The Online Citizen

Is GIC experiencing a computer glitch like CNB?

September 25
17:09 2011

~by: Leong Sze Hian~

I refer to the article “CNB miscalculated statistics since 2008, releases correct figures” (see HERE).

Following this revelation, the blogs have been abuzz as to whether other statistics may have problems too.

According to the annual reports of the Government Investment Corporation (GIC), it  was reporting its 20-year nominal returns in both US$ (5.7%) and S$ (4.4%), in its 2009 report (see HERE).  It also gave the real return in Singapore Dollars (S$), at 2.6 per cent, but not in United States of America Dollars (US$).

However GIC’s 2010 and 2011 reports only gave returns in US$. Which means that the report went from reflecting no real US$ returns in 2009, to only real US$ returns in 2010 and 2011, being 3.8 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively (see HERE), and no longer in S$.  Why is this so?

What was the return in S$? Since the S$ has been appreciating against the US$, was the S$ return much lower? In this connection, one reason that has been cited for the declining returns was the appreciation of the S$ against the US$.

In its latest 2011 report, GIC has disclosed the 5 and 10-year nominal US$ returns (being 6.3 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively), instead of just the 20-year returns in previous reports. However, the new 5 and 10-year returns are only given in nominal and not real terms? And again why are the returns not reflected in S$? Are the S$ returns much lower than the US$ ones?

Why is there so much inconsistency in GIC’s reporting? Is this another computer error like Central Narcotic Bureau’s?

Mr Chua Soo Kiat’s in his letter published in the Today newspaper ‘Disclosure is important’ (see HERE) asked why the GIC does not disclose the amount of funds it manages and its annual profit and loss, unlike the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Temasek Holdings,  Instead of a straight forward answer to Mr Chua’s simple question as to how much it has lost on its UBS investment (in the light of the recent UBS rogue trader’s US$2.3 billion scandal), GIC has once again harped on its 20-year returns (see HERE).

Given the apparent “comedy of (computer) errors” in its inconsistent reporting described above, is the GIC’s consistent refusal to disclose more information when asked by Singaporeans and in Parliament, reasonable and acceptable?

 

  • DML

    Hehehe.

    Was wondering when sumeone would raise these inconsistencies. Kinda lazy to write down the complications.

    Maybe next time alery Leong earlier.

  • popcorn

    With the rights issue and the price collapse again and again and the US$ depreciation, GIC dare not answer, they have bought into a rogue Bank who has a pattern of rogue behaviour in their traders.
    Only GIC is supporting this investment bank, are we continuing to pump in more good money in years to come to keep it afloat, only for its rogue behaviour to rear its ugly head again, and continue to bleed GIC. It’s already a jinxed Bank, like the Lehman Bros.
    How suay could GIC be, or how suay could CPF members be.
    No head for fund management, move over to let the private sector take over.
    Politicians are no businessmen, businessmen are no politicians either.

  • Damn

    Our CPF is really down the drain…long time ago??!!

  • Robert Teh

    The CEO of UBS at least resigned to answer for the S$3 billion loss due to rogue trading.

    When are our chairman and CEOs of GIC going to answer for the billions of losses for their incompetencies in running of our hardearned people’s monies which so far have caused many to lose their retirements.

    Without all these losses due to their incompetencies, people by now would have enjoyed better healthcare and higher standards of living.

  • AreYouSerious

    Statistics are just there for people to pick and choose what shows the best result. Unless done honestly, financial reports can always be adjusted here and there to show what they want you to see. We’ve seen enough corporate fraud cases in history to know that’s true.

  • Titiana Ann Xavier

    The PAP government is indulging in window dressing. Returns are in US currency which is depreciating to hide poor returns. It is time to let a few heads roll. President TT should start working to earn his keep. When Parliament begins its session, it first task should be to pass a vote of no confidence in the government managing the people’s monies.

  • Steven Kho

    As usual, articles by Leong only know how to ask questions, never propose any solution.

