Friday, March 27, 2015

To him whom you love to hate and hate to love

It hadn’t always been a smooth relationship.

When I was young, I respected him as I would to any adult, especially one who so crucially shaped Singapore the way it is today. Back then, he was still the Prime Minister of Singapore and I remembered fondly the crowds that stood up and cheered loudly for him whenever he arrived on national day parade every year. I must be one of the last batches of people who had him as the Prime Minister of Singapore before he handed it to the next.

Like a teenager, I went through a period of rebelliousness. That is the phase where I learnt and read a lot more things about the kind of ‘fixing’ he did to his political opponents and how he bulldozed his way and imposed his strong obstinate views on things that matters to him, and to us. Hate might be too strong a word to use, but if all the adjectives in the world can be split up into ‘nice’ and ‘not-so-nice’, I would certainly put my relationship with him then under the same category as the latter.

That phase lasted quite a while, until I started working in the society for a few years. You look at the things you rebelled against in the past, and you shrugged. You go to another country and then you look at your own country. You noticed things that are bad in your own, but there are things that did go right too. In the end, are there more rights than wrongs? At the time when it matters, would anybody who is made of lesser stuff be able to achieve what we had for the past 50 years? Nobody can answer that, but I believe he did what he could at that point in time to ensure that we survive. Philosophy can wait till the war is over. Until then, a strong leadership using more sticks than carrots will have to do.

I started to forgive him. He did his best and nobody could have asked for more. When rumors of his many ‘deaths’ circulated around in social media in recent years, I thought to myself that they should just leave him alone. When his wife left, I didn’t see a politician out to dictate his views on everyone. What I saw was a father, a grandfather and a lonely husband, something everyone can certainly relate to.

In life, he is feared. Oh, how greatly he is feared! It's his intense stare, or maybe it's his no nonsense way of cutting to the heart of any problems that sends the shivers up anybody who dares to face him. He cares not for any public opinion and will gladly be the lone voice of truth, even if it’s his own version of truth.

And in death, he is loved. Oh, how deeply he is loved! It’s his soft touch on anything pertaining to Singapore, even if it’s a trash that floats down the river. It’s his Red Box that is filled with all the necessary documents and observations he had made, marking the start and the end of each day with his country in his thoughts.

Why couldn’t all these human side of him be shown earlier? That would soften his harsh image tremendously. But perhaps this is not what he wants after all. With his boxing gloves ever ready, he would gladly step onto the ring to take on whoever dares to fight Singapore. Maybe, that is how he wants to be remembered as – a fighter who fights for his beliefs.

Like I’ve said, it’s not always a smooth relationship. Like a kid, you love your parents, and then rebel against them and hate them, before growing up to forgive them because you know that they tried their best in their own circumstances that you might never understand. And finally, you came to love your parents and you remember them for all the good things that they had done for you.

All the juicy bits of a roasted chicken that they insisted you eat because they prefer to eat the bonier parts. All the last piece of each year’s log cake that they insisted you take because they were too full. All the understanding and forgiving they had shown you, even when you broke their favorite vase and forgot their birthdays.

All the things we took for granted.

Sleep well, Ah Gong, and thank you for taking care of us when we’re too young to understand what’s at stake.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Algorithm to find the Chinese horoscope sign of any year

After learning about modulo function, I finally have an elegant algorithm to find out the Chinese horoscope sign based on the year of input. It came from an innocent enough question from facebook - what's the value of m+n, such that 2012^m and 2012^n has the same last 3 digits, if m and n are integers are m is greater than m?

I did a bit of exploring and found out the answer by doing it through excel. Then I discovered the modulo function, and then I also discovered the theorem that if a = b (mod m), then a^c = b^c (mod m). It's vastly different from learning about mathematical theorem through books or teachers, and learning about it through discovery. The joy of solving the puzzle is immensely satisfying.

But first of all, what's the modulo function?

Modulo function has two inputs i.e. MOD (a, b). Basically the function just returns you the number that is the remainder if a is divided by b. For example, MOD (12, 3) = 0 because 12 divided by 3 gives no remainder. MOD (12, 5) = 2 because 12 divided by 5 gives a remainder of 2.

