Sunday, April 10, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 15: Intelligent Investing

Why Do We Have to Be Careful?

About two weeks ago, I was attending this panel discussion organized by Bank Negara. One of the panellists was from Manulife Asset Management.

One of the remarks that he made was particularly shocking. While referring to Japan as a major trading partner of Malaysia, he casually brought up that it must be because of all the Toyotas that we import. This couldn't be more wrong and irresponsible.

Why is this so bad? First of all, he was right. Japan is the largest country of origin for all of Malaysia's imports in 2010, with a grand total of RM66.5 billion exported to Malaysia. However, what is grossly wrong about his statement was that most of the Toyotas are assembled in Malaysia. What's worse, if you look at the total value of cars imported by Malaysia (CKD and CBU cars), it is only around RM4.6 billion. Bear in mind, this is the total amount of cars imported to Malaysia. Assuming that even if 70% of this comes from Japan, the total car imports would only constitute about 4.8% of the total imports from Japan - see chart 1. Now you see why that information is so misleading.

Chart 1: Import Composition from Japan in 2010

And this information comes from the CIO no less. While at that point, it may not have hurt anyone, but as a responsible and seemingly influential figure (I assume he is influential, considering he was invited as a panellist),  he must provide accurate information at all times. Perhaps today it's this, but tomorrow, what if he gives out information that costs many people a lot of money.

Good information is so hard to come by these days.

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