Cambodia Secrets of Sihanoukville?

One of the worst held secrets is the rapid emergence of Sihanoukville Cambodia as a major Asian beach resort town. Many that have been here in the past would smugly say I told you so, as to all it was readily apparent that this quiet little coastal beach town had all the makings for a long time now. All that is needed is more flights into the now open Sihanoukville airport; as soon as there is a direct flight from Bangkok; watch out this place is going to blow!

Three things make Sihanoukville especially appealing and you should take every opportunity to see Sihanoukville now before it becomes overrun, which it will in the very near future.

A 5 Star luxury Hotel Under $100

Sokha Beach Resort is a 5 star luxury beach resort that has it own long private beach, a pool the size of a small lake, a staff to guest ratio of 4 to 1, and all the other amenities that you would expect from a 5 star luxury beach resort for under a $100 a night! This price I can assure will not last for long. If your budget is under $100 a night there are lots of other Sihanoukville hotels and guesthouses available near the ocean with more being built at a furious rate.

The Sihanoukville Islands

The islands have always been the real secret there are not many places in the world where you can go to and have this many large undeveloped islands. This will be the area that in the next ten years will see a large growth spurt similar to what happened on Koa Sumui, Koh Phangan and now Koh Chang which incidentally is the closest islands group in Thailand to the Cambodia Thai border. It makes sense that Koh Rung Samleom and Koh Rung will see major things in the next 3 to 5 years and the Koh Tang groups do to its isolation, beauty and excellent scuba diving and water sports, will be the real Shangri la in the future.

Real money, make that Riel money.

The Cambodian economy is based on the US Dollar. What this means for you is ridiculously lower prices compared to a lot of other tourist destinations in South East Asia. Thailand being an excellent example as the Baht continues to get stronger despite a military junta running the country, and a major Muslim uprising in the southern three provinces, that has seen over 2500 killed in just a few years of on going guerrilla warfare. One of the reasons stated for the Junta to take power was to try to get that situation under control which from the news reports that do manage to come out of the region that they are no further along to a solution than they were a year ago.

The increased value of Korean, Malaysian, Singapore, Japanese and Chinese money against the US dollar make Cambodia even cheaper for the regional tourists with Koreans being the fastest growing sector of the tourism market. And the Asian tourists like a lot of things on offer in Sihanoukville including legal gambling and an abundance of very cheap seafood.

You know, I should also mention that despite what the biggest guide book says, it has a lot of really nice beaches to chill on.

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Alternative Factors To Consider In Evaluation of Socially Responsible Investing Fund Performance

As a Socially Responsible Investment manager the most common question we hear from potential clients is “and adviser told me that socially responsible investing isn’t profitable” versus non-screened portfolio management. In general the adviser providing the dogmatic opinion does not offer any foundation for their opinion but this is their chance to influence the potential client especially if they cannot offer an Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) option for the investor. Unless you have a few arrows of your own in your quiver you may be quite likely shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to an non-screened portfolio versus a clean portfolio.

Probably due to the fact that I’m over 50 now with a repellent view of hyperbole and unsubstantiated opinions I have been uncomfortable with opposite view as well: socially responsible investing improves rate of return. It has been my view based upon empirical experience of managing Socially Responsible portfolios for 20 years that social responsibility is not a significant determinant of investment performance. Socially Responsible Investing is a highly subjective practice where investors can have divergent opinions on industries and companies. There is not unified screening standard amongst the ethical investing industry, each firm or fund makes their own decisions on screening criteria. While some funds screen for only 3 or 4 issues there are other funds that screen over a dozen.

Practitioners of ethical investing may draw attention that investors always assume a given level of risk with any equity investment but that the risk premium associated with SRI is less. Case in point the risks associated with Tobacco, Asbestos or BP and the Gulf oil disaster. However in my 20 years involved with socially responsible investing, screening stringency is often a matter of interpretation as BP was considered Best of the Lot for many years for funds that desired petrochemical exposure.