My algorithm to find out the Chinese astrological sign is to take the input year, subtract 4 to it, modulo it to 12, then add 1 to the result. You can use it on excel.

i.e. Let x be the input year

y = MOD(x-4, 12) + 1

The output y will give you a number ranging from 1 to 12, so

1 is rat,
2 is ox,
3 is tiger,
4 is rabbit,
5 is dragon,
6 is snake,
7 is horse,
8 is goat,
9 is monkey,
10 is rooster,
11 is dog and
12 is pig.

To illustrate this, let's try out the year 3194:

So in the year 3194, y = MOD(3194-4, 12) +1 = 11, so it’s the year of the dog.

My Two Rolex

I never wanted to have a Rolex. But today I realised that I have not just one, but two! Two Rolex right in front of me and I didn't know!

A Rolex watch is a status symbol, a hallmark of those who had arrived. But I think I'll never ever buy one. I prefer my time pieces to be digital, so that time telling is precise. I also need my time pieces to have a stop watch, water resistant, have night light and able to tell the date accurately. I'm slightly allergic to leather and dislike those thick metal straps because the weight will cause the watch to slide down my bony wrist. All these restrictions and preferences make it highly unlikely that I'll ever buy a Rolex.

So where did I get my two Rolex from?

My two Rolex are priceless. Even with money, you can't buy it. It's also limited edition and it's out of production worldwide. It's not made of cold steel and definitely won't cause irritation to my wrist. It tells the time gently by a little nudge, perhaps a little pinch. Quite water resistant, but if you soak it in water for too long, the surface might get a little crinkled, but nothing is damaged permanently. It grows old with time but always soft to the touch. Both the Rolex fits my hands perfectly - sometimes the strap holds it strongly and sometimes loosely. It seems to have a mind of its own. When I made it angry, it will refuse to wrap around my hands. The pinches are a little more painful and time seems to slow to a crawl. When I made it happy, it will refuse to leave my hands. Its warm touch quickens my heartbeat and makes me smile.

Limited edition Rolex. Value: Priceless

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book review - The Singapore Permanent Portfolio by Alvin Chow

Alvin from BigFatPurse is very kind to pass me a copy of his newest book, The Singapore Permanent Portfolio. I've always wanted to know more about the Permanent portfolio, so this comes as a godsend. Why is it named the permanent portfolio? I think I'll answer that question at the end of this post.

The permanent portfolio is an investment idea that comes from US in the 70s, but the idea is that you hold 4 different types of assets in equal proportion (25% each) that will allow you to profit no matter what the economic situation is. There's an asset that will thrive in the growth, inflationary, recessionary and deflationary phase of the economy. Think of it as planting 4 different types of crops that will thrive well in the 4 seasons of the year - spring, summer, autumn and winter. When spring comes, crop A will grow exceedingly well, so you harvest it and use the proceeds to grow more of the other crops. When summer comes, it's crop B's turn to grow very well, so you harvest it and use the proceeds to grow more of the other crops.

It's a fascinating idea - one that allows the investor to dissociate human tendency towards greed and fear when it comes to investing. Think of it as a sort of standard portfolio re-balancing process but with a twist.

The idea is easy enough to follow, and the book succinctly illustrates the ideology behind the permanent portfolio. If that's all that the book offers, then you can easily google it from the internet. What this book offers is something that you won't find in any others - applying the investment idea to the Singapore context. So while the idea of a permanent portfolio comes from US, Alvin's book illustrates clearly how to actually apply it in our local context. What are the 4 assets to own in the permanent portfolio? Where to get them? How to do the re-balancing? All these and more are answered in the book.

For a portfolio that can weather all economic situation, producing reasonable returns with low volatility, as well as minimal work, what's not to like about it?

