Forbes Panel: China's Appetite for Construction and Commodities

February 4, 2009

By Bill Singer

Once again, Forbes' Editor David Serchuk put together another compelling Intelligent Investors panel -- this time composed of Robert Froehlich (chief investment strategist at DWS Investments, the retail arm of Deutsche Bank ), Greg Ghodsi (head of the 360 Wealth Management Division at Raymond James), and Bill Singer (Wall Street regulatory lawyer and private investor).  The panel's focus was on China's Appetite For Construction and ways to play that nation's ravenous appetite for commodities.

In addition to some useful investing insights and strategic approaches, it's hard to imagine an exchange of ideas on China not straying into some political considerations. Among Bill Singer's blunt assessments is this:

Greg's answer presents two fascinating contrasts. One, the Chinese seem to have a sense that you actually make plans for the future; in the United States we seem to have lost all sense of anticipation and preparation--we careen from one disaster to another and do so with little apparent concern. Worse, we seem to think that it is appropriate to hire folks with such dubious credentials and qualifications as former FEMA head Michael Brown--and then we are surprised when our response to an emergency is slow, the contingency plans nonexistent and the actual effort appalling.

You want a soft landing for our economy? Fine--simple answer: You put a Chesley Sullenberger on a jetliner when it loses both engines, and then you watch a professional who was trained for the task set a crippled passenger plane down on the Hudson River with no loss of life. When the hell did this country start accepting second rate and second best as a performance standard?

We have so many clowns in Washington, D.C., these days that the judicial, executive and legislative branches of our government look more like a three-ring circus. The Chinese are stockpiling raw materials at relatively low cost, and we're spending a million bucks on an executive suite and paying out borrowed money as unearned bonuses. And, to make matters worse, rather than work together to restore our stature, we have two political parties grandstanding.

Read the full interview at

Also, see this February 5, 2009, sequel Pass On Natural Gas