    It does not matter how the returns are reported, whther in Sing$ or US$. Ultimately, it is the value of the portfolio that matters. On that count, the value of the portfolio has risen significantly over the years, from just tens of billions during its inception, to the current $200+ billion. This is the wealth that has been generated by GIC for us.

    We commoners are not interested, & not qualified to understand what GIC is doing. They are the experts. As long as they increase the ultimate value of the portfolio, we are assured. With a strong leadership & consistently sound performance, we have faith in GIC to manage our money.

  • DML

    Steven Kho

    Can only ask questions, because he can’t find the answers. They are not given.

    How facts are presented matters.

  • 坡仔哥哥

    Steven Kho

    1. There are no proposals if we do not have any REAL numbers from GIC. If they disclose the annual P/L, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statements, then experienced people can make proposals.

    2. From 10s of Billions to 200+Billions ? Really ? If i keep injecting my personal cash into any biz, the balance sheet will also immediately inflate.

    Alot of the the 200+ Billions were Probably (I say probably, because I don’t know mah !) Injected from Reserves. But yes, please prove me wrong by disclosing how the 10s of Billions become 200+ billions.

    3. If the transparency is there, other experts from worldwide will comment, criticize, even support the investment bankers at GIC. Issue, there is no transparency.

    Yes, commoners will not have the capacity to criticize, but there are other experts that can.

  • doppelganger

    @Robert Teh, the distinguishing feature of this regime is that the top guns, need not admit wrong.No one has resigned over anything. Wong Kum Seng, Balakrishnan Tony Tan continues as if nothing has happened on their watch. This Regime has no fear of adverse public opinion. They are strongly fortified by all the State Institutions they have established, their think tanks, the judiciary, the Attorney General, civic bodies like the Town Council, MCYS, MUIS, security bodies like the ISD and ICA are all ranked in phalanx after phalanx against any protest by the citizenry. Make too much agitation, there will be a knock before dawn at your door by the iSD, no less. With so much state power, nothing will need to be admitted to the citizenry. It is hilarious to resign when the gunship itself is fully under PAP control.

  • WhatIsLove

    My CPF contribution was recently higher…it leads to a lower take home pay. At such an uncertain economic period, why are we made to contribute more? Because our CPF monies is slowly depleting so more contributions are needed?

    I recently noticed in my email mailbox from a newsletter coming from DBS. Seems like we can now purchase Singapore Government bonds through internet banking. Was it available for public purchase previously? Not that I know and would be very glad to be proven wrong on this count.

    These two changes have made me worried…is GIC/TH bleeding through their asses that badly that more incoming funds are necessary?

    Other than emigration, I don’t see how I can have my CPF monies back. And without assurance that I will get my entitlement (actually I guess I will never) before I go into the box, it makes me concerned that this giant Ponzi scheme will unravel very soon. It would suck to be left holding the (empty) bag.

  • shalom

    Why the PAP Government is giving CPF members return of less than 4 % if GIC’s returns are higher?

  • georgia tong

    Steven Kho – just shut up and all of us will be glad. You belong only to REACH and other MIW website which tells lies and glorify half truth.

  • Steven Kho

    @WhatIsLove

    If your current CPF contribution is higher, it means you earn above $5k per month. Previously, the cap on CPF contribution was $900 based on salary of $4500. Now, the cap is $1000 based on salary of $5000. If you earn $5k or more per month, what’s the harm of contributing additional $100 to CPF? Ultimately, it is still your money. The government is helping us save for retirement, and you complain?

    Don’t forget that life expectancy is rising, and health care costs are rising. The government is right to increase the CPF minimum sum, and they should allow CPF drawdown only from the age of 70. Otherwise, when you deplete your CPF, don’t expect any handout from the government.

  • Tracy Tan

    When I did statistics in 1st year Uni, the lecturer said: “Statistics lie. It is up to you how you want to present it”

    The way GIC and TH is avoiding transparency, I dont have much confidence in what they say and the figures they present to us.

  • http://Yttt Say No to Repression

    This is disturbing.