So why is it called the permanent portfolio? What is the thing that is permanent about the portfolio? Knowing that you have to re-balance the portfolio mix perhaps once or twice a year or whenever necessary, the portfolio allocation of the 4 assets is definitely not permanent. It will vary accordingly to the rise and fall of the 4 asset class. Or perhaps the term is coined because you never have to sell any assets completely? I think I have an answer. It's called the permanent portfolio because this portfolio will stay with you regardless of the bigger economic situation. And you have to keep balancing the asset classes to keep it permanently balanced. It's like dynamic equilibrium - everything is moving so that there's a balance.

Maybe you should read about it and think for yourself why the name of this peculiar idea is called the Permanent Portfolio?

Friday, March 20, 2015

SMART expo

SMART expo had been around organizing events and seminars for quite a while. This March is their 38th one running in the series. The event is free and it's good if you're interested or want to find out more about investing in properties around the region or if you want to know more about investing/trading in the stock market and achieving financial freedom. The list of speakers include Ken Chee, Dato Eric Cheng, Conrad Alvin Lim, Vina Ip from Property Soul, Jeff Sun, Getty Goh, Calvin Yeo from DrWealth and many more.

There are many interesting seminars and I even discovered one of my long lost secondary school classmates giving one of the talk! What a coincidence! Here's some of the seminars that I'm personally interested in:

1. The mastery of money, what I didn't learn in school - Jameson Chia
2. How to setup basic asset allocation - Calvin Yeo
3. Dirty truths and profitable secrets to building wealth through properties - Vina Ip

There are many many more such free seminar, so do check the full timetable for the different seminars and their timing by clicking here.

Frankly, I'm not so interested in the property part of the seminar, especially those that deal with overseas market. I think it's the lack of information and mostly fear from the unknown. I'm more interested in the personal finance, stock market investing/trading and perhaps some fortune telling, tarot reading and fengshui seminars. Nevertheless, this seminar provides a free platform for people who want to find out more. No obligations of course, so just take this as an opportunity to educate yourself further.

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Hall B
Date: 28th and 29th March
Time: 11am to 7pm
Price: Free with registration

For the first 150 visitors each day, you can also stand a chance to win free supermarket gift vouchers worth $10 SGD. No harm right? Free to attend, can educate yourself and possibly get some gift vouchers for your supermarket groceries. So if you're free to attend, do register early if you want a shot at the free gifts ;)

Good luck!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

FREE Jim Rogers seminar

I know some of you are fans of Jim Rogers, so here's a lobang you can't miss. To those who don't know who he is, here's a quick description of him. He is a astute investor who is quite unlike others. He is a top down kind of investor who bets on big macro trends in the economy, unlike some other gurus who go from bottom up. He had said before that commodities will be the thing to look out for in the near future and even thinks that being a farmer in the future will be the best occupation to be in. He wrote several books like Street Smarts, Hot Commodities and Investment Biker.

InvestGlobal kindly sponsored a ticket to Jim Rogers' seminar, titled "2015 Market Outlook and Strategies". Here's the details of the event:

Venue: Suntec Convention and Exhibition centre, Hall 404 Seminar Room

Date: 11th April

Time: 1230 pm to 230 pm

Price of ticket: $298 (early bird price: $198)

Topic: Jim Rogers will share about the 2015 market and give a glimpse about his portfolio and where he will be putting his money this year. There will also be tips, advice and strategies and what his views are regarding Russia, USD and so on.

The seminar is part of a two day event called InvestGlobal (admission free) on 11th and 12th April which will cover segments from stocks, shares, forex, option, futures, property markets etc. There are 15 exhibitors at the fair, which includes venture capital, broking firms, trading firms, banks, property companies, investment educators, franchise and other business opportunties. For more info, you can click here.

Interested? I won't be going because I have work, just to let you know. If you want this free seminar worth up to $298, just comment below or email me, telling me:

1) Why do you want to go?
2) If you've read his books, which one do you like the best? And why?
3) What do you hope to get out of this seminar?

