My Rambling Thoughts

Air-con broke down again

In the first week of April, my air-con broke down again. Everything seemed to work, but it was not blowing cold air. There were two notable points:

  • It did blow cold air at the start and every hour or so
  • The compressor was shaking quite hard and there was no wind from the fan
  • It also felt a bit warmer than usual

The air-con compressor is Daikin MA56EV16. Specs: non-inverter, 20,267 BTU/hr, cooling capacity 5.94 kW, current 7.6A, sound level 54 dB(A).

Indoor unit: Daikin FT25DVM. 9k BTU/hr. Cooling capacity 2.6 kW. Airflow 247 cfm. Sound level 36/29 db(A). Power 815W.

The compressor can only cool two rooms simultaneously. It can cool 3 rooms at 74% efficiency and 4 rooms at 56% efficiency.

Can I change the compressor to an invertor unit keeping everything else? ChatGPT says yes, but the air-con technician says no.

In the end, it turned out that the fan blade shattered into pieces. That explained the exploding sound I heard that night before — I found the air-con was not cold the next morning.

The blade costed $42 new, but there was no stock left. The technician found a 2nd one for $85. And he recommended to change the motor (also 2nd hand) as well for $225. (He insisted on it.) It was plain just changing the blade alone was not profitable for them.

(The motor was still available new for $255, but they would charge a further installation fee of $60 — I called the first air-con shop I found online. Maybe that was not a good idea.)

As they were replacing the parts, I felt that the replacement motor looked older than mine! It also made a low whining sound when in operation.

If the air-con breaks down again, and parts get harder and harder to find, I will need to replace the whole system. It will be a major pain. This air-con system is 14 years old with two breakdowns.

Minimum requirements: inverter, 36k BTU/hr.

Dedollarization is on the table

US/EU did 4 things to sanction Russia over the Ukraine invasion:

  • SWIFT ban
  • Freeze overseas currency reserves
  • Freeze overseas assets of Russian citizens
  • Force Swiss banks to disclose Russian bank accounts

As the next big target, China is obviously not seating still. It is actively promoting the use of Yuan for trading.

It is not a surprise that Russia is on board (they are forced to), but Saudi Arabia, Brazil and India are also on board this time round. India does not want to use Yuan, of course, but it wants De-Dollarization nonetheless. These countries are usually pro-USA.

The problem when you weaponize the Dollar is that people wonder when you will use it against them. In the past, the US has invaded countries that try to switch away (witness: Iraq, Libya).

Why do countries need to use US dollars at all? If Russia trades with China, why don't they use either Ruble or Yuan? There are two reasons. First, you may have something to buy, but you have nothing to sell. Let's say China received a bunch of Rubles for its goods, what can it buy in return? Second, if it cannot be spent now, will it keep its value in the long run? You don't have control over it.

So China will want Russia to pay in Yuan. Russia has to convert Ruble to Yuan first (i.e. pay market price). It prefers not to do this unless it does not have a choice (like now).

Unlike Ruble or Yuan where they are used primarily in one country, US Dollars are universally accepted. So you sold some goods to a country but have nothing to buy in return? No problem, just spend it in another country.

For a currency to be used as the trading currency, there must be a "loop" where the countries can trade self-sufficiently within themselves. The currency is just used for convenience. It is consumed, not stored.

The country whose currency becomes the reserve currency will get a 'free pass'. It can print as much as it wants and devalue the holdings of other countries. USA has been doing this for decades and other countries are tired of it. No one will trust another country, so the talk is about using a gold-backed currency. In the end, gold is the only thing that can be trusted — because no one has found how to make more of it.

China Yuan6.881.000
Russia Ruble81.6611.869
Saudi Riyal3.750.545
India Rupee81.9811.916
Brazil Real5.070.737

What is needed is a way for the currencies to be converted frictionlessly from one to another, and if they cannot be consumed immediately, stored in a "value-retaining" currency (i.e. backed by gold).

It is said that China is paying in Yuan to Saudi Arabia for its oil. Which is then used by Saudi Arabia to buy (Chinese) gold — paper gold — with it. It remains to be seen how liquid this is.