    Makes you wonder whether there were other errors eg in evidence in capital punishment cases, ISA cases etc. In a repressive society like ours, mistakes are “easily” made.

  • iVOTEahMENG

    Steven Kho25 September 2011
    As usual, articles by Leong only know how to ask questions, never propose any solution.
    ………………
    is ahleong an erected MP? do ahleong owed the overpaid ministers/mps a favour..let alone CNB inflated arrest..
    even in vice squad..must bedek bedek churned a successFOOL crime rate arrest?
    since you are a selfproclaimed smart a r sh ere..why don’t you show our primeister the rope to be a good pap minister…

  • http://Yttt Say No to Repression

    ALL listed companies must be audited by an independent agency. GIC and TH are bigger than any listed companies but who audits them?

  • iVOTEahMENG

    Steven Kho
    Ultimately, it is still your money. The government is helping us save for retirement, and you complain?
    …………….
    and all this while your biologal father is doin what?
    peddlin viagras in geylargs perhaps?
    ow many times did i TELL you to handovere your little posb savin book for ME to manage…
    why didn’t you do it?

  • Soon jobless talent

    This sort of problems i long ago expected.

    King’s invisible tshirt.

    Who checking on them?

  • Poper@SG

    It’s you speaking for pappies again, Steven Kho!
    *roof* *roof*
    *roof* *roof*
    *roof* *roof*
    *wriggling your tail*

  • Really?

    It was reported that Mr. Gruebel of UBS took responsibility n resigned as he is known to be uncompromising on principles n integrity. This is the hall mark of a talented n good leader. What does it speak of our leaders? Compromising n lack of integrity? How to have respect?

  • http://tanchoonhong.blogspot.com Tan Choon Hong

    @Steven Kho: “…from just tens of billions during its inception, to the current $200+ billion.”

    At growth of 2.6% in S$ over 20 years, how can tens of billions balloon to over 200 billion? Most of the current figure comes from borrowing from our CPF and taxes. Also, citizens want to know what proportion of earnings are blown by high salaries for the ceo, directors, consultants, and other entourage.

  • Apolitical

    There is another thing about percentage return. They can be extremely misleading. I quote Satyajit Das in his book ‘Extreme Money – Masters Of The Universe And The Cult Of Risk’:
    “Percentage returns can be misleading. In its first 18 years, Julian Roberston’s Tiger Fund generated returns of 30% per annum. In its last two years, the fund made losses of 50%. Taking the losses into account, Tiger returned 25% per annum over its life. Starting life in 1980 with $10 million, it had $22 billion under management by 1998. The fund’s highest percentage returns were on a small dollar base. The losses came from a large base (a 50% loss on $22 billion is a loss of $11 billion). Tiger may have lost more dollars than it made over its life.”

  • Raz

    @Steven Kho

    Totally ignorant and rubbish from you, they are they expert.. yea .. they lose tons of money… and they win back those money… they don report.. is the money back in the bank or into their pocket?

    If UBS, such a big bank, can have 1 trader wiping them their 2b out easily, what is the possible chance we have such people in GIC?

    And i really cannot believe we got such ignorant u as a singaporean, little wonder that P8P can run SG like its their own playground..

  • Chicharito

    @steven kho aka alvin chua aka michael lim peng liang,

    Keep it up, keep talking, the more you talk the more people will vote for opposition. In the end we all happy…

  • Wilfred

    For most who commented, have zero knowledge of investment. Investment result should be based on the portfolio and not a few stocks, on a long term basis like at least 10 to 20 years.

    Set aside your prejudice on PAP and be fair in your comment.

  • ricardo

    No need to worry. Just work harder, faster, cheaper & contribute CPF to support multi-million Dignity for our Lord LKY, the HoLee Family, their Ministers & friends. Repent & give thanks that your efforts in this HoLee duty will soothe all problems for them.