I'll contact you if you're the winner of the free ticket. After that, you must be willing to give me your full name, NRIC, email address and mobile number so that the organiser can register the ticket under your name. Don't worry, your details are safe with me, and will be purged from my email and system the moment I've passed it to the organiser. If you've a problem with sharing your privacy (I'll understand), then do not participate in this.

If there are no takers, I'll let it lapse. I've no vested interest in this.

Good luck!

(Closing entry: 23rd March, 12 noon)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The 3 Wishes

Saw AK's post, and decided to write a short story on it after AK's posting of a picture composition in his facebook. So here goes:


One day, AK went to a mee pok stall for dinner. When he drove there, he spotted a car park, but unfortunately a BMW arrived at the same time and parked before him. The BMW is so huge - it occupied more than the space demarcated. AK told the driver of the BMW to shift it a little but the driver ignored him and went on his way.

Incensed, AK was too shocked to reply. Just then, a smoke and a jingle and a genie appeared, asking for a wish from AK. In the fit of anger, AK wished that he is the owner of the BMW, so that he can also bully other drivers.

And so lo and behold, AK turned into the owner of the BMW. His mum, who is in the hospital for some surgery, wanted to eat the famous mee pok noodles. He is going to have a meeting soon but decided to rush down to get his mum's favourite noodles. So he hurried to their BMW and drove over to the stall. Didn't took them long to park the car, though there was a small mazda behind them. The owner of the mazda wind down his window and asked AK to shift their car a little so that he can park. AK looked at the time. He's going to be late and the mee pok stall will be closing soon, so he ignored the driver and went to queue for his mee pok.

In his hurry, he accidentally knocked a bowl of noodles from the ledge of the stall. Incensed, the stall owner scolded AK and refused to sell the noodles to him. To think that he had hurried here to satisfy his mum's craving, possibly being late for his meeting and not being able to get any noodles! Nonsense!

Just then, a smoke and a jingle and a genie appeared, asking for a wish from AK. In the fit of anger, AK wished that he is the owner of the noodle stall, so that he can bully other customers too.

And so lo and behold, AK turned into the owner of the mee pok stall. Day in and day out, he had been working in the stall just to break even. The lack of helpers and the high rental certainly didn't help his situation. No choice, he will have to continue working till kingdom come. One day, he was working in the stall as usual and feeling very tired. He had been there since 6 am till 930pm. Even though he is closing at 10pm, there's still a long queue ahead, so he guessed he will have to work OT as usual.

Just then, a customer came and knocked a bowl of noodles onto the floor. Immediately, AK's blood pressure shot up! It's nearing closing time, there's so many customers in front and I have to endure this! Why can't he be like the owner of ASSI who is famous for his passive income and is going for semi-retirement now? Why?? Why does he have to endure and suffer all these nonsense working?

Just then, a smoke and a jingle and a genie appeared, asking for a wish from AK. In the fit of anger, AK wished that he is the owner of ASSI.

So lo and behold, he became the owner of ASSI.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unactionable advise

Things should be made simpler, but not to such an extent that a big part of the meaning is lost. We often hear of market truism like the following:

1. Buy low, sell high
2. Don't lose your capital
3. Diversify diversify diversify

and many many more. I'm sure if we look hard enough, we can find contradicting truism that runs contrary to an existing one. With regards to the above 3 truism, I can think of the following contradicting ones:

1. Buy high, sell higher
2. If we win more than we lost, we still end up being profitable
3. Focus focus focus

To a newbie, everything is so confusing. If you follow this guru, he'll recommend that you focus all your energy to just a few companies and learn everything you know about it. If you follow another guru, he'll recommend that you'll diversify to reduce your risk and as long as you win bigger than you had lost, you'll still come out ahead winning the game. Who to believe? Who to trust?

The problem with such market truism is that the context that such truism is applied is often lost when reduced to a single sentence. The particular is sacrificed for the general, and in return, we immortalised the real market observation with a catchy soundbite that the public consume readily.

