Thursday 31 January 2013

The World Economy explained by 2 cows...

SOCIALISM You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM You have 2 cows
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other and then throws the milk away.

You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

VENTURE CAPITALISM You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has died.

A FRENCH CORPORATION You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

A SWISS CORPORATION You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION You have two cows.
You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION You have two cows.
Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
Nobody believes you, so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows but at least you are now a Democracy.

Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

A GREEK CORPORATION You have two cows borrowed from French and German banks.
You eat both of them.
The banks call to collect their milk, but you cannot deliver so you call the IMF.
The IMF loans you two cows.
You eat both of them.
The banks and the IMF call to collect their cows/milk.
You are out getting a haircut.

Monday 28 January 2013

Big fish caught at Labrador Park

I walked from Queenstown to Labrador Park yesterday Sunday as part of my weekend walking routine - 1.5 hours to and 1.5 hours back.

I had a pleasant surprise when I saw an angler there caught a big giant fish!

During my past walks, I am used to seeing catches the size of ikan kunning. Not much to shout about.

Man! This is one super catch! (From my perspective as a non-angler)

The smiling Malay gentleman in shades on the left is the angler who caught it.

Needless to say, a crowd of curious onlookers (me included) quickly gathered round to look see, look see.

Everyone was snapping away with their cameras

Anyone out there knew what's the name of the fish caught?
Top down view

Side view

I overheard the angler telling the onlookers that it's his first time fishing at Labrador Park. He is not one of the "regulars" here at Labrador Park.

As I walked away,  I had an reflection.

We too had similar experiences don't we?

Beginners Luck

Remember the first time you learnt to play Mahjong, Poker, Chor Dai Dee, etc? Or went to the casinos? 

How about your first winning trade or investment? 

Same you; different place

We may also know people who "failed" at selling insurance but somehow became top real estate agents and vice versa?

Or your career taking a turn for the better when you moved to another department or company? (Never mind some of these moves are "forced"; and not through your own volition)

Varying our routes

I am glad I change my weekend walking routes all the time. I try to expose myself to happy happenstance.


Thursday 24 January 2013

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

No wonder most people in developed economies are stressed and not happy...

Paralysis and high expectations.

Is that perhaps why more people are discovering "religion" nowadays?

We need a fish bowl after all. Interesting!   


Thursday 17 January 2013

The Carpenter

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I 'm looking for a few days' work," he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us.  Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day -- measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.


It was a bridge .. A bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched..

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build." 

Thursday 10 January 2013

It's not all roses and smiles in investing/trading

Yesterday afternoon, I took mom to People's Park so we can make a new pair of reading glasses for her.

We flagged a SMRT cab there. The cab driver was a Chinese senior in his late 60s. Well groomed. Speaks well too. 

We chatted a bit and somehow the conversation came to what we do.

It turned out this cab driver was a contractor. As we were driving, he was pointing out to me the HDB upgrading works he tendered and worked on in the past. 

He sold his company in 2002 after racking up $10 million in losses "playing" the local stock market. His no. 1 loser was Chartered Semi-conductor Manufacturing... (Being Temasek owned means little if you bought high and sold low...)

Anyway, I didn't want to pry too much; but suffice to say although it's a big step down from his glory days, this cab driver is not exactly down and out.

He told me his wife owns a shop and he drives 10 hours a day without a need for relief driver to share his cab rental.

The first thing I did last night was to review my core holdings (they pay for my sabbatical from work) and reminded myself the reasons I bought them in the first place.

But more importantly, I remembered what happened to my portfolio when I was more than 100% vested (I on margin) during 2000, and how lucky I was mostly in cash during 2008.

It's vitally important to know when to sell too - especially when the reasons I've bought have deteoriated! 

Never assume it's all roses and smiles just because the STI has gone up by 20% in 2012. Don't forget about risk control!

There's another lesson I learned. Life moves on. The future is uncertain. No matter what happens, don't dwell on the past.

If I ever to bust my portfolio again, I am mentally prepared to go back to selling sofas or going back to the selling floor. Glad to know retail sales jobs are not popular with most Singaporeans.

It's always nice to engage with seniors on their life journey.



Friday 4 January 2013

The 3 idiots - Inspirational and philosophical movie!

If you have 3 hours to spare this weekend, and you have broadband at home, I would heartily recommend this Bollywood movie that I watched on Youtube this New Year holiday.

There's English subtitles so no worries! I've cried, laughed, and cheered during the movie. What a roller coaster emotional ride!

I highly recommend it if you are:

1Still schooling and undecided whether to select a stream or faculty based on your interest or based on the lastest salary survey.

2)  Parents with children who are torn between "knowing what's best" for your child and wanting your child to be happy. And to be conscious of what "great expectations" can do to your child...

3)  In love and wishes to know if your significant other is an "ass-hole" or "price tag"; so you won't marry the "wrong" person.

4)  Gold-diggers, that's how you spot "ass-holes" and "price tags"! Happy hunting!

5)  Stressed with competing priorities between work and family

(There's a scene where these words were uttered: "There are many exams; but there's only 1 dad." My floodgates opened. Lucky I was at my silbing's home. No need to hold it in.              

6)  Genuine educators who passionately want to be part of an institution and profession that inspire enquiring minds - not a degree or paper qualification mill that produces exam smart students.

I am glad my silbing invited me to watch this movie. It was introduced by the church that my sibling went as part of their councelling sessions. 

One of their church member, who is a senior teacher, even brought it up to her school management to focus less on "collecting" achievements and awards. Bring the focus back to inculcating the joy of learning in their students!

There's light and hope

I support the Ministry of Education's recent move not to disclose publicly the PSLE results. Now that's a step in the right direction!

To the naysayers, how would you like it if the schools do a survey and reveal the rankings of how their students rate their parents? Or would you like it if your company publicly reveals the performance evaluation and ranking of all their employees?



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