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If This Guy Gets Into Office, It's Time to Buy Stocks

By Tom Dyson, publisher, The Palm Beach Letter
Monday, September 29, 2008

The security guard tagged us. Then the assistant led us into Parliament. We went up two flights of stairs, past some enormous oil paintings, and into a conference room. We sat down in leather chairs at a long wooden table. There were microphones in front of each chair...

We waited for the politician to join us.

Last week DailyWealth Editor in Chief Brian Hunt and I went into Thailand's parliament building and met with Thailand's "shadow" finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij.

The Democrats – Korn's party – are not in power. That's why he's only the shadow finance minister. If the Democrats win the next election, then Korn likely becomes the ruling finance minister.

Korn went to Oxford University. When he was 24, he set up a brokerage firm in Bangkok. Korn grew his company into one of the largest securities firms in Thailand. In 2000, JPMorgan bought the company. Korn headed JPMorgan's Thai operations for four years and then entered politics.

Thailand was once the hottest emerging-market investment. Between 1987 and 1994, the Thai stock market rose from 200 to 1,800. Then in 1994, a financial crisis hit Thailand, and the stock market fell back to 200 by 1998.

Thailand's stock market bounced back, reaching 900. But in the past two years, political chaos struck. The country has gone through a military coup and two dissolved governments. Last month, Thailand declared a state of emergency after political violence erupted in Bangkok. Weakness in Asian stock markets and Thailand's political mess have pushed the Thai stock market down 32% since May. It's now close to 600.

We asked Korn about his chances of becoming finance minister soon. "Not good," he told us. "[My party] is not doing well."

But Korn's a big believer in deregulation and free markets. If his party does make it into power, it'll be a huge bullish sign for Thai stocks.

We also asked Korn about Myanmar. Myanmar is next to Thailand to the west. In my Wednesday column, I wrote about the investment opportunity there. Here's what he told us...

After I finished university, I went to work in the City [of London]. While I was there, I met a girl from Berlin. She became my girlfriend and I went to visit her often for weekends in Berlin...

One time, this was in 1986 or 1987, I went out for a walk along the Berlin Wall. I wanted to see where the best properties were, so I'd know what to buy when the wall fell.

Two years later, the wall came down. I never bought anything. But my point is, about once a year, you stumble onto really obvious investment opportunities. They stare you right in the face. All I know is, Myanmar is NOT one of those opportunities. It's too early.

Korn's probably right. Myanmar isn't an imminent investment opportunity. But one day it will be. And I'm going to keep my eye on it.

He was humble and thoughtful... and had the right ideas about turning Thailand's economy around. The country would be very lucky to have Korn in charge of their financial policy.I've met one other big-time politician in my life... the No. 3 guy in Paraguay's government. He didn't impress me at all. He couldn't even speak English. Korn was a different story.

Good investing,

Tom




Market Notes


NEW HIGHS OF NOTE LAST WEEK
 
Royal Gold (RGLD)... gold royalties
Foot Locker (FL)... shoes
Campbell Soup (CPB)... food
Diamond Foods (DMND)... nuts

NEW LOWS OF NOTE LAST WEEK


Walgreen (WAG)... drug stores
CVS Caremark (CVS)... drug stores
Sony (SNE)... electronics
U.S. Steel (X)... steel
Tata Motors (TTM)... Indian automaker
Deere & Co. (DE)... farm equipment
eBay (EBAY)... online auctions
Research in Motion (RIMM)... Blackberries
Service Corp. (SCI)... funeral homes
Excel Maritime (EXM)... shipping
Danaos Corp (DAC)... shipping
Double Hull Tankers (DHT)... shipping
DryShips (DRYS)... shipping
Diana Shipping (DSX)... shipping
Eagle Bulk Shipping (EGLE)... shipping
General Dynamics (GD)... defense
New Frontier Media (NOOF)... pornography
Tyson Foods (TSN)... meat
Pilgrim's Pride (PPC)... meat
China Southern Airlines (ZNH)... our old whipping boy

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