Buy low and sell high. Sure, but how do you know when it is a low and when it is a high? Is there a situation when you can justify buying high and selling it higher? Isn't it what growth investing is about? Don't lose your capital. That's both rule number 1 and rule number 2, repeated ad nauseum to a hungry crowd of fans. Who in the right mind wants to lose capital? Of course nobody expects to lose their capital, but how does one NOT lose capital? By not investing? By investing wisely? Then what's wisely? Even the guru himself lost money, so what can we minions do about it? Diversify to reduce market risk, says one guru. Concentrate and don't diworsify, says another. What is happening?

It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to understand these market truism, but it takes a lot of wisdom to know when each will apply. How does one gain wisdom? By making mistakes and learning from them. How does one make mistakes? By trying, failing and getting up all the time until you learn from it. Do you really think after attending a course and reading a few books, you can start getting double digit yields?

Similarly, a lot of advise are also inactionable, because by immortalising them in short soundbites, we lost the context in which the advice works. Think about these:

1. Bring an umbrella when it rains
2. Be careful, don't make careless mistakes
3. Check their financial statements; you don't know if they will have accounting irregularities

When do you know it will rain? If you can careful, how do you make careless mistakes? If their accounts are rigged, why do you still read them? These are all very nice and well meaning advise, but I think ultimately, they are unactionable. You can't act because you don't know when the advise will apply. It's only after the deed is done can you sit back, reflect and rationalise the facts leading up to the deed and say, oh, I should have done this and that. Perhaps after a few rounds of iteration, we will finally know the when part of bringing an umbrella when it rains.

Perhaps, not even then.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Wishing for rain to come

In this very hot and humid weather, we all wished for rain to come. We already had our umbrellas and raincoats packed ready just for that rainy day. Even our hearts wished to see rainy days. Conversations go from "Hello, good morning" to "Bloody weather so hot, when is it raining?". Below are some of the conversations that I took note:

"Oh, it had been sooo long since it had last rained, so a rain should be coming soon. Mark my words!"

"The change in the weather and the drop in the seasonal winds indicate that rain will come, and very soon, within plus minus 2 weeks from now. Our weather charts here and here shows the inevitability of this. Bring your umbrellas! Don't say we didn't warn you! You first hear it from us before all the other weather forecasters say it!"

"When it finally rains, I'll carry my brand new umbrellas that I bought so long ago! It had been wrapped in its plastic coverings since I bought it but never had the chance to use it. I even had my special raincoat that I bought, also long time ago, just for this long awaited rain. I'm very sure my umbrella and raincoat is more than enough to survive any rainstorm that comes. Come and hit me!"

Some people are so sure that their raincoats and umbrella can withstand whatever rain that will come. I don't know. I've seen really bad weather before and I was caught out with a broken umbrella and non water proof shoes. Usually I wear boots that can withstand 30 mins of mild rain hitting on it, without my socks getting rain. But that particular day, I still remembered, the wind was so strong that it blew my umbrella inside out! The wind practically made the rain go horizontally, so it didn't really matter if I'm bringing an umbrella or not. My shoes didn't disappoint, but in my haste to correct my upended umbrella, I stepped into a puddle of water that is caused by that intense rain. It didn't matter if my boots can take 30 mins of rain - it just got soaked straight through. And guess what, while walking on the road, a car zoomed past a big puddle of water and soaked my clothes in muddy water.

I learned from that lesson. When it's raining heavily, I watch out for that puddle of water by the roadside. I will use my umbrella to shield my side that faces the road with the puddle on it, and let the rain fall onto me from above. Rather clean rain than muddy water! My umbrella is titled towards where the wind blows so that it will not upend itself in the strong wind. Heck, I even make sure that the metal part of the umbrella is made of sturdy steel rather than the cheaper aluminium. I always carry an umbrella with me in my bag, no matter how many people say that I look so unfashionable carrying a teenager's secondary bag instead of a more up fashion corporate looking men's clutch bag. And yes, my shoes still can withstand 30 mins of rain but I learned to focus on not stepping on puddles of water simply because my boots are water proof. You know, sometimes we do silly things - just because we wear water proof watches, we purposely wash our hands with it. Tempting fate, I call it.

