E Hockey Pucks, Finding Funds, And BnB

Morningstar, which 20-odd years ago ended its useful coverage of individual foreign stocks from Japan, is now going global again, with a "travel kit for global investors". Then I went to Chicago to plead with Morningstar to reconsider.

Now it has thought better of hiding behind our borders and is telling Americans their stick-to-home portfolios are 30% overloaded in US stocks compared to a market weighted world global stock index. It didn't quote me because nobody remembers what happened two decades ago, citing a paper by Vanguard fund managers.

While agreeing that some investor hesitation makes sense, like fear of higher costs, currency fluctuations, and corporate governance issues, Vanguard says "shutting out international markets means closing the door on a world of potential investment opportunities". Now Morningstar, in videos for its International Investment Week until May 22, has decided to also push global investing.

By telling people about how they need to buy global funds, Morningstar claims that to go global you need to let them find you a good fund manager who will buy big name funds overseas. Vanguard will pick up a lot of the business thanks to low fees or fares.

"Take the bus, and leave the driving to us." That is not our way. We pick stocks not fund managers. 

The puck was hit to him, the crowd roared, and then was hit into the goal basket by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Eight times, 8 goals by the Russian president. Putin, 62, was skating on Sochi ice May 16 leading an unofficial National Hockey League "all-star" team to an 18-6 victory. Putin only started playing ice hockey in public 6 months ago, and according to the adulation-laden Russian press he had never played until 2011 and is "a natural athlete".

I sought insight from Claude, 14, her eldest grandchild and an ice hockey ace himself. Claude said "it was probably rigged, because you cannot score eight goals in one game, especially if you have only been playing for a few months."

Claude has made "a hat trick" (3 goals in one game) a couple of times and knows whereof he speaks.

While that hockey show was intended to prove that Putin has no health problems, it also marks a new rise in the cult of personality around the Russian president. In Russia, adulation of a Kremlin leader is not a Kennedy-esque myth about Camelot being reborn; it simply recalls Stalin's claims to all power, strength, and intelligence during the Soviet dictatorship.

Russia's ice hockey team lost 1 to 6 to Canada Sunday in the world championship in Prague despite some major Maple Leaf players staying home to join in the real NHL playoffs. When the Prague band struck up “O Canada” the Russian team skated off the ice in a fit of nationalist zeal.

Putin-land also failed to win at Sochi's Winter Olympics, where Canada also took the gold. Russian sports fans may soon realize that Putin's hockey puck goals are a sham.

Would that they also examined the flimflam over Ukraine! Two Ukraine "separatist rebels" were captured there over the weekend and confessed that they were Russian nationals and members of the elite Special Forces. 

Since early this year, 18,000 foreigners have used AirBnB and less well-known lodging services to book stays in private homes in Cuba. They pay in dollars worth 24 Cuban pesos in the shops. That means a very good profit for those housing the foreign tourists seeking cheaper accommodation than in the country's pricey and overbooked hotels.

Hosts spend part of those dollars to keep foreign tourists happy, buying fans and air-conditioners, beds and bedding, towels, soap, toilet paper, and toiletries. This leads to tensions with the majority of Cubans who do not have dollars and live in the peso economy because they lack a spare room or relatives in Los Estados Unidos. The same thing happened two decades ago when Cubans were allowed to open businesses offering home-cooked meals to tourists paying with dollars. The chefs bought the best foodstuffs available using 24-peso dollars, boosting prices for the locals.

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