wealth. Responsible and hardworking citizens under an incompetent government, on the other hand, will lose their personal wealth instantly in the global marketplace when their national currency is devaluated, no matter how hard they may have worked individually. 

There is no quicker way to make the US lose its position as the No. 1 economy of the world and its associated super power status than de-valuating the US dollars. Foreigners with a stronger currency would then be able to buy our treasured assets in a fire sale. In addition, with a weak currency, the US would not be able to compete in the global marketplace to buy commodities such as crude oils, rare earth materials, gold, silver, platinum, food, crops, other raw materials etc. The cost to produce manufactured goods in America will be getting harder and harder as well as more and more costly. It will make the US lose even more economic competitiveness and get our country in a downward spinning vicious cycle. The list of the potential problems and disasters goes on and on …

Perhaps it is time that the parents sit down with their kids for a serious talk? 

P.S. I made a keynote speech for ISDA’s Annual General Meeting held in Singapore back in March 2006 regarding the China’s role in the global financial market. In that speech I spoke about the exchange rate issues. The points are still quite valid. Here are the links to the presentation and the speech video.



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