Top 7 features in the world’s most expensive house

$2 billion buys you a lot of perks. Here are Top 7 features in the world’s most expensive house.

The 22-story Mumbai tower built by Mukesh Ambani, head of the India-based petrochemical giant Reliance Industries, Ltd. (BOM:500325), carries a hefty price tag of $2 billion. That’s more than twice the gross domestic product of Liberia (a country with 3.4 million people), and it puts the compound, dubbed Antilla, in its own class. It’s nearest competitor is the Villa Leopolda in Cote d’Azur, France, which is worth a paltry $525 million, according to PalScience.com.

$2 billion buys you a lot of perks. Here are Top 7 features in the world’s most expensive house:

1) Square footage. Antilla will eventually reach 27 stories into the sky and sprawl over 400,000 square feet – not counting the six-story parking garage at the tower’s base.

2) Hanging gardens. Much of the home’s exterior is dotted with vertical hanging gardens. The hydroponic plants grow in nutrient-rich water and help keep the home cool in a city where the temperature can reach the 80s (F) year round.

3) Health level. The tower comes equipped with its own gym complete with a lap pool, Jacuzzi, yoga and dance studios, changing rooms for men and women, gyms and a solarium with a juice bar.

4) The ice room. The home’s health level will eventually include an “ice room,” which will feature man-made snow. Guests will be able to cool down in the snow after a workout in one of Antilla’s many gyms.

5) The ballroom. Dual staircases with silver-covered railings will lead into an opulent ballroom. When it’s complete, 80 percent of the ceiling will be adorned with crystal chandeliers.

6) The elevators. Antilla will feature nine elevators in all. Two will be earmarked for the parking garage, three for guest quarters, two for the family residences and two for service staff.

7) The gardens. A third of the way up the tower, a four-story garden will give guests tree- and plant-lined views of downtown Mumbai. The open-air space will be supported by “W” shaped rebar that immediately makes me think of Bruce Wayne.

Read more on Antilla.

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China’s e-commerce market dominated by four companies

With revenue growth that might be as high as 100+ percent per year through 2015, here’s a short list of the Top 4 leading e-commerce sites in China in 2011.

With Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) predicting that China’s e-commerce market will more than quadruple by 2015, you can expect a lot of investors eager to capitalize on revenue growth that might be as high as 100+ percent per year. Here’s a short list of the Top 4 leading e-commerce sites in China per 247WallSt.

Company % of online sales in China Site traffic rank in China Stock ticker
Taobao 75% 3 Owned by Alibaba Group
Paipai 10% 45 Owned by Tencent
360buy 2.5% 28 N/A
Dangdang 0.7 76 DANG

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) also operates Joyo.com in China. The site currently has a traffic rank of 75 in China, according to Alexa.com. Speculation has been running high that Taobao.com and 360buy.com could IPO as early as this fall.

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National debt per person accelerating in U.S.

The interest each of us owes on our share of the $14 trillion national debt comes to $7,012.60.

At the close of 2010, the U.S. National Debt stood at an all-time record: $14,025,215,218,708.52. That’s more than $14 trillion, which works out to $140,252.00 per non-government employee in the country. Richard Daughty of The Daily Reckoning argues that the interest each of us owes on our share of the national debt comes to $7,012.60. Remember, that’s just the interest!

The scary part is, the Federal government doesn’t even collect $7,012.60 from most wage earners. Let’s say, for example, that you earn $40,000 per year and you max out your total allowable deductions of $8,450. That puts your taxable income at $31,550. The final amount you’ll owe the government for the year? A measly $4,445.

That fact scares writers like Daughty who argue that we should be buying gold and silver to protect ourselves from what will surely be rising inflation in the years to come.

“It doesn’t take long before you realize the urgent need to frantically buy gold and silver,” Daughty argues, “and keep on buying them for as long as the money holds out.”

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China silver demand in 2011 expected to spike

China’s silver demand in 2011 could spike as the country is uniquely positioned to grow inflation while simultaneously allowing their currency to rise against the dollar.

China silver demandThe recent pullback in silver prices could be an excellent buying opportunity for investors, as China silver demand could spike in 2011 according to analysts. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of Silver-coin-investor.com argues that China is setting the stage for “vacuuming” up the world’s silver supply. His logic boils down to two factors:

1) Domestic demand for precious metals in China surged last year – particularly for gold. China shifted from being a net exporter of gold in 2009 to being a net importer. Indeed, Dr. Lewis writes, China’s gold imports grew by some 500 percent during the first 10 months of 2010. China was still exporting silver last year, but the export rate plunged 60 percent during the first three quarters of 2010. Silver mines were finding domestic buyers for silver where they couldn’t in the past, and that indicates that demand for hard assets and commodities are in the midst of a bull rally in China. As China’s middle class starts to expand, the demand for silver as an investment could outpace gold thanks to its lower cost of entry.