I know the rain will come eventually but I don't really wish for it. Some people will be caught in it, just like I did in the past. I'm still afraid of getting caught unprepared in the heavy rain but I no longer fear it. Hey, after all, it's just rain. I'm still alive, maybe a little wetter, but I'm still alive. That got to count, isn't it?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Old posts made new: Multiple brokerage platforms

When market crashes, you thought that you can be nimble and sell your stocks if you’re in the wrong side of a trade. But have you encountered situations where your brokerage platform failed on you?

I looked through my 2007 posts and realized that I posted about it before. It’s found here:

1. The sky is falling
4. Finally logged on to DBS

Back then, I only had one brokerage platform which is under DBS Vickers online. It had failed miserably on me back then when I was trading warrants. In the midst of the trading, the whole platform went offline and I couldn't sell it. From a winning trade to a losing trade because of platform issues isn't funny. What’s worse is that warrants trading for HSI closes earlier, so it's nearing the closing time and I didn't want to hold on to a volatile warrant overnight.

Needless to say, it’s an incredible stressful time for me. I swear never again! That’s why I got another few backups as my brokerage platform. In fact, now I had several backups, even though I use mainly just one for my transactions. In the past, I used to log in all the time to trade. I seldom do that now, but I think it's still good to know that if I need to buy/sell, I had the options to go to different brokerage account to do it, just in case it fails on me again.

Again, the idea of redundancy applies. If you have a margin of safety on your stock purchases, do you also have a margin of safety for your transaction platform? Being prepared also means getting all your resources ready, for that moment when you need them the most, during the moments when you need them the least.

I think my thinking back then of having multiple brokerage platform, still applies to the context now, and possibly in the future.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Old posts made new: Warrants Trading

I'm starting a new series in my blog, called "Old posts made new". I know, the name is quite lame and I'm not in a creative mood to come up with fancy name now. In this series, I'll look back at some of the past articles I've posted in my site and compare to see if it still stands true now. Most importantly, I'll share some of the psychology behind my thinking in the past and contrast against that of now. I hope that in this series, I can reflect and think about whether I had aged AND grown wiser over the years.

In this debut of the series, I'll talk about my trading of warrants way back in 2006. Using the word 'trading' might be a bit kind to myself - the actual situation is just whacking. If you look at the posts in my 2006 history, it's all about warrants. Why did I choose to enter the stock market using such an exotic instrument instead of the more normal blue chips or small caps?

It's capital. I only have a very small capital to begin with, and naive as it sounds today, I thought that if I can buy more because it's cheaper, I can make more. At that time, I didn't know that warrants are highly leveraged and also highly cornered. It's a wonder, even till today, that I didn't blow my account out.

My trading size back in 2006 was about 10k a pop. Since warrants are about 20 cts to 60 cts, I'm holding about 20k to 40k number of warrants. Scalping is what I think is the closest term I can use to describe what I'm doing. Since I hold such a large number of warrants, a small tiny movement enables me to reap profits (or losses) after transaction costs. And back then, I didn't know anything about charts so I was scalping without any guide or roadmap. Basically, I'm just picking pennies in front of a bulldozer.

I was going in and out several times a day. My stock screening 'technique' is just to see which counters are the top volume of the day, and trade that particular warrant. It was so incredibly funny looking back at how I 'played' the stock market, treating it like a casino betting on BIG or SMALL. Some days, I'll make 1k, sometimes I'll lose 2k, but I think most of the time, I'm making a few hundreds a day. Back then I just started my career as a tutor, so I'm earning less working for 6 hours a day, compared to just a few minutes trading the warrants. It was an amazingly f up realisation that you can earn more money in the stock market compared to your work, and that makes you NOT want to work. Back then, it was the height of the bull market and the music in the party was especially loud and intoxicating with everyone almost drunk with all the money they had made from the stock market. Who would know that in a span of 1 to 2 years, everything will come crashing down?

So why did I stop trading warrants?