Let’s take a look at some of the academic studies that have touched upon the issue of the factors of Socially Responsible Investment performance:

* Moskowitz Award winner, John Guerard, Jr., director of quantitative research at Vantage Global Advisers, examined the returns of Vantage’s 1,300 stock non-screened stock universe and a 950 screened universe (The screens eliminated companies that failed to pass alcohol, gambling, tobacco, environmental, military, and nuclear power). He found “that there is no significant difference between the average monthly returns of the screened and non-screened universes during the 1987-1994 period. The “un-screened 1,300 stock universe produced a 1.068 percent average monthly return during the January 1987-December 1994 period, such that a $1.00 investment grew to $2.77. A corresponding investment in the socially-screened universe would have grown to $2.74, representing a 1.057 percent average monthly return. There is no statistically significant difference in the respective returns series, and more important, there is no economically meaningful difference in the return differential.”

Guerard’s conclusions are reinforced by other works:

* “Socially Responsible Investment: Is it profitable” Dhrymes, Columbia University July 1997 June 1998.Dyrymes concluded that: “that by and large the Concerns and Strengths of the KLD index of social responsibility are not consistently significant in determining annual rates of return.”

* Socially Responsible Investment Screening Strong Empirical Evidence For Actively Managed Value Portfolios. June 2001, revised December 2001 Stone, Guerard, Gultekin, Adams.”No Significant Cost” means no statistically significant difference in risk adjusted return”. In addition, they surmise that “the conclusion of no significant cost/benefit is not just a long term average. It has remarkable short term consistency!”

In my opinion this report presents a balanced view in that they concluded that the during the time of the study 1984-1997 the stock market rewarded the growth oriented style and that the performance of SRI investments could become “brittle” if markets were to become risk averse and adopt a more Value oriented style……….a remarkably accurate presumption!

Could the performance of SRI funds which have exceeded or lagged their respective benchmarks be in part due to size (average capitalization from micro cap to large cap) and style (Value or Growth)?

Fama and French of Dartmouth University examined the annual rate of return and beta (volatility) of an non-screened universe of Growth vs. Value from 1928 to 2009 by dividing stocks into ten deciles (groups) based on book-to-market value, rebalanced annually and found that Value had the lower risk while Growth had the higher risk. In addition, they found that the highest book -to-market stocks exceeded the return of the lowest book-to-market by 21% to 8% on average. Stock valuation was as significant factor in the Fama and French study where the cheaper the equity valuation the better the return.

Market Cap size was important in the Fama and French study as well (1992). Market cap size showed a significant edge to small and micro cap equities on a monthly basis. *Monthly returns for the smallest 10% of equities were 1.47% versus 0.89% for the largest decile.

It is our contention that there are attributes that could account for performance to equities other than social profiles and that concurrently a portfolio of socially screened equities with the highest book-to-value ratios could exceed comparative benchmarks largely due to valuation metrics and capitalization size. In a case of pure cherry picking the monthly rate of return smallest market cap and lowest book value to market price was 1.63% versus.93% monthly for largest market cap and highest book value to market price.

I tested this theory using data supplied by the Social Investment Forum and Russell Index regarding the 10 year average rate of return for socially responsible mutual funds versus their respective benchmarks trends do emerge.

Data as of June 30, 2010

Benchmarks

* Russell Mid Cap Value Index was the top 10 year performer +7.55%.

* Russell Mid Cap Growth Index returned -1.99%.

* Russell 2000 Value returned +7.48%

* Russell 2000 Growth Index returned -.92%

Equity Large Cap performance (information provided by SIF)

* 4 mutual funds show positive 10-year average annual rates of return:

Calvert Social Investment Equity +0.14% (Growth)

Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive +3.18% (Value)

Walden Social Equity +1.46% (Value)

Parnassus Equity Income +4.65% (Value)

Equity Small Cap performance

* 2 mutual funds from one mutual fund company showed a positive 10-year rate of return.