  • agongkia

    iVOTEahMENG25 September 2011
    Steven Kho25 September 2011

    why don’t you show our primeister the rope to be a good pap minister…
    ……………..
    Aiya,cebuAhmeng,neber ask someone who can change their SURNAME as and when they like to show the rope.moi thinkleave it to stevenkho father.surname keep changing,no medicine cure lark.dun bringdown our leaders standard .

  • nick pick

    Now that there are MORE transparency by providing 5yr, 10yr returns instead of 20 year, it became a target of attack for being “inconsistent”?

    Since the S$ has been appreciating against the US$, was the S$ return much lower?

    We do not know for sure because global funds have currency hedging desk. It may not be completely hedged, but the Gov controlled SGD forex and should know better to hedge their foreign denominated positions.

    To get from nominal to real returns, just calculate it yourself.

    Finally, this author has intentionally “begged the question”. He failed to provide any justification for the statement that GIC has misrepresented data.

    We can use more details in GIC reports, but this article is intentionally inculpating GIC of misrepresentation through drawing false parallels without justification, or even reasonable doubt.

  • GoEatSheet

    Do you know that our government is bankrupted because they don’t have enough cash on hand to cover all their long term obligations?

    So are 99% of the public companies out there. Even AAPL is bankrupted.

    We should all bank run, buy gold, and hide under our sheets.

  • Disclose Everything OR Nothing

    I suggest the GIC either commits to full disclosure OR NOTHING AT ALL. As an average citizen, I don’t believe one letter of the current GIC reports. Simply don’t want to a wool to be pulled over my eyes.

  • Lets Ask The New President

    Maybe can the new President please look into this matter?

  • Its Called Crtical Thinking

    @Nick Pick – how do you know the GIC data is accurate? Or are you trusting in them blindly by faith? The author is using what is taught as “critical thinking”. Thats means don’t assume its correct until you know for sure it is correct.

  • WhatIsLove

    If one considers Lehman Brother’s accounting legit, which it was until the last quarter it reported, then GIC’s data will be legit. Afterall, Lehman was subjected to a third party audit whereas we can’t say the same for GIC.

    Repo 105 was a handy tool used by Lehman and probably many large banks to embellish their balance sheets. It turned out to be a shell. With the blind leading the blind in GIC, its impossible not to skeptical of their purported claims without adequate disclosure.

  • anon

    Actually, all you need to do is apply the USD/SGD exchange rates to arrive at the SGD IRR. This gives 5.1% and 5.3% respectively for 2010/11 and 2009/10.

  • eaglefly

    they are long on usd, short on all asean currencies.

    soon,like i said before, we’ll be the next state of uncle sam.

    croynies, stooges, puppets has to go, but you know what, your dollars are in their swiss banks, good for you.

    locals are daft,

    borders on “stupid”

  • Chanel

    Teh usual PAP tactic is to hide the truth!!.

    Steven Kho,
    Yes, I agree with you that GIC is the “expert”….at losing $10 billion on a single investment in 2 years!!

  • rogue trading

    /Robert Teh 25 September 2011

    The CEO of UBS at least resigned to answer for the S$3 billion loss due to rogue trading./

    When UBS own internal team could not even prevent rogue trading resulting in huge loss (& the chief had to go), how could people who are far removed from the real action know anything close by indulging in paper investment.

    That’s cold comfort (or discomfort) for calling it long-term investment or total portfolio (not just looking @ one or two units) or whatnot.

  • don’t waste resources

    “”"Steven Kho 25 September 2011 We commoners are not interested, & not qualified to understand what GIC is doing. They are the experts.”"”

    you can be both a commoner & questioning (& interested) so you won’t be easily taken in by ‘experts’.

    your comments are frighteningly uneducational from the way you have made them. i wonder why they are wasting resources by sending you here.

    Madoff was an expert and he fleeced other experts as well.

  • New Citizen

    Our EP Tan,

    Sir, you claimed you are the specialist for banking and investment.

    Please check it out and answer us:

    Is our CPF safe ? if answer is yes, why we are not allowed to take it from 55 years old ??