2) In general, gold and silver are looked at as alternatives to currency when investors suspect inflation will rise. China’s attempts to curb inflation through monetary tightening seem to indicate fears of inflation will abate there, but it’s easy to forget that China’s goal isn’t to eliminate inflation. They’re allowing their currency to appreciate very slowly and methodically against the dollar.

China is targeting a 5 percent increase in the value of the yuan against the dollar in 2011, according to Dr. Lewis. That’s more than 2010’s rise of 3.6 percent. As the yuan rises, though, purchasing power for commodities also increases. “Each 5 percent uptick in the Renminbi is the inverse decrease of 4.77% in actual commodity prices,” Dr. Lewis writes.

With a rising yuan, silver prices will be relatively cheaper for Chinese buyers than they will for dollar-based silver buyers. Chinese investors will get more bang for their buck with every ounce of silver they buy, and that will push up silver prices for U.S.-based buyers. Both factors (and China’s enormous trade surplus) could drive a spike in silver prices in 2011, particularly since China is one of the few countries in the world that are positioned to grow inflation while simultaneously allowing their currency to rise against the dollar.

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App market size forecast for 2011

The global app market size forecast for 2011 paints a pretty picture. Expect a compound annual growth rate of 29.6 percent.

After capturing $6.8 billion in sales in 2010, the global app market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 29.6 percent over the next five years, according to a new research report by MarketsandMarkets.

Indeed, MarketsandMarkets expects the global app market to be worth $25 billion by 2015. Based on their numbers, expect the app market size to grow to more than $8.8 billion in 2011. According to the report, North America currently dominates the global app market in terms of revenue, but Asia has an edge in the total number of app downloads. North American mobile users spent more than $2.8 billion on apps last year. That’s not chump change, and it’s a number that’s going to keep getting larger every year.

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Youku stock crumbles after silent period ends

Youku (YOKU) and China Dangdang (DANG) shed nearly 10 percent each after the mandatory silent period ends on the stocks.

After the mandatory silent period lifted yesterday on Youku.com, Inc. (NYSE:YOKU) and E-Commerce China Dangdang, Inc. (NYSE:DANG), stock analysts were finally allowed to weigh in on whether or not investors should buy into the companies. Despite powerful IPOs, analysts weren’t too enthusiastic on the so-called “YouTube” (Youku) and “Amazon” (Dangdang) of China, though.

Piper Jaffray gave both stocks a neutral rating. Goldman Sachs and Cowen concurred. Goldman’s James Mitchell pointed out that Youku “could get profitable quickly,” though according to CNBC.com, “perhaps as soon as late this year or early next year.”

Still, Mitchell was careful to point out that YouKu faces rapidly rising costs as video content producers demand more money for their product. Licensing fees for the movies that YouKu sells as online streams rose by more than 90 percent in 2010. If that trend continues, Youku has little hope of making money by selling streaming video, and the company will have to rely heavily on some form of ad-supported site content.

The demure reception by analysts seemed to cool investor excitement over the stocks yesterday as Youku fell more than 9 percent to $34.09 a share and Dangdang dropped 8.3 percent.

Still, the story’s complicated by the strange, almost-maniacal outburst Dangdang’s CEO posted on a Twitter-like site in China on Sunday evening. Guoqing Li was apparently miffed that Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) bankers talked him into offering Dangdang shares at $16. “I held back a breath and silently cursed you motherf**kers,” Li wrote online.

Even after the substantial drop in price yesterday, though, Dangdang’s shares are up 94 percent since the company’s IPO and Youku’s shares are up 166 percent. Only time will tell if the companies can hold investor interest long enough for them to start making serious money.

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President Obama not immune from housing woes

The real estates bust has it’s tentacles wrapped around even President Obama’s abode with price estimates on the White House plunging $80 million since 2006.

White House Value Plunges

As I wrote earlier, even the Great Depression housing market wasn’t as bad as current market. Prices have fallen 26 percent from their peak in June of 2006. That’s good for 53 continuous months of decline!

And it’s not just Main Street that’s affected. According to Zillow.com‘s admittedly loose estimates, the White House itself has lost nearly 25 percent of its value since the real estate bubble burst. That’s a plunge of more than $80 million from $331.5 million to $251.6 million.

If prices keep falling, it’ll be difficult for President Obama to take out the home equity loans he might need to finance the bailout packages!

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Great Depression housing market wasn’t as bad as current market

The housing market has fallen for 53 months straight. That means we’re worse off than we were during the Great Depression, and the bad news is probably going to get worse – much worse – before it gets any better

During the Great Depression years between 1928 and 1933, home prices fell 25.9 percent. The modern housing market just passed that mark. Indeed, home prices have fallen 26 percent since their peak in June of 2006 through November of 2010 (the most recent numbers available).

The housing market has fallen for 4½ years straight (53 months), and the bad news is probably going to get worse – much worse – before it gets any better. That’s because a temporary moratorium on bank repossessions after the so-called “robo-signing” foreclosure scandal will likely get lifted soon. That act alone will pour a glut of more than 2.5 million houses onto the market.