Ariel Appreciation +6.16% (Value)

Ariel Fund +5.62% (Value)

Disclaimer: While the sample size of SRI fund performance is very small. I gleaned data from only the profitable SRI funds for the last 10 years. The SIF forum does not show fund performance information for funds that have closed, merged or liquidated. It would be a safe presumption IMO that funds that no longer exist were weak performers since money will flock to where it’s treated best. Plus, hedge fund performance data was not available on the SIF site.

The results do fall in line with substantial academic works (Fama and French, Lakonishok) and it is possible that SRI performance should be viewed through the lens of Value/Growth and Market Cap size.

A logical question that must be asked upon reading this might be: “If small market cap and low valuations are the sweet spot for investing, then why are there so few funds or managers focusing on this strategy?” Not to be obvious… ok, well lets be obvious: The small cap / low price to BV tends to be the focus of many private portfolio managers since our small size allows us the dexterity to invest in companies that are simply too small for billion dollar mutual funds. Successful funds tend to outgrow the size/valuation strategy espoused by Graham as assets become larger and the investment selection becomes narrower. But this topic should best be explored at a later date.

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The information on this site is provided “AS IS”. Rocky Mountain Humane Investing, Corp. does not warrant the accuracy of the materials provided herein, either expressly or impliedly, for any particular purpose and expressly disclaims any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Rocky Mountain Humane Investing, Corp. will not be responsible for any loss or damage that could result from interception by third parties of any information made available to you via this site. Although the information provided to you on this site is obtained or compiled from sources we believe to be reliable, Rocky Mountain Humane Investing, Corp. cannot and does not guarantee the accuracy, validity, timeliness or completeness of any information or data made available to you for any particular purpose.

SportGamble.us Picks this Year’s College Football Bowl Games

Here are the consensus bowl picks from the SportGamble.us staff.

Tue., Dec. 14

New Orleans Bowl

North Texas vs Southern Mississippi

SG’s Pick: North Texas

If the So. Miss defense can stop Jamario Thomas from adding to his gaudy stats they should be able to keep this one close.

7:30 pm

Tue., Dec. 21

Champs Sports Bowl

Georgia Tech vs Syracuse

SG’s Pick: Georgia Tech

7:45 pm

Wed., Dec. 22

GMAC Bowl

Memphis vs Bowling Green

SG’s Pick: Bowling Green

I want to pick Memphis to win this battle, but the Falcon’s scoring offense, 4th in the nation, will simply outscore Memphis regardless of how well they play.

8:00 pm

Thur., Dec. 23

PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl

Cincinnati vs Marshall

SG’s Pick: Marshall

Marshall has shown up to play in big games this year. I consider a bowl game a “big” game, wouldn’t you?

6:30 pm

Las Vegas Bowl

Wyoming vs UCLA

SG’s Pick: UCLA

UCLA should burn Wyoming with it’s passing and running game. Although, Wyoming is playing in it’s first bowl game in 11 years…that’s certainly motivating.

9:45 pm

Fri., Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl

UAB vs Hawaii

SG’s Pick: Hawaii

NCAA’s all time passing leader should have a hay-day against this no show UAB defense

7:00 pm

Mon., Dec. 27

MPC Computers Bowl

Fresno State vs 18 Virginia

SG’s Pick: Virginia

Fresno State failed to play with the big dogs this season and Virginia is on the horizon to become one.

2:00 pm

Motor City Bowl

Toledo vs Connecticut

SG’s Pick: Toledo

Connecticut has a football team? Well, that’s what we would have said last season but they have a QB that can rip the secondary. You probably haven’t heard of him but the NFL scouts know him very well. Connecticut has a chance if they grasp the mindset they had when meeting Pittsburgh earlier in the year.

5:30 pm

Tue., Dec. 28

Independence Bowl

Iowa State vs Miami (Ohio)

SG’s Pick: Iowa State

Iowa State’s explosive offense will give Miami all they want…plus some.

6:30 pm

Insight Bowl

Oregon State vs Notre Dame

SG’s Pick: Notre Dame

Notre Dame is going to fight its heart out in defense of Tyrone Willingham. Oh, did we mention they’re a pretty good football team anyway?

