Global Investing

from MacroScope:

Chile, Singapore among most transparent SWFs

Chile, UAE, Singapore, Azerbaijan, Ireland and Norway claim top rankings on the latest transparency index, published by SWF Institute. At the bottom of the ranking is Venezuela, Oman, Nigeria, Mauritania, Kiribati, Iran, Brunei and Algeria.

The Linaburg-Maduell index is calculated with 10 principles -- such as whether the fund provides up-to-date, independently audited annual reports, or whether it provides clear strategies and objectives. It also gives points on whether the fund gives ownership percentage of company hodlings, total market value, returns and management compensation.

Enhancing transparency is a key task for sovereign wealth funds, whose often opaque operations have come under heavy criticism by some Western politicians who suspect them of investing with political, rather than commercial, motives.

In fact in the recent meeting of the world's leading sovereign wealth funds, only Norway, Chile, New Zealand agreed in advance to speak to Reuters on the sidelines; when contacted on the ground China also spoke. Others either declined to comment at all or did not return email.

(Source: SWF Institute; www.swfinstitute.org)

Words matter less

Colin McLean, Managing Director of SVM Asset Management, has done striking research on how much positive spin corporates can put in their annual report.

McLean analysed an annual report of a British life insurer in 2007. The report contained the following words:

underperform 2
disappointed 0
bad/worse/worst 8
poor/poorly 1
weak/weakness 5
challenges 7
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achieve/achievement 85
good/better/best 150
excellent 15
grow/growing/growth 207
improve/improvement 73
strong/stronger/strength 150