RealtyTrac’s Rick Sharga tells CNBC those 2.5 million houses should have went on the market last year. Instead, they’ll be freed up in 2011 in addition any new houses that get completed this spring and summer. That means the 53-month trend of falling housing prices isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. That’s good news for home buyers and bad news for housing companies.

This could all dampen growth in the wider economy at large by decreasing home equity loans as more and more homeowners slip underwater and potentially walk away from their mortgages. The only light at the end of the tunnel? The fact that the Great Depression housing market started showing signs of improvement after five years. We’ll reach the five-year mark this June, and it’ll be interesting to see where we head from there. Judging by the numbers, though, we’re a long way from home free.

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How a little plastic gnome can help you become a better investor

Trading too often is one of the most common causes of losses in investing. Try invoking a little plastic gnome to put your investments in perspective before making an impulsive trade.

Plastic gnome investingI’ve consistently preached that one of the biggest problems afflicting individual investors is the urge to trade too often. Buying and selling stocks too quickly can lead to extravagant profits, but it can also lead to extravagant losses. I first started trading stocks at the one of the worst times possible: the fall of 2008.

I was moving in and out of banking stocks just as congress was debating enormous stimulus packages. I’d be up 20 percent one day and down 30 percent the next. Some of the companies I invested in (National City, for instance, which was purchased from the jaws of insolvency by PNC Financial Services) don’t even exist anymore. Others have since shot up more than 400 percent from my initial buy price. I didn’t see any of the gains, though, since I got a margin call that nearly wiped out my trading account.

I was buying and holding at the wrong times and day-trading on heavy margin in one of the most volatile markets in decades. But, in many ways, I’m glad I lost gobs of money in the market. It taught me a lot of important lessons. Chief among them? No one can see the future, but in retrospect everything looks clear as day.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), for instance, was trading around $1.50 a share early in 2009. If you would have laid down $15,000 on the company then, your investment would be worth more than $120,000 now – a mere two years later!

When you’ve lost enormous sums of money on a stock, it makes it even harder to want to stick to a buy-and-hold investing strategy. But it really does change the way you approach investing decisions. You stop focusing on the day-to-day news that plagues public companies and you start looking at more important factors: good management, great advisory boards, competitive advantages and long-term growth factors.

Buying for the long run almost requires a re-wiring in your brain. I was reminded of this in a strange source: an article on “Conquering Self-Doubt” in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, a new form of cognitive-behavioral therapy has emerged in psychological and self-help circles. Dubbed, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the field urges acceptance of irrational fears.

“Part of what mindfulness does is get to you to recognize that these critical thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself,” Zindel V. Segal, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, tells the Wall Street Journal. “They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences.”

Applied to investing, an Acceptance Therapist might tell you that rather than watching a stock tick up and down every few minutes and painting horror stories about the losses you might endure, you recognize and accept short-term fluctuations in price and stay with the stock you’ve picked.

“You don’t have to react to (negative thoughts) at all,” Katherine Muller, associate director of the Center for Integrative Psychotherapy in Allentown, Pa., says in the article. “Just allowing them to exist takes away their power.”

Muller goes on to note that she sometimes pulls out a little plastic gnome to embody negative thoughts. Rather than trying to fight the gnome or change his behavior, you just let him sit there with that silly grin on his face, and figure out whether your fears are truly justified. If your fears aren’t justified, just let your investment ride. You’ll probably be glad you did.

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Projected silver price for 2011? $50+ per ounce

Based on silver’s returns over the past decade, a price target of $50 per ounce in 2011 doesn’t seem out of the question. The recent dip in prices might be a great buying opportunity if you haven’t added the metal to your portfolio yet.

Silver returns 2001-2010All told, silver prices shot up more than 80 percent in 2010. Who knows where silver prices will go in 2011, but taking a look at the precious metal’s returns over the past decade could give us a rough idea. Based on analysis from Jeff Clark at CaseyResearch.com, silver forecasts of $50 per ounce in 2011 don’t seem unreasonable.

First, take a look at the past decade’s returns for silver (see Clark’s chart to the left). Excluding the decline in silver prices in 2001 before the start of the bull run in metals, the past decade averaged a silver return of 27.5 percent. If silver returns that average in 2011, expect the metal to rise to $39.41 per ounce.

With the threat of ongoing currency devaluation around the world, though, it’s not unrealistic to expect silver to match or come close to 2010’s returns. If silver matches 2010’s returns in 2011, look for the metal to rise to $56.22 this year.

If you really want to jump into the deep end of the pool, let’s look at where silver might go if it matched the all-time record gains the metal set in 1979. Silver price manipulation and the threat of rampant inflation pushed prices up more than 267 percent that year. If silver did the same in 2011, we’d be looking at prices of more than $113 per ounce by the end of the year.

If the Fed can manage to keep the dollar from crashing this year, gains will be subdued. If inflation sets in (as many investors have been calling for since 2008), expect returns to be substantial. Either way, silver at $50 per ounce in 2011 doesn’t seem out of the question, and the recent dip in prices might be a great buying opportunity if you haven’t added the metal to your portfolio yet.

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