Ironically, it was when I read more about it. I bought a book on warrants trading and initially I wanted to master it. I also picked up more books about technical analysis and charting. The more I read, the more I realised I can do it and I went in with greater and greater sizing, thinking that if I'm smart without knowing all these and I can still make money, I'll be invulnerable now! Such hubris!

In 2007, my position sizing increased to a staggering 40k in one single position. Let me break this down for you. The warrant is about 73 cts, and I went in 55 lots at 1000 shares per lot. One tick of 0.01 movement means $550 dollars. And warrants are very volatile and they move A LOT! I lost 1.5k on that trade alone. It could have much much worse, on hindsight.

In 2006, I was ahead by 3k but in 2007, I was down by 9k. Overall, I lost about 6.2k trading warrants, with most of it lost in 2007. It's like I've lost my magic touch. But no, I knew that I don't have any magic touch at all and it's really thankful that I didn't lose much more than that.

What are the lessons that I drew from this?

1. Everyone has a gambling nature. It's just whether we can find the proper channel to unleash that beast inside you. I think it's more important to honestly recognise that you are addicted than to say, oh, I won't ever gamble and I'm risk adverse and all the other bullshit you kid yourself so that you don't have to face your inner demons. I'm generally a careful conservative person who is extremely prudent with money. I'm shocked at how I can totally reverse 180 degrees to be a 'warrant prince'. It can happen to me, and it can happen to you too. Be honest and recognise that you have a Dr Jekyll and a Mr Hyde within you - it's just that most of the time, you kept Mr Hyde on a leash.

2. Position sizing and loss cutting. The relation between these two are inversely related. If you have a huge position sizing, you must have a strict cut loss. If you have a smaller position sizing, you can have a wider cut loss. If you already planned out your portfolio such that no position is more than x% of your total portfolio, then you might never have to cut loss if you're not of the trader mentality. The point I'm making is that you should make sure that any individual counter CANNOT rock your entire boat. It applies equally to nonsensically averaging down techniques. You can literally average down a sinking stock all the way to kingdom come. If you use leverage, and you screw your position sizing, and have a lax cut loss, I hope you have a put warrant out there so that I can buy it to short you!

3. In bull times, everyone wants to be a trader. When you see your returns from the stock market earning more than the time and effort from your work, it can seriously f up your mind. History repeats for those who do not know them. I'm very sure in the future, I'll see a new batch of young punks wanting to earn easy income from the stock market and complain about the purpose of studying/working/earning active income etc etc. I might already be seeing signs of them now.

4. Greed and fear can work magic on your mind. I noticed during my warrant trading days that if I'm wearing a certain T-shirt, I usually win more than lose. So, I try to wear my lucky shirt in order to win from the market. Stupid shit like these are warning signs that my emotional state is fragile and I need astronomical and godly help for everyday life to function in the way I want it. You'll notice that I always pay attention to my emotions and psychological state. Now you understand why.

It wasn't easy talking about old battle scars. I wasn't proud of them and I wouldn't normally revisit and peel off those scabs just to see if the wounds are still bleeding red or not. But I think it's important to make your mistakes, own them and make f-king sure you won't ever repeat them.

Gosh...I lost count of how many 'F' I mentally scolded myself during the course of writing this post.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The recipe

85 grams butter, 175 grams sugar and 120 grams of flour,
3 large eggs, 200 degrees – bakes into 1 delicious cake

2 cups water, 3 cups sugar and 1.5 tbsp of yeast,
6 cups flour, 175 degrees – kneads you a warm loaf of bread

250 grams butter, 140 grams sugar and 300 grams of flour,
1 egg yolk, 180 degrees – one motherful tray of cookies

8 hours sleep, 3 square meals, and 2.5 litres of water,
1 brisk walk, 2 servings of fruits – 90 healthy years of life

2 parts savings, 1 part temperament and 3 parts sitting with patience,
1 bear market, 3 parts gusto – 50 years free from toil

2 understanding hearts, 4 listening ears, 2 tender hands to hold,
1 cupid’s arrow, 2 sweet lovers– a reason to live that old

Monday, March 02, 2015

Of men and women

If you go to any shopping mall, you will notice how the goods in the men's department and ladies' department are arranged in different manner.