9:45 pm

Wed., Dec. 29

Houston Bowl

Texas-El Paso vs Colorado

SG’s Pick: Texas-El Paso

Jordan Carson (name sound familiar?) will finally have his chance to showcase his talent on national television. Colorado is still wondering what happened in the Big 12 championship…

4:30 pm

Alamo Bowl

24 Ohio State vs Oklahoma State

SG’s Pick: Ohio State

Oklahoma State is no stranger to big games. Unfortunately, they haven’t learned how to win them.

8:00 pm

Thur., Dec. 30

Continental Tire Bowl

25 Boston College vs North Carolina

SG’s Pick: Boston College

North Carolina has a lack of “big game” experience while Boston College has the “secret to success” for winning bowl games, they’ve won 4 straight.

1:00 pm

Emerald Bowl

New Mexico vs Navy

SG’s Pick: Navy

Did we say Navy? That’s right! These guys finally learned how to play football.

4:30 pm

Holiday Bowl

4 California vs 23 Texas Tech

SG’s Pick: California

Cal will punish Texas Tech for being pushed out of the BCS picture.

8:00 pm

Silicon Valley Bowl

Troy vs Northern Illinois

SG’s Pick: Northern Illinois

Troy has never been to a bowl game and they’re not ready to win one either. N. Illinois has a ground attack that will out-muscle this Troy defense.

11:00 pm

Fri., Dec. 31

Music City Bowl

Alabama vs Minnesota

SG’s Pick: Alabama

This isn’t because we like the SEC. Minnesota isn’t playing at home…

12:00 pm

Sun Bowl

Purdue vs 21 Arizona State

SG’s Pick: Purdue

Arizona State is coming with their 2nd string QB that Purdue’s young, yet darn good, defense should contain. Expect Purdue to light up the score board in this one!

2:00 pm

Liberty Bowl

10 Boise State vs 7 Louisville

SG’s Pick: Louisville

This may be bowl game of the year. If you like fast attack offenses and aggressive scoring, this game is for you! Vegas will be exploding with “total points” bets on this one.

3:30 pm

14 Miami (FLA.) vs 20 Florida

Peach Bowl

SG’s Pick: Florida

If Chris Leak (Gators) isn’t the best QB in the land he will be. When the Gators are operating on all cylinders I would pick them to beat anyone in the country. Keep an eye on this one because it should be a money maker!

7:30 pm

Sat., Jan. 1

Cotton Bowl

15 Tennessee vs 22 Texas A&M

SG’s Pick: Tennessee

The Vols simply ran out of time in the SEC championship. I suspect they will pick up where they left off. Neither team “should” be here so it will definitely be one of the better games to watch.

11:00 am

Outback Bowl

16 Wisconsin va 8 Georgia

SG’s Pick: Georgia

Wisconsin can play offense buy GA’s fast defense will stop the run and force Wisconsin to throw resulting in too many mistakes to overcome. Georgia wins.

11:00 am

Gator Bowl

17 Florida State va West Virginia

SG’s Pick: Florida State

Florida State has put the lost to Florida behind them. Bowden’s ability to dominate bowl games has a “W” written all over it.

12:30 pm

Capital One Bowl

11 Iowa vs 12 LSU

SG’s Pick: LSU (restrictions apply…)

LSU is young but managed to fight their way to a good bowl game this year. If LSU’s defense can keep the score close they can pull this one off.

1:00 pm

Rose Bowl

13 Michigan vs 6 Texas

SG’s Pick: Texas

If Mack can persuade his players they’re as good as he did the nations coaches Texas will overcome a solid Michigan team.

4:30 pm

Fiesta Bowl

5 Utah vs 19 Pittsburgh

SG’s Pick: Utah

Pittsburgh slipped through the back door to win the Big East but I’m afraid Utah will show Pitt what it’s like to play with the Big Boys.

8:30 pm

Mon., Jan. 3

Sugar Bowl

3 Auburn vs 9 Virginia Tech

SG’s Pick: Auburn

Auburn should be playing for the national title. Look for Auburn to win big for the slight possibility of sharing the title.