  • Idiots

    Unless you have real proof that GIC = Madoff, Lehman’s Repo 105 by all means expose it for all to see.

    You are making a fool of yourselves.

  • don’t waste resources

    Idiots 26 September 2011

    No one is insinuating that GIC=Madoff.

    The statement was deliberately made to have the word “expert(s)” appearing twice.

    It means that even “scrupulous” experts can be fleeced by another “unscrupulous” expert. Even for this, it also depends how you look at the whole situation.

    We do not need proof, we just need to look at the end results. All the other things are just be a matter of different opinions.

    Now, may I ask who is making a fool of himself.

  • iVOTEahMENG

    Wilfred26 September 2011
    For most who commented, have zero knowledge of investment. Investment result should be based on the portfolio and not a few stocks, on a long term basis like at least 10 to 20 years.

    Set aside your prejudice on PAP and be fair in your comment.
    …………………
    it that why our cpf$’s savin hav been xtended to 20 ears as well?
    be fair? when you sign the dotted lines in any agreements..can i changed the clause just because i 1st to?

    zero knowledge on investments?
    your parents know ow to take care of you since day 1…
    yet leekingyou assumed YOUR parents cannot managed their retirement savin$ @ age 55?

  • kenneth

    Is GIC experiencing a computer glitch like CNB? NO, GIC’s system was programmed to work the way PAP wanted, that is to hide all losses, erase all audit trails, report only gains by ignoring all losses before gain. We are looking at a fully functional system that is working against Singaporean. Only the people owning the system has all the gain.

  • Robert Teh

    For information of netizens, beware of what can happen to your trade when you do online share trading.

    I did an online share trade this morning 26.9.2011) at around 11.00 am – withdrawing a “buy” order posted last night.(25.9.2011)

    My broker called me around 1.30 pm to inform me that despite the cancellation of my “buy” order, the buy was nevertheless executed.

    The reason given is SGX has implemented certain change which resulted in this computer glitch. When questioned, he said he sympathise with my being forced to accept a trade I did not execute but he could not do anything as there was some rules that say the client must accept such risk of computer glitch. I told him I am writing to SGX to protest that the screw up was not caused by me and I should not be penalised to have the order executed at a higher price than I had intended to pay, the reason for my cancellation.

    The screen clearly showed that the buy order was “pending withdrawal” and the “buy order” not executed after close of trading at 5.00 pm today. (26.9.2011)

  • Alan Wong

    Years ago someone joked why Singapore need so many immigrants is because they can help contribute to this ponzi scheme aka as Coffins Provider Funds to provide the seed money to fund the ministers salaries and bonuses.

    Looks like the joke may be for real.

  • tiredsingaporean

    Looks like its a game over soon to all singaporeans cpf life savings . . . its getting nearer and nearer as each day more and more hidden truth being dug up to the surface. Who says singaporeans are not talented, they are just waiting for the right moment to surface.

  • Ghost of YOG

    Cannot even do simple math. How can ppl have confidence in them to invest with the goal of getting a good ROI? Another thing why is there a need to be so secret? Cannot be to protect competitive edge as they lose so much money, no SWF in their right frame of mind will ever want to follow GIC. Besides it’s taxpayers money, so why the secrecy?

  • Ho Ching lost a lot more

    Must remember that Ho Ching at Teamsek lost a lot more than the billions lost by the UBS rogue trader. “Rogue CEO” Ho Ching is still the biggest loser of taxpayers’ money.

  • singaporeson

    You cant expect much when GIC and government bodies are run by idiots from the famiLEE

  • There are more

    Note the same glitch on HDB, LTA, PUB, etc

  • xtrocious

    In computer lingo, we have GIGO

    This stands for “Garbage In Garbage Out”…you can’t blame the computer :p

  • subversive

    ISA should be used on unsubstantiated, manipulative articles like this with intention to slander.

    Quality of writing an article down the thrash can.