1. The items in men's department are packed in nice boxes. Shirts are sold in transparent packages and neatly arranged in colour, size and cutting. If you know what you are looking for, you can swoop in and get the right package, pay for it and it's yours.

2. For the ladies' department, you'll seldom see cloths packed, if at all. They are often found hanging on racks so that shoppers can browse them easily. I don't recall seeing any packages at all, which is quite unlike those in the men's department.

3. From the layout of different shops, you can see whether they are meant for females or men. If it's meant for men, you'll see them all packed neatly in boxes or packages. For females, it's all laid out for you to see. If there are 3 colours for the same model, you'll see 3 colours all laid out in front. In general, shopping centres are meant to entice female shoppers than male shoppers. Go look around and see if I'm wrong.

Men's shirts. Neat rows and columns and packages.

Ladies' dresses - Spread out, displayed and no packages.

There must be some kind of behavioural science involved in this. Otherwise, why would every shopping centre that I go to adopt this kind of goods arrangement? Maybe men are hunters, so they prefer hunting for their things when they shop. So if the goods are arranged neatly in a logical fashion, it'll be easier to look for them and go off. Females are gatherers, so they are good at picking good items from a wide variety of things. Their eye for detail enables them to pick things that usually eludes men. It's almost like all the concentration powers in their vision is narrowed down to a small beam in front of them, so they see 200% in clear, zoomed in details. For men? Their concentration powers in their vision is spread over a wider range of view (more than 180 degrees), so that they can see more, though in lesser detail.

Knowing this might present some interesting information on how you do things, depending on who your target audience is.

1. If you're selling to men, put in nice boxes and arranged them in a logical fashion, so that they don't have to ask for help and can find their way around independently.

2. If you're selling to women, put all your goods out to display, so that they can feel and touch and compare and contrast. Putting in nice boxes to display your items must be quite a turn off for them, I suppose.

3. For men, because they loath to ask for directions, it's better to have all the information available on the boxes. For women, even if it's there, they'll ask. I'm, of course, generalizing and stereotyping here, but this works most of the time.

Can we apply the same standards to financial blogs? Is my blog more catered towards women or male readers? I think mine is more feminine than masculine. Do you think so?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Hurray for redundancy

I saw B's post on market valuation here and I thought he did a good job to remind people about not investing when market valuation is high. I'm here to warn about another thing - that disasters does not strike alone. Usually we're well equipped to handle one big disaster in our life, but we're seldom well equipped to handle 2 or more in quick successive hits.

We talk about employing our war chest and how when the market is crashing, we'll swoop in and buy at cheap valuations. But we seldom talk about the circumstances that happens when the market crash. Usually our jobs is at stake. You wouldn't dare to invest all your war chest, even though it's meant for that purpose, because you're worried now whether your emergency cash is enough should you lose your job. The circumstances when the market crashes is very different from now, when you're sitting in your chair comfortably reading this post. It'll be anxious, uncertain and gloomy.

So the real question is whether you can still secure your own active income in the form of your job, have enough cash to tide over while your spouse look for another job because he/she is retrenched, handle the increasing stress level and possibly adversely affecting your health, AND also invest at cheap valuations?

I'm not sure if I can do it, but I'll try. I hope I did everything I can and I'm still worried.

The key is to survive first then we talk about thriving. Be resilient to any crisis, and then have the means to take advantage of it. If you can't even survive, don't even talk about striking it rich by buying OCBC at less than $5 when it crashes.

To survive, it's about combining all the factors of job security, insurance, emergency cash, family support, belt tightening measures etc etc. To thrive, it's about having the means to take advantage of the general gloom. That's just having ample liquidity.  Always plan to survive first and check and double check what can happen if your mortgage loan increase, you lose your job, your passive income stops giving you money and your spouse gets retrenched, you have health problems and you're the last man standing holding everything together.

We talk about having a safety margin for our stock purchases. But do you have a safety margin over your emergency cash?