What's the dealer's margin?

I heard the article How Much Does The Government Make On Each BMW 7 Series Sold In Singapore? from Dollars and Sense. The focus is on how much the Government earns on each BMW 7 series car, but the article purposely avoids the other elephant in the room.


The car is sold at $636,888. The dealer's margin is $165,728, 26% of the car price.

If you want to own, you got to pay.

When you see a high-end car in Singapore, just remember that it is a 4-room HDB flat on wheels. $600k used to be able to get you a nicely-sized condo, but housing prices have gone up so much that you can only get a 4-room HDB flat...

Breaking point this year?

News: High rent, stiff competition: Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar stallholders struggling to turn a profit

Date: 6 Apr 2023. Source: CNA.

Stallholders said there are too many competing bazaars in other parts of Singapore this year.

Kebab seller Mr Hasan said on Wednesday (Apr 5) that he regrets taking up a stall at the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar this year.

Pointing to the stalls next to his, the owner of Hasan Istanbul Kebab told CNA: “We’re all losing money. (We) cannot cover costs, cannot even cover rent.”

Over at the neighbouring stall selling Ramly burgers, a worker who declined to be named echoed that sentiment.

“We regret taking it this year,” he said. “It was okay in previous years.”

Mr Hasan is forking out about S$25,000 (US$18,860) in rent, while his neighbour is paying S$20,000.

Non-stop complaints from stallholders. :lol:

Bazaar is good business. No wonder everyone wants to organize one. But they still want to charge the old rate despite the increase in supply. Well, it's the "greater fool" theory. They managed to pass the cost to the stallholders, who now find it difficult to make back their money and cry foul.

These bazaars don't really offer anything special. You go to one, you have gone to them all. Heck, there is much duplication within one bazaar. Of the 150 food stalls, how many unique food choices are there?

Originally, the takeup rate was only 71% — 200 empty stalls! It was increased later to 95% for F&B and 80% for retail. Perhaps they were offered a better deal.

Also, 2 million visitors? Really? Just pluck a number from the sky and claim there is no problem. Very typical "everything-is-well" response. They didn't even stop to think if this number is plausible. 2 million over 20 days so far = 100k per day. Unlikely, I say.

In another article, the MP also said some stallholders told him they had turned in a profit after a week! Talk about hearing only the good things.

Are bazaar organizers just money grabbers?

I don't really pay much attention to bazaars, but in a bazaar held near my place last year, there were 3 Ramly stalls in a space of roughly 20 stalls. That's a lot, but I also thought it was normal.

This time, I paid attention to the bazaar held next to Woodlands MRT station. There are around 50 food stalls. To my surprise, there are almost no duplicates — even for drinks! There is only one Ramly burger stall and two kebab stalls. Quite a number are Taiwan-based food, so there is some cultural mismatch. But then there are only so many kinds of Malay food.

So, a bazaar can be well-planned. The Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar organizer is either too greedy, too ambitious or too optimistic.

Up and up, no end in sight


COE prices are high, but they are high because people are willing to pay.

There are 3 kind of buyers, I think:

  • People who can afford it
  • People who must have a car "at all cost"
  • People who can pass the cost along

People who can afford it. The cheapest car is around $150k, this works out to be $1.25k/month, or $42/day. This is downright affordable if you look at it this way. Even if you get a $300k car, it is only $2.5k/month. If you earn $15k/month — and this is a sizable group — what's $2.5k? Note that car expenses are not considered. They typically add another 50% to 100% to the monthly cost.

People who must have a car "at all cost". Everyone has their own reasons. They will only give up when they are priced out.

People who can pass the cost along. PHV, car rental companies. It is said they make up a large portion of cat A bidders. Cat D (motorbike) COE is also very high cos it can be monetized.

Car prices are high because the cost of using a car is low. ERP and parking are too cheap. $1 ERP is useless. Make it $3 at least. Hourly parking needs to be $4 instead of $1.20.

On a separate note, cars are at record low prices in China from heavy discounts to move sales.