8:00 pm

Tue., Jan. 4

Orange Bowl

1 Southern California vs 2 Oklahoma

SG’s Pick: Oklahoma

This one should come down to the last quarter. Oklahoma should prevail with stamina.

8:00 pm

Quick Sex Tip: How To Revive A Dying Sex Life

If your sex life has dropped to near zero or zero, it can be restored.

The first step is to discuss it gently and directly with each other. Anger and sadness have to be temporarily put on the shelf for these discussions. The reason is that most of the time both parties are too fragile to handle venting and purging sessions. So Rule One is an open and soft discussion with an emphasis on listening to your partners ideas on how to improve things.

Merely focusing on what’s wrong is an approach that many take, but I warn you that it often ends up with more hurt and repeated blaming. I am an advocate of starting slowly to fix sexual problems with constructive and small steps. More time together, cuddling, holding hands, kissing are the first priorities. Later, sexual activities can follow in this graduated manner. For me, this is the starting point.

When the emotions are less raw and hope is again alive, or, conversely, when the damage done is so severe, we must talk about what went wrong and how to repair it. We can begin to focus on the reasons things went off track.

I think most couples know what went wrong or at least have theories. I am confident that repair work must be done on the emotional pain. Repairing the sexual relationship is a way to heal many of the hurts that result from an absence of sex. Yet, we must at some point deal with the emotions of either party that are getting in the way of progress.

There are many reasons that a sex life loses, well, its life. Here are some common struggles:

I am not interested in sex with my partner because of the…(FILL IN THE BLANK: drugging, drinking, yelling, anger, smell, lack of respect, rudeness, selfishness, porn, weight gain/loss, gambling, spending, etc. ) of my partner.

It never really was a very healthy or satisfying sexual relationship and it just sort of faded away after… (FILL IN THE BLANK: the kids came, the dog died, a parent came to live with us, I started the night shift, we moved, the job was lost, I went back to work, or I turned 30, 40, 50, 60, 70….)

Why should I? I don’t want to reward the way he/she does… (FILL IN THE BLANK: something I don’t like or despise, doesn’t do what I want, expect, deserve, like, desire or behaves like I am/am not used to having in my life.

Our sex life died because I have… (FILL IN THE BLANK: low something or elevated something else. OR because of the medications, hormones, stress, fitness, obesity, pain, arthritis, depression, insomnia, allergies, herpes, etc.)

When I was a beginning therapist I came across my first of these couples. They had gone 15 years without sex. They said they loved each other and were committed to the relationship. He drove a cab at night and she worked during the day. They took those shifts to make sure one of them was always available to watch their child. Guess how old the child was!… Wait for it…Wait… Yep, she was 15 when they came in.

This couple got stuck in the transition of their marriage from couple to family. It’s common that sex falls away after the birth of a child. Most of us will go through such a transition and figure a way to restore our sex lives. This couple never had that discussion, though both wanted it to go back to the active and fulfilling sex life they had once enjoyed.

In the safe environment of my office they were able to begin the conversations needed to move forward together sexually. They began to show hope as they progressed from discussions to the steps needed to rekindle their sex life. One of the most interesting changes they made was a simple one. They installed a lock on their bedroom door and told their kid to knock and wait for a response before entering.

It turned out that they had not closed their bedroom door since bringing the baby home from the hospital. They kept the door open to make sure they could hear their kid cry. Somehow, they never discussed closing it and keeping her out of the bedroom long after being concerned about an infant’s cries.

Every situation is different. That is why the quiet conversations are so critical. If you can have these talks in positive tones and begin to solve your own sex life, start now. If you have tried this a few times and aren’t making progress, seek professional help. By professional help I mean therapists that are trained in marriage and family therapy and have training in treating sexual problems.

The vast majority of therapists are unqualified and not trained in this work. Beware of individual therapists trying to do couple work. Marriage and Family therapists and members of ASECT, Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists are the best trained in couples work of this nature. Talk to them and explore their abilities as well as your fit with them.

Whatever you decide, act on it as soon as you can.