  • Pingback: GIC: Smoke & mirrors « Thoughts of a Cynical Investor

  • MarBowling

    Like those fellow at CNB, GIG & TH are also massaging their figures all year long to reflect good results in their Annual Report…Plus also putting only own familee members in top and sensitive positions to ensure no busybody from inside and outside could poke their noses into how they come out with those rosy figures…

  • Smudger

    @subversive

    Explain how is it, according to you, “unsubstantiated”, “manipulative”, and “with intention to slander.”

    Come on…or are you going to be “subversive?”

  • http://harro.com Harro

    Groupthink and the lack of independent thought may suggest that the culture of manipulating numbers is systemic.

  • subversive

    Mr “Hot Air” Leong needs to prove how GIC numbers are miscalculated. Point out real contradictions in the annual reports instead of mere differences in reporting style.

    It is manipulative reporting via false comparison and borderline on slander by adding a “?” at the end instead of direct accusation.

    From this article, Leong is an outright rogue writer producing political junk.

  • Gaddafi

    @subversive

    This is how dictators like me, Mubarak and those from Myanmar and North Korea like to label all those who disagree with us: just accuse them of being subversive and lock them up with out trial. Thanks to people like you who ignore realities and who are willing to be bootlickers and ass kissers that we dictators can hang onto power.

  • Robert Teh

    subversive

    Mr “Hot Air” Leong needs to prove how GIC numbers are miscalculated. Point out real contradictions in the annual reports instead of mere differences in reporting style.

    It is manipulative reporting via false comparison and borderline on slander by adding a “?” at the end instead of direct accusation.

    From this article, Leong is an outright rogue writer producing political junk.

    ……………

    You called Leong the “Hot Air” Leong and rogue writer. What do you call the GIC’s chairman and Minister of Finance who allowed billions of citizens’ monies to be lost on rogue trading in UBS if not Shin Corps and many others?

    Mr. Leong might not be right in his many analysis on costs of construction of HDB flats, but who was the rogue that cause citizens to have to get to the truths not provided due to wrongful concealments by the ministers?

    If people like Mr. Leong have to speculate on the GIC losses which were not given by ministers, is Leong guilty and to be called names like Hot Air Leong.

    You should thank him for nailing down the lies about subsidy of HDB flat and your sons and grandsons do not have to be overtaxed with such frightening lies and scam cooked up by our money-sucking ministers.

    What happen to all these years of trying to bluff people about subsidies of HDB flats by ministers when it is now all but HOT AIR to deceive people.

  • subversive

    @Gaddafi

    Even if you are against the “establishment” doesn’t mean that you need to eat up any manure as long as it has an anti-pap label on it.

  • Meow

    So we calculate ourselves la! 5-yr return is 6.3% pa. in USD dollar. So 5 years ago, USD to SGD exchange rate was 1.5, at end of MArch 2011 when their last report date, USD/SGD was 1.26. Annualised over 5 years, the return should therefore fall by 3.5% p.a. So in SGD terms, the 5 year nominal return should be 6.3% les 3.5% ie 2.8%. In real terms, assuming average SGD inflation last 5 years of 3%, you have 0.5% p.a. lor! Good or not? Worth paying those ten-million per year to Ar lee’s yoga gurus or not? You judge lor! Ar Lee says they are top talents wat!

  • the problem is arrogance

    Skills needed are different, but arrogance blinded the top guns.

    Political skills very different from businessmen skills.
    Big problem when:
    Old politician fantasized as Warren Buffet.
    Bureaucrats illusioned as Bill Gates.
    Madam Jinx cowboy and traded as if as George Soros.
    Bootlickers cheered on.
    Wall Street trained salesmen conned.

    That’s a potent combination for disaster when together with big firepower, big pay & big head.

  • ask ho jinx

    probably will go down in singapore investment history as biggest loser ever.
    micropolis..$xxmln
    abc learning..$xxxmln
    shin corp…$xxxxmln
    merrill lynch….$xxxxxmln
    barclays….$xxxxxmln
    seatown mortgage securities….$xxxxxmln
    conned and snooked by who she liked and hired. paid top $ for con. engineer posing as warren buffet.

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